AFV Beltrame leads the way toward energy-efficient steel

AFV Beltrame leads the way toward energy-efficient steel

When the 2008 financial crisis shook the global steel industry, Italy’s AFV Beltrame Group, a prominent producer of European steel, was no exception. Beltrame was faced with declining volumes and soaring energy prices after the crash. Across all its plants, Beltrame consumes 1.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity every year, and it is the top operating expense behind the scrap used as raw material. Beltrame’s decision makers decided to prioritize steel energy efficiency to get ahead and improve the sustainability of its products.  

Operators undertook a 360-degree energy efficiency project, including optimizing various aspects of the steel plant’s operation through investment in new technologies. The project touched every aspect of the operation, from the furnaces to auxiliary systems such as compressed air, water, pumping and smoke extraction. 

Beltrame deployed ABB motors and drives in critical processes to great effect. The drives regulate the motors speed in crucial systems such as the water pumping system, reducing energy consumption. Similarly, the drives adjust the suction power of the flue gas extraction system based on furnace activity, conserving energy during low-heat phases. 

ABB drives were also employed in packing lines, further contributing to energy-efficient steel production. Remarkably, the investments in energy-efficient equipment paid for themselves within an average of 18 months. The company succeeded in reducing energy consumption by two to three percent annually at each plant. 

“We have accomplished this through technological evolution and unparalleled attention to efficiency on all fronts,” explains Gianmaria Zanni, Group Energy Manager at Beltrame. “And we were fortunate to choose a partner like ABB. In fact, it was our maintenance and technical people who strongly advised us to select ABB products. We did some testing and found that ABB equipment is more robust and reliable in heavy processes, and in dusty, harsh environments like ours.” 

“That makes a huge difference in a steel plant because reliability is essential. If a drive failed and we had to shut down a furnace or a production cycle, the cost would run to thousands of euros per hour. Our people have also commented that when they need support with ABB products, there’s always someone to talk to. So, if any issues come up, they can sort them out quickly and easily.”