voestalpine Schienen GmbH has a new walking beam furnace which started operations in January 2016. The high-tech furnace is the only one of its kind in the world and has a capacity of 185 tons per hour.
The project started three years ago after it was decided to make production more efficient by installing a new walking beam furnace for heating blooms. After only 19 months of construction, the first warm blooms were drawn at the start of January 2016, and four hours later the first saleable rails had been produced. Following this, 35,000 tons of rails were produced on schedule within a month.
After 35 years of service the former walking beam furnace had come to the end of its useful working life and was no longer able to cope with the demands of modern rail production. With a capacity of 185 tons, or 24 blooms, an hour, its successor has no problem meeting the volume of output required to feed the rail rolling mill. As a result of this investment voestalpine Schienen GmbH is now even more productive and able to produce within even closer ranges of temperature and profile tolerance.
This walking beam furnace with six zones, each containing two or three control areas and in which the temperature can be set both analog and digitally, is unique. Temperature progression is digitally mapped directly in the system, significantly improving production quality. At the same time the new furnace keeps CO2 and NOx emissions low, and reduces energy consumption by ten percent. Waste heat from the system of stay pipes and flue gases is fed into the voestalpine district heating system which also supplies the Styrian towns of Leoben and Trofaiach with clean energy.
voestalpine employees have received training and support in operating the new facility from the supplier company’s technicians. By combining the know-how of the employees at both companies, voestalpine operators have now perfectly mastered the task of changing profile type and quality three or four times daily.