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June 2013
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Texas-Size Temper Mill
 
Industry Veterans Team Up on Houston Temper Mill CTL Line

"Massive” line can level and shear coils up to 1-inch thick and 120 inches wide.

By Tim Triplett, Editor-in-Chief

Living up to Texas' claim as home to the biggest and best, Houston is now the proud residence of a massive, one-of-a-kind temper mill cut-to-length line. A 50-50 joint venture between Triple-S Steel of Houston and Steel Warehouse Co. of South Bend, Ind., the new line began processing orders last month.

Custom fabricated by Delta Steel Technologies of Irving, Texas, the line is designed to handle steel coils up to 1-inch thick and 120-inches wide, making it capable of offering products to fabricators and OEMs in the region that are unavailable anywhere else, claim CEOs Gary Stein of Triple-S and Dave Lerman of Steel Warehouse.

North America is home to about 25 temper mill cut-to-length lines. This is the first for Triple-S (which has an ownership interest in Delta Steel Technologies), but the seventh for Steel Warehouse, which has others in South Bend; Memphis and Chattanooga, Tenn.; Rock Island, Ill. (in partnership with Norfolk Iron & Metal); Cleveland; and Monterrey, Mexico. It becomes the second in Houston, joining a line operated by steelmaker SSAB.

“This is the only high production, 120-inch-wide cut-to-length line coupled with an inline temper mill on the planet,” Lerman says. “It has tremendous flexibility, with both a light-gauge and a heavy-gauge roller leveler for flatness correction. We can attack and do a great job on a wide range of thicknesses.”

After uncoiling, the material first moves through the temper mill, which compresses the steel with up to 12 million pounds of separating force, addressing coil memory and improving its surface finish. This stress-free material then runs through one of two levelers, either the sheet leveler for thicknesses below ¼-inch or the plate leveler for material ¼-inch through 1-inch. Once completely flat, coils are cut to the desired length by a custom-made rotary shear and stacked for packaging and shipment. The stacker at the end of the line may be the largest one ever built at 10 feet wide and 60 feet long, Stein says. “We can stack and bundle extremely long sheets.”

Steel producers, often using Steckel mill technology, are adding capacity to produce 120-inch-wide coils, note Stein and Lerman. Producing steel in extra-wide units offers productivity advantages for the mills that make them and the OEMs and fabricators that consume them, but not just any processor can handle such large, heavy coils. The new Triple-S/Steel Warehouse partnership can, opening the door to new efficiencies for customers in such key markets as energy, marine, tanks and heavy equipment.

“Any time you can eliminate a seam in a fabricated product, whether it’s in a tank or a vessel of some sort, that cuts down on welding. One 10-foot sheet is better than two five-foot sheets. It’s all about increasing fab shop productivity,” Stein says. In the distributor market, plate usually comes in standard lengths of 20 or 40 feet. “Since we can now produce it from a coil, we can give a fabricator exactly the length he wants, so there’s no waste,” he adds.

The new temper mill cut-to-length line also positions the company to capitalize on the growing use of new high-strength steels. “This equipment is enormous and has the ability to deal with super-high-strength steels. It gives customers an alternative to heat-treated plate and new opportunities to make products that are lighter and more durable,” Lerman says.

In addition to fabricators and OEMs, the partnership welcomes business from toll processing customers, as well as other distributors. It does not intend to produce for stock. “Our plan would not be to run standard sizes and put them on the floor without a customer in mind,” Lerman says.

Altogether, the partners invested $33 million in the project, including the new 120,000-square-foot facility near the Port of Houston that houses the line. They have dubbed the venture Beshert Steel Processing after the Yiddish word for “destiny.” Any plans for similar joint ventures in other parts of the country? “Let’s see where this one goes. This is a big gamble for both our companies,” Stein says.

[“This is the only high production, 120-inch-wide cut-to-length line coupled with an inline temper mill on the planet.” Dave Lerman, Steel Warehouse]

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