Own your market. Precision is a mindset

Management of National Stainless Steel Centre calls itself one of the largest independently owned stainless steel and alloy metal processing and value adding centres in South Africa. They specialise in stainless steel, duplex, super duplex and high alloy steel processing. With stainless steel making up 90% of the 500 to 700 tons of metal that the company processes every month, it would be hard to dispute this fact. Creating a niche such as the one that National Stainless Steel Centre has certainly gives the company many advantages over others, especially as stainless steel processing requires a bit more attention, expertise, technology as compared to carbon steel.

“We are more than a stainless steel service centre cutting metal to size. When we established National Stainless Steel Centre nine years ago we knew we had to stand out from the rest. At the time many companies processing flat sheet and plate were finding that they had to offer some level of additional value added services to help them stand out among other metal processors. But we needed to be even more recognisable in a competitive and growing industry. This is one of the reasons why we chose to concentrate on stainless steel, high alloys, duplex and super duplex, with the latest processing technology available to the discerning clients” explained Managing Director Mischel Frljak.

Partners Ivan Obadic and Mischel Frljak

In September 2017 National Stainless Steel Centre installed a Bystronic Bysprint 3015, which has a bed size of                4 x 2 metres

“Being very client orientated many of them request us to process alternative materials so we are not exclusively concentrated on stainless steel. Metals such as mild steel and aluminium make up 10% of our turnover and tonnage processed monthly so we are not about to neglect this side and we welcome the diversification in these tough economic times.

Both Mischel and fellow director Ivan Obadic now have over 30 years of combined experience having cut their teeth on the shopfloor of a well-known processor that was ultimately taken up by a corporate.

“We were happy when we worked as an owner managed privately run company. However, It did not suit both of us to be part of a corporate once the restructuring took place, which ultimately led to the establishment of National Stainless Steel Centre. Besides focusing on stainless steel we wanted to start off with a company that would be recognised for its freshness and uniqueness and as alternative supplier to the stainless steel industry. Ivan and myself were and still are relatively young so we have the energy to further develop National Stainless Steel Centre as a world class processor,” explained Mischel.

In November 2017 National Stainless Steel Centre are taking delivery of their sixth machine, which is a Bystronic ByStar Fiber 10 kilowatt laser

Both the new BySprint and the 10kW ByStar Fiber are fitted with ByTrans material handling equipment

“Today we are realising that dream/strategy by being more than a one stop shop – we rather see ourselves as a turnkey operation “one stop stainless steel shop” that in many instances delivers a packaged product to site, most importantly to the discerning clients requirement. This statement is backed up by the new development in the company whereby we are now delivering our own NSSC range of retail products to the Massmart Group for the retail public, including Makro, and are soon to be listed with Outdoor Warehouse and Pick n Pay. Dealing with the retail chains you have to be on your game, where service is key and delivery cannot be compromised,” said Mischel.

“From the beginning we have been versatile in all aspects of the business. We might only have started off with one CO2 Trumpf 3kW laser, one Trumpf 180 ton press brake, a high definition plasma and a shear, but it still gave us flexibility in the services we offered, ensuring the business developed around our clients’ requirements.”

“This has now grown to include both CO2 and fibre laser cutting options, high-definition plasma cutting, guillotining, water jet cutting, bending, rolling, pre-fabrication, welding, CNC machining and drilling, polishing, levelling and deburring of stainless steel, and the list is endless as you would find on our upgraded website.”

“More recently we have added tube bending and robotic welding to the list of services that we offer. On top of that we will in future be offering precision grinding and deburring and polishing of flat sheet components when our Timesavers machine is installed in February 2018.”

National Stainless Steel Centre has four Trumpf lasers on the floor

National Stainless Steel Centre have recently installed a second Fanuc welding robot

“These are all value-added services that have been added to custom-fit our clients’ requirements. It also fits into our philosophy of continuing in our efforts to be as different as possible from competitors. It’s mandatory. That’s life as an independent.”

“We operate in most spheres of industry that require our services including chemical, engineering, water, sanitation, construction, architectural, oil and gas, rail and carriage, automotive, agriculture and food and beverage but with a bias towards mining and petrochemical. We are happy that we are spread over the broad spectrum because when one has difficult times the other starts to prosper.”

