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"We are setting new standards with coating line 13"

Dr. Peter Biele

thyssenkrupp Rasselstein is setting a milestone for special chromium-coated steel with its new coating line 13. A resource-saving and globally unique line has been created thanks to innovative process technology. The editorial team spoke to Dr. Peter Biele, CEO of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, about this.

Dr. Biele, a major project like coating line 13 takes years of planning before it can enter operation. How did you feel during the recent inauguration of the plant – and what does this milestone mean for thyssenkrupp Rasselstein?

I am sum it up in a few words: Pride, tinged with relief. You know, I've been in the steel industry for over 30 years. So, it relieves a lot of tension when you can build and inaugurate a plant like the coating line 13 that will last longer than I will be in this job.

It takes an expert team of people who trust one another and work in a disciplined manner to complete the years of planning, and then finally put those plans into effect as far as the commissioning. I am glad to have such a team by my side.

With the investment in coating line 13, thyssenkrupp Steel has given us a great vote of confidence and recognized packaging steel for what it is: a product of the future. A milestone! Everyone in Andernach is aware of this, and we are ready to work hard to repay that trust.

On the occasion of the commissioning of coating line 13, thyssenkrupp Steel CEO Bernhard Osburg said: "With the new plant, we are at the technological cutting edge." What exactly does this statement refer to?

The coating line 13 replaces an older line – one that was no longer a suitable candidate for renovation. Here, tinplate was finished with chrome 6 (Cr6). However, EU regulations prohibit the use of this input material. That's why we switched to trivalent chromium Cr3. We have developed a new process technology for this based on a licensed patent, enabling us to replace Cr6 with Cr3 in production. Neither the quality nor the properties of the end product are changed in the process – the product remains the same, with the same magnificent product properties.

How important is the topic of sustainability to customers today – and what does the new coating line 13 contribute to this?

Today, no one can get around sustainability. Not only have many of our customers clearly defined sustainability goals, they have also often set deadlines and put numbers on their targets. With lines such as coating line 13, we are making a significant contribution toward achieving these goals. After all, the installed process units use energy efficiently and save resources. In figures, this means that media such as cooling water or waste water containing chromium are reduced by 50 to 90 percent. Energy streams such as steam or LED lighting can also be reduced by 60 percent thanks to coating line 13. Even the rectifier technology used for electroplating – which we had assumed to be fully developed – has been tweaked to consume a quarter less energy.

In addition, steel is generally a very sustainable material. Because steel, in our case packaging steel, is already produced in a CO2-reduced manner, is extremely gentle on the filling goods, and can be recycled almost infinitely after use. So we are talking about a closed circuit.

What contribution does coating line 13 make to the overall sustainable performance of thyssenkrupp Steel?

The portfolio of steel products at thyssenkrupp serves very diverse sectors, including automotive, electrical engineering, household appliances and lifestyle products. At Rasselstein, we are closing a very important gap in the consumer landscape with the special chromium-coated steel and with the coating line 13: food packaging or preservation. We are thus visible to every citizen in all areas of daily life, and a full-range supplier for everyday needs.

Currently, chromium-coated material is used above all for ends, Easy Open Ends and bottoms of food and pet food cans, as well as for mounting cups on aerosol cans, crown corks or printing ink cans. Could other fields of application be added in the future?

Of course, there are other fields of application. Our customers play a decisive role in this, often guiding us to where they see further potential. This is very important because they are closer to the end user. We then contribute our materials and processing expertise, such as forming using finite element analysis, or joining expertise with tool manufacturers. Together, we develop innovative processes and plants in this way. That's nothing new, we've always done it that way. Our very mature development and application team is skilled and can always adapt its expertise to new requirements. This is very helpful – for our customers and for us. By the way, we actually even enjoy a very good reputation worldwide in this regard.

What is the general outlook for chromium-coated steel produced at coating line 13?

The global market for packaging steel has undergone continuous growth for many years.

In the future, packaging steel will play to its strengths more and more – and not only in terms of sustainability. Packaging steel protects food over several years. There is no need for a cold chain when food is moved from where it is created and packaged to where it feeds people. At the same time, the food in the cans is safely protected from the effects of light and air. That preserves nutrients and vitamins. No other packaging medium can do the same. We are making a very valuable contribution here. And at the end of its use, each can lives on in new steel products again, forever.

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thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 100

47166 Duisburg, Germany

+49 (0)203 52-0

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