SSAB Special Steels

Global steel supplier and service partner in Quenched & Tempered Steels (Q&T) and Advanced High-Strength Steels (AHSS)

Fast facts

SSAB Special Steels’ wide product portfolio includes a number of unique steel grades. Hardox® - our global brand of wear steels - has the highest awareness of all brands in the steel market. Through close collaboration, we help our customers to utilize our high-strength steels to create new, innovative steel solutions and applications.

Number of employees: Approximately 2,900

Share of SSAB Group's total EBITDA: 32% (2019)

Sales in 2019: SEK 18,495 million

Head of SSAB Special Steels: Johnny Sjöström, EVP

Share of SSAB Group's total sales: 23%

Steel Shipments 2019: 1.2 million tonnes

Market position

SSAB Special Steels is the global leader in high-strength steels and is represented in markets in Europe, the Americas, APAC, the Middle East and Africa. About 50% of sales are in Europe and 20% in North America. SSAB defines the special steel market as hot-rolled products with a yield strength of 690 MPa and above. The total market is estimated to be around 5 million tonnes and, since demand grows structurally, it therefore outperforms demand growth for standard steel.


Market drivers

Requirements and demand for improved material and energy efficiency, as well as for productivity, are important drivers leading to the growing use of high-strength steels, which provide advantages in the form of stronger, lighter and more durable steel solutions. The penetration of high-strength steels is increasing in all markets, as customers upgrade their steel usage from standard to high-strength steels. In emerging markets, including Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, where the use of high-strength steels is still relatively low, the market potential for high-strength steels is even higher than in mature markets like Europe and North America.
Market position

Strengths

  • Unique and highly advanced products
  • Flexible production system with SSAB Special Steels capacity in Oxelösund, Raahe, Borlänge and Mobile
  • Combined SSAB Special Steels capacity, including ongoing investments, of more than 1.6 million tonnes
  • Unique go-to market model with a global network serving more than 130 countries
  • High product quality with consistent properties
  • Well-known and highly-respected product brands
  • Close customer collaboration and joint projects with customers result in more highly paced development and increased competitiveness

Strategy

Strategic targets

SSAB Special Steels aims to strengthen its leading position in high-strength steels as well as in related value-added services. The market for high-strength steels has to a large extent been driven by SSAB. Since 2000, SSAB’s shipments have increased by an average of around 8% a year, outperforming the general steel market. Structural growth is generated by the manufacturers’ need for higher productivity and better sustainability performance in machinery and equipment. Upgrading components to more advanced steel enables weight reduction and extended service life.

Development of new products and applications is often done in close cooperation with customers. As early as possible in the development of a new product – be it a tipper, a chute or a crane – SSAB’s engineers work together with the customer in developing solutions that best utilize the properties of each steel grade.

With an estimated market share of 25%, SSAB is the largest producer in the global market for high-strength steels. There is a large number of competitors with relatively small market shares and SSAB sells roughly 3 times more in terms of volume than its closest competitor. Most competitors focus on sales to service centers and large OEMs in selected markets. Apart from those segments, SSAB’s unique global sales network enables it also to reach small and mid-size customers in all corners of the world. This network includes own stock locations, local sales force as well as technical support. 

To further develop the channels to the market, SSAB Special Steels is expanding the Hardox® Wearparts network as well as SSAB Services. Hardox® Wearparts is a network of mainly independent companies offering wear parts and just-in-time repair services to end-users in the local aftermarket in the mining, quarrying, recycling and construction sectors. SSAB Services focuses on providing products and services to machine builders and the after-market business. This strategy allows SSAB to maintain a high service level in smaller and fragmented markets, and also to gain exposure to end-users’ operating expenditures (OPEX), which has a stabilizing effect over the business cycle.

A growing volume of high-strength steels is a key in the overall objective of the SSAB Group to improve the product mix. High-strength products are produced also in the mills of SSAB Americas and SSAB Europe and increasing those volumes means allocating less capacity to standard products. By 2026, when the steel mill in Oxelösund has been converted to an electric arc furnace (EAF) and the production of sponge iron using HYBRIT technology has started, SSAB Special Steels will be able to offer fossil-free premium products.
 
