17 September 2020, 02:05
An unparalleled treasure for the steel industry is hidden away in scrap yards around the world. Scrap is often considered to be the new gold, because steel can be reused almost without loss and is the most frequently recycled product worldwide. The Swiss company and steelworks Stahl Gerlafingen AG leverages this very potential, processes old scrap, melts it down and thus makes a significant contribution to CO2 reduction in steel production. The latest addition to the team is a mobile SENNEBOGEN 840 E with 18 m equipment, which takes care of the scrap logistics when filling wagons – emission-reduced, powerful and now an essential part of the steelworks.
"Urban Mining" may at first sound like a new top seller in the download charts of gaming apps. However, the term describes an important, resource- and environmentally friendly way of returning steel scrap from the urban environment to the material cycle through targeted recycling, and generating new steel products from it. Thinking of the many tons of steel used in buildings and bridges for stabilization purposes alone, such as reinforcing bars for fixing foundations, a real treasure can be retrieved when selectively dismantling structures.
The Swiss steelworks Stahl Gerlafingen AG has also adopted this principle. By processing and smelting old scrap, the 520 employees on site produce 668,000 tons of reinforcement and sectional steel for the construction industry every year – and according to the Swiss Construction Index, the industry has been showing a continuous positive trend with minor ups and downs for 20 years; the construction business is booming, so to speak. Part of the closed materials cycle, from the installation of steel products to recycling, is now the powerful, mobile SENNEBOGEN 840 E series material handler, which is exclusively responsible for loading production wagons. Drivers flexibly switch between a SENNEBOGEN 800 l orange peel grab and a magnet to fill the rail wagons or sort the scrap, after which the wagons roll to the smelter.
Resource-saving and environmentally friendly operations
The current spirit of innovation in the steel industry is on the rise - first projects have already been launched with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions in steel production in order to achieve European climate targets. Part of this is, among other things, the use of hydrogen in blast furnace processes as an essential reducing agent instead of injection coal, or the switch to "green" generated electricity in the energy-intensive operation of electric arc furnaces. The melting of old scrap alone already contributes significantly to reducing CO2 emissions in steel production: Since steel does not have to be produced from scratch in costly, energy- and raw material-intensive processes, but can be obtained almost entirely from recyclable scrap, it is now possible to avoid up to 20 million tons of CO2 annually in Germany alone, and up to 950 million tons of CO2 worldwide (as of 2017).
The steelworks in Gerlafingen also obtains its material via short, environmentally friendly transport routes, almost 90 % of it from Switzerland and on average less than 90 km away. Due to the large per capita scrap volume in Switzerland (about 190 kg per year), it is also necessary for Stahl Gerlafingen to process the scrap masses quickly in fast handling cycles. "With the 840 from SENNEBOGEN, we have found a unique machine that is faster and has more lifting power than anything comparable in its class on the market. Four to five drivers alternate in three-shift operation, which is why we placed great value on simple, controllable technology," says Rainer Sommer, Subcontractor Manager at Stahl Gerlafingen. According to Sommer, the engine configuration also played a major role in the purchase of the material handler. Together with sales and service partner Kuhn Schweiz, the choice was made in favor of the 231 kW, fuel-efficient and emission-reduced diesel version of the 840 mobile. A glance at the emission rates achieved by the latest generation of stage V diesel engines reveals that, thanks to sophisticated technology for exhaust gas aftertreatment, far fewer emissions are released into the environment today: with 97% less soot particles and 96% less nitrogen oxide emissions, diesel machines today are clearly below the level of construction machines of around 20 years ago.
Always ready for action
It was particularly important to the company that the key safety factors of maintaining operations on the one hand and the safety of the drivers on the other were always ensured: "We work in a continuous cycle, from scrap to steel – delivery, loading, charging the furnace, smelting, pressing, finishing. If one single wheel stops turning, production comes to a standstill! We have to avoid this wherever possible," explains Rainer Sommer, emphasizing the outstanding role that reliable service plays for him. With a smile on his lips, he concludes: "And as long as I don't hear anything from my drivers, that's great praise, and they feel very comfortable in the machine".
Source: SENNEBOGEN Maschinenfabrik GmbH