Steel producers such as corus

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Introduction

Steel is the most widely used material in today's current climate and is used in automotive, aerospace, construction and rail sectors as well as many more. Steel is also used in the production process of nearly every item man has manufactured due to its versatility and worldwide abundance. It is due to these vital factors why steel producers such as Corus (a subsidiary of Tata Steel) continually supply the need for steel worldwide, producing revenue of £12 billion and 20 million tonnes of crude steel production per annum. [1][2]

Corus strives to improve upon its business performance, maintain the highest degree of accuracy and quality by utilising the most up to date technology and processes to provide a range of innovative solutions to the range of markets it provides. [2]

Corus' formation on 6th October 1999 between British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens; based upon the principle of bringing the best service and products to the customer, has led to develop into one of theworld's largest steel manufacturers with a total of 39,700 employees at the end of 2009. Recently becoming a subsidiary of Tata Steel, one of the world's largest steel producers, Corus pushes further to improve its customer service and steel quality [2][3]. Tata Steel's attainment of Corus was completed on 2nd April 2007 for £6.2 billion at 608 pence per share value. [2]

Corus

            Core products

Corus produces for many different markets which require different products and qualities of steels. These markets are:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Consumer Products
  • Energy and Power Generation
  • Engineering
  • Packaging
  • Rail
  • Security and Defence [4]

Each sector has a different requirement of which Corus has to provide for and meet demand to maintain its high reputation as the second largest steel producer in Europe. [1]

One of the core products is bar and billet, categorised as an engineering steel which is produced in many different forms for different applications. The bars/billets can then be hot worked to produce different forms such as: squares, rounds, coiled bars, straight bars etc. These different products can be sold into different markets for further working for specialist uses for example; engine components, suspension assemblies. [5]

Plate has many applications; Corus provide the widest available selection of size, quality and steel grade amongst steel producers. Such plate can be applied to ship plate, pipe plate, off shore plate, structural and construction plate, each with its own grading specification to meet standards. [6]

Corus also produces rail for the rail industry, a product high in demand which needs to be high quality and insure high in-service life to reduce renewal costs. Within the rail industry, Corus also produces steel sleepers, switches and cross-overs. Corus' specialised anti-corrosion methods as used on their packaging products have been applied to rail sections, to reduce corrosion and to extend rail life; an added advantage given the range of size, shape, hardness and electrical conductor rails it already produces. [7]

Manufacture processes

Manufacturing processes can be split into different sections by means of the steps taken to turn scrap or recycled steel into finished product before dispatch.

The primary melting stage of recycled steel is done by an electric arc furnace, of which there are two types of furnace; an “N” or “T” furnace.

Figure 1. Diagrams of 2N" furnace and “T” furnace. [8]

The advantage of the “T” furnace is that when the liquid steel is tapped off, the slag is not sucked into the tapping procedure by means of vortex formation lowering steel quality; an occurrence on “N” furnace tapping.

Secondary melting can be done via Vacuum Oxygen Decarburisation, Ladle furnace, or Vacuum degassing.

After melting casting takes place which can be continuous, or ingots can be used to store the steel for latter work or despatch. Rolling at Rotherham takes place through their 21 mills which can produce straight large bar, small bar, or coiled bar, however further processes such as drawing of section and coiled product are produced [9].

Technical Research and Development

Corus divides it's research and development into two core sectors: Processes, Processes and Applications, with each sector having programme management.

Corus' Processes research and development:

Ceramics research Centre

Improvement stages to design linings of inorganic material for the production of steel, iron and aluminium.

Environment

Processes and Applications linked to research and development:

Aluminium Development

Looking for new alloys to meet the specific requirements laid out for high quality products in market sectors such as aerospace and automotive.

Raw Steel production

Looking at implementing further use of minimmills to produce Long products or Flat products from hot rolling.

Integrated steelmaking

Reviewing all stages of the steel making process from the iron ore to the finished product. Specific areas such as coatings, metal or organic, are looked at to fit the market demands.

Packaging Applications

The packaging market is a highly competitive market of which Corus' packaging department provide professional knowledge to retain their foremost position.

Refractory and ceramic production.

Using by-products from steel making such as non-metallic inorganic materials to create products for various markets.

Metals applications

Research and development is directed to specific areas of the market such as; automotive, building and construction, packaging, transport and engineering. These sectors look to utilise current products to their optimum value, or looking at ways to incorporate new materials or alternatives to improve performance or reduce costs. [10]

Current business drivers and possible risks

Corus produces material for markets dependant on high quality finished metal products. Corus' dedication to provide high quality products and prioritisation of customer service has led to relationship formation between customer and Corus. Corus' high reputation has led to increased customer base and ultimately led to the event of becoming a subsidiary of Tata Steel. Corus' success and perseverance leads them onto further research and development to stay on top of the competition and provide the customer with products other steel manufacturers, processors and distributers cannot.

The recent financial crisis has affected many industries, of which indirectly and directly has affected Corus. Steel output has been reduced significantly as well as staff redundancies due to the recession. In January 2010 Corus announced 3,500 job redundancies, with a further 2,000 more job losses to be made in late February 2010 [10]. These measures have been made due to “changes in the steel market” [12].

            Current commercial and technical business improvement/maintenance strategies

The recent acquisition of Corus by Tata Steel has opened the door for Tata Steel to access the European market from its already heavily fixed presence in India and South East Asia. Tata Steel's 80,000 employees and 28 million tonne steel production competence will liquidise into Corus' operation in Europe. Further financial capabilities will, if any, push Corus further to the forefront of the steel making industry spreading the renowned reputation for quality steel product and customer service. Commercially, Corus' business base will become a recognised brand in further continents under the Tata Steel name to promote its steel making potential.

Corus has links to further education institutes around the United Kingdom which promotes the advantages of working for the firm. To further promote Corus' presence in graduate recruitment, the firm has been featured for the third year in “The Times Top Graduate Recruiters”, ranking 83rd, up 5 places on the previous year.

References

  1. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/
  2. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/company/about_corus/
  3. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/company/about_corus/corus_people/
  4. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/products/
  5. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/products/bar_and_billet/
  6. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/products/plates/
  7. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/products/rail_products_and_services/rail_products/
  8. CES Products and Product Routes. Powerpoint presentation.
  9. Introduction to Engineering Steels. Powerpoint presentation
  10. http://www.corusgroup.com/en/technology/research_and_development/activities/
  11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8118584.stm
  12. http://money-watch.co.uk/4863/corus-redundancies

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