“Our wide spectrum of stock includes a range of all locally manufactured grades of stainless steel in 304L, 316L, 3CR12, and numerous other high alloy grades, including standard and custom size decoiled plates. Our international network of suppliers provides us with exotic material in various grades of stainless steel plates, coils, pipes and tubing, not available locally and fully customised for our clients’ requirements and can also be project based supplied.”

“Besides the numerous different blanks and shapes that we process some of the other products we process include liner plates, liners, flanges, coils, pipes, rings, angles, channels, flat bars, cones, square to round, lobster backs, floor plates, tubes including architectural and many other shapes requested by clients.”

From drawing to profiling to site
“We pride ourselves on the fact that a client can present a scope of supply with a drawing and expect his product to be delivered to site without having to be involved. This will include the welding, and pre-site assembly where necessary. And not unusual these days we also offer CNC machining and milling services. Our CNC machining, milling and drilling are all done in-house, with machining capabilities of up to 720mm in diameter by 200mm in height on our vertical machining center, and 1200mm by 750mm length and width on our Doosan CNC milling center.”

National Stainless Steel Centre is more than a stainless steel service centre cutting metal to size

National Stainless Steel Centre chose to concentrate on process stainless steel, high alloys, duplex and super duplex with the latest processing technology available

“This allows us to carry out milling, drilling and other machining operations to cut to size material and then assembly if required by our clients on all the components, including welding where necessary, by our certified welders, as well as many other processes being offered. In other words we are more than a cutting and bending operation. We rather regard ourselves as project managers, expediting orders from your general cut to size requirements right up to your big tonnage project based requirement.”

“All of this needs to be controlled so that we stick to our promise of 100% delivery, as well as keep up our efficiencies. We have invested hugely in our software systems for quoting, tracking and monitoring of daily sales orders and project software such as the SigmaNest MRP system, which integrates all of this data for us and is able to give us the immediate answers we need. The result is we are now a fully accountable operation on processing and administration, which fits in perfectly with our TUV ISO 9001 certification, Level 3 BBBEE under the new codes and we offer the recognised certification and standards for all the processes that we have to offer.”

“All this requires the necessary equipment and as mentioned before, we have invested in equipment that covers virtually every operation in our industry with very little sub-contracted out. Operations such as finishing for our 3CR12 products will be shopped out but who knows, in the future, we could have our own paint shop!”

The company has a six metre Gasparini shear

More recently the company has added tube bending – a Soco SB-63 auto

“We now have five lasers on the floor and in November we are taking delivery of our sixth machine, which is a Bystronic 10 kilowatt laser that is going to accelerate our cutting process beyond what we could envisage a few years ago. The cutting speeds of the ByStar Fiber with the 10 kilowatt unit increase by up to three times when compared to the industry standard CO2 lasers. This allows users to cut three times as many parts from sheet metal in the same amount of time as the majority of their competitors. The greatest benefits allow users to process material from 0.8mm to 16mm in thickness. Even in higher sheet thicknesses up to 30mm, the 10 kilowatt fiber laser goes full steam ahead of it’s own accord.”

“To do so automatically, without operator intervention, Bystronic integrated the Spot Control function into the cutting head. This newly developed function configures the laser beam. Spot Control accurately adjusts the focal point of the laser beam according to sheet thickness and material. As a result, the ByStar Fiber always achieves optimal machining quality in varying sheet thicknesses and cutting materials, including stainless steel.”

“The new 10kW Bystronic ByStar cutting system is going to set new benchmarks in laser cutting at our company. The high-performance equipment is capable of cutting aluminum and stainless steel up to 30mm thick, mild steel up to 25mm, 15mm brass, and 12mm copper. It can also clean-cut mild steel up to 15mm thick, which is beneficial to customers who require an oxidation-free edge on their parts.”

National Stainless Steel Centre also carries out polishing on a Weber

National Stainless Steel Centre have a high definition plasma to cut thicker material. Other operations are carried out in the machining department

“The bed size of this machine is 4 x 2 metres. In September we added the Bystronic Bysprint 3015, which also has a bed size of 4 x 2 metres. Both of these machines are equipped with the latest Bystronic ByTrans loading/unloading materials handling equipment.”

“These two fibre cutting machines have been added to the floor purely because we had filled capacity on our Trumpf machines. It was only two years ago that we installed a 6kW Trumpf TruLaser 5060 with a bed size of 6 x 2 metres, such has been the growth in the company.”

