This paper aims to provide a solution method for the real-world hybrid flowshop scheduling problem resulting from a steelmaking process, which has important applications in modern iron and steel industry. We first present a mixed integer mathematic model based on a comprehensive investigation. Then, we develop a heuristic method and two improvement procedures for a given schedule based on the problem-specific characteristics. Finally, we propose an effective artificial bee colony (ABC) algorithm with the job-permutation-based representation for solving the scheduling problem. The proposed ABC algorithm incorporates the heuristic and improvement procedures as well as new characteristics including a neighboring solution generation method and two enhanced strategies. To evaluate the proposed algorithm, we present several adaptations of other well-known and recent metaheuristics to the problem and conduct a serial of experiments with the instances generated according to real-world production process. The results show that the proposed ABC algorithm is more effective than all other adaptations after comprehensive computational comparisons and statistical analysis.