NEW YORK A marked improvement in consumer demand is behind SSAB Americas potential plans to expand normalized plate capacity in Mobile, Ala., by as much as 75 percent in the next year, Jeff Moskaluk, chief commercial officer at SSAB Americas, told AMM.
"We have customers really encouraging us to expand our facility because they see the need for more normalized product," he said, noting that two groups of customersthe energy and railcar production sectorsare driving the push for more normalized plate capacity.
"Customers in both segments have approached us and said, Were kind of maxed out and can use more normalized product, " Moskaluk said.
"On the energy side, its mostly related to offshore platforms and exploration equipment, as well as tanks and storage vessels for the petroleum industry," he said. "On the railcar side, its tank cars in particular. The demand for those cars currently is quite strong and another good opportunity for us."
The majority of the demand pickup is coming from the North American market, with the United States accounting for the bulk of the rise, Moskaluk added.
SSAB Americas, a subsidiary of Swedish steelmaker SSAB AB, said on Friday that it was mulling plans to boost its normalized plate capacity in Mobile, Ala. (AMM, May 7). The company did not provide more details at that time, but Moskaluk told AMM on Monday that an expansion would involve the addition of new equipment at the existing facility and wouldnt require new construction.
The plant, which now has about 70,000 tons of normalized plate capacity, could see that rise by some 35 percent to 75 percent, depending on the type of equipment SSAB Americas decides to install.
"Its in the decision process right now. That (decision) will be made very shortly, and its a modest investment either way," he said.
Meanwhile, the facility continues to ramp up its new quench-and-temper line, Moskaluk said. The new linethe second at the Mobile sitestarted running product in April and is increasing its output on schedule, he said.
"Our operators have done a good job of getting the equipment up and running. Its going well. The market is being supportive and the equipment is coming online as planned," he said.