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Tube and Pipe Producer of the Year

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JSW Steel (USA) Inc
Just three years following the acquisition of the Baytown, Texas, pipe mill by JSW Steel (USA) Inc., new leadership and a rebounding market for energy transmission pipe has transformed the mill into a major presence in the United States. Boasting the only heavy and wide plate mill with a large-diameter pipe mill, the JSW Steel facility has since 2015 seen a reduction in OSHA recordables of 67%, mill downtime by 54%, rejections by 4%, re-leveling by 76%, customer claims by 91% and cost quality reductions by 50%.

When the new management team arrived, the pipe side of the business for the transmission of natural gas and oil was approved by only two or three energy entities. Today, JSW Steel is fully approved by nearly 20 of the top energy companies in North America. In addition, because of the transformation of the American Petroleum Institute (API) plate-making capabilities, the pipe division states that it is the only North American mill that can be in pipeline production within two weeks of a client’s order entry. The company has also designed the “plate mill of the future,” and equipment provider Danieli has been selected to provide new plate mill equipment that will be installed in the next 18 months. Also being planned is an eco-friendly hot end consisting of an electric furnace and continuous caster that will produce the lowest cost structure for plate and pipe making in North America.

Based on the results of an exhaustive third-party audit of JSW Steel, the firm saw many significant improvements in 2017 over the prior year. Quantity of products manufactured increased by 25%. Pipe mill maintenance downtime was decreased by 50%. The pipe sales and marketing team increased the customer base by an additional 42 customers or an increase of 24% over the 2016 customer base. The pipe mill has operated for 1,059 days without a lost time incident, the longest period for the operating units at the JSW Steel Baytown manufacturing complex.

Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC
In continuous operation for more than 90 years, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, South Lyon, Michigan, produces cold-drawn carbon, alloy and high chrome mechanical and pressure tube and pipe for a wide variety of industries. The firm’s modernized 344,000 square foot facility can accommodate large and small mill quantities backed up by outstanding customer service.

The company has invested $25 million in the past several years to expand its operations and increase production capability. One key improvement was the acquisition of a highly specialized cold pilger mill and the construction of a new facility to house the mill. The mill leverages a unique, cost-effective forming process that helps Michigan Seamless Tube achieve improved tolerances and longer lengths, which helped the firm keep up with demand. Also added was a new 377 ft atmosphere-controlled furnace that helps improve material flow and reduce production time. Together, the new mill and furnace have diversified Michigan Seamless Tube’s product line, increased capacity by 700 to 1,300 tons per month and added jobs in the community.

While Michigan Seamless Tube qualified 2017 as a challenging year, it was also the firm’s most profitable. The tube company weathered the late 2016 reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by its then parent but by the end of 2017 Michigan Seamless Tube had a new parent. Through the difficult times, the firm’s management and employees remained committed to producing high-quality products and providing on-time delivery, and, according to Michigan Seamless Tube, is today stronger and smarter than ever.

Trinity Products, LLC
A variety of continuous improvement efforts along with adopting a “job shop” mentality have helped Trinity Products, LLC, St. Charles, Missouri, prosper during less-than-ideal times for the US pipe industry. The company adopted an enterprise-wide commitment to continuous improvement that rewards employees through profit sharing for strong performance. Trinity has adopted the Cycle of Success Institute method to engage employees in more than 500 continuous improvement efforts since 2012 that have helped the company sustain itself during down markets.

In adopting a job shop mentality, Trinity Products had to become more flexible to service smaller jobs. That meant driving down converting costs as well as becoming more nimble to compete on smaller jobs while building a customer base not generally associated with purchasing from manufacturers. Trinity Products also reduced operational downtime by cutting coil splice time in half and by reducing change-over time from eight to 3.5 hours. The result of the changes has allowed the firm to become a low-cost producer of structural steel pipe in the United States.

Additional improvements were realized between 2016 and 2017, including the introduction of both the Tri-Loc product for cost-effective pipe installation and the TriNet Sales Module. Trinity Products also installed a machine beveller to perfect the ends of pipe to assist in-field welding. Based on its results of the past few years, the firm had outgrown its banking relationship and went forward with an asset-based lending proposal by Fifth Third Bank, which involved appraisals of Trinity Product’s land, equipment and inventory. The new banking relationship will allow Trinity Products to more fully participate in projects that require large steel purchases, such as infrastructure-related projects, in the future.

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