NEW YORK Gerdau Special Steel North America is nearing completion of a 15,000-ton-per-year treatment line at its Huntington, Ind., facility to serve an emerging electric power steering automotive market.
The new line will source hot-rolled special bar quality (SBQ) steel produced in Monroe, Mich., and provide heat-treatment capabilities, in addition to polishing and stressing, straightening and cutting. The expansion includes a fifth line for the quench and temper process, a new crane and a new building for the extra equipment.
Jackson, Mich.-based Gerdau said the expansion, which will be finished in August, would reduce lead times and save customers the cost of shipping the steel to a third facility.
The expansion will position Gerdau to take advantage of the automotive industrys switch to electric power steering (EPS) from hydraulic power steering.
"The majority of new vehicles being produced in North America are utilizing electric power steering," Chris Easter, regional manager of technical services for Gerdaus North American special steel division, said in a statement. "Consumers want vehicles that are more energy- and fuel-efficient, and EPS systems achieve this. ... It allows us to be a one-stop shop for our customers."
"The growth of steering rack manufacturers in North America will be significant over the next few years and Gerdau is supporting this growth with the value-added processing required to meet the demanding specifications and expectations for this automotive application," Dick Grimes, technical services and product development manager for Gerdaus North American special steel division, said in the statement.
The cost of the expansion at Huntington since 2011 has totaled $27 million, a company spokeswoman told AMM.