An expert discusses how electromagnets should be maintained and when it's time to replace them.
Demand for magnetic scrap handling attachments has increased by 30 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for some equipment dealers such as Nasco-Op based in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Rotating Grab
Despite the increase in demand, Mike Morrison, assistant manager of Nasco-Op, says the attachments are hard to come by because of a shortage of parts needed to make them. This delay means magnets are taking three to five months to assemble and ship. As a result, it has become increasingly important to maintain existing equipment and to know when it’s time to replace an attachment.
“How long your magnet lasts is based on the preventative maintenance, how you take care of your magnet [and] having an experienced operator running your material handler,” Morrison says. “When it comes down to the magnet, it could last two years or it could last 20 years, all depending on how well it's maintained and how well your operator uses it.”
Three parts on a magnet wear down most quickly:
Morrison says some operators use the magnet face to pick up material and distribute it into trucks. The jagged edges of the material will chip away at the face slowly, weakening how effective the magnet will be in the long run.
“As with any electrical piece of equipment, there are going to be components that wear out, especially if there's an issue in your magnet control system somewhere,” Morrison says. “You’ll need to maintain your magnet, the magnet controller, the generator and all the cables that connect everything in between. If everything isn’t working in sync, you can burn up components of the control system pretty quickly.”
Morrison suggests operators check these three parts monthly to avoid lasting damage to the attachment. Operators should look for cracks, broken links in the chain and excessive wear. Operators also should keep chains clean and free of grease, and operators should not rest the material handler’s boom on the chain.
Other ways an operator can ensure the effectiveness of a magnetic attachment include storing it in a dry place that’s not too hot or too cold, depending on the business' location. Operators also should avoid using it for anything other than picking materials up, such as flattening material or sweeping it across the ground to pick up small metal scrap.
While maintaining a magnetic attachment is important, there comes a time when it makes more sense to replace the attachment. Repairing a magnet could cost 60 percent to 75 percent of the cost to buy a new magnet entirely.
“You're shipping something that's very heavy back to a manufacturer. They have to do double the labor now because they have to a inspect the magnet, tear it down and see what's wrong with it. They have to go through the coil, they have to go through all the components, see what's working what's not,” Morrison says. “Then they have to also put it back together. So really, you're doubling the labor that you would have for a new build because labor is the most expensive part of the repair.”
Morrison says, typically, a repaired magnet is going to be rebuilt using recycled parts. This means it might not last as long as a magnet using new parts.
The primary sign it’s time to replace a magnet that operators should look for is the wear depth of the pole. If the magnet’s bottom plate is flat with the outer pole, the magnet is at end of its life. If the magnet is used past this point, an operator might see warping and welding breaks that eventually will lead to the magnet failing or the bottom plate possibly falling out of the attachment.
Other signs the magnet should be replaced is if the operator is experiencing electrical issues while using the attachment. If an operator sees spikes or power shorts in the system, it could mean the system needs to be inspected.
If a magnet continues to be used after it should be replaced, the operator will experience ongoing issues during use.
“You're going to have issues with your magnet controller, you're going to have issues with your generator, you're going to have issues with the other components of a magnet system that don't necessarily tie right into the magnet itself,” Morrison says. “When that magnet is beat up and broken down, you're going to have electrical issues one way or another. Whether it be a moisture issue, short in the coil or your magnet control system.”
Steel output rises in May in China, but reports indicate inventories are building up there.
Steelmakers in China produced some 4 million tons more steel this May compared with April, but a recent media report indicates much of that steel is staying in inventory.
Figures provided by China’s CISA steelmaking association to the Brussels-based World Steel Association (Worldsteel) show May steel output in the People’s Republic of China of 96.6 million metric tons. That represents a 4 percent increase from the 92.8 million metric tons of output in April.
Just one day after Worldsteel released its figures, however, an online article from CNBC reported that “steel inventories are slowly piling up in the warehouses of the country’s biggest steelmaking hub, the northeastern city of Tangshan, as well as in the provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong.” CNBC cited consultancy Wood McKenzie, which had spoken with steel mill owners, as its source.
The consultant, Simon Wu, was quoted by the news network as saying, “There’s negative energy all around. The steel industry is just not making any profit.”
