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Coated Coil
Friday | 09 December, 2016 | 11:43 am

Blossoming in the desert

By Gretchen Salois

Above: OARC Project Manager Salim Al Habsi, left, and Project Coordinator Don Wrenn stand in front of the producer's first painted coil in May 2016.

Oman industrial might grows with the country’s first rolling mill and coating line

December 2016 - Located along a 1,000-mile-long coastal plain of the southeastern Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There, budding flowers indicate the winter season’s approach while blazing heat empties the city streets of capital Muscat in the summer.

Industry is developing in an area where oil is plentiful, and this low-cost energy source helps to boost local manufacturing. With an aluminum smelting plant established a few years ago, Oman has moved downstream by starting up a casting and rolling plant as well. The next logical step, according to Luigi Bagnasco, president at Globus, was to add a painting line that would add value to bare coils. In 2014, Oman Aluminium Rolling Co. (OARC) added its coil coating line with a speed of 60 MPM (197 FPM) and a capacity of 25,000 metric tons of aluminum a year, completing the capital investment with a slitting line and two packaging lines. 

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The finish coater with stepper motors, built by Globus, offers rapid color change capability.

“[The] industrial outlook is quite good,” says Salim Al Habsi, head of OARC’s coil coating project. “This is the first [aluminum] rolling mill and coil coating line in Oman,” adds Ellis Purchase, coil coating manufacturing unit head at OARC. Established in 2011 as a greenfield aluminum rolling mill plant at the Sohar Industrial Estate, with annual capacity of 140,000 metric tons per year, the company sells aluminum coils to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia, and North and South America. OARC also serves as a service center, toll coater, performs remedial work on request and offers a full supply of material.

Oman’s industry is shifting, with a “changing mentality from galvanized steel to aluminum,” Al Habsi says. Just north of Muscat, manufacturing activity is separated from the bustling tourism area. As industry grows, Oman is working to transfer knowledge in its rolling plants, aluminum rolling plants and other areas of industry to a growing pool of Omani workers. 

Coil coating aluminum and steel is uncharted territory for the nation. “Operators need to be trained on site to develop their roles from the beginning of this expansion process,” urges Bagnasco. OARC’s plant is organized into two main bay areas separating the painting from the slitting and packaging lines.

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Painting, slitting line and packaging line follow one another in adjacent work bays.

International standards

OARC turned to Globus, headquartered in Torino, Italy with a U.S. subsidiary—Double Globus—in Highland, California, for a painting line to establish an efficient production. “OARC assigned us the mission to design a line that would deliver products meeting the highest international quality standards and be rapidly manageable by a local, still untrained, workforce,” Bagnasco says. The line includes technological features such as finish coaters with load cells and stepper motor control and quick color change capability that can also produce printed products. It features a wide array of instruments and sensors and an automation system that encompasses the whole process. 

Various sized incoming coils are automatically transferred from the storage bay, loaded onto the entry section payoff reels, then threaded through the entire line and finally rewound at the exit section under full automatic control. The painting and curing processes are managed through a recipe system. Whenever a new product is added to the portfolio, production parameters are stored into the data system and available for later jobs.

The line Globus built also features a surface-quality control system to assist operators. “Operators are able to achieve internationally accepted quality standards without years of coil line operating experience. There is no extensive learning period,” Bagnasco emphasizes.

Three coating heads—the Saint Claire system with viscosity control, SQM system and chrome-free pretreatment—allows the OARC coating line to maintain consistent quality despite severe climate ambient temperature changes that shift from summer to winter, and possesses the added advantage of meeting stringent country regulations with chrome-free pretreatment within the GCC. “These are some of the features that make the OARC’s coil coating line more innovative,” says Purchase.

Once coils are finished and rewound at the exit section, they are transferred to the next bay for finishing and packaging. The freshly painted coil is delivered to the final slitting operation with as little human handling as possible to minimize both the amount of manpower needed as well as damage to the finish. 

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Once processed, coil is rewound at the rewinder exit station, then transferred to the next bay for finishing and packaging.

The slitting line production capacity exceeds the paint line production and is also used to slit finished bare coils from the rolling mill. The slit coil is automatically transferred to the first packaging line, where each single narrow web coil is individually packed and stacked on a pallet, ready for shipment. The second packaging line handles full coils received directly from the paint line exit conveyor. Coils of up to 12 metric tons are packed and palletized, and stored in the shipment area.

After a coil is painted, samples are tested in OARC’s laboratory for verification. Complete test reports are delivered to customers as proof of the achieved quality and as a document of the total quality management system. Periodically, product tests are also carried out in paint suppliers’ and third-party labs to monitor OARC’s internal methodologies. OARC works closely with its paint suppliers to develop and test new coatings in order to assist customers in their own continuous quest for new products.

“Learning how to operate Globus’ line was quick and the equipment features are easy to use,” Al Habsi says.

OARC runs chrome-free material in gauges ranging from 0.2 mm to 2.0 mm (0.008 to 0.078 inch) and in widths up to 1650 mm (65 inches). The full range paint system uses Cognex, a surface quality inspection system, Saint Claire system and Siemens control system. 

“Presence in the marketplace, procuring superior line technology [compared to competitors] and price are reasons why Globus stood apart from other options,” Al Habsi says, adding that coating specifications change frequently throughout the day between jobs from PVDF, PUPA, PE and HDPE. “[The] Globus’ line’s ability to perform quick changes without stops or loss of production was paramount.” MM

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