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Mill Focus: SDI Sinton

Sittin' on Sinton

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MCN Editor Beth Gainer Steel Dynamics targets mid-2021 opening for its 3 million ton flat-rolled steel mill in Texas.

Steel Dynamics Inc. believes its new 3 million-ton flat-rolled steel mill located in Sinton, Texas, will help meet domestic steelmaking needs. More strategically, it represents a differentiated product capability and will be the next-generation in electric arc furnace minimill technology, the company insists.

“We will have the unique capability to produce 1-inch-thick, 84-inch-wide hot-roll bands, which will provide our customers in several industries cost and yield savings opportunities,” says Brian Smallwood, SDI’s market manager, construction. “We’ll also be able to produce hot-roll coils as light gauge as 0.047 inches, which will be unique from a dimensional point of view.”

SDI already owns two other EAF flat-rolled steel mills in Butler, Ind., and in Columbus, Miss. The new Sinton EAF flat-rolled steel mill will enable the company to better serve the Southwest, the West Coast and Mexico regional markets, while also displacing steel imports, executives claim. In fact, SDI believes the Sinton location is perfectly placed for SDI and its customers.

“The Sinton location provides numerous advantages for us and our existing and new regional customer base through a differentiated product capability, logistics benefits, and supply chain solutions,” says Sales Manager Trevor Ryals.

Additionally, being relatively close to Houston and Dallas enables SDI to utilize trucks and rail to regional areas in a timelier and more cost-effective way. As Sinton is near the port city of Corpus Christi, the company can also utilize the port to ship steel and to receive barges with critical raw materials, such as scrap and pig iron.

The Sinton site will include an industrial park with onsite flat-rolled steel customers serving a variety of markets, such as automotive, construction and energy. The campus will produce painted Galvalume coils for a variety of construction markets.

The largest single construction market is post-frame construction, which includes agricultural buildings, smaller metal buildings and equipment storage buildings. Other segments include metal panels, which go into warehouses and data centers; the metal-building systems industry, with larger pre-engineered metal buildings; and the entry market, which includes garage and entry doors.

Among its offerings, SDI’s Flat Roll Group in Sinton will offer hot-roll, cold-roll, galvanized and painted steels to steel distributors, service centers, energy pipe and tube manufacturers, metal building companies and OEMs, among others.

In conjunction with its venture into Sinton, SDI is entering into yet another product territory – steel plate. “There’s a huge market for 1-inch-thick 72-inch-wide discrete steel plate,” Smallwood notes. “As a company, we currently do not produce steel plate, so this offers an opportunity for further product development and diversification. We’re very excited.”

Offering steel plate will enable the company to tap into applications such as ship building, heavy gauge construction, pressure vessels, the piling market and a variety of military uses such as tanks. “We’re constantly trying to get into new end markets and provide products we’ve never provided before,” says Smallwood.

The Sinton minimill will manufacture differentiated steel plate products aimed at an excellent gauge tolerance and quality surface, according to Ryals. “We’re going to provide a 5.1-inch-thick slab, which is significantly thicker than other EAF steel mills, providing the opportunity for further reduction and therefore better surface quality,” he says. “We will also have tighter width capability, allowing customers to have an 84-inch-wide product.”

Ryals adds that such a thick slab will help SDI provide many steel grades and high-strength steels.  “There’s a lot of higher-quality, value-added steel grade applications we’ll be able to produce,” he says. “Our customers having access to floor steel plate up to 1-inch thick and out to 84-wide is a big benefit to them.”

One-Stop Shop
At the Sinton campus, SDI will have many value-added processing capabilities, including the company’s newest paint line. Years ago, SDI outsourced its painting, but the company decided to take this process in-house in the early 2000s. The Sinton location will be SDI’s fourth paint line location. “Our ability to paint our own flat-roll steel is a meaningful supply chain benefit for our customers through yield savings, cost reduction and less time requirements,” says Smallwood.

Smallwood says SDI will “be able to make all of the customers’ construction products – from the hot-roll to form the steel frame, as well as the painted light gauge product for the exterior of the building – so we’ll be more of a one-stop shop for those construction markets.”

