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Kloeckner starts construction on Ala. slitter

Keywords: Tags  Kloeckner Metals USA, ThyssenKrupp USA, Russ Delaney, new plant, slitting, blanking, service centers, automotive high-strength steel

CHICAGO — Kloeckner Metals USA’s planned slitting plant on the campus of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA Inc.’s steelmaking complex in Calvert, Ala., is now under construction.

Announced in June, the 100,000-square-foot facility initially will slit material from ThyssenKrupp as well as from regional steelmakers and distributors. The company’s broader goal, however, is to eventually produce steel blanks for automotive assembly plants throughout North America.

"We should be up and running by the third quarter of 2013," Kloeckner flat-rolled group president Russ Delaney told AMM. He declined to disclose the cost of the project.

"We are on a property that will allow us to expand beyond that 100,000 square feet," he said. "Initially, we will perform only slitting, and we have purchased a 72-inch-wide Braner slitter, which will be installed late in the second quarter. We are going to be toll-processing for ThyssenKrupp—or whoever owns the mill. We will also pursue our service center customer base, expand market share and enter the automotive market."

The new slitter will cut material from coils weighing up to 40 tonnes in thicknesses of 0.01 to 0.25 inch. It is designed to run high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels, especially ⅛-inch-thick ultra-high-strength material, the sweet spot for automotive applications, Delaney said. The facility will process light-gauge cold-rolled, galvanized and pre-painted coils.

"We have a very small footprint in automotive right now. We will grow that," Delaney said. "We intend to put in a cut-to-length blanking line in phase two of the plan" in order to serve the automotive sector. "Phase two depends on economics and how the customer base pans out for blanking. We can proceed fairly quickly" when customer requirements reach critical mass. "It’s already planned out," he said.

Which types of products are running and how fast the line can run for each will determine annual volumes, but the Braner slitter will be able to process 180,000 tons of light-gauge steel per year, Delaney said.

The company said in June it expects to eventually hire 40 people to run the new facility.

Kloeckner currently has no other specific projects planned in the North American market.

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