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Steelmaker Opens Coatings Center

Thursday, November 5, 2015

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The opening of a new research and development center for advanced steel coatings is the first step toward a partnership between a university in the U.K. and a troubled global steel manufacturer.

Tata Steel, which announced in October that it would lay off almost 1,200 workers and shut factories across the U.K.—including a hot-dip galvanized line in Wales—opened its new U.K. research center in Coventry last week.

According to a Sunday (Nov. 1) article in the Coventry Telegraph, engineers and researchers with the steel company will work with the University of Warwick on developing new steel coatings at the university’s Science Park center. The lab’s opening on Oct. 28 was the first phase in an effort to move all of Tata’s R&D to Science Park.

Research Partnership

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, chairman of Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, and Hans Fischer, chief technical officer of Tata Steel’s European operations, were on hand for the new center’s opening.

© / RapidEye

Tata Steel has opened a coatings research and development laboratory at the University of Warwick's Science Park center in Coventry. The company plans to move all R&D to the center.

“We are delighted to welcome Tata Steel here to the University of Warwick,” said Bhattacharyya. “Advanced steels research is crucial for the nation, and for manufacturing, this move shows Tata Steel’s long term commitment to research and development within the U.K.”

The next phase, according to the daily newspaper, is to establish a hub for advanced steel research at the university’s Coventry campus. The University of Warwick Coventry said in a statement that research at the new facility will include studies on graphene. The R&D team will include metallurgists, product engineers, data scientists, researchers and technicians.

“This new facility demonstrates our determination to develop innovative products which help our customers become more competitive,” said Fischer. “We are investing in research to develop new kinds of steel that will help transform sectors like transport and energy.

“I’m also delighted to be strengthening our ties with U.K. academia that are already well rooted here at Warwick, as well as at Cambridge, Sheffield and Swansea universities and Imperial College, London,” Fischer said, according to the daily newspaper.

Layoffs, Closures

The opening of the new coatings research center has been one of the bright moments for Tata Steel in the past month. In late October, the company said that overproduction of Chinese steel was one of the driving forces behind the company’s decision to cut nearly 1,200 jobs in the U.K., according to an Oct. 20 article in The Wall Street Journal.

Tata Steel

Last month, Tata announced it would lay off nearly 1,200 workers in the U.K., including at its Scunthrope works in England.

In its announcement, Tata—which, according to its own website, is the second-largest steel producer in Europe—said it would close its steel plate mills in Scunthrope, England, and Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland. The company currently employs about 6,500 people at its long-products division, including 3,500 in Scunthorpe alone, according to the WSJ.

Tata can produce 4 million metric tons of rail, rod, plate and other steel products per year, the business journal said. However, in 2014, the company produced only 3 million metric tons.

As previously reported, the steelmaker also said in October that it would shut down its No. 5 hot dip galvanized line at its Shotton plant in Deeside, Wales. At 600 meters (656 yards), the No. 5 is one of the largest manufacturing units in Great Britain and takes about 50 people to operate. It is one of two hot-dip galvanized lines at the Deeside plant.


Tagged categories: Business conditions; Business matters; Coating chemistry; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Research; Research and development; Steel

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