Kidderminster-based bellows and machine protection specialist Beakbane has supplied special folding covers, capable of withstanding splashes of molten steel, to the newly revitalised Redcar iron and steel plant.

Having been mothballed for two years by former owner Tata Steel, the key assets of the plant were acquired by the Thai company Sahaviraya Steel Industries (SSI), which set about bringing the blast furnace, steelmaking plant and continuous casting line back into production.

Now back in full swing, primarily producing steel slab to be exported to Thailand to be rolled into coil for the automotive and white goods industries, the revival of the plant has had a major positive impact on Redcar and the surrounding area.

The covers supplied by Beakbane are used on the continuous casting line – where molten steel is poured into special cooled moulds to produce a continuous strip of solid steel. They perform a critical role protecting the lifting mechanism on the tundish car that helps control the flow of molten steel from the ladle to the tundish – a holding vessel which ensures a steady flow of molten steel into the mould.

The covers have to be able to withstand splashes of molten steel at 1,600°C as well as the tough environment of a heavy process plant. Beakbane worked with the previous owners of the plant to design a special design of folding cover using a heatproof aluminised glass cloth and incorporating a steel scissor control mechanism to ensure that it could move freely with the tundish car.

When SSI bought the continuous caster out of mothballs and back into production it needed to be fully refurbished, so it turned to Beakbane to supply ten new covers for the line.

Peter Noteyoung , Plant Engineer at the Continuous Casting Plant said: “Beakbane gave us a quality and prompt service at a time when deadlines were critical. At SSI we would not hesitate to use the company again.”

Beakane managing director Mike Southwell added: “We are delighted to have been able to play a part in bringing iron and steelmaking back to Redcar – which has given the Teesside economy such a boost.

“Not all of our projects require us to come up with a solution that can resist molten metal. We are more often protecting delicate machinery from debris, rail locomotives from flying ballast or machine tool drives from coolant and metal chips. I think that this project underlines our ability to apply our manufacturing strengths and technological know-how to provide a bespoke product to suit any customer’s specific requirements.”