A world-class steel maker

Print edition : March 12, 2004

The cold rolling mill at Tata Steel. - SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

A pioneering steel company that keeps growing and consciously remains environment-friendly, Tata Steel has transformed Jamshedpur into a thriving township.

TATA Steel, formerly Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd (Tisco), the company around which the entire township of Jamshedpur was built, was registered in Bombay (now Mumbai) on August 26, 1907. It had an initial capacity of 160,000 tonnes of pig iron, 100,000 tonnes of ingot steel, 70,000 tonnes of rails, beams and shapes and 20,000 tonnes of bars, hoops and rods. It also had a powerhouse, auxiliary facilities and a laboratory. In 1917, the company increased its steel production capacity to 500,000 tonnes and introduced the modern Duplex process of making steel.

Since then the company has continued to add new units and increase capacity. It was in 1955 that Tata Steel began its two million-tonne expansion programme, the largest project in the private sector at that time. The project was completed in December 1958. Beginning in the 1980s, the company undertook in various phases an ambitious modernisation programme. The first phase, between 1981 and 1985, involved a total project cost of Rs.223 crores. This phase, among other things, saw the installation of two 130 tonne LD converters, two 250 tonne a day oxygen plants, a bar forging machine, two vertical twin-shaft lime kilns and a tar-dolo brick plant. Significantly, a six-strand billet caster and a 130-tonne vacuum arc refining unit were installed, that too in the integrated steel plant.

The second phase (1985-1992), involving a project cost of Rs.780 crores, saw for the first time in India coal injection in blast furnaces and coke oven battery with 54 ovens using stamp-charging technology. Apart from this, a 0.3 mtpa (million tonne per annum) wire rod mill, a 2.5 mtpa sinter plant, a bedding and blending plant and a waste recycling plant of 1 mtpa were installed.

The cost of the third phase (1992-1996) of the project was a whopping Rs.3,600 crores, and that of the fourth phase (1996-2000) Rs.1,300 crores. The company recently commissioned its 1.2 mt (million tonne) capacity Cold Rolling Mill Complex at a project cost of Rs.1,600 crores. This four-phase modernisation programme has enabled Tata Steel to be equipped with the most modern steel-making facilities in the world. As of today, the Tata Steel facility has a hot metal capacity of 3.8 mtpa and a crude steel capacity of 3.5 mtpa, corresponding to a salable steel capacity of 3.4 mtpa.

It is Tata Steel's constant endeavour to consolidate its position in the international market. World Steel Dynamics, a premier international magazine, has ranked Tata Steel No.1 among the 12 international companies it has identified as "World Class Steel Makers". Some of the factors that were taken into account for the ranking were: low operating costs, ownership of low cost ore and coal, favourable location for procuring raw materials, skilled and productive workforce, price paid for electricity, special company culture, profitability, and location in a country where steel demand should grow substantially.

The fifth phase lays stress on the utilisation of the intellectual capabilities of the employees to generate sustainable value for the stakeholders. Rather than create new physical assets, the focus has now shifted to how best to use those assets to get optimum value. The human resource management division of Tata Steel has developed what is called the "mindset programme", which is designed to bring about an attitudinal change among the employees. The programme seeks to inculcate in the employees self-awareness and a positive outlook.

In order to improve its performance further the company engaged the internationally reputed consultants McKinsey & Co, who suggested the Total Operational Performance (TOP) Enhancement Programme. A structured, time-bound, team-based programme, it uses the creativity and energy of the employees to increase output with the minimum investment and in the shortest possible time.

A UNIQUE feature of Jamshedpur is the Centre for Excellence. A magnificent structure, it was designed to be a common platform for organisations of varied management disciplines to work together for the promotion of professional excellence. This body is managed jointly by the corporate communication department of Tata Steel and the Society for Promotion of Professional Excellence (SPPE), a non-profit organisation founded by Tata Steel.

Tata Steel has promoted a number of enterprises in Jamshedpur.

