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Monthly Archives: May 2014

The heat is on across the Midwest following a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. But with that warm weather comes a cool down in steel sheet prices. The price climb that we saw earlier this year has since stalled and reversed course slightly as some mills in the Great Lakes region return to normal production levels. This comes as we’re heading into the seasonally slower summer months.

Market sources say that despite lead time and healthy demand, it wasn’t enough to justify further price increases, especially with more supply available. Many companies were hit by production or supply chain disruptions earlier this year, but have since resumed normal production.

According to an article by Michael Cowden with American Metal Market, an increasing spread between prices in the rest of the world is also keeping a lid on domestic hot-rolled tags. One Midwest service center was quoted saying, “Mills are entitled to be profitable, but it’s not real and it won’t last if it gets too far out of whack. And North America has been finessing a higher price than other industrialized parts of the world, which has some people concerned.”

Another thought is that the “out-of-whack” prices might be cold-rolled from China. Cold-rolled imports from China have surged as prices continued to nose-dive. Market sources said that there was concern Chinese cold-rolled prices were getting unusually close to hot-rolled offerings from Russia.

Still, not everyone is feeling that this cool down in domestic steel prices will happen because we’re expected to have an increase in demand from the non-residential construction sector.

It will be interesting to watch and see whose predictions play out over then next several months.

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A recent article in American Metal Market reveals that steel will remain the material of choice for automakers. According to Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) advanced high-strength steels continue to grain traction among automakers, sometimes at the expense of competing materials such as aluminum.

SMDI President Lawrence Kavanagh told AMM, “Right now we’re working on vehicles that are going to launch in ’17, ’18 and ’19, which is why I know you are going to see continued high adoption of high-strength steels.”

This is good news for the steel industry after Ford Motor Co. announced it is making its F-150 pickup with an aluminum body-in-white.

Ronald Krupitzer, SMDI’s vice president for the automative market says there has been “keen interest” from automakers to have high-strength steels for trucks, SUVs and larger sedans as far out as the 2018 model year and just because aluminum is seeing interest from automakers now doesn’t mean the trend will prove durable.

If you remember back to the 1980’s there was an effort to put plastic body panels on vehicles and that lost popularity very quickly. Metal came back, and steel predominantly replaced plastic in all cases.

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It was a rough winter. There is no doubt about it and now leaders in the steel industry are pointing to that blistery white stuff for the slow start to the year. The good news is, flowers are blooming and exports are booming.. well, in comparison to February 2014. At Leveltek, we are excited to see a five-month high after numbers came back showing a great March.

Steel experts are also pointing to a recovery in deliveries in Canada and Mexico. According to the Daily American Metal Market (AMM), exports of all products to Canada rose 17.2 percent from the prior month, while products to Mexico gained 13.6 percent.

Richard Chriss, executive director of the American Institute for International Steel said in a statement: “The strong recovery in steel exports to Canada and Mexico in March bodes well for the next several months, as it indicates that the slow start to the year had much to do with snow-related logistical problems. In addition, a strong showing in major developing countries could indicate that U.S. steel is becoming more of a factor outside North America. This trend could accelerate if the situation in Ukraine leads to tighter sanctions on Russia,”

According to data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Enforcement and Compliance division mill product exports rose 15 percent from February but were 5.5 percent below March 2013.

In fact, the monthly gain was largely due to increases in exports for hot-rolled sheet (up 49.5 percent), coiled plate (up 25.4 percent) and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip (up 24.6 percent).

 

ImageAccording to an article in modernmetals.com this week, Domestic steel producers are finding it “troubling” that the industry’s highest average output so far this year has used only 77 percent of capacity but foreign-made product is capturing 25 percent and more of U.S. market share. 

Read the entire article by Corinna Petry here: 

“Finished steel imports were up 17 percent, capturing 25 percent of the market during first quarter,” ArcelorMittal USA president and CEO Mike Rippey said during a May 5 press briefing held at the American Iron and Steel Institute’s annual meeting.

AISI and its members have revised the import market share forecast for 2014 upward, based on what’s arrived through April.

Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the AISI reported steel import permit applications for April total 3,682,000 net tons, up 14 percent from March final imports.

For the first four months of 2014 (including April SIMA and March final), total steel imports reached 13.4 million net tons, up 29 percent from the same 2013 period. The estimated finished steel import market share in April was 28 percent and is 26% year to date, according to AISI.

Rippey estimated the U.S. would consume 112 million tons this year, up 6 percent from last year, but import tons are now expected to climb 13 percent, 10 points above the original growth estimate of 3 percent. “And, U.S. exports will decline more than originally anticipated,” he noted.

