Steel Dynamics, Inc., plans to install a heat-treating system at its Columbia City, Ind., Structural and Rail Division (SRD). When operational, the system will be capable of producing up to 350,000 tons of standard-strength and head-hardened plain, carbon steel rails for North America's railroad industry.
Capital investments are estimated to be slightly less than $27 million. Site preparation will commence immediately with construction expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013.
The company anticipates it will commission the system before the end of 2013. Production ramp-up is expected to continue through 2015, reaching full production of 350,000 tons in early 2016. This expansion is expected to create nearly 40 new, full-time jobs. The company plans to locally-source much of the equipment, with a majority of the required materials carrying the Made in USA manufacturing marking.
The company’s new process will involve a modern universal mill capable of rolling high-quality 320-foot long rails. These longer rails will be cut to customer-required lengths or welded together into quarter-mile long strings utilizing only four, instead of nineteen, welds, using the company’s existing continuous rail welding facility. The company notes that by reducing the number of welds, this technologically-advanced system will significantly reduce the potential for weld-related track issues, dramatically reduce associated production costs and provide customers with the quality rail needed for 21st Century rail systems.
“We are excited to announce this important growth initiative,” said Mark Millett, Steel Dynamics’ chief executive officer. “This investment will allow us to further expand and diversify our Structural and Rail Division’s market in a capital efficient manner. During 2012, we shipped our rail products to many of the American and Canadian Class 1 railroads, as well as to Mexico’s largest railroad. Our rail customers have encouraged us to expand our product offerings to not only include head-hardened rail, but in these longer rail strings, thereby enabling our customers to reduce their cost of rail maintenance and replacement. This project will provide that need.”