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Special steel plant in Kapfenberg: workplace of the future

Special steel plant in Kapfenberg: workplace of the future

In fall 2023, we created another highly exciting working environment when it opened the new plant at its Kapfenberg site—the world’s most advanced special steel plant. The plant meets the most advanced Industry 4.0 standards and thrives on the interplay between tradition and modernity.

Factory hall voestalpine Edelstahlwerk Kapfenberg
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This is where decades of expertise meet cutting-edge technology. The new special steel plant also brings generations together. The result: an optimal combination of different perspectives, experiences, and approaches. And this is crucial for the success of such a technological milestone, as Plant Maintenance Assistant Rainer L. knows all too well:

Everything flows together and is mutually enhancing. No one strikes out on their own—old learns from young, and vice versa.

Rainer L.
Plant Maintenance Assistant

Steel production: from analog to digital

Procedures, working methods, systems, processes, control, collaboration: a lot is new at the Kapfenberg special steel plant. In the old plant, work was spread out over several stations, but now many people can work together in one room: melters, crane operators, plant operators. Technology and control are centralized in one place. The use of robots and manipulators means less physical effort, but digitalization comes with other challenges.

The existing plant was highly analog. You knew every nook and cranny and every noise. The new plant has different dimensions and much more digitalization. The melting process itself has remained the same, but we are all adapting to the new conditions and systems and becoming increasingly familiar with the extensive digitalization

Karl L.
Melting Foreman at BÖHLER Edelstahl since 1995

The changeover was and is really exciting. Everything is much more digital—you feel and hear the ‘life’ of the systems less intensely. We are all learning a lot of new things, especially in terms of the technologies and processes—steam cooling of the electric furnace, heat recovery, and even automatic casting plate preparation.

Rainer L.
BÖHLER Edelstahl since 1980

Digitalisierung im Ausbildungsfokus

It is not only permanent employees who receive intensive support and training at every station in the new plant. Apprentices are also learning the skills needed to program and operate the new systems—another reason why digitalization and automation are becoming increasingly important in apprenticeships. The training of tomorrow’s generation of skilled workers at the modern training center in Kapfenberg focuses on the digital workplace. Stefan E., who joined the company in 2020 as an apprentice in Metallurgy and Forming Technology, sees this as a major advantage for the young skilled workers who will later be working in the new special steel plant:

Working closely with new technologies during our training will certainly make the transition from the existing machines to the machines in the new plant easier for us than for colleagues who have been working with the existing machines for a very long time.

Karoline S
Apprentice with voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl

But she points out that “Our experienced colleagues are way ahead of us in terms of experience, system knowledge and steelmaking expertise, and they can help us with valuable tips and tricks.” During the onboarding phase, the experienced employees will also add to their extensive basic knowledge with the changed requirements in the new special steel plant.

Stripping area with automated casting plate preparation at the Kapfenberg stainless steel plant
Stripping area with automated casting plate preparation

Kapfenberg apprenticeship campus: campus living for steel stars

Training skilled workers is a key factor in the future success of the special steel plant. A new campus for 60 apprentices is being built to ensure that training continues at the site. In the future, it will enable young people to experience adult life independently, but not alone, and to start their careers with even more support. Construction work began in summer 2023, and completion is scheduled for fall 2025. The campus will be showcased as an innovative approach to apprentice training. voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl is the largest apprenticeship company in Styria, training around 300 apprentices in 14 trades.

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Die voestalpine ist ein weltweit führender Stahl- und Technologiekonzern mit kombinierter Werkstoff- und Verarbeitungskompetenz. Die global tätige Unternehmensgruppe verfügt über rund 500 Konzerngesellschaften und -standorte in mehr als 50 Ländern auf allen fünf Kontinenten. Sie notiert seit 1995 an der Wiener Börse. Mit ihren Premium-Produkt- und Systemlösungen zählt sie zu den führenden Partnern der Automobil- und Hausgeräteindustrie sowie der Luftfahrt- und Öl- & Gasindustrie und ist darüber hinaus Weltmarktführer bei Bahninfrastruktursystemen, bei Werkzeugstahl und Spezialprofilen. Die voestalpine bekennt sich zu den globalen Klimazielen und verfolgt mit greentec steel einen klaren Plan zur Dekarbonisierung der Stahlproduktion.