NUCOR Steel selects ABB’s arc-furnace breaker, tailored to meet new high operational standard

NUCOR Steel selects ABB’s arc-furnace breaker, tailored to meet new high operational standard

Through customer-driven development, NUCOR and ABB have modernized power distribution for the steel industry.

ABB, a pioneering technology leader, has delivered a specialized Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) breaker VD4-AF, customized to the needs of NUCOR Steel for greater endurance and predictive maintenance capabilities.

ABB has enjoyed a lengthy history of support to NUCOR Steel in its supply of medium-voltage components for the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) process. NUCOR reached out to discuss a new concept with ABB for a specialized Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) breaker to meet 150,000 maintenance-free operations and easily clear furnace fault currents, up to 31.5kA.

The customized breaker also provides transformer inductive load switching, which can be quickly replaced, a floor-rolling design, and health status monitoring. Performing reliable and safe switching, the breaker will also ensure relentless EAF operation.

NUCOR selected two facilities with two breakers in operation to perform beta testing, located in San Zeno, Italy and Seattle, USA. After the satisfactory performance of the pilot installations, NUCOR extended the EAF sites to include a retrofit of their plant in the U.S. state of Indiana.

“NUCOR Steel was hoping to drive standardization and increase asset utilization levels across their facilities and knew they had a partner in ABB that would provide a solution for their needs,” said Alessandro Palin, Managing Director of ABB’s Distribution Solutions business. “Our innovative technology provided the expertise NUCOR needed to revolutionize their operations, boost output, and lead the steel market into Industry 4.0 digitization initiatives.”

“Most of our suppliers were still promoting a spring-charged mechanism with maintenance overhauls at 15,000 and 30,000 operations, but that wasn’t providing the low maintenance and operational capacity we needed,” said Jim Brewer of NUCOR Steel. “A spring-operated breaker is just not ideal for this type of high-performance application. The servo motor drive of the VD4 reduces mechanical vibrations and ensures a fast precise operational response.”

In addition to providing a solution that fits technical specifications, ABB’s customized VD4-AF introduced the benefits of a reduced total cost of ownership on breakers by up to 60 percent. The operational requirements meant there would be reduced downtime for the facility and predictive maintenance helped NUCOR to achieve their goal of having no unscheduled outages. Increased performance of the breaker led to reduced system stresses and enhanced product life.

ABB’s disruptive innovations into this market have helped modernize an industry where change can be slow, as it hinders performance. By partnering with ABB, NUCOR was able to realize enhancements that will provide relentless EAF operations for years to come. In return, NUCOR has allowed ABB to fully implement and test its monitoring software so that both companies have full insight into the benefits of system performance data, enabling ABB to adjust its system to further enhance benefits for all end-users.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in power grids, electrification products, industrial automation and robotics and motion, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization with two clear value propositions: bringing electricity from any power plant to any plug and automating industries from natural resources to finished products. As title partner in ABB Formula E, the fully electric international FIA motorsport class, ABB is pushing the boundaries of e-mobility to contribute to a sustainable future. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.


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