From zero to hero

For many years, ANDRITZ was and still is known as the quality provider for pickling lines, acid regeneration plants, annealing and coating lines, and similar treatment in the world of carbon and stainless steel. Aluminum was certainly not the material we were associated with. Within just a single decade, that has completely changed: ANDRITZ Metals has become the leader in this market segment. How? Read on to find out!

Arthur Stingl

“I remember when we started working on aluminum strip processing lines well. It was an exciting time and we made some good strategic decisions. However, the most important factor is the really amazing job that the ANDRITZ processing line team has done over the last decade to become market leader!”

Arthur Stingl

The success story of aluminum processing lines started with an upgrade project at AMAG Austria Metall AG in Ranshofen a little more than 10 years back: The existing continuous annealing line BDZ3 was extended with a chemical treatment section, roll coater passivation section, and prebake furnace. Our team, quite capable of addressing such topics, had to become acquainted with the specifics of aluminum lines. Of course, the AMAG team had to take on our approach to aluminum. The project team managed to build a very good customer relationship, acquired the necessary technological know-how and worked very hard to complete the upgrade mostly during production, with only a short line stop period. It surely helped that the customer and our project team from our Linz office literally spoke exactly the same language.


A second and notably bigger step was the agreement with the customer to supply both the continuous heat treatment line (CHTL) and the automotive treatment line (ATL) for their works in Iowa. The customer had developed a new passivation process (known and patented as “Alcoa 951”). However, this game-changing process does not allow any contamination with iron – which is where our experience with polypropylene (PP) came in more than handy: we offered all process equipment with ANDRITZ treatment tanks made of PP, which turned out to be a decisive factor for our customer. What’s more, a lot of clever details that we considered standard in stainless and carbon steel lines were unknown in the world of aluminum and supported our position as a competent and innovative supplier.

The good cooperation with the customer resulted in a follow-up order for another heat treatment line in Tennessee. This line, built with floatation furnace supplier Ebner, was until recently the line with the longest floating furnace worldwide, with a complete floating length of 132 m. Only in our recent Steel Dynamics Inc. contract is this surpassed by a few meters.


The automotive industry proved to be the driver for aluminum processing lines, especially when Ford announced in 2015 that they would be producing the F150 model with a full aluminum body. In addition, Ford requested the new Alcoa 951 passivation for improved bonding performance. ANDRITZ having built the reference line, thus had a competitive advantage.


While ANDRITZ is also an important player in the field of AHSS and stainless steel, which help the automotive industry to build better and stronger, yet lighter cars, it is aluminum that can really make cars lighter. Although aluminum is not as strong as steel, it still allows a weight reduction of roughly 50% for certain parts. The resulting lighter cars will consume less fuel and emit less CO2. Basically, the same applies to electric vehicles (EV) – the lighter they are, the more efficient they can be.

Continuous heat treatment line


Tension leveler for automotive aluminum with PU rolls



Despite the efforts of our competition to fight back, we even improved our position in this newly entered segment and managed to secure further contracts with Constellium and another major supplier in North America.

At Constellium in Singen, Germany, the ANDRITZ team continued its flexible, customer-centric approach and successfully integrated a new

air & water mist cooling system for the furnace section, a pickling and surface treatment section, and a prebake furnace into an existing heat treatment line. The good performance resulted in Constellium awarding two parallel contracts to ANDRITZ. The first was a continuous annealing and processing line (CALP) in a greenfield location in Bowling Green KY, which proved very interesting due to the joint venture of Constellium with Japanese UAJC.

The second CALP was integrated into an existing production building at Constellium in Neuf-Brisach, France. The contract included the complete terminal and process equipment, electric and automation, wastewater treatment, and full responsibility for installation on site. To achieve a fast ramp-up curve and start of production, Constellium put all their experts on this project. They insisted on careful preparation and review of the electro-mechanical functional description, extensive software testing during the integration tests, and detailed commissioning schedules focusing on producing qualification coils for OEM approval. We also learned a lot and gained great experience from this project.


At a project in Lewisport, Kentucky, ANDRITZ supplied one of the major North American aluminum companies with two fully automatic CALP lines, directly connected to central high-bay storage. This time, we unfortunately did not manage to fully satisfy our customer. While we were working on settling this topic, US competition laws required the location to be sold. Today, though, Commonwealth Rolled Product is an important key customer for the ANDRITZ service  business.


