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ABB modernization drives efficiency and productivity for Kanthal's steel mill

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Kanthal selected ABB to supply a comprehensive drive system and project management package for upgrading its rolling mill in Hallstahammar, Sweden. The modernization ensures improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Customer: 

Kanthal AB in Hallstahammar, Sweden

Customer requirements:  Replace existing low efficiency drive system in place for 70+ years with no available spare parts
Scope:  Comprehensive drive system upgrade package including project management
Application:  Profile rolling mill
Customer benefits:
  • Increased reliability, uptime and productivity

  • Lower maintenance costs and energy consumption

  • No need for phase compensation and total harmonic distortion (THD) is now 3-4% compared to previous 30%

Commissioning:  2021

The steel mill supplies Kanthal's production units worldwide with steel and plays a crucial role in the company’s production line as virtually all steel from the smelter passes through it. 

However, at the mill, a DC motor and a drive system had been in place for nearly seven decades. The motor had low efficiency and there were no spare parts available, which could result in long production downtimes. In 2020, ABB was chosen as the supplier for this critical upgrade at Kanthal’s rolling mill in Hallstahammar. 

“We decided to invest in a completely new drive system to modernize our rolling mill. In the end, the decision came down to how comfortable you feel with the supplier when it comes to the technical solution, and both price and the ability to deliver. Overall, we felt very comfortable with having ABB as the supplier for this solution,” says Stefan Jansson, Production Unit Manager at Kanthal. 

The project was successfully completed in the summer of 2021, and with the new drive system and motor in place, Kanthal can benefit from significantly improved energy efficiency and performance, as well as lower maintenance costs. With this upgrade, operators can access system information via a screen in the operator's cab, facilitating both running and troubleshooting the rolling mill. 

High availability – a key factor

Kanthal made the decision to select ABB's solution after it carried out a feasibility study of three alternative options, where a key part of the decision was to ensure high availability for the rolling mill as there is no back-up solution in case of unforeseen downtime. ABB's solution ensures greater availability and immunity to grid disturbances, and Kanthal also has quick access to ABB's service expertise and spare parts. 

Anders Björkroth, Project Manager at Kanthal, saw many benefits in choosing ABB when it came to futureproofing the rolling mill: 

“We are pleased to be able to improve our production process with this delivery. For us, it was crucial to choose a reliable partner with extensive experience of modernization projects, and ABB has delivered on all levels. It feels very good that we have now been able to increase our efficiency while minimizing the risk of unforeseen downtime which enables us to create greater output for our stakeholders.”

Continuous dialogue crucial for a successful project

Throughout the project, ABB's experts have made several visits to Kanthal together with various subcontractors to ensure the best solution for all parties, which is also in line with ABB's ambition to develop solutions together with the customer. 

“Through our domain expertise and experience, we have been able to help Kanthal ensure the continued safe operation of their mill. We have had a good dialogue with the customer to understand their needs and challenges, and it is gratifying to be able to complete this project with a satisfied customer who can now benefit from an improved production process,” says Björn Jonsson, Hub Manager for Process Industries at ABB.  

ABB’s delivery

In addition to upgrading to a new AC drive system including motor, ABB supplied and installed the transformer, control system and a new 70-tonne gearbox. ABB also provided the electrical and mechanical assembly, foundation work, commissioning, and test runs. 

Customer benefits

With the new installation, Kanthal can benefit from several advantages, including: 

  • Lower maintenance costs and better productivity through significantly increased efficiency throughout the drive system and drive train. 

  • Increased performance and control through the patented DTC (Direct Torque Control) feature of the ACS880 

  • High availability of the new equipment resulting in less downtime. The solution is also better equipped against external mains disturbances such as thunderstorms and voltage transients 

  • No need for phase compensation 

  • Total harmonic distortion (THD) is 3-4% compared to 30% previously 

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