Image: Robotic Casting Technology (RCT)
Image: SERT Stopper Rigging & Stopper
Vesuvius assists steel makers to enhance the quality of their products, increase their competitiveness and reduce their environmental footprint. We achieve this by working closely with our customers to develop customised refractory systems, services and technologies that enable them to improve their performance.
Vesuvius supplies the global steel industry with consumable ceramic 'flow control' and 'advanced refractory' materials.
Flow control products are used to contain and control the flow of molten steel in the enclosed continuous casting and ingot casting processes. The continuous casting process enables steel manufactured in a blast furnace or electric arc furnace to be cast directly into blooms or slabs without interruption (i.e. be continuously cast) and to remain protected from the atmosphere between tundish and mould (i.e. be enclosed).
Vesuvius products have a short service life (often a matter of a few hours) due to the significant wear caused by the high temperature, high thermal cycling and the erosive and corrosive environment in which they operate. The quality of these products impacts both on the quality of the finished metal being produced and also the productivity, profitability and safety of the customer's process. They represent a relatively small proportion of the input costs of our customers (e.g. less than 1% for a steel producer) but their performance is critical to their production processes. Therefore, customers demand high quality and consistent products for these most demanding applications to ensure maximum safety, quality and productivity. Vesuvius is a clear global leader in the 'metal flow' market.
Vesuvius also supplies the steel industry and other process industries with advanced refractory materials used for lining vessels such as blast furnaces, ladles and tundishes to enable them to withstand high temperatures and/or corrosive attack. These refractory lining materials may be supplied in the form of powder mixes, which are spray-applied onto the vessels to be lined ("monolithics") or in pre-cast shapes and bricks.
As both flow control and advanced refractory products are consumables, steel production volumes and, in particular, production of higher quality steels using the enclosed continuous casting process, is the critical driver of demand for Vesuvius steel-related products. Further, steel producers are continually striving to enhance the enclosed continuous casting process in order to improve production through less downtime and reduced labour costs, increased steel quality, reduced reworking through thinner slab casting and reduced energy usage.
Vesuvius has developed close, collaborative relationships with industry-leading customers and OEMs and, due to the specialised nature of its products and the high volume in which they are consumed, has developed a global network closely aligned with its customers' locations, with 72 major manufacturing facilities across the world.
Customers of the Steel business are principally steel producers themselves, but also include the manufacturers of steel production equipment. Around 10% to 15% of revenues in the Steel division arise from non steel-related process industries supplied by the Advanced Refractories product line.