Above: Bradbury’s eDrive leveler allows Aceros Tepotzotlán to compete for business typically served by stretcher-leveler or temper pass mill cut-to-length lines.
In Mexico, a steel processor equips itself to meet tougher requirements
May 2016 - The largest metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere, Mexico City, has a bustling economy. To tap into local construction and manufacturing activity, Aceros Tepotzotlán in Cuautitlán Izcalli, an hour outside the city, wanted to attract customers served by stretcher leveling and temper pass mill lines.
Executives determined Aceros Tepotzotlán had to expand its metal processing capacity with a new service center. Fortunately, a sister company in Mexico City, Aceros Dondisch, already proved successful with equipment from The Bradbury Group Inc., Moundridge, Kansas.
“We were working with Bradbury through our affiliate for more than six years with great results,” says Alejandro Pérez, general manager at Aceros Tepotzotlán. Aceros Dondisch installed a Bradbury eDrive leveler with its existing 5⁄8-inch by 96-inch cut-to-length line.
“With this technology they were capable of going after markets that were normally served by stretcher leveling lines and temper pass mill lines,” says Alexander D’Alfonso, group sales director for processing lines at Bradbury. It was the experience at Dondisch that persuaded Aceros Tepotzotlán to double down.
Coil passes through the eDrive leveler and with the leveling rolls correctly positioned and with internal torque control, allows the 0.75-inch-thick material to exit flat and with reduced residual stress.
Previously, Aceros Tepotzotlán didn’t have the ability to process materials in house and outsourced it to another party, says Pérez. The new process “saves a lot of time in processing material,” he adds, noting freight costs were a key consideration. Bringing its coil processing in house also gave Aceros Tepotzotlán the ability to program its production to meet customer specification, and adhere to ASTM international standards.
After receiving plate in coils Aceros Tepotzotlán loads it onto the Twin Mandrel Uncoiler, where the coil is supported by two hold-down rolls. The head of the coil is bent upward with a peeler blade. While rotating forward, it is held down with an additional roll above the peeler to feed the material into the entry pinch roll. It then passes through the eDrive leveler and with correct position and torque control, the 0.75-inch-thick plate exits flat.
Listen and learn
Aceros Tepotzotlán approached Bradbury to lay out what it was the company wanted to achieve. According to Pérez, the goals were to eliminate the internal stress footprint to produce carbon steel plate with superior and reliable flatness. “We were also looking to process 3⁄4-inch-thick coils, 96 inches wide and Bradbury has great experience in this area,” he adds.
Aceros Tepotzotlán purchased a cut-to-length line that produces steel flat enough for laser cutting and with a tensile strength of up to 95,000 psi. Since installing the line, Pérez says the company is now capable of providing laser-cut quality blanks at customer requested lengths up to 18 m.
Each industrial sector Aceros Tepotzotlán serves has different quality specifications and requirements. “The end users that consume our steel are mainly for infrastructure, high pressure tanks, tank wagons, and material for offshore and onshore petrochemical sectors,” Pérez says.
“The customer tells us what they are looking for and we listen,” D’Alfonso says of the Bradbury’s customizable projects. “We then configure a line that best suits a customer’s needs within a budget that works for them.”
The machinery builder’s approach focuses on the problem a customer needs resolved, at which point, “you’re not really selling, you are working to find a solution.” That line configuration was determined by a number of factors. “Normally a customer has his ideas and you need to listen, then you combine that information with [how Bradbury can help].”
Since operating the new Bradbury leveler, there have been zero claims from customers, says Pérez. “Our line operators think it is very user friendly and they do not need to make any adjustments to the line while it’s running, allowing them to produce more sheets.”
Combining robust design using European technology—such as slitting lines, automatic slitter and knife change options and knife locking from its sister company Athader in Spain—and the eDrive leveler technology helps Bradbury stay on top of industry trends, D’Alfonso says. “You must listen to your customers and stand behind what you sell,” he stresses.
Bradbury’s Bow Scout Option automatically adjusts the “Up and Down Bow” as the coil depletes without operator intervention.
On the rise
Bradbury’s rate of installation is growing; it has built 15 new lines in Mexico and won three times as many orders in the United States, says D’Alfonso. Much of this is attributed to the eDrive’s improved control methods and operator interface, its Flat Track option, which is an integration of the flatness measuring system into the leveler. Bradbury also offers an Up Bow/Down Bow Auto Correction, called Bow Scout, and scale removal.
Aceros Tepotzotlán’s operators use Bradbury’s Bow Scout option as it allows for a closer look at the incoming material.
“It is a wonderful tool to visually observe the flatness of the plate, allowing us to offer the best quality to our customers,” Pérez says. The straightforward alert system makes it easy to continue processing. “The green light lets us know we have perfect flatness, orange indicates it’s within the acceptable limits and red indicates rejection. Each industry has different tolerances so the Bow Scout helps us determine if the end user will accept the product.”
Additional systems and features for the eDrive leveler are being developed and the scope and size of all of Bradbury’s machine offerings are improving. The largest leveler the company offers today will process material 1 inch thick by 120 inches wide. “Yield strengths [are] going up to the 200,000 psi yield levels,” says D’Alfonso. “These higher material strengths are what we are preparing for in aspects of leveler design, line design and safety standards.”
Stretcher leveling and temper mill cut-to-length lines both produce “excellent results and for the price you pay for one, it should,” he continues. However, with Bradbury’s eDrive leveler, “you can get comparable results with a considerably lower investment in a conventional cut-to-length line.”
The Mexican service center is satisfied. “With our new line in Monclova, Coahuila, we can now give better service to our customers north of Mexico, offering them the cut-to-length service with superior flatness so they don’t have problems processing whether using plasma, laser cutting, bending, etc.,” Pérez says. MM