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Titanium
Friday | 29 April, 2011 | 8:00 am

Metals reborn

By Julie Sammarco

April 2011- Two companies are working together to handle aerospace materials from birth to death. Metals are bought, sold and recycled within their business cycle and are kept within the aerospace industry. This is an unusual practice that is environmentally responsible and helps customers save money.

"We’re able to speak with and coordinate with an OEM who is buying material and creating scrap in their manufacturing processes. We’re able to coordinate the sale of the material-sheet, plate, titanium-which are sold to make products through Trans World," says Ed Brennan, COO at Trans World Alloys, Gardena, Calif. "SOS then purchases these chips from the end user [the manufacturer] and segregates, cleans and processes this scrap and gets it ready to be remelted and recycled. They then return it to the mill for their production back into standard products which are again sold through Trans World."

In 1985 brothers Don and Sandy Shadrow founded Trans World Alloys, a full-line metals service center selling titanium, aluminum, nickel alloys and stainless steel products along with a variety of in-house processing capabilities. Though these processes are not completely unique to the industry, their relationship with their original company SOS Metals Group, Gardena, Calif., is.

SOS Metals was founded by the two brothers in 1976 and has grown into a worldwide metals recycling company. The relationship of Trans World Alloys and SOS Metals allows the two to coordinate the entire life cycle of metals from their production at the producing mills to returning the revert generated by the end users back to those same mills.

Both companies, driven by business from the aerospace, power generation, utilities, petrochemicals, chemical processing, marine, shipbuilding, automotive racing and sporting goods industries, are independently run and located, but they have developed a number of systems for the two to work together, an unusual business practice in today’s market. Their unique ability to manage the total process from the purchase of raw material, the removal and purchase of a company’s revert, and the ability to stabilize the availability and price of volatile materials into the future is an economically responsible business practice.

Savings and efficiencies
Mark Slater, president of Allied Mechanical, Ontario, Calif., and a customer of Trans World and SOS Metals, says the two companies are saving him money. "I’m able to sell my plate for a much higher price than scrap to Trans World, and on the scrap side, SOS is one of the larger companies, so they have good service, good bins for the machines; they give me what I want."

Not only is Slater saving money, but he also is working more efficiently because SOS Metals is removing Allied Mechanical’s excess scrap metal. He says having too much scrap metal on the shop floor can stop companies from running their machines properly. "Chip removal can be a big issue for a machine shop. If you don’t have enough places for your chips, pretty soon they’re piling up on the floor and you’re going to stop your machine from running so you can clean up chips. I never have that issue. They’re really efficient at picking up the chips and keeping up with our flow of chips."

John Summit, chairman and CEO at Advanced Machine & Stretchform International Inc., Gardena, Calif., says the companies are saving him money, as well. "They do all of our recycling. They work with us with our reclamation and sell it back to SOS at a price that may or may not be the market price," he says. Pre-sorted, cleaned material is worth more, so when AMSI delivers that kind of material, the company is able to make more money.

Sustainability
Historically, the recycling and distribution industries have operated separately because their core services are very different. However, because of continuing pressures to stabilize metal pricing, protect availability and be aware of environmental issues consistently, these industries now are being pressured to help end users meet all these objectives.

Companies get involved in this process because there’s comfort when dealing with companies that are well-positioned in both the funneling of the material back into the aerospace industry to help control cost (Trans World), and for sustainability (SOS Metals), to make sure the material does not get used in a sacrificial market but goes back into a recycling chain to secure availability and stabilize the price.

Because of the volatility of the market, consumer pricing is fluctuating constantly and customers are trying to get some kind of an estimate on what their costs are going to be when purchasing metals. It’s comforting for customers to know they are working with a recycler who is a worldwide conduit to all major markets and that this company ensures material is used in the aerospace market. "There’s comfort that they’re dealing with companies that are well-positioned in both the funneling of the material back into the aerospace industry to help control cost and for sustainability to make sure the material does not get utilized in a sacrificial market but goes back into a recycling chain to help the overall environment," says Don Shadrow, president of SOS Metals. SOS Metals and Trans World have a head start and are working currently with end users to meet their goals of managing the metals cycle more efficiently.

Other benefits
The real benefit of being involved with this program, either as a customer or partner, is the relationship Trans World and SOS Metals has with the OEM. "We’re able to coordinate and talk with an OEM who is buying material and then creating scrap in the process of this new material. We’re able to coordinate the sale of sheet, plate, bar and forge blocks to create products. These products produce scraps. Products create up to 40 percent scraps. The OEM doesn’t have use for these scraps. So Trans World pays the OEM for their scrap and hands it over to SOS who recycles it and sends it to melters who turn it into an ingot, which gets turned into something like plate or sheet or bar and then sells it back to Trans World," says Brennan. It’s a cyclical process that keeps the money and the material within the industry while also helping the environment.

"The earth has limited resources," Brennan says. "Anytime you’re mining or melting or manufacturing, you’re creating pollution. If you’re able to use scraps, you’re taxing the environment less than if you were starting right out of the ground. This is actually a good thing.

"We take something that starts out in the ground, goes to a manufacturer who melts it and makes it into a product, then that product goes to a melter, who melts it and puts it into a form, and that form is fabricated into a part and then there’s excess to that part, which is in scrap form," says Brennan. "We then create a new life for that scrap by taking it into SOS and identifying it, cleaning it, preparing it and getting it ready to be remelted and recycled into the industry again. Just like how you recycle your bottles and cans, just on a higher scale." MM

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