An element of SDI’s commercial strategy is the ability to develop relationships the company will have with its customers that plan to co-locate on the Sinton site. Several customers have already agreed to be on site in Sinton. “The on-site customer operations currently include steel distribution, cut stretch to level, cut-to-length sheets and slitting,” says Ryals. SDI is still in discussions with other potential on-site customers that could provide other services as well.

SDI’s value-added product capabilities and supply chain solutions allow the company to better serve and connect with its customer base, executives say.  “We want to be differentiated in everything we do for our people, our customers and our communities,” says Smallwood.”

SDI owns several companies, all which provide for a sustainable almost closed-looped manufacturing profile. “We own and operate the second largest metals recycling company in North America, which provides a symbiotic relationship for our steel operations, as ferrous scrap is the key component in our environmentally advantaged electric-arc-furnace steelmaking process,” says Smallwood.

Ryals concurs. “We then use some of the steel products that we produce in our own manufacturing businesses that further process our steel into other products, primarily for the construction industry – which will eventually reach their end-of-life and once again be processed into ferrous scrap to be remelted for steel production, he says. New Millennium Building Systems is one of these SDI-owned manufacturing businesses, which makes steel joists and decking.

To heighten production efficiency, SDI’s new Sinton campus features its own rail system; locomotives will travel between the company’s on-campus customers, thus eliminating the costs of in-bound and out-bound freight. “Coils can just go directly out of our steel production facility and rail over to [a customer’s] on-site location, which takes the cost of trucking out of the product,” says Smallwood. SDI will also have rail access for delivery to its off-site customers.

Of course, as has been the case for most businesses, SDI has been affected by the P word – pandemic. Ryals is cautiously optimistic about when production will actually ramp up. “When we started building, we never thought we’d be dealing with a pandemic, not to mention tropical storms. Despite these challenges, the teams have done an amazing job and we are still planning for a mid-2021 startup,” says Ryals. Smallwood is optimistic about the building of the Sinton campus. “It’s amazing the progress they’ve made even during this challenging year,” says Smallwood. “With our team’s health and safety the top priority, we are still moving ahead full steam.”

In fact, while that actual construction involves hundreds of service contractors, SDI serves as its own general contractor and project lead. “We believe that SDI has more steel building experience than any other steel company today. [The mill] construction is being managed by our own people,” says Ryals. “The mill managers are on site and providing oversight of building their locations, so that makes a big difference. It’s not some other firm or third-party. We’re the ones managing the whole process.” He adds that SDI’s ownership of the process illustrates how well-versed the staff is in making operations run efficiently, as well as installation and getting equipment up and running.

When all is said and done, SDI is aiming for its newest mill to help fill a gap in the U.S. steel industry that is currently being met by imported steel. “Our project is differentiated through product sizes, quality capabilities and location. There are some sizes and grades that nobody currently makes in the United States,” says Smallwood.  

“As the world is more focused on climate change and environmental sustainability, electric arc furnace steel mills are a path forward for the steel industry,” says Smallwood. “Steel Dynamics, with our full-circle operating platforms, provides an amazing story.”

Ryals points out that manufacturing steel in the U.S. will help the country be more self-reliant when it comes to steelmaking. “We’re 100 percent behind melted and manufactured in the United States,” he says. “I think the steel industry has done a tremendous job to try to expand to provide more product so that we’re making products here in the United States – and using them here.”

“I believe that our $1.9 billion Sinton EAF steel mill investment represents a transformational opportunity for Steel Dynamics as a company, our people, the Sinton and surrounding area communities and for the future of EAF steelmaking capabilities,” says Steel Dynamics President and CEO Mark D. Millett. “This project represents the next-level, higher-quality flat-roll steel products that can be made from technology that has a fraction of the carbon footprint of traditional operations. We are incredibly excited to be at the fore of this advancement, while also offering a differentiated product and supply chain portfolio.”

Photo Caption: The coronavirus pandemic has not meaningfully slowed production of Steel Dynamics’ mill in Texas. (Photo courtesy Steel Dynamics)

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