2 min reading time
Story 096 – 2002 – Innovation Business model

From a small mill to a superlative

Vöhringen: The largest and most modern rolling mill

Since the foundation of the Voehringen plant in 1864, the strip rolling mills there have been continuously expanded and modernized. Wieland now operates a rolling mill there which sets impressive standards in many respects.

When Philipp Jakob Wieland bought the Krauss mill in Vöhringen in 1864, there was an obvious reason for this: he wanted to use the water of the river Iller to drive his machines. Above all, he was thinking of the rollers for sheet metal production, which was already bursting at the seams at his Ulm sites. The fact that there was enough space in Vöhringen for later expansions was certainly also an important reason for his decision, as for a long time, the cast plates for rolling needed to be transported the 15 kilometer long route from Ulm to Vöhringen.

This only changed with the construction of a foundry in 1891, which was followed four years later by a completely new steam-powered rolling mill. It was extended several times, and later new rolling mills were added. The dimensions became more and more impressive – both of the buildings and of the strips that could be produced. The new rolling mill from 1929, for example, was already 90 meters long and 30 meters wide; a few years later, strips with a width of 600 millimeters could be rolled here for the first time.

A milestone was the completely new rolling mill, which was built to the north of the expanded plant site from the end of 1969 and which started production in 1972. It was 360 meters long and covered a floor area of over 22,000 square meters – and a newly acquired, state-of-the-art hot rolling mill.

The increase in slab weights, which soon began, led to constant mechanical additions and structural extensions; by 1985, a coherent structure had been achieved together with the older parts of the plant in the south of the rolling mill. A further increase in slab weight and the decision to expand the entire strip line to a sheet width of 800 millimeters called once more for new machinery – and more space. The rolling mill was therefore enlarged again between 2000 and 2002; it now measures 750 meters in length and is considered the world's largest.

Record-breaking were also the costs of around 100 million euros – Wieland's largest single investment to date – spent also in state-of-the-art machinery and plant technology. The work processes are largely automated and the plants are state-of-the-art. The energy efficiency is also up-to-date: Pre-rolling furnaces are integrated in the hot rolls which operate with recovered heat. The rolling mill in Vöhringen can claim to be not only the largest but also the most modern of its kind.

black and white photography of the construction site

At the beginning of the 1970s, a new rolling mill was built on a greenfield site next to the Vöhringen plant. Space for later extensions was already planned.

Photography of the plant

Industrial plant of superlatives: The rolling mill in Vöhringen now occupies the entire northern part of the plant (left in the picture) and is 750 meters long.

Factory hall with systems

Impressive is not only the size of the building – but also the equipment with the most modern, tailor-made systems, which enable a largely automated operation.