«1971 1972 1973 »

Cold Strip Mill developments

Work starts on a £20 million scheme to increase cold rolling capacity from 1.1 million tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes by 1974 through the installation of a new computer controlled five-stand cold reduction mill, a new single stack annealing plant and other major improvements in the Cold Strip Mill Department. The mill, the first computerised process unit installed at the works, features roller bearings for improved gauge control.

BSC announces losses of £68 million in 1971/72.

Pre-finished steel is now in high demand, with homes, factories and office buildings taking on a new look with the use of coated steels. New coatings giving extra durability are introduced along with a wider choice of colours and finishes….and Shotton is in the vanguard.

Two new coil-to-coil coating lines

The works’ status as British Steel’s premier coatings location is enhanced with the commissioning of No. 1 Zintec electro zinc plating coil-to-coil line and a Stelvetite p.v.c.or acrylic film coating coil line. The Zintec line, the only one of its kind in the country, has a design capacity of 120,000 tonnes per annum and it replaces several old sheet lines which were producing at record levels to meet demand.

The Stelvetite line, which replaced a pilot line, has the capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes of laminated steel strip a year. It is Europe’s first continuous laminating line and can laminate strip up to 1,350 mm wide and between 0.35 mm and 1.6 mm thick operating at up to 65 metres a minute. Bonding of plastic to steel is by adhesive.

Aluminium powder coating developed

Following successful pilot line trials, a full-scale coil line for the production of Elphal aluminium powder coated strip is installed in the Product Development Centre at Shotwick on the outskirts of Shotton Works. Aluminium is applied in dry powder form to pre-treated steel strip and it is envisaged that other metals such as copper, nickel, chromium will also be applied on the line.

The line is capable of producing coated strip up to 1219 mm wide in gauges from 0.625 mm to 1.58 mm in coil weights up to 10 tonnes. It is designed to operate at up to 150 feet per minute with an annual production capacity of 75,000 tonnes. Standard coating thickness is 0.0015 inch deposited on one or both sides.

The product off the line is subsequently found to be technically flawed with a tendency for the substrate-coating bond to weaken and eventually fail over time. As a consequence, full commercialisation is not achieved and while it was believed that the technical problems could have been resolved, the view is later taken that capital investment at the time would be better directed to the next generation of plant to produce some of the more established and commercially less risky Shotton products. The project was therefore closed down in 1979.

BSC Chief Executive, Dr.Monty Finniston visits Shotton in August to hold talks with representatives of manual grade workers, staff and management at the works and local authorities. “Shotton figures in the strategic and steel processing options now being considered by the Corporation. Some £35 million has been invested in the works since nationalisation and we do not want to go haywire,” he told his audiences.

On 21st December, the Government announces a 10-year plan for modernisation and expansion of the industry, thus ending years of rumour concerning the long-term future of Shotton’s “heavy end”. To make steel on a large scale economically, it had to be produced by the basic oxygen process near to deep water ports and so all open hearth steelmaking will cease by the end of the decade. Steelmaking and hot rolling at Shotton is to continue until towards the end of the 1970s after which the works will process hot rolled coil from other steelworks.