Ljubljana, Thursday, 30 May 2019 – The SIJ Group won five awards at the competition for best innovation by the Gorenjska and Koroška Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia – SIJ Metal Ravne received two gold and one silver award, and SIJ Acroni and SIJ Ravne Systems received one silver award each. One gold innovation from Koroška will compete for an award on a national level. This is also the first time the SIJ Group will be in the running for a special award for an innovation created in co-operation between the business sector and a research organization, a knowledge institution.

As May turned to June, at the CCIS – Regional chambers for Gorenjska and Koroška award ceremony the SIJ Group again prevailed with its innovativeness, which is strongly encouraged and heavily invested into in all companies of the SIJ Group. As a specialised producer of steel for niche markets, the SIJ Group considers the search for new solutions essential for its profitability, competitive strength and ability to meet the requirements of customers, who are always looking for newer and better solutions. At the same time, it leads to innovations which received two gold and three silver awards.

Gold award for tool steel, an innovation on a global scale

This year’s gold innovation “Advanced cold work tool steel SIHARD S671 – DURAWEAR” is the work of SIJ Metal Ravne in co-operation with teams from SIJ Ravne Systems, SIJ Acroni and the Institute of Metals and Technology. Dr. Tatjana Večko Pirtovšek, Head of Metallurgic Research and Development, SIJ Metal Ravne: “The tool steel which we developed is the first of its kind in the world. It achieves superior properties due to the innovative concept of alloying with titanium. There is no steel on the market which would at this level of alloying display a better combination of useful properties regarding wear resistance. In Ravne we have leading global producers of knives and rolls, as well as tool makers who will be able to use them in their products.”

This global-scale innovation was developed by SIJ Metal Ravne’s experts (for development, technology, production and sales). Experts from SIJ Ravne Systems and the Institute of Metals and Technology joined the project as part of developmental teams, and SIJ Acroni helped with testing. The innovation will also be up for a special award at the CCIS national award ceremony, as it is the fruit of co-operation between the business sector and a research organisation or a knowledge institution.

The second gold award also went to an innovation by SIJ Metal Ravne, namely for “Optimizing heat treatment of special steel grade ‘PK’ and rational occupancy of the furnace in the forge shop”.

Miha Lečnik, Shop Engineer, forging programme: “At the forging programme, we see an increase of orders which require complex heat treatment. When hardening mostly pieces with a larger cross-section, we faced longitudinal cracking and an increase of failed production when cooling the forgings due to thermal and microstructural stresses. With the upgraded hardening technology and appropriate protection of critical parts of forgings with insulation materials during final air cooling, we solved this problem.”

Andrej Gradišnik, Managing Director of SIJ Metal Ravne, is proud that the hard work of the innovators was recognised and awarded: “The knowledge of our staff gains sense and meaning when we efficiently use it in practice, improve our effectiveness and ensure a better future. The global competition and dynamic market environment require continuous development, great flexibility and interconnecting innovativeness, knowledge and experience. This also shows in our innovations which SIJ Metal Ravne put forward this year. They are connected specifically to those areas where we excel on the niche steel markets, that is both special hot- and cold-work tool steels. We are convinced that with their help we can achieve further growth in these segments.” With its market share, SIJ Metal Ravne holds the third place among tool steel producers in the EU.

Triple silver

One of the companies which received a silver regional award is SIJ Ravne Systems, which persuaded with a unique innovation in machine manufacture “Transport system for handling aluminium slabs”. Nejc Gorinšek, Head of Projects and Construction, SIJ Ravne Systems: “The automated handling line for aluminium slabs is an innovative and highly capable system with load capacity of 15 tonnes. It follows the automation trends in heavy industry. This is the first known transport line in Slovenia and the wider European area with integrated product weighing and marking operations, which at the same time also enables automatic adjusting of own operation based on product parameters. Our innovative solution differs from the existing solutions mainly in effective integration of various systems into a comprehensive system which enables a faster, more optimised transport of heavy products and automates the whole process. At the same time, the system design is user-friendly – it is easy to use and follows top occupational health and safety standards.”SIJ Ravne System’s innovation is very important to the company, as it will serve as one of the main reference projects in machine manufacture.

SIJ Acroni received a silver award for “Digitalisation of coil diameter on winding drums and slip in the roll bite of the rolling stand Sendzimir”. Božidar Černe, Maintenance Worker and member of the innovation team, said about the innovation: »On the cold-rolling machine the sheets are alternately uncoiled or coiled on the winding drums. With this innovation we arranged a different acquisition of data on the speed of the sheet going in and out the roll bite, which enables us to digitally calculate the coil diameter on the winding drums, and at the same time offers insight into what goes on in the roll bite where the sheets are rolled. This innovation is very important for SIJ Acroni, as it allows us to prevent the breaking of the sheets and any problems resulting from that: from a necessary switch of the damaged working rolls, loss of production time to the damage on the worked-upon material.”

Innovations always come in threes, as they say in SIJ Metal Ravne, where they are proud that their innovations took home two golds and one silver. “Technology for production of ESR steels with purity K1 < 10 on ingot with ϕ 1400 mm” is their silver innovation. Simon Leskovec, Shop Engineer and head of the innovation team, explained the significance of the innovation: “Currently we are the first in Europe to produce hot-work tool steel in this dimensional class. With this innovation we have significantly improved the purity of the steel and also met the quality conditions for the purity of ESR steel products for large sections.”

The gold innovation, cold work tool steel SIHARD S671 – DURAWEAR, has made it into the second round where they are up for a national award. Meanwhile, the SIJ Group is still waiting for the regional winners in the Central Slovenia region to be announced.


The SIJ Group is the largest Slovenian vertically integrated metallurgical group. Its products hold leading positions in European and global niche steel markets. The SIJ Group is one of the ten largest business groups in Slovenia, the five largest Slovenian exporters and the most important employers in Slovenia.

Additional information:

SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group, d.d.

mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications

Phone: +386 1 242 98 27

Mobile: +386 41 313 532