Steel Breakthrough: ABB's Tech Marvel Elevate Brazilian Operations

ABBImage Source: ABB


Villares Metals, a leading Brazilian steel producer, pioneers ABB's electric arc furnace-specific VD4-AF circuit breaker technology. The innovative solution withstands extreme demands, delivering 150,000 maintenance-free operations and enhancing safety at Villares' Sumaré facility. ABB's UniGear ZS3.2 switchgear further ensures robustness in challenging environments. The project, executed with record speed, minimizes downtime for seamless steelmaking. The switch to ABB's advanced technology not only improves operational efficiency but also significantly reduces maintenance costs and enhances safety standards.


In a groundbreaking move, Villares Metals, a prominent Brazilian steel producer, has become the first in South America to embrace ABB's cutting-edge electric arc furnace-specific VD4-AF circuit breaker technology. This technological advancement aims to address the rigorous demands of electric arc furnaces (EAFs) while simultaneously boosting output and ensuring heightened safety standards.

Villares Metals, recognized for its leadership in steel and special alloys, opted for ABB Electrification's dedicated circuit breaker solution featuring vacuum actuation technology at its Sumaré facility. The VD4-AF device stands out by offering 150,000 maintenance-free operations, efficiently handling furnace-fault currents reaching 31.5 kA. Notably, the technology incorporates embedded monitoring for safer and more reliable switching protection in EAF operations, coupled with predictive maintenance capabilities.

For steelmakers like Villares Metals, balancing financial and operational aspects to stay 'future ready' can be challenging. However, with close collaboration and a commitment to innovation, the project was executed in record time, minimizing disruption and downtime in the 'always-on' steelmaking operations. The entire ABB solution, including the VD4-AF circuit breaker and UniGear ZS3.2 switchgear, was seamlessly installed in a matter of weeks.

In addition to the VD4-AF circuit breaker, ABB's UniGear ZS3.2 played a crucial role. This metal-clad air-insulated medium voltage (MV) switchgear, designed for demanding indoor applications, provided a robust solution tailored to withstand harsh arc-furnace conditions. Its customized panel adheres to the highest safety standards outlined in IEC 62.271-200.

Paulo Naletto, Steelworks and High Voltage Maintenance supervisor at Villares Metals, emphasized the company's commitment to safety and operational efficiency. The adoption of ABB's withdrawable VD4-AF circuit breaker not only prioritized operator safety but also significantly reduced the total cost of ownership for arc furnace operations. The extended lifespan of the equipment translated to reduced exposure to safety risks, increased reliability, and improved operational safety.

Previously, Villares Metals faced the challenge of replacing standard circuit breakers every 25,000 to 30,000 operations, with additional maintenance required every 10,000 operations. ABB's VD4-AF circuit breaker not only surpasses these limitations but also translates into cost savings by reducing the need for regular replacements and remediation work, contributing to a more efficient and cost-effective steelmaking process.


Villares Metals' adoption of ABB's advanced circuit breaker technology marks a significant milestone in the steel industry. The successful implementation at the Sumaré facility not only enhances operational efficiency and safety but also demonstrates the transformative power of innovative solutions in addressing the unique challenges of steel production.

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