Steel Products

Steel 101 Conference a Success with Help from SSAB

Written by John Packard

On Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, a sold-out group of attendees and six Steel Market Update instructors, one event coordinator and a potential future instructor traveled to Mobile, Ala., to participate in the first Steel 101 workshop of 2018. The workshop was a success, aided by the generosity of the SSAB plate mill that we toured on Wednesday afternoon.

Each workshop begins with instruction about the steelmaking and rolling process. We introduced a new instructor, Chuck McDaniels, a former metallurgist with Sparrows Point, who discussed how an integrated steel mill makes steel from iron ore. Complementing Chuck was Steve Murphy, another process expert but from the minimill side of the industry. Combined, they described in detail blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace and electric arc furnace operations, as well as ladle metallurgy and vacuum degassing stations and how they impact the ultimate product being rolled.

Steve Painter, with his 50 years of experience in the industry, provided a look at the downstream rolling mills, after which we boarded a bus to travel to the SSAB electric arc furnace steel plate mill located about 30 minutes from our hotel.

When we arrived at the mill, the SSAB general manager told us that their caster was down due to a bad bearing and one of the shroud segments was being replaced. In a normal situation, this would mean our attendees would not be able to view the EAF being charged with scrap. However, SSAB made special arrangements for our group to see the two EAFs working even though the steel produced would have to be held for a couple of hours until the caster came back online.

Later that evening, our group celebrated the day with dinner and cocktails at a local restaurant. This gave everyone time to network with one another and to get to know our instructors a little better.

“I would highly recommend this class for anyone in the steel industry. I learned a variety of different information that will be helpful to me in the future. The mill tour really helped reinforce everything we learned Day 1 in class. Each instructor is well versed in the area they present and it makes the class very interesting,” said Renee Asher of Kloeckner Metals.

Steel 101 instructors and student 1.28.2018Day 2 of the workshop began with Chuck and John Eckstein describing how different qualities of steel are made and how the price of iron ore, scrap and other inputs for both an EAF and blast furnace/BOF theoretically affect the cost to produce hot rolled and other flat rolled products. They showed how a tensile tester works and what tensile, yield strength and elongation mean.

The class discussed typical end applications for the various steels and then how steel, both long and flat, are bought and sold.

Purchasing expert Mario Briccetti went through real-life examples of how to use a price book to calculate the buying price (before any discounts) for flat rolled products.

As we neared the end of the second day, we looked at the market and some of the factors that affect steel prices in the United States (such as currency values).

SMU Publisher John Packard walked through the various antidumping and countervailing duty suits, circumvention cases, Section 337 and the one item that could be a potential “gray swan” event for the market – Section 232.

Then he discussed many of the websites, periodicals and other items that can be used to gather market intelligence, many of which are free. As part of the workshop, each of our attendees receives three months access to our Premium newsletter and full access to our website.

“Overall, the two-day workshop was put together very well by all instructors. It was an informative two days starting with an overview of the steelmaking process via class presentation followed by an actual on-site visit and then ending the workshop with a review of current events and information driving the cost of steel,” said participant Mike Heenan of Olympic Steel.

Our next workshop will be held just outside of Chicago in Merrillville, Ind., on March 28-29, 2018. As part of this workshop, we will tour for the third time NLMK USA’s Portage facility. Details and registration can be found on our website: or you can contact our office for more information: 800-432-3475.

Photo is of metallurgists John Eckstein and Chuck McDaniels sharing a giggle along with Alicia Schmitt of SSAB, one of last week’s attendees.

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