The Korea Herald

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Hyundai Steel sharpens edge to ride out tough market

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : May 26, 2024 - 13:55

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Construction process of section steel at Hyundai Steel's Incheon plant (Hyundai Steel) Construction process of section steel at Hyundai Steel's Incheon plant (Hyundai Steel)

As the construction industry grapples with years of high interest rates, rising raw material costs and increased risks associated with real estate project financing, Korea's second-largest steelmaker, Hyundai Steel, has been diversifying their businesses to enhance profitability and discover new demand.

As part of this initiative, the steelmaker has signed a joint research and development agreement for steel structure refractory methods in partnership with Hyundai Engineering, KCC and the Korean Society of Steel Construction to address issues in the steel structure industry and revitalize the sector.

While steel structures used in constructing bridges and high-rise buildings boast high strength, durability and earthquake resistance, when a construction company builds a high-rise of 13 stories or more using a steel structure, fire resistance measures must be added to ensure the building can withstand fire for over three hours, providing sufficient evacuation time.

Such additional work imposes economic and time burdens on construction companies, limiting the use of steel structures for high-rise buildings.

To overcome this challenge, Hyundai Steel and its partners plan to develop new steel structures and modular fire-resistant methods specifically designed for high-rise buildings, using Hyundai Steel's seismic and fire-resistant steel to reduce the time and materials required for fire-resistant work.

Another pioneering attempt driven by the steelmaker is a large-scale experiment of concrete rechargeable synthetic column method, jointly developed with structure and nuclear consulting firm Seum.

Since the existing concrete-filled synthetic column method requires reinforcement at the joint, leading to additional processes, increased construction days and higher costs, the synthetic column method using H-shaped steel can reduce material costs by over 40 percent.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Steel has partnered with construction project management firm Hanmi Global, to revitalize steel-frame apartments.

Unlike traditional reinforced concrete apartments, steel-framed apartments offer the advantage of large and customizable floor layouts.

Additionally, they provide earthquake safety and a longer building lifespan, minimizing social losses and environmental pollution associated with building waste from reconstruction.

Hyundai Steel plans to develop apartments that maximize the benefits of steel-frame construction with Hanmi Global, which manages 2,900 construction projects domestically and internationally.

"We see the steel industry facing further challenges due to trade protectionism in an already struggling construction market. Our goal is to wisely overcome the economic downturn through technological development," a Hyundai Steel official said.