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Efficient electrical steel lets energy flow

Production hall in Nashik, India: This is where the Electrical Steel business unit produces its efficient electrical steel.

thyssenkrupp Electrical Steel is the first manufacturer to produce grain-oriented electrical steel in India. The German company is thereby contributing to the nation’s electrification.

New product, new systems: The most important part of the production line for manufacturing grain-oriented electrical steel (above); preparing the material for magnesium oxide treatment (below).
Photo: thyssenkrupp

It’s early morning, but it’s as hot and sunny out as it would be in Germany at noon in high summer. Along the fortified banks of India’s Godavari River, in the ancient city of Nashik, children are laughing and jumping through the water. Nashik is located around 160 kilometers northwest of Mumbai, and has become a growing industrial hub. Thousands of national and international companies of various sizes and belonging to various industries are based in Nashik. One of them is thyssenkrupp’s Electrical Steel business unit.

Successful realignment

Indian tradition meets the future of electrification: Dr. Aruna Sharma, Ruchika Govil (both of the Ministry of Steel), Peter Kern (German Consulate General in Mumbai), Dr. Jens Overrath, and Kesava Venkatesan (both of Electrical Steel) during the traditional oil lamp lighting ceremony.
A festive inauguration for the new production line: Dr. Aruna Sharma, Ruchika Govil (both of the Ministry of Steel), Peter Kern (German Consulate General in Mumbai), Dr. Jens Overrath, and Kesava Venkatesan (both of Electrical Steel).

Electrical Steel GmbH is based just outside of the city, in Igatpuri, where it has been manufacturing highly efficient electrical steel for 18 years. The location recently underwent a fundamental realignment: Instead of non-grain-oriented electrical steel (NGO), thyssenkrupp Electrical Steel is now producing grain-oriented electrical steel (GO). The company has thereby become the first producer of GO in India, confirms Dr. Jens Overrath, CEO of Electrical Steel. This shift represents a smart move, since sales of NGO have declined in the past few years, while the number of competitors has increased. “We already had a few varieties of grain-oriented electrical steel in our portfolio,” says Kesava Venkatesan, Managing Director of Electrical Steel India, “so it made sense for us to expand our range.”

Thanks to our realignment, we are now the first producer of grain-oriented electrical steel in India.

Dr. Jens Overrath, CEO of Electrical Steel

Low-loss energy transfer

Grain-oriented electrical steel is used in all machines that convert, transport, and use electrical energy – such as distribution and power transformers. In order to transport electricity across large distances, these devices first raise the voltage, then lower it again. Grain-oriented electrical steel ensures that as little energy as possible is lost during this process. The material used for energy-efficient transformers and high-power transformers is called powercore®; it’s used in devices such as current transformers, inductors, toroidal cores, and generators.

powercore®: a high-tech material

  • This material is used in transformers and generators
  • Devices convert the voltage – during electricity transport, the voltage is 1,000 time greater than in a socket.
  • powercore® ensures efficient power conversion in the devices

Support from Gelsenkirchen

Promoting electrification in India: Kesava Venkatesan (pictured below to the left) and Dr. Jens Overrath at the Nashik location.
A cause to celebrate: Kesava Venkatesan (pictured below to the left) and Dr. Jens Overrath successfully realigned the Indian location.

Employees at the Indian site are supported by experts from the R&D departments in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and Isbergues, France. There, engineers work to continuously enhance the comprehensive expertise that thyssenkrupp Electrical Steel has gained over the years – and optimize the product accordingly. “Naturally, this is a great boon to us,” says Venkatesan. “If it weren’t for the pooled specialist expertise of our colleagues from Germany and France, we never would have succeeded with our realignment.” Especially not in such a short period of time and at such a high level of quality. “We managed to complete this transformation in just a year,” says Overrath, not without a hint of pride. “The team in Nashik pulled off something tremendous – not just in terms of personnel and timing, but also in terms of engineering, where they accomplished an extraordinary feat.”

Three countries, one product

  • The Electrical Steel business unit produces powercore® grain-oriented electrical steel in three locations: in Germany (Gelsenkirchen), France (Isbergues), and India (Nashik).
  • A total of 1,670 employees at the three plants collaborate closely with each other, continuously optimizing the low-loss material
  • Collaboration between the locations was necessary for the smooth realignment of the plant in Nashik

Production close to the markets

The production line can currently manufacture 35,000 metric tons of powercore® per year. “There’s room to improve, though,” says Venkatesan. The core elements of the line are the facility for applying magnesium oxide coating as well as a laser system for treating the complex steel surfaces. “The demand for high-tech grades is increasing worldwide. Many of our international customers with plants in Asia expect the same high level of material quality that they can procure in Europe and the U.S.” It’s logical to follow these customer trends in the relevant markets. There are a few more good reasons to produce powercore® in India. Firstly, the proximity to customers stabilizes the supply chain. This also enables comprehensive technical support. “Building a transformer is an extremely challenging undertaking, during which the customer continually turns to the supplier for assistance,” says Overrath. “If the supplier is ten thousand kilometers away, that’s not exactly helpful.”

Promoting electrification in India

The volume of materials ordered is also advantageous. “Customers often only require five or ten metric tons,” says Venkatesan. “It usually isn’t worthwhile to import such small volumes, which means customers are typically forced to plan far in advance and contend with large warehouse inventories.” Last but not least, the Indian government is heavily promoting the expansion of the country’s infrastructure. This particularly applies to the quick electrification of the country, through to its most remote regions. Fittingly, the opening ceremony for the new production line was attended by Dr. Aruna Sharma, Secretary of India’s Ministry of Steel. The significance of this event for German/Indian trade relations was further reinforced by the presence of the representatives of the German Embassy in Delhi as well as the German Consulate General in Mumbai.

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