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JSW Modernizing Baytown Plant

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Plate and pipe producer JSW Steel will revamp its Baytown, Texas, operation to create what President and CEO John Hritz calls “the plate mill of the future.” The company also plans to construct a separate hot mill in conjunction with the modernization of the plate mill.

The existing facility was built in the 1960s and 1970s as a U.S. Steel operation. The site has the disadvantages that come with being a 50-year-old mill, though "the footprint is monstrous,” Hritz says. In the modernization, which is expected to be completed within two years, the company will overhaul virtually all of its processes, while removing a 4-high and roughing mill. The roughing mill will be scrapped, but the 4-high will be saved for potential use later.

Since joining the company in 2015, Hritz has seen the company improve many of its steelmaking fundamentals, reducing OSHA recordables by 69 percent, mill down time by 54 percent, rejections by 47 percent, releveling by 76 percent and customer claims by 91 percent, he says. The company produces both plate and pipe product.

Though rated at 1.2 million tons capacity for the plate mill, Hritz says the mill’s actual capacity is closer to 800,000 tons for plate products and another 500,000 tons on its contiguous pipe mill. 
Equipment supplier Danieli Group has been tabbed to complete the modernization. Two other companies were considered for the project. It will be undertaken in stages, with the longest outage being 45 days for the removal of the 4-high and roughing mills.

At the same time, JSW is pursuing the construction of a hot mill, with the most up-to-date electric arc furnace and caster technology. A final site has not yet been selected, though the facility will be located in the South, he says. “It could end up being on this property here, it depends.”

Hritz says the timing of the project is perfect, given the new presidential administration’s commitment to the rebirth of the domestic manufacturing economy. “We’re ridiculously excited about it. We’re tired of waiting. Our vision is done, and we know where we’re going,” Hritz says.

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