Essar Steel is among the leading suppliers of crates and caters to several industries with diverse applications that include construction, engineering equipment, yellow goods, large-diameter pipes for oil and gas as well as ship building and pressure vessels.
Being a market leader, Essar Steel Plates is at the frontier of innovation, with the plates finding use in newer industrial and structural applications. Essar Steel Plates are extensively used in warships, underwater reservoir and various structural and industrial applications of significance.
Recently, Essar Steel made a successful foray into European markets, considered a bastion of leading global plate manufacturers, with an order for 1,200 MT of Essar branded plates. The company shipped its first consignment of 600 MT of ‘Rockstar’ plates to Turkey for building tipper bodies for heavy trucks. An MoU was signed with the buyer for the supply of 20,000 MT of plates, which will be serviced by October 2014. This goes to show Essar’s world-class plate manufacturing capabilities.
Assessing market demand
With the market for structural and industrial applications evolving rapidly, the demand for thicker, wider and ultra-high strength steel plates which is crucial for certain applications is increasing.
Until recently, India, lacked a quality domestic supplier for steel plates and was forced to rely on imports. This greatly affected the core competency of the country’s manufacturing industry and there was an immediate need for a quality domestic supplier of plate products. Thus Essar Steel’s foray into the manufacturing of steel plates came in at a crucial juncture.
Realizing the burgeoning demand for plate products, Essar Steel set up an extra-wide 1.5 million ton plate mill at Hazira, which was a first of its kind in the country. The mill can manufacture plates up to a width of 5m with finishing facilities for quenching and tempering.
The plate mill is well connected by port, rail and road connectivity to ensure the prompt delivery of plates to customers and also has an integrated steel facility. Its facilities include a 10-million ton plant comprising a pipe mill, cold rolling, galvanizing, color coating and steel-processing facilities. With the addition of Essar Steel Plates, Essar Steel transformed into a company that manufactures the entire range of steel products.
Cutting edge capabilities
Essar’s high-tech plate mill has world-class processes and is supported by the best manufacturing practices and testing facilities to ensure clean steel with low inclusion. Further, the mill can produce plates with extremely low sulfur content and tramp elements, which guarantee extremely high toughness values of up to -80°C, due to its cutting edge steel making facilities. A unique identification for each final plate ensures proper traceability right from the stage of heat making to the final product.
Essar Steel can ensure the highest quality for its steel products since it has full control over the entire integrated plate-making process. Its plate mill is considered among the best in Asia with best in class facilities of quench and temper, furnace normalised plates, thermo-mechanically cooled plates along with capabilities in metallurgy to produce quality steels. Essar Steel Plate Mills strategic approach towards the value chain integration gives it an edge over the competition.
“Our state-of-the-art facility enables us to consistently deliver high quality products. Our ability to produce and supply plates in customized dimensions is creating a lot of value for customers. It is a matter of pride for us that most of our customers in India and abroad have stayed with us since the beginning,” says Mr Santosh Mundhada, CEO, Plate Mill.
The steel plates conform to international standards including ASTM, EN, JIS and IS. It has also gained quality approvals for plate supply from Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, American Bureau of Shipping, American Petroleum Institute and the Indian Navy. It is also the first Indian company – among very few in the world – to get approval for the use of the American Petroleum Institute monogram on steel plates meant for offshore applications in the hydrocarbon industry.
Essar is also one of the few Indian steel companies to be LEEDs compatible. The entire Hazira complex is LEEDs certified and produces the greenest plates compared to other steel plants.
An effective and efficient research and development arm is a strong suit of Essar Steel, which works closely with the steel plant and rolling mill to produce cutting-edge tailor-made plates.
“The application engineering function of research and development is to bridge the knowledge gap between the customer’s requirements and the steel mill’s capabilities to offer a value-added solution to the customer,” says Dr M Venkatraman, Senior Vice President and Head-R&D, Product Development & Application Engineering.
“Keeping the customer in mind, Essar has developed various new-generation plate products since the commissioning of the plate mill. All these products were possible due to the expert R&D manpower that works on two concepts – reverse engineering for import substitution and innovative engineering for development of new steels to completely design for import substitution as well as new-generation, innovative engineering products,” adds Dr. Venkatraman.
Essar has been a pioneer in developing high strength structural grades with 780 MPA in Q&T (quench & tempered) conditions, that were until recently not available in the country. Other plate products include high performance bridge steels, weather resistant steels, Q&T wear resistant steel, corrosion-resistant plates and special alloy high strength steel for constructions.
For both the domestic and international markets, Essar Steel has a definite plan for marketing its plate mill products. “In the domestic market, we continue to look at import-substitute products for hydrocarbon and defence sectors,” says Mr Maneesh Moti, Head-Marketing, Plate Mill Product and Infrastructure. “In the overseas market, we will focus on Central Asian and South American countries. Our products have been well accepted by both domestic and international markets. Being a port-based steel plant, we have better accessibility to international markets. Not only do our products conform to international quality standards of various industry bodies, but we also have approvals from leading buyers of plate products globally and locally,” adds Mr Moti.
Many clients have carried out stringent mill assessment audits and Essar Steel Plate Mill is one of the few companies in India to have received more than 60 mill audit approvals by major clients including GASCO, Shell, BHEL, Siemens, etc. Also, in a first-of-its kind initiative, Essar Steel holds regular Knowledge Forums, which is a platform that brings together major customer segments of Essar Steel to encourage debates and discussions. Each Knowledge Forum covers a specific topic and highlights a specific product – fostering interaction and value-addition.
Essar Steel India Limited’s marketing initiatives received a boost through the exposure and insight it acquired as its Plate Mill Products SBU participated as an exhibitor in the Defexpo 2014 held from February 6 to 9, 2014 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.After acquiring better insight, Essar Steel endeavors to position itself as being a key supplier of armor and high-strength plates for battle tanks, combat vehicles, warships and submarines. With this action plan in place, the Plate Mill aspires to carve a niche for itself in the defence space and be a supplier of choice.