16 Dec 2020

Christmas cheer for Special Profiles patent

Christmas celebrations have come early to colleagues in our Special Profiles business as their unique descaling process has been awarded yet another patent, its 4th in just 2 years.

The award-winning descaling system, which was developed in-house over 6 months, was the result of a £2 million investment. It uses carefully-controlled high-pressure water to break scale formed on the steel bars during the reheating process as they’re discharged from the mill’s 2 reheater furnaces. After descaling, the bars then go on for rolling to the desired profile.

Our ground-breaking system was successfully installed at the Skinningrove mill in 2017 and since then, the accolades – and the patents – just keep on coming.

Dominic Hill, Customer Quality and Technical Manager, said: “Our approach allows all-round dynamic movement of the water spray heads, which leads to the most effective descaling anywhere in the world. The intelligent use of lasers to position the system in response to real-time feedback is an absolute game changer.”

The complex technology that’s led to this impressive accomplishment, developed in partnership with Italian specialists INOXIHP, now covers the full British Steel special profiles product range, including semi-finished products.

Dominic said: “This development was so broad it can’t be attributed to one person or even a core group. It required an enormous effort from the mechanical and engineering teams, a significant willingness to persevere with implementation from the operations teams and a well-managed approach to the development phases with the process control, R&D and technical teams.

“This patent, which goes live on 16 December 2020, is a great tribute to the formidable expertise and determination of our skilled people.”

The success of the descaling system has been clearly illustrated in the growing number of new customers and orders for the business. With descaling effectiveness boosted by 300% in comparison to its forerunner, the system really comes into its own where product surface finish is critical.

Dominic explains: “We know surface finish can be key across virtually all our Special Profiles markets. Because we can now offer such premium products, we’re seeing world exclusivity supply arrangements put in place as customers, and industry experts too, acknowledge the quality of our products’ surface finish.

“We’re confident we can give customers the advantage they need in this highly demanding and competitive arena, and with the multiple trials we’re scheduling in the coming months, it looks like our state-of-the-art descaler has an exciting and positive future.

“So many should be so proud of the part they played in such an inspiring project. It’s really encouraging to see how our expertise and ambitious technological aspirations are gaining an increasing level of global recognition.”