Many of the larger steel making plants, for example, Integrated Steel Plants, require large capital investments and thus are very expensive to replace in whole. As a natural consequence, the owners are forced to find ways to keep them operational, be it with good on-going maintenance, with periodic partial, or extensive rebuilds.
At times, the owner’s representatives may find that many of the original replacement parts are no longer available and/or components attached to them are not listed anymore; original suppliers have gone out of business, or the manufactured, associated components have been modified/improved so as to no longer be available as useable replacement components within the original design.
This often is further complicated by many “old” employees having retired, or otherwise not available. The newer generation may, or may not, have the necessary background/time/technical expertise to effectively deal with ongoing maintenance issues in the aging plants, especially if it requires alteration to the original design from a supply point of view (or for environmental reasons which is often the case with older design equipment). Similarly, and under the pressures of reduced man hours per ton, the owners have further may have had to reduce their own on-site service employeesand engineering/technical staff, etc.
To seek suppliers, many of these companies may have gone off shore for bulk purchase benefits, but where experimentation, modifications from original design, purchase in smaller quantitiesat a time, or other liaison type communication, obtaining a good supplier becomes much more difficult. Again, this becomes even more complicated where design, engineering, fabrication, casting, machining, etc., need to be combined for the final result.
The new environmental requirements also sometimes necessitate some experimentation and/or design to accommodate the on-site needs. Off-shore suppliers do not necessarily provide such complete solutions and may require several “middle men” and therefore increased time to accomplish the tasks required.
Fortunately, there still are a few North American companies which can come to the assistance of aging steel plants with economically viable engineered solutions at short notice and as required for any or all of the above stated situations. Thus not all is lost yet. There are available solutions one just has to know where to find them.
To meet the specific needs of any particular operation, there are a number of proven manufacturers, such as Wabi Iron & Steel Corp., that can design and build superior replacement parts or systems as a combination of cast pieces and fabrications that will provide many added years of efficient operation to aging plants.