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Coil Processing
Thursday | 08 September, 2011 | 2:07 pm

Make it flat

By Meghan Boyer

August 2011- The automotive and home-appliance industries partly are fueling manufacturing growth in Turkey, which has gained industrial strength in the past decade, says Erkan Kafadar, general manager of Borcelik, Gemlik, Turkey. In the coming years, Turkey will grow to be among the larger producers of manufactured goods, especially in appliances, he predicts.

“Turkey is taking big steps in industrialization,” says Kafadar. Not only are Turkish companies strengthening but international businesses are making large investments in the country. “The industry is growing here,” he says. “For the last 30 years, Italy was the biggest home-appliance producer in Europe. ... Now the production in Turkey is almost the same as in Italy.”

In June, the HSBC Turkey Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index reached 52.3, an increase from an eight-month low of 50.6 in May. “June data signaled a strengthening of business conditions in the Turkish manufacturing sector for a twenty-sixth successive month. This was supported by growth of both new orders and output,” according to the index.

The first private and the second-largest flat steel manufacturer in Turkey, Borcelik targets automotive and home-appliance manufacturing, which require quality flat metal products. Established in 1990, the company produces hot-dip galvanized steel, cold-rolled annealed steel, and pickled and oiled hot-rolled steel. Its product range includes commercial, drawing, deep-drawing and extra-deep drawing steel as well as bake-hardening, structural grades, rephosphorized, HSLA enameled and dual-phase.

Borcelik’s Gemlik facility is located 124 miles (200 kilometers) from Istanbul and 17 miles (28 kilometers) from Bursa. Being positioned near two of Turkey’s industrial and commercial centers as well as a port gives the company a strategic advantage, notes Kafadar.

Co-managed by Borusan Holding and ArcelorMittal, Borcelik has an annual production capacity of 1.5 million tons, which includes both cold-rolled annealed and hot-dip galvanized steel. The company’s main customer groups in addition to white goods and automotive include panel radiators, building and construction, pipe and profile, packaging, metal goods producers and steel service centers.

Customer requirements
Flatness is a major issue in the industry, says Kafadar. “The panel part of a refrigerator, it has to be completely flat,” he says. However, hot rolling and cooling steel results in physical changes. “If you roll it from 2.5 millimeters down to 0.5 millimeters, you get a reduction of about 80 percent to the hot-rolled material. Because of the chemical and mechanical differences along the coil, the flatness problem is not avoidable.” To attain flat metal that meets customers’ specifications, one of the tools Borcelik uses is a slitting line combined with a leveler from Alcos Machinery Inc., Newmarket, Ontario.

To best serve the home appliance and automotive industries, Borcelik opted roughly four years ago to purchase an additional slitting line for its facility. “We had two other slitting lines with some leveling processes, but they were not enough for us,” says Kafadar. Alcos installed Borcelik’s third coil-slitting line, which included a combi leveler to repair flatness defects.

In recent years, more companies have begun using slitting lines not only for slitting and inspection but also for shape correction, says Hasan Albulak, president of Alcos. “To the best of my knowledge, in Europe, they still had not developed a leveler that can reach up to 300 meters per minute—which is approximately closer to 1,000 feet per minute speed. The line at that speed can correct the shape of the strip. Alcos has a very specific leveler designed to be used in the slitting line,” he says. Alcos specializes in the design and manufacture of coil-slitting lines, possessing more than 20 years of experience in the field.

For Borcelik, price and performance are key benefits of the Alcos coil-slitting line. The company has been able to achieve higher productivity at a lower investment cost with the equipment. “Alcos equipment is providing us with what we are looking for,” says Kafadar, noting the leveling performance is quite different from the capabilities of the company’s other lines.

Borcelik runs the Alcos line virtually nonstop in three shifts, seven days a week. “The target is to run the line without any stoppage,” he says, noting the Alcos line is the busiest of the company’s three slitting lines.

Borcelik funnels different projects to each of its slitting lines depending on customers’ requirements. “Because we have different customers and because we have different equipment, we are trying to have the best match” of needs and technology, says Kafadar.

Specialized service
Continued customer service from suppliers after the sale is critical for Borcelik. “We may always have problems, but the issue is how to solve the problem, how quickly, so that the customer doesn’t face big difficulties,” says Kafadar. Not only did Alcos complete the line on time but the company also supported Borcelik through any challenges that were not foreseen at the start of the project, he says.

“In any industry, selling and buying is not the end of the story. It’s just the start of the story,” says Kafadar. “The technical assistance, the technical cooperation is very critical.” Alcos’ mentality and approach to problem solving is in line with what Borcelik expects from its suppliers, he says, noting Borcelik and Alcos have had an ongoing relationship for many years.

Alcos has two facilities—one in Canada and one in Turkey—to serve its international customer base. “To better service the European market, including Turkey, we opened a very modern facility in the steel city of Turkey called Eregli,” says Albulak. “From that city, we can really give service to our customers” because it gives the company a hub from which to work, he says, noting it is possible to reach many locations in Europe within six hours from the Turkish facility.

Where a customer is located determines which plant supplies service and products. “Our large engineering plant in Canada and our good-sized engineering in our Turkish plant, they work together,” says Albulak. “We have a service that is shared with both locations.” Having a location in Turkey also helps control shipping costs, because Alcos can supply clients from the closest facility to them.

Pleased with the company’s relationship with Alcos so far, Borcelik is considering working with the coil-slitting line company in the future. “We are looking for some other growth opportunities in our location,” says Kafadar. “We believe in the future we will be looking for opportunities to work with [Alcos].” MM

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