Ljubljana, 9 June 2023 – Regional Chambers of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Gorenjska and Koroška have once again ranked SIJ Group at the top of Slovenian innovation. The two gold and one silver award for sustainable innovations are a tremendous success, with both steelmakers and the largest companies in SIJ Group now qualified for the national stage of the competition following their gold awards – SIJ Acroni with its innovation Development of High-Strength Steel SIMAXX 1100, and SIJ Metal Ravne with its innovation Development of Special Steels and Superalloys for ITER Project. The silver award for SIJ Ravne Systems for the innovation Wear Plates – Native Origin, developed in cooperation with SIJ Acroni, demonstrates how synergies within SIJ Group can create a competitive advantage.
At this year's Innovation Awards, organised by the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Gorenjska and Koroška, SIJ Group's innovators once again proved that they are among Slovenia's top innovators. They create solutions for applications that will make a significant contribution to the transition to a low-carbon society. They build on their extensive in-house expertise by collaborating with national research and educational institutions and pride themselves on steels that are lighter, thinner and longer lasting, and with that, have a smaller carbon footprint. This is an increasingly important factor in business collaboration, especially in the most demanding industries, especially those producing clean energy.
Jan Foder, Development Engineer for High-Strength Steel at SIJ Acroni and Head of Innovation Team, said on receiving the gold award: "SIMAXX 1100 steel, which we have developed in collaboration with our partners, is characterised by its higher strength, which enables us to produce taller and thinner wind turbine towers for renewable energy production, while at the same time producing more efficient parts with a longer service life, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
"This year marks the 150th anniversary of the gold medal for the innovation that made the name of the Jesenice steel industry known globally – the invention of the blast furnace ferromanganese process. The current gold award is also groundbreaking because the innovation is sustainable and helps to reduce our carbon footprint, which is one of our priority objectives. The recognition by the Regional Chamber of Gorenjska is recognition of our work and gives us direction and additional motivation going forward," said Branko Žerdoner, CEO of SIJ Acroni.
With their Gold Regional Innovation Award, SIJ Metal Ravne will also compete for national honours. SINOXX 4980 superalloy and SINOXX 4404 and SINOXX 4541 austenitic stainless steels have been developed for ITER, one of the world's most ambitious, largest, complex and expensive projects to generate inexhaustible amounts of clean energy.
"Our innovation is unique in that we have been able to produce extra large forgings with greatly improved material properties at elevated temperatures of up to 250 degrees Celsius. This has greatly extended the life of the final machine components engineered from our steel. This positively impacts sustainable use and a lower carbon footprint," says Marko Češnjaj, Researcher at SIJ Metal Ravne and Head of the Innovation Team.
"It is an important step. Both in the field of material properties of steels developed by our team and in terms of positioning SIJ Metal Ravne on the green steel market. We are the only company in Europe that has been able to deliver the expected steel properties, which puts us on the official ITER supplier list. We expect this innovation to open the door to further projects in applications that will enable the transition to a low-carbon society. All kudos must go to our team of innovators. When I see the energy and desire of our employees, I know that we can do amazing things with steel, the most recycled material in the world," emphasises Jernej Močnik, CEO of SIJ Metal Ravne.
The silver award was welcomed by SIJ Ravne Systems, where a synergistic collaboration with SIJ Acroni confirmed that they are developing innovative materials of the future to secure competitive advantages.
"Our own material for stainless wear plates and slideways gives us a competitive edge. We are now able to compete independently in this niche area, gaining market share in stainless wear plates and bimetallic slideways. Our innovation is the result of bringing together people, experts and knowledge from different fields, providing all the necessary support and thinking outside the box," says Marko Miklavc, Head of Research and Developmentat at SIJ Ravne Systems and Head of the Innovation Team.
"The innovation is an example of good practice of synergistic effects within SIJ Group. In collaboration with SIJ Acroni, we have developed a unique method of manufacturing stainless steel wear plates and slideways, which is a competitive advantage in the current state of play on the market. We will only remain among the best in global competition with good products and by sticking to the concept of continuous improvement and innovation," says Gregor Adler, CEO of SIJ Ravne Systems.
SIJ Group, which produces steel from scrap using recycling technology, already has an environmental footprint that is less than 70 per cent of the world's steel producers. Although they are already achieving the benchmark level of CO2 emissions in the steel industry by operating according to circular economy principles, they have set themselves a new ambitious target in the 2020–2030–2050 Decarbonisation Plan to halve their specific carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. They also plan to be certified to the demanding ResponsibleSteel standard by the end of 2023, making them one of the most responsible and sustainable steel producers in the world. SIJ Group's bold sustainability goals are also supported by our own innovations.
SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group is one of Europe's leading producers of stainless steel and special steels. We are committed to global and European climate goals and operate in line with circular economy principles. With our steel and steel products, we are the right partner for facilitating the green transition in Europe. We aim to confirm our sustainability credentials by achieving certification to the stringent ResponsibleSteel standard by the end of 2023. This will position us as one of the world's most responsible and sustainable steel producers. Our two largest companies are modern recycling steelworks, and our steel is recycled because it is made from steel scrap. With more than 3,800 employees, we are one of the largest employers in Slovenia and a pillar of the Slovenian steel sector. We are one of Slovenia's leading exporters. About 85% of our revenue is generated in foreign markets.
SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla, d.d.
Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
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