Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), the Chhattisgarh-based arm of state-run Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has dispatched the first 260-meter panel rake from the Flash Butt Welding Plant (FBWP) at Sabarmati in Gujarat.
“The project was taken up in response to the increased demand from Indian Railways for 260-metre-long welded rail panels,” the BSP said in a statement. Doing so will augment long rail panel supplies from Universal Rail Mill (URM) and Rail and Structural Mill (RSM) of BSP.
A senior SAIL-Bhilai official said recognizing the imperative to meet the increased demand of Indian Railways, SAIL proposed utilizing the flash butt welding plant facility of Indian Railways at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad for welding 13/26 meter rails into 260-meter long rail panels. The input rails are being supplied from the Rail and Structural Mill of BSP, he added.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with Indian Railways on December 26, 2022, and thereafter SAIL-BSP took over the Sabarmati welding plant of Western Railways. The Plant was in the commissioning stage and after overcoming many challenges, commercial production commenced from FBWP-Sabarmati on October 18, 2023. Multiple teams from BSP and RDCIS-Ranchi were deployed to help in the commissioning of the Plant, standardization of welding parameters and starting of the FBWP Sabarmati Plant, the official said.
The Sabarmati facility is expected to produce 100,000 tonnes of 260-meter welded panels annually. The official said the achievement was not only a testament to SAIL-BSP’s commitment to excellence but also signified a leap forward in the nation’s rail manufacturing capabilities. It also demonstrated the close collaboration between SAIL and Indian Railways.
SAIL-Bhilai has also taken certain measures to enhance the despatch capacity of plates to more than 5,000 tonnes per day. The company said the Plant’s plate mill produces a wide range of both special steel grades of plates, including high tensile and boiler quality plates and garden variety of plates such as mild steel plates, all of which are in demand from customers for various applications.
In the current fiscal, the mill has recorded best-ever production of value-added special steel plates as well as total plates production. As against an average of less than 100,000 tonnes per month, the mill is currently producing and despatching more than 120,000 tonnes per month. A need was felt to enhance the capacity of daily loading and despatching of plates. The Plant has also taken steps to introduce data feeding in the Plant’s systems at the loading point itself, as a step towards digitisation and implementation of Industry 4.0.