A Proud Century of Engineering Innovation

Some options when replacing components in an aging Steel Plant

Most people know that tires are made by tire manufacturers. Thus, when buying a new vehicle, they certainly don’t expect the tires to be manufactured by the car company; the vehicle could be equipped with those of any one of the major tire manufacturers. They trust that the vehicle manufacturer made a proper selection and thus concentrate on viewing other aspects of the vehicle.  Perhaps a change to that comes either from their “non standard” vehicle use (where, almost from the first day, they may need special use tires) or later, as tires are consumable, when it is time to replace the worn out tires (they may, at that time, use their own criteria for the replacements, not necessarily selecting the same as originally on the vehicle).

Perhaps a bit of surprise comes when there is a recall on air bags. They have seen the inscription on the steering wheel “air bag”. Depending on how they find out about the recall, they may discover that the air bag was not made by the vehicle manufacturer either; the recall may cover a whole series of manufactured vehicles, even from different countries, different makes and models, with the same design and manufacturer of the air bag.

Another surprise may come when their vehicle has a component or assembly failure. The dealer may inform them that where the vehicle was assembled in their country, that particular assembly in question, as per VIN, was actually manufactured in another country altogether and they need time and/or more info to discover what particular part(s) was/were actually used in that assembly and where to obtain them.

In a steel plant situation, the steel plant owner may decide to expand and/or improve the operation by purchasing a newly to-be constructed facility that may involve a similar to existing, or completely new process. They may look at several designs (as with vehicles) and finally decide on one that seems to best meet their business plan of the time.  As with vehicle purchases, a lot of the “small” details the owner’s representatives will leave unspecified – for the discretion of the principal supplier.

During the engineering phase, the purchasers may discover detail in the drawings that they would like to change. The changes may be minor and without added cost, or maybe not. The purchaser may not have sufficient staff and/or expertise to evaluate “every detail”. Thus, a lot may have been left in the hands of the principal supplier.

During the construction phase, there may be more situations, as during engineering, that will require communications, agreements, adjustments, etc. But the project will carry on, and will finally reach the time when the facility will go on line and, hopefully for all concerned, produce as originally envisioned and agreed to.

As the facility stays on line, and, as with tires, some parts eventually start to wear out and require replacement. During such occasions, one may find, for example, that individual motor/reducer combinations to drive a table roll of a series of rolls (while brand new still at the time of construction) were no longer produced even at that time of construction or shortly after. The successful bidder, to keep his proposed cost as low as possible, found a group of drives that met the specifications, were no longer produced and thus available for a considerable discount to the purchaser. So, now a seemingly “normal” situation becomes considerably more important, not just for the initial and added cost, but with perhaps considerable impact to the operation of the facility.

Very few, if any, of the design groups (principal suppliers) have foundries of their own. So, when it comes to castings, they may seek foundries that will produce the casting at the most economical price to them. The price may be affected by many factors, as foundry operations can vary greatly from one foundry to another, while, on the surface, be seemingly the same or very similar. The more consumable castings the facility contains, the more important the situation may become to the owner of the facility.

Again, as with replacement of the tires, there are options. One can go and back to the principal supplier and buy more of as originally provided. This usually may involve a mark up if the supplier does not have a foundry of their own, or just because they may appear to have the monopoly on the part. That does not have to be so. Modern, well equipped foundries, such as Wabi Iron & Steel Corp, can easily analyze the original and produce the same, or even an improved version at a reasonable delivery time and economical price, while providing superior after delivery service.