Carmeuse Lime and Stone, North America
For the past 150 years, Carmeuse Lime and Stone, North America, has been a leading producer of high-calcium and dolomitic lime, chemical-grade limestone and crushed limestone aggregate products that are a vital part of the steel, energy, environmental services and construction industries. With North American headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carmeuse Lime and Stone operates 28 production facilities staffed by up to 2,000 employees. The family-owned global business has headquarters in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and its international presence spans Western, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as its presence in North and South America.
Carmeuse Lime and Stone has emphasized customer relationships through feedback and a customer experience process that is being implemented globally. The firms technical team helps customers apply best-available practices to increase operating efficiency, including optimizing fuel efficiency and kiln operations. The technical experts regularly visit customer locations to assist with process improvements, engineering support, logistical optimization and market studies to identify future opportunities. Further enhancement of customer support initiatives are ongoing, along with employee engagement and skills enhancement to ensure Carmeuse employees are ready to meet the customers current and emerging needs.
Internal efforts include increasing and strengthening customer partnerships, optimizing internal processes to minimize costs and identifying additional growth opportunities. Carmeuse recently launched a new steel-centric website (www.carmeuse-steel.com) to better communicate its products and services to steelmakers throughout the world.
A North American leader of non-ferrous metal processing, Ecovery, LLC, Loxley, Alabama, specializes in shredding, granulation and separation of copper and aluminium-bearing scrap. Its primary raw material is copper and aluminium radiators found in commercial and residential HVAC units. Products supplied include aluminium shred, grade 1 aluminium briquettes, grade 1 aluminium cones, slag conditioners and 1350 EC chops. The firms three plants process more than nine million pounds of material each month. Products ship directly to customers, and warehouses in the Midwest United States store additional quantities that can ship on an as-needed basis.
To guard against the cyclicality of the metals industry where supply of key inputs can become scarce, Ecovery embarked in 2014 on a multi-year diversification plan to broaden its product range. The company developed Deox 70, a slag conditioner, which helps mills reduce processing costs. In 2015, in response to weak demand for aluminium deox briquettes, Ecovery began building a melt plant, which came online in 2016, to create aluminium flakes from chopping copper-aluminium radiators to be melted into 11XX RSI that was sold to the consumer-goods industry; additional products followed. The melt plant consumes about 3.2 million pounds of aluminium scrap per month.
Product diversification continued in 2017 when Ecovery added an additional line in its processing plant to chop in addition to copper-aluminium radiators all-aluminium radiators and copper wiring, which provides the firm with additional products to expand its customer base. During its expansion, Ecovery also purchased a metal fabrication company to bring in house most maintenance functions for its facilities and to further support research and development with trying new equipment designs to increase production. With all of its expansion, Ecovery realized a 90% revenue increase in 2017 versus 2016, and its sales of aluminium to steel mills increased from 13 million pounds in 2016 to 23 million pounds in 2017, while costs per pound decreased by 7% over the same period.
GrafTech International Ltd
Since its founding in 1886, GrafTech International Ltd, Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, has become one of the worlds leading producers of graphite electrodes essential to the production of electric furnace steel and other ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The large-scale graphite electrode producer is largely vertically integrated into petroleum needle coke, which is the primary raw material of graphite electrode manufacturing and currently in limited supply. That integration gives GrafTech a product quality and cost advantage relative to its competitors.
The divestiture of non-core engineered solutions businesses in 2016 and 2017 has re-energized GrafTech and generated about $60 million in cash proceeds, while releasing working capital from the former businesses. The cost savings have allowed GrafTech to redeploy the savings into its graphite electrode business by investing in the capability to produce the super-premium petroleum needle coke essential for high-margin, ultra-high power (or UHP) graphite electrodes, along with optimizing production of pins used to connect and fasten graphite electrodes in the furnace. As a result, GrafTech has experienced a 10-year high in customer satisfaction at a time when the industry has been focused on production capacity rationalization rather than quality.
Since shedding its non-core assets, GrafTech has also implemented a new commercial strategy at a time when about 20% of the worldwide graphite electrode production capacity (excluding China) has been temporarily or permanently idled. In view of the strong demand from the industry supplied by a smaller pool of producers, GrafTech has implemented a commercial strategy to sell a significant portion of its production capacity to strategic customers through three- to five-year take-or-pay contracts.
Operational and commercial improvements have allowed GrafTech to gain significant market share among leading electric furnace producers. The firm also offers the ArchiTech system, which is now installed on 145 furnaces throughout the world. The system offers real-time and historical data analysis and diagnostics assistance.
RHI Magnesita N.V.
RHI Magnesita N.V. was created through the 2017 combination of RHI and Magnesita to form a leading global supplier of high-grade refractory products, systems and services used in a wide range of industries, including steel, cement, non-ferrous metals and others. With a vertically integrated value chain, from raw materials to refractory products and full performance-based solutions, RHI Magnesita and its 14,000 employees serves more than 10,000 customers in nearly all countries around the world from 35 production sites. The US headquarters are in York, Pennsylvania.
During the past 12 to 18 months, RHI Magnesita has seen Asian competitors enter the steel industry at unrealistic prices. But RHI Magnesitas response was to become even more innovative and create efficiencies to further strengthen customer partnerships through programs such as CPP (cost per performance) and CPH (cost per heat). Through these business models, RHI Magnesita not only offers refractory products, but also leading technical consultants, engineers and commercial account managers.
One of its US customers is Outokumpu Americas in Calvert, Alabama, where RHI Magnesita worked with the steelmaker to improve AOD vessel performance by 15% while reducing campaign costs by 9%. The RHI Magnesita team proposed different design changes during 2017 while still allowing Outokumpu to meet its key performance measures. Campaign life records were set month over month as material compositions and processing strategies were honed. RHI Magnesita also initiated a CPP contract, which has further strengthened the partnership with the Outokumpu melt shop that began in 2012.