  • Grow shipments by 23% from 1.3 million tonnes in 2019 to 1.6 million during 2022
  • SSAB Services is to increase sales to SEK 4.5 billion during 2022 through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions
Customers and end users

Customers and end-users

SSAB Special Steels’ main end customer segments include manufacturers of heavy transport, construction machinery and material handling including mining and recycling. SSAB Special Steels works in close collaboration with large OEMs, as well as with smaller and mid-sized customers through a global organization. Examples of customer applications include booms and chassis for mobile cranes, tipper bodies for trailers, and buckets for construction and mining machinery. We share a goal with our customers to make lighter, stronger end-products with better lifting capacity, higher payloads, longer service life and lower fuel consumption and emissions.

Main customer segments and applications:

  • Heavy transport, incl. trailers, trucks, railway transport, agriculture and forestry
  • Construction machinery, incl. lifting (dumpers, loaders and cranes)
  • Material handling, incl. mining and recycling (crushers, buckets and conveyors

High-strength structural steels:

  • Mobile cranes (booms, chassis and support legs)
  • Truck-mounted cranes
  • Aerial work platforms
  • Chassis for trailers and trucks
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Offshore (selected components such as jack-up rigs)

Wear steels:

  • Dumper bodies for both off-road and on-road use
  • Buckets 
  • Containers
  • Stationary mining equipment such as crushers
  • Recycling equipment
  • Wear parts to several segments and applications 

Protection steels:

  • Vehicles for safe transportation of people and valuables
  • Protection for buildings and counters
     

Tool steels:

  • Molds
  • ool holders
  • Axles

Products and services

SSAB Special Steels has the widest product portfolio on the market, combined with deep knowledge of steel properties and performance. SSAB Special Steels is responsible for all SSAB’s Q&T and hot-rolled AHSS with yield strengths of 690 MPa and above. These products can further be divided into structural high-strength steels, wear steels, protection steels and tool steels. SSAB Special Steels’ product portfolio includes a number of brands and product lines, each of which has its own unique characteristics and target applications, and comes in a range of grades and dimensions:

  • Hardox® is the leading brand of wear steels. It offers a unique combination of hardness and toughness, which in turn enable lighter, more durable structures for higher payload and longer service life 
  • Strenx® is SSAB’s high-strength structural steel product brand. Its high strength combined with good impact toughness and forming properties enable strong, light structures for higher payload
  • Raex™ is a distributor brand for wear steel designed to meet standard demands on the market
  • Toolox® is a pre-hardened tool steel with very good machinability and is available as plate and bars 
  • Armox® and Ramor are protection plate with properties designed especially for the protection of life and property

SSAB Services

SSAB Services, a business unit within SSAB Special Steels, focuses on providing products and services to machine builders and the after-market business. It aims to develop the Hardox® Wearparts network and to facilitate the usage of high-strength steels by further promoting the SSAB Shape concept. SSAB’s technical support is a key element in our service offering and has a strong local presence worldwide.

  • Hardox® Wearparts is a network of companies for the production of wear parts and just-in-time repair services to end-users in the local aftermarket in the mining, quarrying, recycling and construction sectors. The network is represented across more than 80 countries and consists of approximately 550 companies 

  • SSAB Shape combines premium steel products with engineering and processing services offered through our own Shape Centers and a worldwide network of processing partners. The service includes customized product development and engineering, extensive design support and prefabrication services, as well as reliable, tailor-made logistics and stock services
    By providing technical support to customers at an early stage in the product development process, our technical experts contribute knowledge as to how the qualities of high-strength steels can be utilized to create new, innovative solutions and applications 

Production setup

SSAB’s flexible production system for high-strength steels is one of the prerequisites for achieving our strategic growth targets. SSAB Special Steels is responsible for steel production in Oxelösund (Sweden), which has an annual crude steel production capacity of 1.5 million tonnes, as well as for the sales of high-strength steels produced in Mobile, Alabama (USA), Raahe (Finland) and Borlänge (Sweden). SSAB Special Steels is working with continuous improvement to reduce CO2 emissions and purchased energy. 

Our long-term aim is to stepwise move toward a fossil-free steelmaking process first by converting the blast furnaces in Oxelösund into electric arc furnaces by 2025 and later using iron created through HYBRIT technology. SSAB can cut its CO2 emissions in Sweden by around 25% following conversion to electric arc furnace use in Oxelösund. Also smaller sources of CO2 emissions, such as internal transport, are under evaluation along with testing a hydrogen-powered forklift in cooperation with an external partner. 

Competitors

ArcelorMittal, Dillinger, Voestalpine, Nucor, Nippon, TyssenKrupp, NLMK Clabeq