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Coil Processing
Thursday | 07 December, 2017 | 12:43 pm

Freed from stress

Written by By Gretchen Salois

Above: Delta’s temper mill/cut-to-length line has a capacity of up to 0.656 inches thick by 96 inches wide from coils up to 40 metric tons.

A Mexican service center adds heavy plate processing capability, demand soars

December 2017 - In Northeast Mexico, the city of Monterrey is the capital and largest city of Nuevo León, from which Villacero Group operates an expansive network of service centers in the country.

Villacero previously sent its raw coils elsewhere to be processed. “It worked for two to three years, but the market improved, so we decided we needed to process our own coil,” says Director of Competitiveness Alejandro Reyes.

Villacero stocks low-carbon steel and multiple grades of high-strength steel. The customer base spans the gamut of industries including forklifts and other heavy equipment, agricultural, mining and construction. An example includes a manufacturer of building systems. “They make beams from three sheets of steel,” explains Reyes. “They cut the plates in three pieces and weld beams of different sizes and configurations [onto the plates].

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Villacero has lowered electricity consumption by roughly 20 percent and has improved worker safety.

“That customer alone requires 600 metric tons per month and they expected to grow that volume to 1,000 metric tons,” he continues. Before, Villacero wouldn’t have been able to handle the job but with a new line from Delta Steel Technologies, Irving, Texas, the required tolerances and quantities can be quickly achieved.

The company vetted several options before choosing Delta’s temper mill/cut-to-length line with capacity of up to 0.656 inches thick by 96 inches wide. The line accepts coils weighing up to 40 metric tons and multiple grades including high-strength, low-alloy grade 80 structural plate.

“Delta is a familiar name in Mexico. We purchased our first Delta machine almost 40 years ago,” Reyes says. On the new mill, “tolerances are less than 1⁄32 inch and production speed is 150 feet per minute.

“It has a rotary shear on the line so we can run coil continuously,” he adds. “Instead of stopping the line to switch sizes, we can now have continuous production. The machine automatically adjusts the force needed for the roll.”

More tonnage

The automated line has led Villacero to require less manpower on the shop floor. “We’ve reduced the number of operators needed to run coils by 30 percent,” Reyes says. “And we’ve increased the tonnage we produce—[we] easily doubled or tripled that so far.”

Villacero’s installation included Delta Auto Set, which adjusts the millwork rolls and leveler according to the mechanical properties the customer wants out of the material being processed.

“This [proprietary] technology avoids guesswork by the operator, resulting in much better product quality and a significant reduction in yield loss,” says Joseph Savariego, president at Delta.

Delta’s rotary shear helps improve production on the cut-to-length line. The material is cut while being rolled at a constant speed. Because the coil doesn’t have to stop to be cut, the rotary shear increases production. It also eliminates roll marks, minimizes maintenance costs for the entire line, and improves quality.

“It can easily be compared to ‘city driving,’ versus ‘highway driving,’” explains Savariego. “A car that operates continuously is more efficient and endures less wear. This is the same for a cut-to-length line with a Delta rotary shear. It is less strenuous on uncoilers, levelers, leveler gear boxes, and drive shafts.”

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Since installing the automated Delta line, Villacero reduced manpower to run coils by 30 percent, while more than doubling production volume.

Customization

Each line is a customized design based on customer need. “Delta does not have standard packages,” Savariego says. “We work to develop the appropriate piece of equipment based on a customer’s specific needs.

“If our customer can justify the additional capacity that a Delta rotary shear offer,” he continues, “then that’s how we design the line—we never try to sell more than what they need.”

Setting maximum line speed, for example, depends on what the customer is trying to do. “In the case of Villacero, the specified maximum line speed is 150 FPM,” explains Savariego. However, Delta has built a rotary shear for 1-inch-thick material that can operate at 200 FPM. Similarly, many customers specify Delta equipment that will handle 44-ton coils with a maximum 80-inch width, but Savariego says Delta can readily “surpass the ‘as sold’ specification. [We] built a line to process 1-inch-thick by 120-inch-wide material.”

Better served

Worker safety is also improved by automating steel processing tasks. “The line is equipped with devices to ensure the safety of the operator and the equipment,” Reyes adds.

Compared with conventional levelers or automatic levelers, Reyes says Villacero’s sheet and plate quality has improved. “We have seen a big change in our inventory since running the line in early 2017,” Reyes says. “The shape and flatness of the material is better than when [it is] run through other machines.

“We’ve also cut down electricity consumption as well as air. We use fewer resources while producing more material,” he continues. “For example, we’ve calculated about a 20 percent savings in electricity alone. Compared to our other four levelers, which are conventional or automatic, the parameters are tighter.”

Reyes expects Villacero’s growth trend is sustainable. “Our sales numbers continue to grow. Our customers want more residual stress-free material. Before getting the line, it was impossible to meet that demand. We’re [among] the largest distributors in Mexico, so we needed to have equipment to provide that.”

Up to 20 percent of Villacero’s customers “come to us specifically for stress-free steel,” he continues. “That need will continue to grow. In fact, since we started running the machine, our sales have increased for residual stress-free steel by 300 to 400 percent. It’s been worth the investment.” MM

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