A western Pennsylvania company said technology at its new mill processes steel up to 20 percent faster than conventional means.
The $1.2 billion Allegheny Technologies facility, about 19 miles north of Pittsburgh, replaces a plant that opened more than 50 years ago.
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The mill is the most expensive investment in the company's history, said Robert Wetherbee, an Allegheny Technologies executive vice president for the flat-rolled products group.
The state-of-the-art steel mill represents Allegheny Technologies' commitment to the area and allows the company to better compete with other national and international steel producers, he said.
The company has seven manufacturing facilities in the region and employs about 2,500 people. The new mill could produce at least $100 million in new cost savings this year.
Hiring will likely only come as employees retire, Wetherbee added. Total employment will not rise significantly despite the new facility, but the company will look for people with technology skills and technical or engineering degrees.
"Jobs are changing from manual labor to process control," he said. "There are not a lot of people on the shop floor. People are in the control rooms."
Most workers at the new rolling mill will use computers to operate and monitor automated processes in which slabs of steel are flattened and then rolled into coils before being sent to other Allegheny Technologies facilities for finishing.
"You're not going to find another factory like this one in the world," Tom DeLuca, Allegheny Technologies vice president and general manager of primary operations, told the Pittsburgh-Tribune.