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Coated Coil
Monday | 02 December, 2013 | 4:06 pm

Keeping operations rolling

By Lauren Duensing

Menges Roller Co. is capable of fabricating rolls, as well as performing rubber covering in-house, saving customers time and money

November 2013 - Companies today are in a race to become more competitive, and they’re employing a wide variety of methods to achieve that goal, including standardizing processes and increasing speeds. Menges Roller Co., of Wauconda, Ill., a designer, manufacturer and refurbisher of industrial rollers, uses its more than 40 years of experience to help customers maximize productivity by choosing the right rollers for their application. The company was established in 1966 by Lou Menges, the father of current company president Matthew Menges. In addition, a third-generation family member joined the company about a year ago. Charlie Menges currently is working in the company’s sales department. 

“We help our customers run faster, waste less and produce a better end product,” says Jeff Awe, marketing director. “Rollers can do this if engineered and covered properly, but it takes good cooperation and communication with the customer.”

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Menges Roller has a specially designed 20,000-square-foot roller manufacturing facility and has invested in enhancing and expanding its CAD service “to do more than put together prints and schematics,” says Jim Cahill, sales representative. “We can model complex processes and help determine the proper roller dimensions, especially with steel and coil converting industries. We can look at the ability of the design and test its load-bearing characteristics to see how well it handles pressure and weight before it’s built. This is what allows us to build rock-solid, heavy-duty rollers that last a long time.”

Re-engineering rollers

Menges Roller’s expertise allows the company to meet customers’ specific needs. 

“We are able to take existing rollers and reverse engineer them,” Cahill says. “Customers come to us because they know our capability in this area and have confidence that we can provide the proper finish. This is also where the cost-savings comes in—our ability to retrofit, rebuild and modify.”

In addition to re-engineering rolls, Menges Roller can help customers increase speeds by ensuring their rolls are balanced. “The balance of the roller must be in tune with the line’s surface feet per minute speed,” Cahill says. “We have a balancing machine that gathers data from the roller, and then our technicians use that data to fine tune the roller. ... Rollers are critical to the coil converting operation. They have to be within specification. They have to be able to perform or the customer won’t meet their production numbers. If the roller is not right, it shuts the machine down, and that costs money. If the roller gets off balance or has a bent shaft, that can damage the steel stock.”

Elgiloy Specialty Metals, Elgin, Ill., was born when servicemen returning from World War II complained that their Elgin watches couldn’t endure corrosive environments. The company conducted four years of research and invented a noncorroding watch spring material. This durable material soon found new applications in aerospace, medical device and petrochemical applications, and the company added additional compatible alloys. Today, Elgiloy produces more than 40 high-performance alloys.

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To process these materials, Elgiloy has a variety of rollers—pass line rollers, bridle rollers, wringer rollers, acid squeegee rollers and exit rollers. Menges Roller built the original rollers for Elgiloy’s line, and therefore, when Elgiloy wanted to re-engineer its rollers, the company decided to deal with Menges directly. 

“Jim has worked with Elgiloy for about 15 years,” Awe says. “As they have expanded from two plants to five, he has been there to help refurbish existing machines, widen lines and expand their capabilities cost effectively.”

Elgiloy Specialty Metals’ Hampshire, Ill., facility is a fully integrated rerolling mill that cold reduces stainless steels to very thin gauges. The Hampshire facility can process 200, 300 and 400 series stainless steels, as well as high-temperature nickel alloys and titanium from 0.100 inch thick to as thin as 0.003 inch.

“Menges was doing work for our Elgin division, and they were a natural fit here at Hampshire,” says Mark Milie, general manager of the Hampshire location. “Roll coverings are designed and selected for several reasons: heat resistance, chemical resistance, as well as wearability. Because of the length of time to change rolls and the negative impact of poor-quality rolls, we have worked hard with our suppliers to develop specific coverings for each application.”

Specific solutions 

Milie says one application where Menges Roller helped the company address a specific issue was on Elgiloy’s furnace lines where the steel is cleaned with a strong cleaning agent mixed with water.

“This chemical was penetrating the rubber and resulting in catastrophic failures. Menges was asked to address the issue, and the company was able to make the necessary production changes to provide a more stable roll,” Milie says.

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“Roller breakdown is primarily caused by two factors—temperature and water,” Cahill says. “You have a steel roller with a rubber coating, and in between is a bonding agent,” Awe adds. “They had the roller in a bath, and the liquid was getting between the rubber and the steel roller core. The chemical was breaking down the bonding agent. Jim met with Elgiloy to come up with an innovative solution. We capped the ends and went to a higher grade of rubber. We increased roller life three to four times and reduced their maintenance cost substantially.”

Elgiloy’s long-term relationship with Menges Roller is built upon customer service. 

“Over time and with good record keeping, we have developed a preventive maintenance schedule so that rolls are changed on a planned basis,” Milie says. “From time to time an unplanned roll change is required we have determined the optimum length of time for the various applications.”

For unplanned roll changes, Menges is capable of sending rolls out on a rush basis, Cahill says. “[Elgiloy] will schedule maintenance days, but sometimes things happen beyond their control, so we turn rollers on a rush basis in just two to three days so they don’t have downtime on their equipment. That’s how we’ve built a long-term relationship with them. We have an 18-wheeler rig so we can deliver within a several hundred mile radius as well as transportation partners that extend our reach nationwide and into Canada.”

Whether it’s solving a customer’s problem or providing an emergency delivery of rolls, Menges Roller focuses on serving each customer’s individual needs. 

“No two lines or customers are alike,” says Awe. “There’s a lot of customization that goes into each customer’s project.” He says sometimes Menges doesn’t even know what the roller eventually will be used for because the work is secret. “We protect [customers’] secrets while delivering what they need. We can even work with them on the developmental process, as well, to see what roller will work the best. But first, you have to develop trust.” MM

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