Will the need for steel disappear?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Photocollage showing steel work and a Drive

This post takes a look at the current state of the global steel industry from Danfoss Drives’ perspective and examines what the future holds. So, in answer to the question, will the need for steel disappear? It’s no; on the contrary.

At Danfoss Drives we see great potential in the steel industry. We are currently very busy in the US, China, India and Europe, but our goal is to become even busier. The markets continue to set short-term challenges for the industry; but additional targets are coming from corporate responsibility and sustainability programs. We are confident that we can help the industry to meet these new and demanding sustainability targets.

At present, Danfoss Drives carries out its business in all sectors of the steel industry. As a dedicated AC-drives supplier, our specialists have in-depth cooperation with the companies that deliver projects. Our role is to execute the drive-specific tasks that need application, process and service expertise for both new projects and modernizations.

Danfoss VLT® and VACON® AC drives are used to control the speed and torque of electrical motors. This enables smooth and accurate control of process and auxiliary equipment starting from the mining of iron ore throughout processing lines and finally to the cranes in shipping areas. Additionally, our AC drives are used to control non-motor applications such as electromagnetic stirring systems. And it’s worth taking note that the other Danfoss business segments – heating, cooling and power solutions – are also providing energy-efficient solutions for the industry.

Is aluminum the ‘greener’ metal when compared to steel?

Many people question whether aluminum is replacing the use of steel and whether, in fact, it is the greener choice. There are significant differences between aluminum and steel depending on whether the emissions come from the metal-production process or from the actual usage of equipment that is made from the metal (for example, vehicles). We firmly believe that the customer in question and the application to be used set the requirements. It’s then up to the engineers to find the most feasible solutions and define the correct materials.

Use of aluminum in vehicles, for example, automobiles and aeroplanes, has increased, but high-strength steels also offer lighter weight to applications. And composites are coming. There are many different categories of vehicles and many of them will also be made from steel in the future, for example, off-highway vehicles used in farming and large ships. In general, the total amount of steel used in the world is far greater than aluminum.

With regard to the steel industry, staying below emission limits is no longer enough. There is a need to show proactive sustainability efforts. Steel producers look to Danfoss or our partners that use our technology and products to offer them solutions in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. Energy savings and process-control improvements are the key benefits of using AC drives. Compared to constant speed, the speed control of AC motors can, in many applications, save up to 30% of energy. Reducing energy consumption will also save some operational and most probably maintenance costs, which then releases money for further emission-control investments.

The leading automation and equipment suppliers in the steel industry already recognize key products such as the VACON® NXP System Drive and the VACON® 100 INDUSTRIAL. And now, as Danfoss Drives – the second-largest AC drives supplier – we can offer an extended product portfolio and a greater range of related services.

The need for steel won’t disappear. We aim to continue to develop the most modern technologies and product innovations to enable the steel industry to lead the way in sustainability.

Author: Jussi Sihvola, Global Director, Machines & Industry, Danfoss Drives