Aluminum can be used for both structural and exposed parts



Further good examples of a successful customer relationship, built on trust and reliability, are the projects awarded by ELVAL, Greece. After an initial contract to revamp the cleaning and pickling section of their lacquering line no. 1, Elval commissioned ANDRITZ to build their new lacquering line no. 2. This is not a pure treatment line, but a coating line with complex pretreatment of the material, such as cleaning, pickling, and passivation roll coating. After that, the lacquer is applied with the lacquering coater and dried on the strip surface before recoiling.


One project we are currently focusing on, with a very high level of activity, is at AMAG Ranshofen, Austria for the installation of pickling line 2. The project will start commissioning in the summer and start production in October this year.

With a highly efficient spray pickling system, the line is designed for both hot-rolled and cold-rolled strip to cover the broad product portfolio of AMAG Rolling. A particular emphasis is placed on the careful production of bright products. The new strip pickling line allows fast product changes, and therefore very flexible production planning. An autonomous coil transport system brings the coils to the line and then collects the coils produced.


A similar success was achieved in the fall of 2022 at Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI): Ebner and ANDRITZ were awarded two CASH lines for automotive material production, one of the core products of SDI’s new aluminum business: SDI decided to invest its profits from steel production and form a new strategic player – Aluminum Dynamics. The new state-of-the-art facility to be built in Columbus, Mississippi will use a significant amount of aluminum scrap, provided by SDI’s metals recycling platform OmniSource. SDI intends to apply its experience and knowledge in the field of metals recycling in the production of flat-rolled aluminum products. The greenfield project targets a production capacity of 650,000 metric tons of aluminum strip per year, mainly for applications in the sustainable beverage packaging, automotive, and common alloy markets.

The decision to select ANDRITZ as supplier for the CASH lines (continuous annealing and solution heat treatment lines) can be attributed to our good reputation and the customer contacts we established during our first US projects.


Typical aluminum processing line with the main sections entry section with uncoilers and stitcher, looper, degreasing, furnace & quench, tension leveler, pickling & passivation, looper, inspection, electrostatic oiler, prebake furnace, recoiler with belt wrapper



In 2017, we started our localization by intensifying our efforts to involve our entities in China and India in all steps of order execution, including project management, engineering and supplies, and site supervision. The first two contracts executed together were for Shandong NANSHAN in China, including a continuous heat treatment line (CHTL) and a continuous process treatment line (CPTL). Soon after that ANDRITZ won a contract at HINDALCO (Hirakud, India) to supply a tension levelling and degreasing line with high pressure cleaning.


At Nanshan, the ONE ANDRITZ team was given the opportunity to gain new experience of both technical improvements and customer-specific requirements. In addition to well-known automotive materials (5xxx and 6xxx alloys), the CHTL is used to produce new materials for demanding aerospace applications (2xxx alloys). Not only is the material demanding, but the users of this material class also add to the complexity of such projects.

In technical terms, aluminum strip is tricky to handle: the material leaves the quench section of the heat treatment furnace highly deformed, thus posing great challenges for the tension leveler. After several tests and improving the oil spray system and roll coating of the tension leveler rolls, we were finally able to achieve the required product quality to the full satisfaction of the customer.

As if the various challenges of this project – material, customer, site, to name just a few – were not enough, during the final stages of the commissioning period the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, changing people’s lives around the globe. The extremely severe restrictions in China had a great impact on further project progress. Thanks to  ANDRITZ’ commissioning experts, who returned as soon as possible and finished all open items, we were able to complete the project to the full satisfaction of Nanshan.


"Our experts used the time on site to test and apply innovative ideas: improved coil centering and automatic flattening in the entry section of the line. The latter was even filed for patent. Both of these improvements will be applied in future lines."

Thomas Hofbauer

Such improvements, the very good customer relationship, and the great performance of the line have led to ANDRITZ being awarded three additional contracts: two continuous heat treatment lines (CHTL) and one process treatment line (CPTL). The technical performance of the lines is to be similar to the first two lines, including the production of aerospace materials (2xxx) on CHTL3. ANDRITZ decided to continue with further localization: ANDRITZ China has accepted complete responsibility for all three lines, including project management, engineering, purchasing, manufacturing, QHSE, installation, and commissioning. Only five core machines will be delivered from Europe. Now, the engineering work of the global team is already in full swing for the first line (CHTL4).

Overall, ANDRITZ has supplied and commissioned over 23 aluminum processing lines in the last 12 years and is currently working on five orders recently won for automotive treatment lines.