For a number of years steel suppliers and service centres have been diversifying and encroaching into areas that were traditionally occupied by their clients.
Of course, when you push more manufacturing processes (as well as engineering services) down or up the supply chain, you increase risk. Some companies bring in more processes either through direct machinery purchases and others via company acquisition, which in turn increases the customer base. Whatever happens it has got to make good business sense because upsetting your clients could do long-term damage. The idea is to find your niche in the supply chain and make sure it works for you.
ITL Stainless & Steel Services regards itself as an architectural steel company, fabricating and installing both mild steel and stainless steel products. In its relatively short history the company has completed some impressive projects. When the company was setup in 2010 the emphasis was on project management, design, shop detailing, fabrication, abrasive blast cleaning and corrosion protection and erection capabilities. This is still very much the focus of the company but through necessity ITL Stainless & Steel Services now offers more.
“Fabrication and erection of steel structures for the commercial, industrial, mining and power sectors can be very challenging because construction companies and structural engineers are always demanding. It involves diligent processing of various types and sizes of material and of course on time delivery and erection. There are also many different cutting and fabricating processes that have to be incorporated. In some cases you might have to process 70 tons of steel just for one project. But once the project is complete it is very rewarding to see the outcome,” said Director Igor Rogerio.
ITL Stainless & Steel Services have recently purchased a JFY TFC 6020S fiber laser that has a bed size of 6 000mm x 2 000mm
The second addition to ITL Stainless & Steel Services’ capital equipment inventory that the company has recently purchased is a JFY 400 ton 3.1metre press brake. The HPR model hydraulic press brake offers a bending force of 400 tons and a bending length of 3 100mm
“Machine developers have done a great job of automating many of the operations associated with structural steel processing over the years. Automated cutting, drilling, and marking are widely adopted in the industry. Structural steel processing and fabricating is in a phase where the aim is to keep human intervention to an absolute minimum.”
“Some might argue that several heavy-duty fabricators are already there in their effort to eliminate waste. They point to automated coping, cutting, drilling, and marking machines – all connected with automated material handling systems to limit the need for lift trucks and overhead cranes – that prepare structural steel members just as the CAD programmes dictate.”
“Those same people would be overlooking a major flaw in their argument, however. A good chunk of time – some say as much as half of the time to process a structural steel beam – is spent on layout and welding. It’s not a conspiracy that automation has yet to be fully applied to the end of the structural steel fabricating line. It’s just that structural steel fabricators know working with such large and sometimes inconsistent steel beams doesn’t lend itself to easy-to-create automated solutions.”
“Despite this the basic requirements of structural steel fabrication has not have changed much over the last 20 to 30 years. Traditionally steel fabricating companies were primarily large operations with hundreds of workers. Although most moved toward faster production rates by installing automated, special-purpose equipment, such as saws or a beam line, they were best equipped to handle large jobs. So when the next big project didn’t come through things could get rough.”
“Many of today’s structural fabrication shops look quite different today than they did back then. They are generally smaller in both footprint and staff size, yet still remain highly capable and competitive. Market pressures and technological advances have spurred this big change.”
ITL Stainless & Steel Services uses a Peddinghaus Peddiline 600/3 beam sawing and drilling line to process beam
The Peddinghaus Peddiline 600/3 beam sawing and drilling line is equipped with a Peddinghaus 510 DG automatic band saw
“Today, the vast majority of structural steel fabricators operate out of smaller facilities and employ just 20 to 50 people. This model allows these companies to pick up smaller jobs and change direction quickly, both of which make it easier to deal with economic slowdowns. The increase in the number of small and medium-size fabrication shops has also given the industry as a whole more flexibility. Smaller projects have local suppliers readily available. And when a large project comes along, it’s not uncommon for several smaller fabricators to form a team to take on the job.”
“However, this has resulted in many of the companies becoming very versatile in the services that they offer. Not only have they advanced in terms of amount of time they spend on a piece of steel – trying to lower their labour hours per ton, which may be the only cost they really can control these days – but they have got into laser and plasma cutting so that they can cover their own requirements when awarded a big contract, as well as become a general sheet metal service centre to supplement turnover in the lean times. This is over and above the processes and fabrication services they offer for beam processing.”
“This is exactly what we have done and it is a necessity these days, to survive. We have even taken it further by building a plant hire company – ITL Plant Hire – that is run by my brother Ricky. The company has a growing fleet of cranes between 7 ton and 220 ton and boom lengths of up to 105 metre reach. When not in use for our erection capabilities the equipment is hired out.”
Included in the ITL Stainless & Steel Services equipment lineup is a Peddinghaus CNC Anglemaster heavy angle iron and plate processing line
Production Manager Vasco Rechestre, Director Igor Rogerio and Sales Manager Victor Thorpe
“Both businesses stem from the company that my father started over 30 years ago. ITL Task Labour is a full service industrial construction company providing project management, development and construction management services to customers in the resource development, processing and manufacturing industries.”
“Additionally, ITL Task Labour has a recruitment division that provides skilled and unskilled labour for the industries that it deals with. This includes artisans of all types, boilermakers, welders, drivers and many others. This is an important aspect of the industry these days because companies cannot afford to employ full time staff when they are not involved in a project but need the staff as soon as they are awarded a contract.”
“All three companies feed off each other and the mission of all three companies is to deploy resources with necessary skills to reshape and redefine the parameters of the services we provide.”
