Users and distributors of flat steel now have access to significantly better flat steel, and new competitive advantages.
In response to a growing demand for steel sheet that arrives flat and stays flat after laser, plasma or water-jet cutting, Allied Steelrode has invested R150 million in a new 9 000 m² facility, and a dedicated Red Bud Industries’ cut-to-length line with Suregrip® stretcher leveller technology incorporated.
“There is a growing awareness among fabricators that they do not have to settle for quality issues and excessive waste,” said Allied Steelrode’s Warne Rippon.
“Leading industry machine manufacturers have introduced a variety of enhancements to roller and stretcher levelling equipment to correct all the shape defects and stretch the steel past its yield point to relieve the trapped internal stresses. This is a significant issue for fabricators running high-speed equipment such as laser, plasma, and water-jet cutters. Suboptimal product at the start of their process can slow down their operations and can damage their equipment, and fortunately we can now offer a much better choice.”
“The new equipment provides a higher level of flatness when compared with stretcher levellers paired with flatteners or straighteners, temper mills, or tension levelling lines.”
A view of the dedicated Red Bud Industries’ cut-to-length line with Suregrip® stretcher leveller technology incorporated
The new Red Bud Industries line installed at Allied Steelrode consists of an automated coil loading system that measures coil width, off set from the centre line and coil wall height to determine exact loading conditions
“The stretcher leveller was included in this purchase to guarantee that flatness. Due to trapped internal stresses, once material is cut, it can spring back. Stretcher levelling exceeds the yield in all of the material top to bottom and side to side. As a result, it produces flat material that is significantly more stable than any other product available, which in turn also eliminates the possibility of spring back.”
“Users and distributors of our flat steel now have access to significantly better flat steel. Produced on our new stretcher levelling line, the material will not warp or buckle during fabrication like other steel because all the internal stresses have been removed from the metal.”
“And those who have switched over to our brand of flat steel are confirming that their operating costs are being reduced, they have new competitive advantages such as shorter production times, are eliminating scrap which can be up to 15%, and offer higher-quality products.”
The new line consists of an automated coil loading system that measures coil width, off set from the centre line and coil wall height to determine exact loading conditions, a decoiler with two separate cones to accommodate coil ID’s from 508mm to 820mm allowing for quick change over between various ID’s, an entry peeler, breaker roll and crop shear to prepare coil for line threading, a heavy gauge leveller for processing material from 3.2mm to 12mm at 46mpm and 450MPa at 12mm, a light gauge leveller for processing material from 1.2mm to 3.8mm at 84mpm (both levellers have touch screen HMI’s to select pre-programed leveller settings for all material conditions, this removes operator error from the leveller adjustments and improves setup times), a brush and vacuum system to remove loose scale from top and bottom of material, an edge trim unit to manipulate the width of the coil, maximum 51mm per side and minimum 2.5mm of material thickness (the edge trimmer has an edge guide that allows the edge trim unit to follow the material to compensate for camber and to eliminate the possibility of losing edge trim during processing), a loop pit (material up to 6mm thickness is processed through the loop pit that allows the line to operate at maximum speed), a 180 ton stretcher on rails to incorporate adjustable line settings (the stretcher is capable of stretching 8 metre lengths in single mode), a grip feeder unit that controls the length of the finished product (1.2mm to 6mm thickness to accuracy of 0.2mm), a feed roll (material thicker than 6mm up to 12mm is fed through a feed roll to control length accuracy), a parting shear with adjustable blade clearance for extended blade life (the shear is also adjustable to compensate for coil camber and this improves the diagonal control on finished product), and a finished goods stacker that processes lengths from 381mm to 15 000mm on guide rollers to eliminate damage and scratches to product.
The line electronics are fully supported by a local company and the line has three hydraulic units – 5500lt capacity – to control stretcher clamp and stretch force.
The Red Bud Industries line has a 180 ton stretcher on rails to incorporate adjustable line settings (the stretcher is capable of stretching 8 metre lengths in single mode)
The line includes a parting shear with adjustable blade clearance for extended blade life (the shear is also adjustable to compensate for coil camber and this improves the diagonal control on the finished product), and a finished goods stacker that processes lengths from 381mm to 15 000mm on guide rollers to eliminate damage and scratches to product
“The new Red Bud stretcher leveller also incorporates the Suregrip technology. Specially designed clamping pads allow the machine to grip and stretch the material with tremendous force without marking it. The clamp force and the stretch force adjust independently, thus the amount of stretch force required does not determine the clamping force. This allows the machine to be much more forgiving as the pads wear, which in turn helps to prevent slippage. The pads allow the machine to get a good grip even on oily material.”
