Steel supplier and processing company Allied Steelrode will later this year test the prototype model of a custom-built, multistage slitting and blanking line.
Once the full-scale line has been built and commissioned, it will achieve average scrap rate reductions of between 5% and 25% and improve overall profitability in the local automotive industry.
“The new line will reduce the signifi- cant scrap factor resulting from the existing two-step processes for slitting and blanking steel, as it combines the two processes to do slitting at 150 m a minute while producing 180 blanks a minute,” says Allied Steelrode executive director Warne Rippon.
The line supersedes existing processes, which will result in a far more efficient use of resources and labour, and must be custom-built because of its functional complexity, he explains.
Allied Steelrode ordered the multi- stage slitting and blanking line from a US-based coil processing equipment manufacturer.
“The new line will produce improved surface finish (ISF) quality steel, with major and positive implications for the South African automotive sector, as it will enable Allied Steelrode to supply the industry with steel that is suitable for use on the outer skins of vehicles,” says Rippon.
He states that most locally processed steel is used only in the internal sections of a vehicle, as it is non-ISF quality. “Any ISF-quality steel is produced through the current two-step process. All the efficiencies that Allied Steelrode will potentially realise with the introduction of the new multistage slitting and blanking line will also be passed on to the automotive original-equipment manufacturers, which purchase our steel. This will result in an increase in the efficiency and profitability of the South African automotive industry.”
The mechanics and geometry of a multistage slitting and blanking line are technically complex and, for this reason, the manufacturer of the line will first design and build a prototype. This scaled-down model will carry out dry runs and test the efficacy of the technology before the full-scale multistage line is built.
This new line makes it possible to slit and blank a required amount of steel and then put the unused remainder of the raw steel coil back into stock. Consequently, the scrap can then be used in a variety of industries, which will also contribute to the overall operational profitability of Allied Steelrode.
A multistage slitting and blanking line is a recent introduction in the global steel industry and the new line will be a first for South Africa. “Currently, there are relatively few multistage slitting and blanking lines opera- tional internationally, which is probably attributable to the level of complexity and investment required,” explains Rippon.
Allied Steelrode installed South Africa’s first purpose-built steel-stretching plant in 2016, featuring a heavy-gauge stretcher leveller. The company provides the market with its Allied Steelrode Stretcher Material (ASSM) brand of stretcher-levelled steel products.
Rippon points out that the market is now familiar with the benefits provided by stretcher-levelled steel and demand has been so high that the company has ordered a second stretcher leveller, which will become operational in the second quarter of this year.
He enthuses that the introduction of the second stretcher leveller will facilitate the supply of ASSM to the local automotive industry. Rippon says the second stretcher leveller “is an upgrade on the first stretcher leveller, as it can stretch high-tensile steel.
“Having access to this heavier gauge, stretcher-levelled steel will have considerable benefits for the South African automotive industry, as it can be used in the construction of automotive body parts, internal panels and other structural components.”
The local automotive industry is under considerable pressure to meet government and legislative requirements to decrease its reliance on imports, and manufacture locally as far as possible. As a supplier of value-added ASSM, Allied Steelrode is already assisting the industry in meeting its critical local manufacture requirement, and the second stretcher leveller – as well as the new multistage slitting and blanking line – will further aid in this regard.
- Warne Rippon