“Steel and other manufacturers face challenges [in the form of] trade-distorting practices and state-owned capitalism in China,” Nucor Corp. chairman, president and CEO John J. Ferriola said at the briefing. “A more effective U.S. trade policy is needed. We are advocating nearly daily to get better enforcement [of existing trade laws].”

Two recent countervailing duty preliminary rulings went against petitioners. In the first case, oil country tubular goods, Ferriola said the U.S. Department of Commerce “failed to recognize dumping by Korean and other producers. The government failed to take into account all the evidence.”

In a second case on reinforcing steel, “Commerce ruled Turkey was supplying its steel industry with energy subdsidies but that this was inconsequential in value. Given the energy intensity of steelmaking, the ruling flies in the face of common sense,” Ferriola commented. “The [imposed] margins are lower than we think is fair. We want Commerce to consider all of the domestic industry’s allegations.” 

U.S. producers are among the lowest cost steel manufacturers in the world, enjoying clear advantages. “But the disregard of global free trade agreements as practiced by some foreign companies makes competition difficult,” he concluded.

Photo: Port of Houston Authority 

 

Are you unsure about everything that we do here at Leveltek? To help you better understand the Leveltek process, we’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

What is a Leveltek Stretch Leveler?

A Leveltek Stretch Leveler is a piece of equipment that produces memory-free steel on new or existing light and heavy gauge cut-to-length lines. The Stretch Leveler is ideal for meeting fabricators’ increased demands for the steel required by laser and plasma cutting.

How does a Leveltek Stretch Leveler work?

The Leveltek Stretch Leveler uses proprietary technology to produce memory-free steel.

What are the key features and benefits of a Leveltek Stretch Leveler?

The main characteristics and advantages of our stretch levelers are:

  • Higher reliability; more up-time
  • Versatility
  • Stretches light and heavy gauge products by unique mechanical advantage
  • Real-time feedback
  • Few moving parts; commercially available
  • Fast installation period; modular design
  • Built on a flat concrete floor; no foundation digging
  • Costs far less than a new line

Can the Leveltek Stretch Leveler handle HSLA grades?

Yes. It’s one of the many heavy and light gauge products our stretch leveler can flatten to memory-free steel.

How long has Leveltek International been in business?

Since 1997, we’ve been installing our equipment in steel production facilities worldwide, because our superior technology fills a vital market need.

Why should I trust my coils to be processed on Leveltek’s patented stretch leveling system?

Because this patented technology performs at a level unmatched in the industry, it restores to perfection coils that would otherwise end up as scrap metal, and is guaranteed not to mark or scratch the surface being stretched.

How does the Leveltek Stretch Leveling System work?

A patented, non-marking process grips and stretches the unrolled steel, eliminating shape defects such as edgewave, center buckle, quarter buckle, camber, crossbow, mandrel or coil breaks, some types of chatter, herringbone/mill chop, and twist.

On what kinds of substrates can the Leveltek Stretch Leveling System be used?

The Leveltek system can correct the flatness in coils of stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, brass, copper, high-temperature alloys, galvanized steel, and other ferrous and non-ferrous materials, to make them commercially acceptable.

How is the Leveltek System superior to other stretch leveling systems?

Leveltek’s stretch leveler has the ability to stretch with the force of 1.25 million pounds, which allows flattening of metals beyond ¼-inch thick, or with yields in excess of 100,000 psi. Even with materials that can be flattened using other methods, our process provides a higher standard of flatness for critical or special surfaces that are:

  • Bright Annealed
  • Polished
  • Painted
  • Patterned
  • Plated/Coated

Does any shrinkage occur in the leveling process?

Every ton or kilo of metal that your customer sends you can be returned. The only measurable effects that Leveltek Stretch Leveling Systems have on the coil are a slight reduction in width, and a slight increase in length.

For what kinds of applications should coils undergo the Leveltek process?

The Leveltek process is ideal for coils that require exceptional flatness in laser cutting, stamping, slit mults, cut-to-length, perforating and burning, for the manufacture of products such as cathode plates, pipes and tubes, architectural panels, coiled plates, tread plates, refrigeration panels, lithograph plates and food processing equipment.

What are Leveltek’s capabilities?

Click here to see Leveltek’s Capabilities.

Where is Leveltek located?

Leveltek is headquartered in Benwood, West Virginia, one hour southwest of Pittsburgh.
Leveltek’s LaPorte, Indiana facility is conveniently located just 1.5 hours from Chicago.

If you need additional information, email us at: info@leveltek.com or vist us at leveltek.com