The growth of various economies in Africa and the reliance on agriculture, means there will be a growing market for B grade steel for use in agriculture equipment, fencing and security in addition to its traditional use in decorative additions, says steel supplier Edenvale Steel & Tube Co.
B grade steel is adjusted from prime steel for a variety of reasons and may include defects in the steel. The standard length of the batch produced might be longer or shorter than normal or the thickness of the steel may be outside the accepted tolerances. B grade steel often has some of the following defects: steel tubes that have cross welds, flat sheets that have been damaged or shorter than standard lengths of angle iron, and both round, square and flat bars (randoms).
“The B grade steel market was in the past more of a niche market with interest mainly in decorative and informal purposes. “As interest is slowly increasing and more companies are looking at buying B grade steel, there are opportunities for us to become centralised suppliers of the material,” says Edenvale Steel & Tube Co sales and procurement manager Byron Mansfield.
He points out that B grade steel is ideal for projects that are not structural in nature, citing the agriculture industry as an example. If a farmer needs to put up 10 km of fencing, B grade steel will work just as well as A grade steel to keep cattle in. “B grade steel can even be used for manufacturing certain equipment, specifically equipment that is subjected to a lot of wear and tear, where cost saving in the use of B grade could be beneficial.”
Mansfield notes that the company is mainly focused on Gauteng but, with an expanding market, there are possibilities for servicing locations outside its current range, such as in the Free State, the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Further, there is an opportunity to supply B grade steel to Africa.
“There is a stigma that is attached to B grade steel, but it is an alternative material that can increase profit margins of suppliers, as well as become a cost-saving method for end- users in certain circumstances,” he concludes.