Swiss steelworks uses Sennebogen 840 E series for uncovering ‘new gold’

Published 2/12, 2020 at 14:29

Treasures for the steel industry are often hidden away in scrap yards around the world. Scrap is often considered to be the new gold, as the steel can be mostly reused and is frequently recycled worldwide. The Swiss steelworks company Stahl Gerlafingen AG leverages this very potential, processing scrap, melting it down and thus making a significant contribution to CO2 reduction in steel production. Helping it, the company’s latest addition is a mobile Sennebogen 840 E which takes care of the scrap logistics when filling wagons.

‘Urban mining’ is an important, resource and environmentally friendly way of returning steel scrap from the urban environment to the material cycle through targeted recycling and generating new steel products from it. Thinking of the many tons of steel used in buildings and bridges for stabilisation purposes alone, such as reinforcing bars for fixing foundations, a real treasure can be retrieved when selectively dismantling structures. 

The Swiss steelworks Stahl Gerlafingen AG has also adopted this principle. By processing and smelting old scrap, the 520 employees on site produce 668,000t of reinforcement and sectional steel for the construction industry every year. Furthermore, and according to the Swiss Construction Index, the industry has been showing a continuous positive trend in this area for 20 years. Playing a part in the process, from the installation of steel products to recycling, now sees a powerful, mobile Sennebogen 840 E series material handler, which is exclusively responsible for loading production wagons for the company. Drivers flexibly switch between a Sennebogen 800 l orange peel grab and a magnet to fill the rail wagons or sort the scrap, after which the wagons move to the smelter.


Resource saving and environmentally friendly operations

The current spirit of innovation in the steel industry is on the rise with the first projects having already been launched with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions in steel production in order to achieve European climate targets. Part of this is, among other things, the use of hydrogen in blast furnace processes which is an essential reducing agent instead of injection coal, or the switch to ‘green’ generated electricity in the energy intensive operation of electric arc furnaces. The melting of old scrap also contributes significantly to reducing CO2 emissions in steel production as steel does not have to be produced from scratch in costly, energy and raw material intensive processes. It can now be obtained almost entirely from recyclable scrap, meaning that it is now possible to avoid up to 20Mt of CO2 annually in Germany alone, and up to 950Mt of CO2 worldwide (as of 2017).

The steelworks in Gerlafingen obtains its material via short, environmentally friendly transport routes, with almost 90 % of it being from Switzerland and, on average, less than 90k away. Due to the large per capita scrap volume in Switzerland (about 190kg per year), it is also necessary for Stahl Gerlafingen to process the scrap masses quickly in fast handling cycles. “With the 840 from Sennebogen, we have found a unique machine that is faster and has more lifting power than anything comparable in its class on the market. Four to five drivers alternate in three shift operation, which is why we placed great value on simple, controllable technology,” says Rainer Sommer, subcontractor manager at Stahl Gerlafingen. According to Sommer, the engine configuration also played a major role in the purchase of the material handler and together with sales and service partner Kuhn Schweiz, the choice was made to go with the 231kW fuel efficient and emission reduced diesel version of the 840 Mobile. The emission rates achieved by the latest generation of stage V diesel engines reveals that thanks to sophisticated technology for exhaust gas after treatment, far fewer emissions are released into the environment today. With 97% less soot particles and 96% less nitrogen oxide emissions, modern diesel powered machines are clearly more environmentally friendly than in previous years.


Always ready for action

It was particularly important for Stahl Gerlafingen that the key safety factors of maintaining operations on the one hand, and the safety of the drivers on the other, were always ensured. “We work in a continuous cycle, from scrap to steel, delivery, loading, charging the furnace, smelting, pressing, finishing. If one single wheel stops turning, production comes to a standstill! We have to avoid this wherever possible,” explains Rainer Sommer, emphasising the outstanding role that reliable service plays for him. He concludes, “And as long as I don't hear anything from my operators, that's great praise, and they feel very comfortable in the machine.”

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