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Coil Processing
Thursday | 29 August, 2019 | 10:08 am

Big time

Written by By Lauren Duensing

Above: Custom Steel Processing’s line can handle a wide range of products, including hot-rolled carbon steel, hot-rolled pickled and oiled, cold-rolled, and galvanized steel up to 1 inch thick and 74 inches wide.

Heavy-gauge processing line produces laser-quality sheets

September 2019 - Increasing demand for strong parts has spurred the development of materials that are sometimes challenging for service centers and toll processors to handle—especially if they don’t have a robust, well-maintained line.

“Customers have been requesting coil processing equipment that can handle thicker and higher-strength materials,” in addition to safer, more automated equipment that simplifies training for new operators, says Jay Cuff, director of technical sales for Salem, Ohio-based Butech Bliss. Innovative automation and settings recipe systems “help provide consistency of production” because the line can be set to maintain certain specifications regardless of which operator is working it, he adds.

Butech works with customers to ensure each one of its rugged lines is capable of meeting these needs, including the high-production stretch-leveling/cut-to-length line recently designed and manufactured for Custom Steel Processing’s second location in Granite City, Illinois.

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Customer feedback indicates “the flatness is as good as they’ve seen from any product they’ve received and that it laser cuts extremely well,” says McNulty.

Custom Steel Processing was founded in 2002 by Patrick Notestine, Richard Kraut and John Prazma as a slitting house. Prior to founding Custom Steel, Notestine owned Affiliated Metals, which was one of the original six companies that formed Metals USA Inc. in the late 1990s. “The plan was to be a boutique service center supplying slit coil to select customers,” says Gary McNulty, sales manager at Custom Steel Processing. “As time passed, our customer base grew and the company grew from a startup to sales in excess of $200 million annually.”

McNulty says the Granite City facility focuses on heavy-gauge laser-quality sheets for Custom Steel Processing’s customers in the metal stamping, tube mill, metal building, heavy equipment and agriculture industries. “We can produce sheets from 14 gauge (0.075 in.) through 1 inch thick, up to 74 inches wide and 540 inches long at the new facility,” he notes. The line will process a range of products, including hot-rolled carbon, hot-rolled pickled and oiled, cold-rolled steel and galvanized steel.

Ready-to-use blanks

This product diversity requires a line that’s “robust enough for heavy-gauge, high-strength material yet still able to successfully process lighter, softer materials,” says Paul Kadilak, vice president of sales and marketing for Butech. Butech designs lines that will handle multiple materials with varying characteristics. The control system enables easy setup changes, and has recipe-driven menus to recall settings such as (but not limited to)  stretch speed and hold cycle times, clamping pressures, leveler settings and shear gaps. These recipe-driven menus help operators to increase productivity and product consistency because the settings can be quickly recalled for repetitive runs of the same product.

The line at Custom Steel Processing also was “engineered to locate the strip in a manner that gives us the ability to hold tighter tolerances on squareness of sheets,” McNulty adds. “This allows us to supply blanks ready to utilize in robotic weld applications without having to trim or re-square the sheets.”

Other notable features include Butech’s Synergy leveling system with roll cartridge system, side trimming capacity up to 0.375 inch, and a scrap handling system that includes a dual-arbor shimless scrap chopper and brush roll scale collection capability. The Synergy hydraulic levelers are “comprised of independent work roll drives and a patented roll configuration,” Cuff says, “which has a similar footprint to a comparable heavy-gauge leveler but provides the flexibility and working range of two standalone heavy- and light-gauge levelers.”

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Custom Steel Processing’s Granite City facility focuses on heavy-gauge laser-quality sheets.

Monitoring maintenance

The line’s extensive monitoring features ensure that steel coming into and off the line is high quality and alerts operators when maintenance is needed. Cuff says some key capabilities include: multiple safety zones for checking product quality without shutting down the entire line; side trimming and automated threading; a brush scale collection system; and a preventive maintenance system.

“[The monitoring has] allowed us to detect surface defects or blemishes while the line is running,” says McNulty. “If we happen to have bad material, we’re picking it up during the process so we can reject the product back to the mill if there’s a problem—and that defective material isn’t getting through to the customer.”

The preventive maintenance features are monitored both by the in-house operators and by the team at Butech Bliss. “They’ve been able to keep us on our toes, checking on scheduled and in-process maintenance.” McNulty adds that Custom Steel Processing is able to review the tons per hour generated by the machine, which is a measure of productivity.

“The customer replies we have received to date have stated that the flatness is as good as they’ve seen from any product they’ve received and that it laser cuts extremely well,” says McNulty. “The other comment we’ve heard is regarding how clean the hot-rolled black [coil surface] is when it comes off the line, because we put in a descaling and brushing station to remove the scale if it’s not pickled.

“This line is significantly ahead of most other lines in the industry,” he says. MM

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