WORK is underway on a £130m project to build a mill at the Scunthorpe site of steelmaker Corus, capable of producing rails up 120m long. The company’s existing 40m mill at Workington will close in July, with production at Scunthorpe underway by the end of 2006.

Existing Medium Section Mill buildings at Scunthorpe are being extended and modified to house the plant, using 7 tonne bloom heating ovens moved from elsewhere in the site.

The facility is designed to allow rails to be produced to tighter and more consistent tolerances than was previously possible, with descaling to remove high temperature rusting. Rails will pass through seven stands once, rather than moving back and forth, minimising the temperature drop and risk associated with repeated handling of hot rails. Universal stands supplied by Vaipomini will give better control of rail dimensions, with the head and web changed independently to produce 65 different profiles from 10 to 75 kg/m. Geismar is supplying saws, and ultrasonic and eddy current testing will inspect rails for flaws, producing data which will allow rapid changes to prevent problems.

Rails can be pre-curved to counteract bending which occurs during cooling, and each rail will be stamped with a unique mark every 3m for traceability. Scunthorpe will be capable of producing up to 3000 tonnes of rail a day, which exceeds market demand, and it is expected that the plant will produce rail for 21/2 days per week, making other long products the rest of the time.

CAPTION: The existing buildings are being extended to create a rail cooling area, which will have automated equipment to minimise handling of hot rails