Orbital Stretch Wrapping Reduces Rust Problems with Slit Coil Steel Edges

July 1, 2006
Stretch wrapping extends the life of steel.

This case history about Steel Works, comes courtesy of Yellow Jacket LLP . It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Since purchasing two Yellow Jacket Orbital Stretch Wrappers about a year ago, Steel Works (Granite City, Ill.) has not had a single coil steel order returned because of rust. Because of its location near the Mississippi River, the steel slitting company has always had to contend with the humidity and rapidly changing temperatures of the region which cause the steel coils that the company slits and stores to rust within a matter of weeks. After it began stretch wrapping its steel coils with the Yellow Jacket, the time that they (or its customers) could store the steel jumped from a few weeks to months because the stretch film effectively protects the steel from the condensation-creating elements that cause rust.

Steel Works is a steel slitting/steel service center that has been operating since 1988 and mainly serves the heavy equipment agriculture business. The company slits cold roll, hot roll and galvanized steel. It purchases its own steel, which it then slit according to customer specifications and ship to its 50 to 60 customers who are located across the country. Steel Works employs approximately 50 people.

Steel Works operates two slitting lines capable of sizing many widths of coil and has the ability to run in excess of two million pounds of steel per day. It ships approximately 150 skids of steel daily. In addition to slitting, it edges, conditions and flattens the steel for customers. The company also pickles steel, a process that sends the steel through an acid bath to clean the scale off of the coil. A coater oil is then put on the steel, making the steel very clean, which is ideal for customers who make products such as desks that require cleaner steel.

Humidity and changing temperatures cause rapid rusting

Because of Steel Works’ close proximity to the Mississippi River and the general climate of the region, the company had to quickly ship its steel coils to its customers before the coils rusted, which at times resulted in costly returns. The humidity and quick climate changes caused the steel to sweat or condense which caused rust, often in a matter of weeks. “Sweat is condensation, which is water, and that just creates rust. Nobody wants rust on their steel,” explains Fred Jones, the plant superintendent at Steel Works. “That was the biggest problem, so that’s why we went looking for something to protect it.”

The company had previously used paper and banding to cover the steel and secure it to pallets, but the methods did not work to protect the steel from condensation and prevent rusting. “Before the Yellow Jacket 87-M, we would have to worry about rust in two to three weeks,” says Jones. Coil edges were particularly vulnerable to rusting, and with pickled steel, the entire surface was at risk.

If customers received rusted steel in a shipment, they could file a claim against Steel Works. In that case, Steel Works would have to buy the steel back and pay per pound to ship the steel from the customer back to the plant. “We don’t want to get any rust on it before it gets to their plant, because if it does, then they can put claims against us. We’d have to buy the metal back and ship it back to us,” explains Jones. “The way gas prices are nowadays, that’s a pretty good chunk of change.”

Before purchasing the Yellow Jacket 87-M, Steel Works would have a few claims each year that could cost the company thousands of dollars, depending on the customer, the type of steel, and how much was shipped. Because of this, the company began looking for something to prevent the steel from rusting so quickly. They looked into plastic hand wrapping, but decided against it because it was too time consuming.

Orbital Stretch Wrappers Reduces Claims and Extends Storage Time

Jones came across Yellow Jacket 110 on the Internet. “I was just searching and happened to luck into the site. I looked at the “how it works” video. We’d been looking for something to keep the rust and condensation off the coil, so I called them up,” describes Jones. “They sent us a demo machine. We tried it out and ended up liking it, so we bought one.” Steel Works now owns two Yellow Jacket machines – an 87-in. diameter and a 120-in. diameter.

The Yellow Jacket 87-M and 120-M Orbital Stretch Wrappers allow a lift truck driver to drive a palleted load to the machine, attach a loose end of stretch film to the pallet and then use a hand control to quickly orbit the film dispenser around both the product and the pallet. The orbital wrapping motion quickly secures the product to the pallet by snugly wrapping the film around the entire pallet – product and all. This ensures product safety and security during shipping. To finish the process once the pallet is wrapped, workers need only tear away the stretch film from the roll and drive away. The Yellow Jacket orbital wrap process only takes about a minute to complete, compared to other stretch wrapping methods, which can take three to four times longer.

Since purchasing the 87-M and 120-M, Steel Works has not had any rust-related returns. “I haven’t had a claim as far as rust on our steel since we’ve purchased these two wrappers,” Jones notes. He also says the absence of claims has more than paid for the cost of the Yellow Jacket machines. “What I looked for myself and what the owner looked for was the steel not coming back rejected for rust. Two or three truckloads coming back would pay for that machine easily, a few times over,” says Jones. “That’s what we were looking at and we haven’t had a claim in over a year now, so I would say that in itself paid for that machine.”

Stretch wrapping the steel coils with the Yellow Jacket has also allowed Steel Works to store the steel for longer periods of time. While they previously had only been able to store the steel for a few weeks, they can now store it for several months. “We’ve had some coils that have been stretch wrapped sitting here for probably six or seven months now. It still looks nice,” comments Jones. “You can store it for six or seven months, maybe even a year, before it gets rusty. We couldn’t have done that before.”

An added benefit that Steel Works experienced from stretch wrapping its coils was that it keeps dirt and steel dust from getting on the stored steel. “It keeps the dust and stuff off of it. You can go out there two or three days later, if the coil has been sitting there, and see the steel dust on top of the plastic,” notes Jones.

“If the customer doesn’t mind, we can just stretch wrap the steel to the pallet and we don’t have to worry about banding it and that eliminates another shipping process” Jones explains.

Steel Works has found that its customers are happy with the stretch wrapped pallets. “Even if their steel is not pickled, most of our customers like it stretch wrapped to protect the edges,” says Jones. “I know a lot of them like it.”

MHMonline.com welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Lisa Kempfer ([email protected]), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.

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