A steel manufacturer primarily uses iron with carbon as a universal additive. The specific chemistry of steel is highly dependent upon the amount of carbon added by steel manufacturers as well as other elements including manganese, phosphorous, silicon and sulfur. The properties of steel are also affected by other aspects of the manufacturing process such as rolling, size and shape of the final product.
Steel fabricators primarily manufacture thin gauge flat-rolled steel that may be cut in a variety of shapes, including blanks, coil and sheet steel. This stock may be coated or uncoated and is purchased from distributors, service centers, processing houses or mills.
Procurement is extremely complex in the steel industry because of the highly variable requirements, fragmented supply systems and relative pricing. It also requires factors to be considered other than the steel’s physical properties, including:
1. Communication with the steel supplier.
2. Delivery times available.
3. Supplier capabilities.
Choosing steel suppliers is further complicated by complex sourcing relationships that are constantly being evaluated, making technical support an important consideration as well.
Consider the application for which the steel will be usedThe surface requirements will directly affect the process used by the steel manufacturer. Marks or stains may be acceptable if the steel will be painted and not all steel must be cleaned by electro-galvanization. If the steel does not have a high strength requirement, it may be possible for steel fabricators to use the hot-rolling process that is significantly cheaper than cold-rolling.
Post a buy or sell notice onlineThis can be an efficient way to buy steel because many websites are heavily trafficked and do not charge for postings.
Use volume in choosing a steel supplierThe lowest prices are generally found at a mill but will require a higher volume. On the other hand, a service center will charge a markup but may be able to deliver your order. Traders may be another option because they can be expected to distinguish between integrated and mini mills.
Recycle used steelVirtually all steel has some recycled content because it can be recycled indefinitely. However, the best savings can generally be achieved by making the recycling loop as tight as possible.
- Convey complete specifications with the initial order, especially for specialty steels.
- Critical properties in steel processing include the thickness tolerance of the steel, the Olsen test requirements and the Rockwell hardness range.
- Determine other properties such as the cold weight, packaging and skid sizes.
- Establish the method that will be used to unload the truck. This factor can prove to be critical and is often overlooked.