What happens to the chips, shavings and other residual steel left over from the production process of roller bearings at SKF in Gothenburg? We take a look at how SKF, Stena Recycling and Ovako companies work closely together to ensure that all leftover steel lives on in new products. This is how steel circulates.
SKF was founded in 1917 and is now world leader in the manufacturing of bearings. Stena has taken care of the residual material left over from SKF’s production processes for decades. Today, Stena Recycling recovers 3000 tonnes of metal and 3000 tonnes of oils and emulsions from SKF annually – materials that, through proper handling, can become new raw materials again.
“It takes several partners to close the circle for steel. Bearings manufacturer SKF at one end and smelting company Ovako at the other. In the middle, you’ll find Stena Recycling. Stena Recycling adds important value to both SKF and Ovako,” says Jens Björkman, Iron Managing Director at Stena Metal International (SMI).
Ovako, in Hofors, Sweden, manufactures steel components to customers in the bearing, transport and manufacturing industries. The steel used, in the manufacturing of their components, is residual steel retrieved from SKF. This residual steel is retrieved, taken care of, sorted, reprocessed and quality assured by Stena Recycling and then delivered as a crucial raw material to Ovako. After that, the steel becomes new steel components that return to SKF - the steel cycle is closed.
“The fact that we deliver to Ovako, located in mid Sweden, minimizes transport and ensures that there is raw material available in Sweden. This means we are less dependent on imports,” says Jens.
Residual products left over from production are waste until there is a buyer. This is where Stena Metal International comes into the picture. Via the company, processed recycled materials are shipped out into the global market, where they will eventually become new products. Customers are steelworks and metalworks located all over the globe. Sales is an important link in the recycling chain.
“Regardless of the state of the economy, we guarantee sales and help reduce risks to the manufacturing industry. We find customers despite a tough market situation,” explains Jens Björkman.
Ovako wants to be able adapt its production to meet SKF's high quality requirements – but the pace of production must be right. Providing the right type of materials at the right time is one of the most important values Stena adds. After all, neither the manufacturing industry or the smelting industry can afford to have excess material waiting around to be melted down. So, the date Stena delivers scrap to Hofors is determined by Ovako.
“We want a certain pace and certain qualities, at a certain time - when we melt and prepare new steel for SKF. The steel we sell to SKF is 100% recycled steel. In this respect, Stena is an important partner for us,” says Ola Stüffe, Purchasing Director at Ovako.
One particular residual material that has to be approached in the right way is steel shavings, which come from the grinding of SKF roller bearings. Steel shavings contain lubricating oil and are classified as being dangerous to the environment. They are also a raw material, which means the surface can begin to rust and their quality can start to diminish after only a few weeks. Stena Recycling manages all documentation, transport and handling of this complex material in an environmentally friendly and efficient manner. 96% of metal shavings can be recycled via Stena Recycling (the rest goes to energy recovery). Ovako receives the deliveries and adds the shavings to the smelting process a bit at a time,” explains Jen Björkman.
It is thanks to good working relationships with both Ovako and SKF that Stena can meet their growing need for specific and unique types of steel. “It's about being familiar with our customers' business and knowing their equipment, prerequisites and preferences, so we deliver the best,” explains Jens Björkman.