Eric Vitse
(Liberty House Group)

Chief Technology Officer
Eric Vitse

Eric Vitse
(Liberty House Group)

Chief Technology Officer

Biography

As chief technology officer of the Liberty House Group Eric is leading their move towards clean, low-carbon methods across all of its industrial operations, from mining and energy through to high-value engineered products.

He was previously chief technology officer for Erdemir, Europe’s third largest steel producer, after a three-decade career with ArcelorMittal.  As chief technology officer for ArcelorMittal in the Americas he was responsible for capital investment strategy and technical oversight across more than 40 steel-making facilities with combined capacity of over 40m t/a.

At Erdemir Eric was responsible for their engineering transformation program, devising and implementing a wide range of innovative technologies, processes and solutions to support the Group’s strategy for growth and global best practice.  This included securing environmental best practice solutions and vertical integration opportunities.  He achieved a major expansion of the Group’s research and development capability and established a technical academy to nurture a new generation of engineers for the business.

Eric is guiding Liberty on their journey to implement the latest technologies in scrap processing, lower-carbon electric arc furnaces, primary steel making and mining, all designed to improve efficiency and lower the carbon footprint of their business.

Abstract

What step changes are needed to support the new context for the steel industry?

The steel industry has been in permanent crisis mode for decades, with profit margins continually being squeezed.  Most operators (except in China) have battled with a shortage of Capex. 

Survival required a focus on continuous improvement to achieve 2-5% reductions in the yearly cost base.  Technologies have helped, through innovations such as mini-mills, continuous casting and thin slab casting.

Today competition is still fierce and new technologies are required to offer help in facing the big challenges:

  • Rising energy costs
  • Rising labour costs around the globe
  • End of life of equipment
  • Lower ore grades
  • Competition for water
  • Pressures to protect the environment

Technologies which offer potential include: robotics, waste heat recovery, alternative iron-making routes, renewable energy and greater use of scrap in electric steel-meking.

Can the approach Industry 4.0 enable steel to move from being a commodity to a more highly-valued product?

As part of the GFG Alliance, Liberty has an ambitious strategy, designed to trigger a renaissance of manufacturing: re-growing steel production, re-invigorating the supply chain, spurring the development of new sustainable sources of power, retaining and generating new skilled jobs, creating a more sustainable and competitive future for industry. 

Our mission is to transform steel and related manufacturing into a global technology and product leader through our GREENSTEEL plan.