Intelligent line not only handles automotive steels but also tracks coils, allowing processor to keep tabs on materials


Above: Pro-Tec Coating Co.needed a line that could process 217,000 psi yield strength material.

July 2023- Intelligent line not only handles automotive steels but also tracks coils, allowing processor to keep tabs on materials


Today, the average U.S. vehicle gets approximately twice the mileage per gallon than an automobile manufactured in 1975, due in large part to high-strength and advanced high-strength steels. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, current AHSS grades can reduce a vehicle’s structural weight by as much as 25 percent and cut total life cycle CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent.

Pro-Tec Coating Co., Leipsic, Ohio, processes steel, including advanced high-strength grades, helping automakers build these lighter, safer cars. The company primarily serves the automotive industry, including material for exposed parts, such as doors, fenders and hood skins, as well as unexposed structural parts like door supports, floor pans and hood bracing.

Pro-Tec’s commitment to customer service and quality was recognized in 2007 with the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award. That year, it was one of only five companies to win the award and the only one to win the small business category.


Commitment to quality is a given for an automotive supplier, and it’s important for metalforming equipment to meet or exceed high standards. Pro-Tec recently added a processing line to increase capabilities, including high-strength galvanized steels, and selected Andritz Metals for its ability to design and build processing lines with advanced technology that maximizes productivity and product quality.

“Yield strength of the material being processed has progressively increased for the automotive market, in accordance with the 2025 CAFE standards, says Vince Meneice, director of sales for Andritz Metals. “Andritz has been working with Pro-Tec since 2018 for this particular project. Our Stamco division provided a line to Pro-Tec back in 1998, which is when the relationship began.”

Pro-Tec’s design parameters for the new line required the mechanical equipment to be able to process 217,500 psi yield strength material, “which is not common in the coil processing industry,” says Meneice.

The new line features several unique features and capabilities, according to Meneice, including a “packaged control room that houses the electrical equipment in a climate- controlled atmosphere, keeping the electrical controls at a constant temperature to reduce premature failure due to ambient temperature changes, and an IBA data acquisition system that can trend and monitor production data. This allows operations and maintenance to gather data from the line to improve throughput and reduce downtime.”

The entry and exit transfer cars are powered through magnetic inductive transfer, he continues. “A high-frequency cable installed in the concrete carries power to the cars. There are no cable reels, Powertrac or festoons. The transfer cars have precisely mounted collectors that gather power from the cable embedded in the concrete, which magnetically transfers this power to the cars.” Automatic entry coil measurement takes the profile of incoming coils and is used to automatically load the coil onto the line. Various automated machine settings, such as precise tension control and side trimmer settings preset the line’s equipment so that it’s ready to process the upcoming material according to its attributes and track it from the customer’s warehouse through the line and then back to the warehouse.


      Transfer cars are powered through magnetic inductive transfer, above, right, and the line has various automated setting

“This way, the customer’s plant floor supervisory system knows the status of each coil and its location inside of the facility,” Meneice says. Because of its intelligence and automation, the line greatly reduces operating costs compared with similar equipment and can be run with only two ProTec operators. Communication to the coil cars and transfer cars happens via Wi-Fi, with car-commanded movements and locations broadcast through a wireless LAN system—no tethers or wires needed. Further, there are zone disable switches and safety gate switches that grant operator access to certain locations and ensure they are interacting with the equipment in a safe manner. “The transfer car system is fenced in to inhibit personnel coming in contact with the moving cars,” notes Meneice. “Safety mats are mounted to the sliding floor plates in conjunction with lifting gates and are used to ensure the coils are engaged safely on the entry and exit side of the line.”


The amount of automation built into a line “really depends on the customer. Mill customers tend to have requirements for higher levels of automation because they have the technical staff to support and maintain it,” says Meneice. “Service centers, for the most part, are looking for a line that meets their requirements with a simpler level of automation.”

He acknowledges that there are always exceptions, but teamwork is key to ensuring expectations are met. “Once a proposal becomes an order, the project is turned over to the design engineering, purchasing and manufacturing groups with a clearly defined scope of supply to execute.”

Pro-Tec Coating’s technical personnel had previous knowledge on the Andritz-built electrics, so Meneice says the training required to efficiently operate the new line “was minimal and limited to the coil processing application software. An IBA data acquisition system allows Pro-Tec engineering and operations personnel to monitor all process variables associated with the line to the component level.”


He says the first step in building any type of coil processing line and especially one that can handle challenging requirements is clear, upfront communication. “Our sales and applications engineering group works directly with the customer in understanding their specific requirements and develops a proposal in accordance with the customers’ needs for the desired process. “Design of this equipment was a collective effort between Andritz Metals and Pro-Tec engineering,” continues Meneice. “Mechanical, electric and hydraulic design was reviewed with both engineering groups with input in the overall design by both companies. The factory acceptance test was performed at Andritz’s Callery location and witnessed by Pro-Tec personnel.”

Andritz Metals USA Inc., 708/339-1350,

Pro-Tec Coating Co., 419/943-1100,