Big River Steel to expand production

Big River Steel to expand production

Company has commissioned SMS Group to supply mechanical equipment, electrical and automation systems as well as digitalization.


Big River Steel (BRS), Osceola, Arkansas, is expanding production capacity at its steel mill, which produces tube grade sheet for pipeline construction, silicon steels for a wide variety of energy and electric motor applications and high-strength steels for the U.S. automotive industry. The company has commissioned SMS Group, Germany, to supply mechanical equipment, electrical and automation systems and digitalization for the project. The expansion will increase the plant’s annual output to about 3 million tons.

After the expansion is completed, BRS will have two electric arc furnaces (EAF) and two twin-ladle furnaces. Installation of an additional gas cleaning system will ensure compliance with strict environmental legislation, SMS Group says in the news release announcing the expansion project. A second strand, a second tunnel furnace and a further downcoiler will be added to the CSP continuous strip plant.

Big River Steel’s CSP plant produces up to 76-inch-wide coils, making it one of the widest CSP plants in the world. The hot coil produced in the CSP plant is processed into high-grade cold strip in the downstream coupled pickling line/tandem cold mill. As part of this project, the continuous galvanizing line (CGL) will receive an additional coiler. For all the newly installed plants, SMS Group is going to supply the mechanical equipment and the X-Pact electrical and automation systems, including level 3, the company says.

During this construction stage, the PQA (Product Quality Analyzer) system developed by SMS Group company MET/Con will be installed as a central module of the process automation system. By capturing and evaluating relevant production data on a continuous basis, PQA monitors, documents and assures the product quality down to the finished cold strip along the complete production process, SMS Group says. The system uses stored rules to assess the coil quality in a semiautomatic procedure and, based on these assessments, takes “ship” or “block” decisions for the downstream processing of the strip or its dispatch. The system sends instructions for action to the operators to make them aware of any onset of irregularities within the production process and suggest countermeasures to be taken.

The expansion project is rounded out by SMS Group’s technical service, which includes spare part management services.

David Stickler, BRS CEO, says, “I have purchased several technologically advanced steel production facilities from SMS over the past 20 years and I am fully confident that SMS group will again deliver a high-quality mill that sets the standard in terms of product capability, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.”

Burkhard Dahmen, chairman of the managing board of SMS group, says, “Working closely with the management and staff of Big River Steel, we have succeeded in digitalizing a highly complex steel plant in a way that meets the targets of stable and resource-saving production. We are very pleased about Big River Steel’s decision to also award us the order for the next expansion stage of the steel plant and to continue on the proven successful way with SMS Group as their partner.”