Steelmaking Cycle Completed Fifty Years Ago
"The second hot test of the oxygen converter plant trial operation finished on Wednesday evening at 9.20 PM. The melt in the basic oxygen process took twenty-five minutes. It was managed by the head of the Steel Plant Slavomír Stračár, Steel Plant engineers Zdeněk and Miklánek, engineer Hromek from VŽKG, and engineers Hübner and Machner from the Austrian VOEST. The melt was followed by a short assessment meeting in which Deputy Directors Jaromír Březina and Pavel Majerský thanked the constructors for their work and expressed their belief that they would also manage to successfully complete the second oxygen converter and conduct trials in the same month. Wednesday, June 8, 1966 will go down in the history of VSŽ as the day when the steelmaking cycle was completed, said Jaromír Březina, the first Deputy Director of VSŽ."
This short editorial has been taken from a fifty-year-old issue of Oceľ východu. It dominated the first page of the 23rd issue of June 10, 1966 and captured a significant moment in the history of the company: the beginnings of steel production in the first Czechoslovakian oxygen converter steelmaking plant. It was state-of-the-art technology at that time. Only nine percent of world steel production was made in steel converters then. Our steel plant has come a long way since then. “Steel Plant 1 with three converters was followed by Steel Plant 2 in 1974, mold casting was replaced with continuous casting on lines 1 and 2 in 1982 and 1992 respectively. Gradual upgrading of the production equipment has improved safety and working conditions of employees, helped us meet the growing requirements of our customers for quality, improved environmental load in the region and, of course, increased productivity,” says Marek Lukačín, Director Steel Plants Division, adding that the team of steelmakers was, is and will always be able to fulfil all tasks which make us competitive in the market. “People say that only a company which has a team of wise, skilful, hard-working, loyal employees eager to achieve the biggest goals may be successful. Considering the excellent results the Steel Plants have been achieving on a long-term basis, I have to say that the employees of this Division have always had these qualities. Both our former and current steelmakers deserve our gratitude for their loyalty and work, and particularly for their ability to face their tasks in the hard times of the plant.”
During these fifty years, the steelworks in Košice has produced more than 182 million tons of liquid steel. Today's Steel Plants Division consists of five shops: Burden and Slab Preparation, Steel Plant 1 Oxygen Converters, Steel Plant 2 Oxygen Converters, CC1, CC2, and Maintenance. And what sort of future awaits the Division? Here's what Marek Lukačín thinks: “I'm proud of what we can do at the Steel Plants. Our employees are flexible even in this difficult situation in the market, and come up with cost-saving ideas in the Carnegie Way program without negative impacts on safety, environment, quality, or productivity. In 2015, we broke several records in the costs area and also achieved a new safety record of 470 days without injury; as regards quality, we have had the best results in divert of 0.10 percent and retreat of 0.03 percent; last year, we achieved the best results in the annual yield of liquid steel reaching 90.11 percent, as well as in the monthly yield reaching 90.75 percent. I believe that our team of steelmakers is ready to continue in achieving such excellent results in the decades to come and surpass the records attained so far. So my view of the plant's future is very positive.”