Problems affecting the Chinese economy include COVID-19-related restrictions and flooding in South China. Perhaps most importantly for the steel sector, however, is an ongoing double-digit monthly drop in apartment sales. Steel used to build apartment towers, retail centers and infrastructure projects have been the drivers of China’s emergence as the world’s largest steel producer.
Year to date, however, China has produced 8.7 percent less steel than it did in the first five months of 2021, according to Worldsteel.
The property market cool down in China has created a scenario where the central bank there is taking action to lower mortgage interest rates. That is in contrast to most of the rest of the world, where central banks are increasing rates in an attempt to tame inflation.
While the CNBC report indicates China’s steelmakers are gloomy about profits, steel producers in the United States and Canada have been announcing record earnings and positive forecasts.
However, because for the past decade or more China has produced and consumed up to half of the world’s steel, the situation in China is likely contributing to falling steel (and ferrous scrap) prices in many parts of the world.
Of greater pertinence to the U.S. scrap market, steel output in Turkey dropped month-on-month, falling from 3.4 million metric tons of output this April to 3.2 million tons this May, according to Worldsteel.
Providing better news to scrap exporters, India’s output rose to 10.6 million metric tons this May, up nearly 5 percent from the 10.1 million tons produced in April.
Canadian steelmaker distributes more than $115 million in profits to its workforce.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-based Algoma Steel Group Inc. says it will return CA$150.7 million ($116.1 million) in fiscal year 2022 total profit share payouts to eligible employees. Algoma says fiscal 2022’s profit share represents the highest payments per employee in the company’s history.
“This past year, Algoma saw record safety performance, revenues, and cash flows with much of that success attributable to our employees’ hard work and dedication,” says Michael Garcia, the firm’s CEO. “Together we are demonstrating that bold transformation, the continued pursuit of excellence and success go hand in hand at Algoma.”
The transformation aspect of Garcia’s comment involves the installation of a scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) in Sault Ste. Marie.
Garcia says of the company’s position as it prepares to become an EAF producer, “This cash infusion is in addition to approximately $400 million in annual payroll and pension benefits, and when combined with local investments in goods and services accruing $63 million to date derived from the construction of our EAF facility and our plate mill modernization, delivers meaningful positive returns for our community.”
Furnace shell breakthrough in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, has been repaired.
Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. says operations at its electric arc furnace (EAF) melting facility in its headquarters city of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, have resumed “returned to full operating capacity.” The ramp up follows a hot metal spill that occurred in April.
The spill, says the company, was caused by a breakthrough at the bottom of a furnace shell. No one was injured and there was no environmental impact, says Universal. “All other operations continued to function normally and there were no near-term interruptions to product delivery schedules,” adds the company.
“I am very pleased to report that our melt shop is back up and running,” comments Dennis Oates, board chair, president and CEO of Universal. “Our team accomplished this on schedule, even as they dealt with substantial clean-up and other challenges.”
Adds Oates, “Business conditions remain strong, and our backlog has continued to grow, reaching a new record high on May 31. We have started to catch up the lost melt time and are fully committed to continuing to meet the needs of our customers.”
Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc., established in 1994, has four facilities, with two in Pennsylvania and one each in New York and Ohio. The company makes and markets semi-finished and finished specialty steels, including stainless steel, nickel alloys, tool steel and other alloyed steels. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing on its website says its “key raw materials” are “carbon and stainless scrap metal and alloys.”
Shipbreaking company takes delivery of construction industry vessel for decommissioning and recycling.
Cuxhaven, Germany-based Leviathan GmbH says it has taken delivery of its first ship for decommissioning and recycling. The construction vessel HC Hagemann 1 has arrived at the firm’s facility in Kiel, Germany.
Leviathan says the ship has been lifted out of the water and placed on its decommissioning pad for a “safe and environmentally sound recycling onshore.” The company says it will cut the vessel with a cold cutting technology in the coming weeks.
Calling the delivery an important milestone, the firm says it “can now recycle the first ship almost emissions free and with the friendly and valuable support of German Naval Yards,” owner of the waterfront land in Kiel.
Hydraulic Grapple “The process for green ship recycling developed by Leviathan satisfies the [vessel] owner’s wish to be a pioneer in green ship recycling in Germany and that the ship will find its way as valuable resource in a circular economy,” Leviathan says.