TCIL: Prior to the First World War, India's supply of tinplates came primarily from South Wales in Britain. With the outbreak of the War, maritime trade between India and Britain got disrupted. In order to meet the country's requirement of tinplate, Tata Steel and Burmah Oil formed a joint venture, Tinplate Company of India Ltd (TCIL), in 1920. Today TCIL has emerged as the largest manufacturer of tinplate. TCIL has two units at Golmuri in Jamshedpur. One produces electrolytic tinplate (ETP) and tin-free steel (TFS), and the other is the cold rolling mill (CRM). The CRM plant has a capacity of 1,20,000 tonnes per annum. It gets its basic raw material in the form of hot rolled (HR) coils from Tata Steel. From the HR coils the plant manufactures tin mill black plate coils and the ETP/TFS makes tinplate from these.

Like other companies in the Tata group, TCIL too is committed to community development. In 1984, it set up the Community Development and Social Welfare Department to care for the needs of its 1,800-odd employees and their families, and also work towards the development of the community in general through self-help programmes.

TRF: In 1962, Tata Steel, Associated Cement Companies Ltd, Hewitt Robins Incorporated of the United States, and the Fraser-Chalmers division of GEC (United Kingdom) promoted Tata Robins Fraser, now known as TRF. Initially the company focussed on design, manufacture, supply and installation of bulk material handling equipment and systems. Later it diversified into manufacturing and supplying "engineered to order" systems in different fields. With Tata Materials Handling Systems and Tata Technodyne merging with TRF, the company has emerged as one of India's leading sources of port, yard and bulk materials handling equipment and systems. Power, steel, cement, chemical and fertilizer producers and ports, mines and collieries are some of TRF's end-user companies.

TAYO: Tata-Yodogawa Ltd (Tayo) was promoted in 1968 by Tata Steel, Yodogawa Steel Works Ltd and Nissho Iwai Corporation of Japan to make cast iron and cast steel rolls. The Tayo plant, located in Gamharia, 16 km west of Jamshedpur, is spread over 50 acres (20 hectares) and has the most modern technology at its disposal, with the help of which it has established itself as a quality rolls manufacturer. Its plant comprises suitable melting furnaces, a modern roll foundry and a sophisticated machine shop.

The company's customer base is not restricted to India; its products are in demand in West Asia, South-East Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and the U.S.

Other important subsidiaries of the Tata Steel group of companies are Tata Pigments Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel (set up in 1927, it is now one of the largest synthetic iron oxide producing plants in India), and Tata Ryerson Ltd, a joint venture between Tata Steel and Ryerson International of the U.S.

The most recent addition to the Tata Steel group is Jamshedpur Injection Power Ltd, a joint venture between Tata Steel, SKW Metallchemie of Germany and Tai Industries of Bhutan. The company produces and markets desulphurising compounds used for external desulphurisation of hot metal in the steel industry.

Jojobera power plant: Tata Steel commissioned the Jojobera Power Plant on January 13, 1996. The purpose of setting up this 1 x 67.5 MW plant was to supply power to Tata Steel, which is responsible for distributing power to all consumers in its "command area". The plant was set up at a project cost of Rs.300 crores. In 1997, the Jojobera Power Plant was sold to Tata Power, the biggest power utility in the private sector in the country, which supplies power to the Railways and domestic and industrial consumers in Mumbai, and has the capability to cater to the requirements of entire Jamshedpur..

At the time when Tata Steel's expansion and modernisation projects were in full swing, the requirement for power had naturally increased. In order to meet this growing demand, 2 x 120 MW power units were added to the Jojobera plant. The first unit was commissioned in 2000 and the second the following year, increasing the total capacity of the plant to 307.5 MW.

The Jojobera plant is one of the most environment-friendly power plants in the country. Ever conscious of the environment, Tata Steel installed state-of-the-art equipment to meet the current pollution control norms and at the same time make provisions for any stringent rules in the future.

Another important Tata group company is Tata Motors, which has been separated from Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company Ltd (Telco), one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the country. Tata Motors, which has units in Jamshedpur and Pune, occupies the second position in the country today among passenger car manufacturers with 1,33,000 cars in 2003. In the previous fiscal (2002-2003), it sold 1,04,000 passenger cars. At a press conference in Kolkata in January for the launch of the new Indica V2 model, Rajiv Dube, vice-president of Tata Motors passenger car business unit, said that for the year ending March 31, 2004, the company hoped to record a 25 per cent growth in sales.

He said that in the next five years, Tata Motors would make a car for the common man, priced at Rs.1 lakh. The company has also found its way into the international market, with Indica being exported to western European countries following a tie-up with MV Rovers.

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