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MCN Profile: Ohio Pickling & Processing

Modern Adaptation

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Ohio Pickling & Processing has its eyes on the future by modernizing equipment to continue the company’s emphasis on quality, customers and employees.

As an independent toll processor, Ohio Pickling & Processing’s priorities are quality and customer service. The Toledo, Ohio-based company is adding new processing lines and modernizing its existing operations, thus continuing to adapt and develop to meet the needs of its customers and employees. With new levels of automation and technology, OPP looks to the future of metals processing.

An investment firm led by a long-time industry executive Sergei Kuznetsov acquired OPP in October 2020. “OPP is advantageously located in Toledo, Ohio, with on-site rail, easy access to main freeways and port,” says Kuznetsov. “Over the years, OPP developed a diversified customer base and earned a stellar service reputation. The modernization brings new product capabilities that allow the company to expand its customer reach and compete at the highest quality and service levels.”

New equipment is at the heart of OPP’s modernization efforts. At the forefront of OPP’s new developments is a new Braner 0.250-inch slitting line providing broad processing capabilities, efficiency and quality. The line brings 240,000 tons per year of high-quality slitting in the area and is a significant milestone in OPP’s growth strategy. The new line’s gauge capabilities range from 0.024- to 0.250-inches. 

The line can process AHSS and UHSS steel grades with tensile strength up to 290,000 psi (2,000 MPA) at processing speeds up to 1,000 feet per minute and handle coils up to 70,000 pounds. This double-loop line features a quick-change turret head, duplex rolls for quick transition between material types, shape correcting cluster leveler with two five-high leveling sections, automatic edge control, a speed recoiler with fast switching between 20-inch and 24-inch ID and an automated packaging line.

“Turnaround time is critical in the toll processing business. The increased speed and reliability of the new equipment allows us to offer shorter lead times to our customers,” says Kevin Burnett, OPP operations manager. “The line will process all types of steel for the most sophisticated applications. In addition to the product range and productivity increase, the most immediate impact is the quality of the finished product we produce.” 

In January, OPP launched a new Red Bud Industries coil preparation and uncoiling station at the entry-end of its pickling line. The new entry equipment includes a shear, a transfer track with three coil staging positions, and an automated coil feeding system with dual-stub expanding mandrels. 

The new entry equipment significantly improves processing yield and eliminates pickling stains due to shorter changeover times, the company claims. OPP is completing other essential upgrades on its pickle line, including a new strip drying system, improved in-tank acid circulation and high-efficiency heat exchangers – all adding to a list of improvements that benefit OPP pickling customers.
 
In addition, last year OPP completed several infrastructure upgrades throughout the facility. These include a new electrical substation, an air circulation system that turns air in the building up to five times per hour, a new 20,000-gallon raw acid tank and a new 35-ton crane with a built-in scale for rail and truck receiving. “All such upgrades increase equipment reliability, improve product quality and work conditions and thus improve the consistency of our operations and services,” Burnett says.

Transportation, Labor, Operations
Shortly after the acquisition, OPP launched its own transportation unit by acquiring two trucks with 8-axle trailers. Recently the company added a third truck with a 6-axle trailer to expand the company’s delivery radius and provide direct service to more OPP processing customers. 

Utilizing OPP’s fleet for inbound and outbound shipments improves shipping and receiving times and provides greater certainty and control over delivery times. “Our knowledge of processing and understanding our customers’ needs allow us to tailor our logistical approach for each customer individually,” Burnett says. OPP plans to continue expanding its trucking fleet.

However, as is the case for many industrial companies, OPP has experienced labor challenges. “The key to our company’s success is our people and their ability to perform the job at the highest quality standards,” Burnett says. 

OPP is taking steps to create a better work environment for its team members and encourage continued personal and professional growth. The company is improving the work-life balance for its team members – by increasing wages for qualified workers, training and transitioning them to the new equipment and adding additional shifts. OPP development programs ensure opportunities for all employees. One of the new initiatives, for example, is maintenance apprenticeship programs aimed at developing talent internally.

Charting the Future
OPP continues to chart plans for the future. These plans include further expansion in slitting by adding a new heavy-gauge slitting line, a cut-to-length line to complement slitting operations, as well as adding additional pickling capacity by doubling the pickling line speed. 

“We work closely with our existing and potential customers to stay ahead of the emerging demand and requirements,” says Burnett. “The prioritization and timing of new lines will depend on demand for our services. We’re conducting a survey in which we’re asking customers to indicate what additional product and processing capabilities they would like us to add.

“The engineering for the pickling line speed increase is complete. We can complete this upgrade with relatively short equipment lead times and no line downtime. The project timing will depend on pickling demand ramp-up from the announced steelmaking capacity additions,” he  adds. 

Overall, OPP’s philosophy centers around three pillars: safe and rewarding work environment, commitment to service, and continuous development and improvement. “OPP’s passion is to design and provide innovative solutions to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations by delivering products and services safely, on time, and with the highest quality standards,” according to the company’s website, which can be found at https://www.ohiopickling.com/. 

Caption:
The Braner Slitting Line is among the new pieces of value-added equipment at the Toledo-based toll processor. (Photo courtesy OPP)