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Coil Processing
Friday | 09 October, 2020 | 12:41 pm

Smooth operator

Written by By Corinna Petry

Toll processor ramps up heavy-gauge slitting capacity

October 2020 - Delta, Ohio, may not look very significant on a map but it is an exurb of Toledo and surrounded by steel consumers. Fulton County Processing (FCP), which sits on the campus of flat-rolled steel producer North Star Bluescope, is right where it wants to be.

“FCP is in the Michigan Corridor. We are centered from Toledo to Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit,” says President and General Manager Jeff Kunkel.

Since starting up in 2002, the company has steadily increased its capacity to pickle, slit and level carbon and stainless sheet products. The toll processor’s quest is to continuously improve its finished product and better serve mills and end users.

The mills ship master coils directly to FCP. The material is owned by the customer. FCP does not stock inventory or sell steel. “The bulk of the steel comes from North Star Bluescope—that makes up 70 percent of our work. We also get steel from Burns Harbor, Cleveland, Middletown. We process steel from several different mills,” Kunkel says, including light-gauge stainless steel.

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A new slitter from Butech Bliss will help Fulton County Processing to increase capacity, especially in heavier gauges.

Kunkel says the company started with one Pro-Eco slitting line that processed coils up to 72 inches wide by 1/4 inch thick. In 2006, FCP, acquired a pre-owned 24-inch-wide by 1/4-inch-thick slitter, which it still operates. A year later, the company installed a SCS coil scrubbing line from Red Bud Industries Inc. “It removed everything except the final layer of scale.”

FCP later converted the Red Bud equipment to a pickling line, paid it off and then decommissioned it in 2013, Kunkel continues. In 2009, another Pro-Eco slitter was brought in to process light-gauge material, 72 inches wide by 0.010 inch thick. FCP also purchased a Butech Bliss pickling line, 72 inch by 1/2 inch, in 2014. That pickle line can accept hot band coils up to 35 tons and can process up to 70,000 psi yield material​.

The latest expansion is the installation of a Butech Bliss slitter that manages hot-rolled and hot-rolled pickled and oiled coils up to 30 tons with a maximum outer diameter of 75 inches, 72 inches wide and up to 1/2 inch thick.

Features on the new line include a four-roll flattener with entry pinch roll, heavy-gauge interchangeable slitter assembly with scrap handling system, hydraulic shears, looping pit and quill-type mandrel recoiler. The maximum product width is 74 inches. The slitter operates at speeds of up to 500 feet per minute.

When fully operating, “this new line should bring our total plant capacity from 80,000 to 85,000 tons per month to 90,000 to 100,000 tons per month,” says Kunkel.

As part of this investment, FCP included a leveling unit. “A big bulk of the work is leveling so this is a very robust machine, with 400-hp recoilers. It is built to handle heavy-gauge steel.” FCP can perform coil-to-coil leveling for mills and end users.

The new slitter has not yet filled up during all three shifts. “We are processing 8,000 tons a month and hope to get up to 15,000 tons a month,” Kunkel says, adding, “COVID-19 kind of put the brakes on just about everything. The pandemic made for a rough summer. But August started improving. Demand has started to stabilize.

“Once we get the economy back on line, we could increase our business by 25 or 30 percent,” he says. That compares with growth of roughly 55 percent over the past 10 years.

Among the many features on the new Butech Bliss unit that Kunkel appreciates is the mult-threading unit. “It grabs the mults and places them into the recoiler. There is almost no adjusting on the recoilers.”

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The new line will be able to make 30 cuts in 1/4-inch, 50,000 psi shear strength material.

Paul Kadilak, vice president of sales and marketing at Butech Bliss, explains, “We are always working to reduce the coil threading time, time between coils and amount of human interaction required on our lines, thus improving our customer’s productivity and safety at the same time.”

A substantial portion of FCP’s end users include tubing manufacturers, racking manufacturers, automotive suppliers and utilities. “We ship as far as Texas and Utah,” Kunkel says. “The bulk of our shipments are within 300 miles, and we have a frequent customer in North Carolina, about 700 miles from here. Some are as close as 20 miles.”

Reliability

Butech Bliss has had a relationship with Fulton County Processing for close to eight years, says Lisa Kravec, marketing manager for Butech Bliss. They understand the history that Butech’s president, John Buta, had in the evolution of slitting lines at Paxson Machine Co., which was “a leading supplier of slitting lines for years.”

“They know we produce reliable, durable equipment and they appreciate our knowledgeable and responsive field service group,” Kravec continues. “That made them extremely comfortable working with us again.”

FCP’s new slitting line is “capable of making up to 30 cuts on ¼-inch-thick, 50,000 psi shear strength material, and seven cuts on ½-inch, 50,000 psi material,” Kadilak says. “The dual-head design of the slitter also allows users to prepare for the next coil while continuing to run a loaded coil,” he adds.

“There is no down time,” Kravec notes. “It sits off-line and quickly rotates into place while the other head rotates out. Once the next coil is loaded, the operator is ready to go. That is a huge plus to keeping a line productive.”

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Customers can visit the manufacturing facilities of Butech Bliss in Salem, Ohio. All components are built in the U.S.

Made in the USA

“Butech Bliss is very proud to be a family owned business that still manufactures all of its equipment in Salem, Ohio,” Kalidak says. “This includes the Butech scrap choppers that propelled Butech Bliss to where it is today and which are still widely considered to be the best scrap choppers in the metals industry.”

The Butech Bliss team’s drive to “keep improving the performance of these units through the implementation,” combined with the “proper application of numerous tool steel grades for our knives, has managed to keep us on the cutting edge of this technology.” Having all its resources in Salem, Ohio, “has been very beneficial and attractive to our customers, since they can visit our engineering, ownership and manufacturing shops in one trip and see their equipment being designed and built in the USA.”

Employing durable, high-tech, high-volume metal processing capacity does help generate satisfaction, says Kunkel. “The feedback we hear most is that we have the most updated equipment and customer service. The staff here is about the best in the industry, according to our customers.” MM

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