Waelzholz is strengthening its market presence in Asia with an extensive investment in a new cold rolling line and further equipment at its Chinese site in Taicang. In addition to doubling production capacity, the new equipment increases flexibility at the site and makes it possible to carry out even more precise quality control during ongoing production. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, bringing the newly acquired machinery into service was a particular challenge.
“We see excellent long-term growth potential for us in China and in the neighboring markets in our target sectors of automotive, energy, and industry,“ said Marc Wiese, Commercial General Manager of Waelzholz New Material, explaining the investment in the new equipment at the Taicang site. We previously reported on the planned expansion of the local facility in the Waelzholz Newsroom at the end of 2019. “With a new production hall and the duplication of our on-site equipment – an additional four-high reversing mill, eight annealing bases, a slitting line, and an oscillator – we have broadened our footprint and are able to benefit from encouraging growth from both our existing customers and new customers,” said Wiese. Construction activities in the Yangtze River Delta and bringing the machinery into operation in the era of the coronavirus posed significant challenges on the journey from the drawing board to the production lines now in operation.
6,500 piles for a stable foundation
Taicang is located directly on the Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world at 6,380 kilometers (3964 miles). This made construction quite a challenge, as the soil conditions on site have been shaped by alluvial deposits of sand and loess over the millennia. “The soil here in Taicang has an extremely low load-bearing capacity. That’s why the foundation of the new production hall is supported by a total of 6,500 piles driven into the ground. The 18-meter-long (709-inch-long) piles rest on stable bedrock to provide secure support for the building and equipment,” explained Dr. Yu Tao, Technical Director of the factory. The pile foundation was completed in just three months, making it possible to have the new hall ready for the installation of the new machinery in 2019 as planned.