With an impressive price tag of $5 billion, the ThyssenKrupp (TK) steel mill, owned by ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, is one of the largest private industrial investments in the United States, the largest facility of its kind in North America and the second-largest integrated steel mill in the world that is currently under construction. The complex, which is located on 3,500 acres near Mobile, Ala., will ultimately include a river terminal, hot strip mill, cold rolling mill, four hot-dip galvanizing lines (HDGLs), wastewater treatment facilities, and a rail yard. When fully operational, it will have the ability to annually produce 4.3 million metric tons of carbon steel-coiled product.

To meet this immense and fast-track project’s unique demands, the company hired Indianapolis-based electrical contractor Gaylor to perform a $45 to $50 million electrical installation package, which includes high-voltage transformers and substations, process line equipment and instrumentation, and general power and lighting throughout a 900,000-sq-ft facility.

“The scope of our work to date includes the installation of four HDGLs, a slab yard, and utilities in one of the HDGL buildings,” explains Jeff Frazier, vice president and manager of Gaylor’s Jeffersonville, Ind., branch. “The HDGL work features the complete electrical installation of four galvanizing lines. The slab yard assignment comprises the lighting, power distribution, crane power, and utility power to the yard, which is where the steel is collected for processing. Incoming power is fed through 35kV transformers and switchgear, and a 480V and 120V distribution system. Lighting systems include metal-halide high-bay fixtures along with fluorescent task lighting.”

Not surprisingly, the sheer size of the TK project has presented Gaylor with numerous challenges, such as a huge demand for manpower, tools, and equipment. At peak electrical construction, the contractor has employed as many as 500 electricians.

“Working with an international corporation whose language and time zone are different than ours has been challenging at times,” Frazier adds. “Continuous attention to minute details and providing regular progress reports allows our team to communicate effectively.”

Adding to the project’s challenges is its extremely tight time line, which Frazier says has required the contractor to “literally overnight” redirect resources.

“People have been relocated or hired and tools shipped or purchased, affecting field operations,” he notes. “Purchasing has been intensive to ensure all the materials are available to support several hundred people in the labor pool. We also are working with multiple Gaylor branches, various manpower groups, suppliers, and vendors to man and tool the job.”

To help keep the job site accident-free, the contractor has implemented a site-specific safety program with full-time safety personnel.

“Certain work has to be performed as high as 200 ft in the air and requires special measures to ensure the tie-off,” says Frazier. “Intensive training has been provided for each employee, and corporate safety personnel have assisted with the development, implementation, and maintenance of the program.”

Started in October 2009, the TK project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2011. Once opened, the factory will operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and will eventually add 2,700 jobs to the area. In addition, the carbon and stainless steel manufactured and processed by the plant will be used for applications serving automotive, packaging, construction, electrical, and utility industries, and will provide material for manufacturers of appliances, precision machinery, and engineered products.