ITL Stainless & Steel Services was only established eight years ago but now processes between 150 and 200 tons per month. The first piece of equipment that the company purchased was a Clear Cut plasma table with a Hypertherm Hyspeed Plasma HSD130 cutting system. This machine is still very much in use on a full time basis today.
But the company directors had bigger ideas and plans for the company. The plasma acquisition was soon followed by the purchase of a second hand Bystronic Bystar 4015 CO2 laser cutting machine that is equipped with a Bystronic Byloader 4025 for automatic loading. The machine has a 3kW source and a 4 000 x 1 500mm bed size.
Shortly thereafter the company purchased a Peddinghaus Peddiline 600/3 beam sawing and drilling line and a Peddinghaus CNC Anglemaster heavy angle iron and plate processing line from an auction.
In between there were a couple of bandsaws, welding machines, a press brake, a plate roller, a guillotine and other metal processing machines that were purchased.
ITL Stainless & Steel Services also has a Bystronic Bystar 4015 CO2 laser cutting machine that is equipped with a Bystronic Byloader 4025 for automatic loading. The machine has a 3kW source and a 4 000 x 1 500mm bed size
The first piece of equipment that ITL Stainless & Steel Services purchased was a Clear Cut plasma table with a Hypertherm Hyspeed Plasma HSD130 cutting system. This machine is still very much in use on a full time basis today
Then came the purchase of a Ficep Excalibur-12 CNC single spindle beam drill line supplied by Retecon Machine Tools. At the same time the company purchased a Ficep Tipo-B/25 CNC punching and thermal (plasma) plate coping machine.
“The purchase of all this equipment set us up very nicely to process material for all the requirements that we needed for our structural steel business, which includes both new projects and maintenance. Some of the projects we have been involved in include public works department buildings, commuter train stations, university buildings, a factory for an OEM truck and bus assembler, office blocks, industrial property developments and various warehousing factories and residential complexes.”
Move to new factory
With the company growing at a relatively fast pace it became necessary to move to a bigger factory. This happened in 2016 when a 9 000m² site in Tulisa Park, Johannesburg was purchased.
“There were existing buildings on the site that we could make use of. All we did was add on an office block section. In total we have 4 000m² under roof to work with. However, the flow of material from arriving to leaving, once processed, was not quite right so we are adding an additional section to the factory. This section will be ready for use in a couple of months.”
“Mastering the flow of work/material through your shop is one of your most important tasks. Flow is being able to stand back and see all material moving rather than languishing in racks or sitting on the floor causing havoc.”
ITL Stainless & Steel Services makes use of a Ficep Tipo-B/25 CNC punching and thermal (plasma) plate coping machine, purchased from Retecon Machine Tools
Also on the production floor is a Ficep Excalibur-12 CNC single spindle beam drill line
“It does help that the primary function of the business is processing structural steel so these two additions have been done by ourselves, which has kept the costs down.”
New JFY fiber laser and press brake
“Although the main focus of the company is on fabricating and installing both mild steel and stainless steel products for construction type projects we have diversified recently, which at the end of the day is linked to the core of the business. We have manufactured balustrades, staircases, spiral staircases, bollards, protective barriers, sliding gates and swing gates for construction companies and general engineering companies that we deal with.”
“The idea is to build up this side of the business, as well as offer service centre capabilities. To facilitate this new direction we have recently purchased a JFY TFC 6020S fiber laser that has a bed size of 6 000mm x 2 000mm. JFY is a Chinese equipment manufacturer that has Trumpf as its majority shareholder. The machine is powered by the Trumpf TruDisk and features other German technology and this was one of the main reasons that we decided to purchase a JFY machine.”
ITL Stainless & Steel Services offer fabrication and service centre services
A staff member uses an oxygen acetylene cutting torch to cut off a piece of metal at the end of a beam
“The second addition to our capital equipment inventory that we have purchased and which is currently being installed is a JFY 400 ton 3.1metre press brake. The HPR model hydraulic press brake offers a bending force of 400 tons and a bending length of 3 100mm.”
“Both of these pieces of equipment have been purchased from Puma Machine Tools and we understand that they are the first JFY machines with these type of specifications to be installed in South Africa.”
“This investment is going to give emphasis and capacity to our capabilities of processing mild steel and stainless steel. We are now in a position of being able to process at least 300 tons of metal a month while also offering fabricating services.”
Fabrication of an exterior ladder
Fabrication and erection of steel structures for the commercial, industrial, mining and power sectors is the core of ITL Stainless & Steel Services business
“We are adapting to the market conditions by providing value-added services while at the same time expanding our footprint. Our core customers will remain the same and our business model is to remain a fabricator and installer. These days survival hinges on value-added services, and the more a company can offer, the better. We are minimising our risk and making the equipment that we have on our floor pay for the space that it takes up.”
“Buying metal in large quantities, selling that inventory in small quantities, and making a little money is not what we are about. Besides we are too small to order directly from the mills.”
“We currently process about 70% mild steel a month and the rest is taken up with stainless steel. Besides processing beams, plate up to certain limits and sheet, we can also process piping on a limited scale. All other services such as shot blasting etc. are outsourced. We do have our own transport and with our sister company services readily available we have found a niche in the supply chain.”
For further details ITL Stainless & Steel Services on TEL: 011 435 0423 or visit www.stainlessandsteel.co.za