It All Starts with the Steel…
7. February 2013
That's me and Modern Machine Shop Associate Editor Matt Danford sporting our hard hats and safety glasses!
Those were the words spoken by Tim Nealt, Vice President Sales, of steel supplier A. Finkl and Sons, as he and Mold Steel Product Manager Todd Gilhuly guided me and several of my colleagues on a tour of their new 44-acre facility—located on the South Side of Chicago—earlier this week. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at how steel is actually made. I learned terms like vacuum argon degassing (VAD). That’s a process by which the steel is purged of impurities and gasses before being teemed into “bottom poured” molds where the steel solidifies in preparation of continued processing.
The new facility will house the melt, forge and machining shops, and offices as well as recycled metals and finished product. Nealt is excited about the efficiencies that will be gained by being under one roof. Portions of the company’s North Side plant were separated by city streets and were dependent on manual labor. In contrast, at the South Side plant Finkl employees can operate machines by pressing buttons on computer monitors. “Our process has gone from four hours to one hour,” Nealt says. “It’s a quantum leap in technology.”
Nealt expects the new plant to be fully operational by year’s end.