“New controls and software have automated the stretching process. In the past, operators would adjust the stretcher visually, based on the condition of the incoming coil. After the stretch cycle, they would visually verify that the strip appeared flat. Such visual inspection cannot determine if the process exceeded the material’s yield through its entire cross section however. Today, the system’s controls can measure such variables.”
“All shape defects come down to a difference in length. This difference can be a surface-to-surface length differential, which causes coil set and cross bow, or it can be a difference in length across the width of the strip, which causes edge wave and center buckle. To quantify this length difference, the operator simply measures the height of the wave and how frequently it occurs and enters this information into the controls. The software then calculates the recommended stretch value.”
“Additionally we have incorporated a brushing system that removes the mill scale into the line so that the material almost looks polished once processed.”
“The line, which has a length of 120 metres, is capable of processing material up to 12mm thick at material widths up to 2 200mm wide and up to 15 metre lengths, and coil weights up to 33 tons.”
“Depending on demand we are capable of processing between 15 000 and 20 000 tons of steel a month. This includes the popular sizes of 1200, 1500 and 2000mm wide in thicknesses of 5, 6 and 8mm for processes such as laser cutting, punching, notching, bending, forming, welding, shearing, fabricating and finished assembly.”
“Besides the straightness and user friendliness of the material that we supply, another big advantage that we are now able to market is the quick turn-around time. These two factors have always been a big gripe in the industry and this new investment takes care of these issues.”
“To complete our differentiation strategy we decided to brand our stretchered product which now carries the label ASSM (Allied Steelrode Stretcher Material).
Allied Steelrode was founded through a merger of Allied Chemical & Steel (Pty) Ltd and Steelrode (Pty) Ltd three years ago.
Steelrode was established as a trading company by Warne Rippon in 1994, and is today an independent steel merchant and processor that supplies medium to smaller merchants as well as end users with coils, slit strip, flat steel, steel pressings, standard sheets and cut-to-length blanks, and is arguably one of the finest steel service centres in South Africa. The company also trades in bulk coils.
Allied Chemical & Steel was founded in 1993 by Arun Chadha as a trader of various products into Sub-Saharan Africa, and in 1995 the company started to specialise in steel and chemicals. By 1997 the company shifted its focus to steel, and by the time of the merger was ArcelorMittal’s largest exporter of product into the rest of Africa with outlets in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
The line also includes a decoiler with two separate cones to accommodate coil ID’s from 508mm to 820mm allowing for quick change over between various ID’s, an entry peeler, a breaker roll and crop shear to prepare coil for line threading, a heavy gauge leveller for processing material from 3.2mm to 12mm at 46mpm and 450MPa at 12mm, a light gauge leveller for processing material from 1.2mm to 3.8mm at 84mpm (both levellers have touch screen HMI’s to select pre-programed leveller settings for all material conditions which removes operator error from the leveller adjustments and improves setup times)
Allied Steelrode partners Warne Rippon and Arun Chadha with Marius Bezuidenhout who is the General Manager at the new Midvaal facility where the new dedicated Red Bud Industries’ cut-to-length line has been installed
“I was looking to expand my business and was investigating setting up a service centre in South Africa. At the same time Warne was looking to expand into Africa as Steelrode had excess capacity,” explained Arun, who is a chartered accountant and looks after the administration side of the relatively new company Allied Steelrode.
“The synergies between our two companies has meant that the two entities could work together to achieve what neither could have done independently. Despite the industry being down by what we believe is to be about 40%, our company has shown growth by as much as 50% over the last three years,” said Arun.
“This is notwithstanding the dumping that we believe is taking place. Obviously there is no proof but we have encountered numerous instances of hot rolled coil and processed sheet that has been imported from China for example. This can only be detrimental to the local mill industry and the Government should look carefully at the situation,” continued Arun.
“The machine is the first of its kind to be shipped to Africa. Once it is up and running to total capacity we believe that we will be one of the most advanced service centres in the country. People who understand and appreciate the value of truly flat steel want our ASSM® quality steel. We are meeting their need for cost-effective products that support their profitable growth,” concluded Warne.
Allied Steelrode is based in Alrode, Gauteng where it has a 45 000m² under roof facility, and the new facility has been setup in Midvaal, Gauteng.
Among the more recent purchases by the company include a Sacma high speed flying shear cut to length line for heavy duty plate that processes roll feeding gauge up to 12mm thick and 2 000mm wide and 14 000mm in length and a Sacma slitting machine that processes cold rolled beams and heavy structural tubing in rounds, squares and rectangles. This machine has a bed width of 1950 mm and can slit material from 1.2mm up to 12.7mm thick, and can operate at 100 metres per minute. On 6mm gauge the machine can produce an astonishing 16 slits. Other equipment purchases include a Samis blanking machine and an Amada guillotine.
Overall the company could process up to 40 000 tons of material per month.