“On the press brake side we still have our original press brake and have recently have installed a new six metre Trumpf TruBend 8500 that has a 5 000kN bending force and two Trumpf TruBend 3120 press brakes for light gauge materials.”

“Another recent investment has been in a second Fanuc welding robot, installed by Robotic Innovations.”

Free flowing manufacturing facility
“The company started its life in a 2 000m² facility in Jet Park, Gauteng with only four staff and that included Ivan and myself. We are very hands on people and come from the shopfloor so we were comfortable operating the machines and any general hands on requirements. The company grew steadily and before we knew it we were up to 80 staff and bursting at the seams.”

Some difficult to bend components

The company has two Trumpf TruBend press brakes and in total three Trumpf press brakes

“Four years ago we moved into our own building that is made up of 10 000m² for processing another 1 000m² for office space in Pomona Road, Kempton Park in the vicinity of the new high-tech Aerotropolis area that has been created near OR Tambo Airport. Currently we have all the space that we need but it is filling up fast.”

“We do have room for a further 24 000m² expansion but more importantly the move gave us process flow and the resulting efficiencies that were desperately required for a growing concern. We have also been able to increase our staff complement and we now employ more than 170 staff.”

“Included in the new building is a MERSETA accredited training facility and we are now training artisans and boilermakers – every year. This is both beneficial to our company and to the manufacturing industry as skills will be the make or break of all businesses in the future. Besides, we are proud to be able to give back skilled and competent tradesmen and women to the stainless steel engineering industry.”

Retail product development
“We are not a company that can sit still for long. We are always looking for the next phase of development and although this one is completely new to us it still fits into our mix. It certainly does not detract from the stainless steel processing, which is the core of National Stainless Steel Centre.”

National Stainless Steel Centre have recently started manufacturing and marketing a range of household retail products in stainless steel. The Fire Fryer is an all-in-one pan that can be used on the grill, braai, 3 and 4 gas burner braai, open fire pits and in conventional ovens

Another retail product – the Bully Bar is a heavy duty washing line, hanger and storage bar

“As we all know South Africa is made up of people that love the outdoors and enjoy having fun with sports, cooking and other outdoor activities. Prime amongst this is the time spent over and the bragging about individual braais (barbeques). From spit-braais to potjies, shisa nyama and snoek braais South Africans love getting together around a fire to cook some food, share some fellowship and more. All over South Africa there are braai buffs and grill enthusiasts who profess to being the best at our national pastime before the social occasion takes place, and even more so once a few alcoholic beverages have been consumed. We all have our own theories and methods, which have grown out of the many cultures and foods available in South Africa. We even have a National Braai Day and a TV programme Ultimate Braai Master. Industries have been born with the many and varied braais, accessories, sauces, tools and implements that are available for us to purchase. And as they say every braaier worth his “World’s best cook” apron wants the best accessories.”

“We had noticed that the amount of inferior product that was being imported from all parts of the world was gaining momentum. When it comes to braai accessories South Africans want quality and what is stainless steel? A quality metal that is sturdy, long-lasting and can be developed into a product that is aesthetically pleasing.”

“This was the motivation behind National Stainless Steel Centre developing its own range of local quality stainless steel products, primarily for outdoor use.”

“The Fire Fryer is an all-in-one pan that can be used on the grill, braai, 3 and 4 gas burner braai, open fire pits and in conventional ovens as a serving tray once the dish is done. It is available in a regular as well as a non-fat pan health option. The pans are available in a smaller portable size (390mm x 320mm), as well as a larger family size (570mm x 420mm). The pans are made from the highest grade of stainless steel and are perfect for outdoor use and indoor and camping situations.”

In February 2018 National Stainless Steel Centre will take delivery of a Timesavers machine and will be able to offer precision grinding and deburring of flat sheet components

“This led to our designers thinking of other products to develop. Next was the Bully Bar as we call it. This is a heavy duty washing line, hanger and storage bar. It is also suitable for hanging heavy household laundry such as duvets, curtains, carpets and blankets. It has a maximum weight capacity of 250kg and is suitable for outdoor use and coastal applications. This product is exclusively available via the Makro online portal.”

“We now have 15 products in our range and they include wall hangers, assorted hooks, including universal and door hooks, house numbers, trivets and coasters, all made from stainless steel.”

“The homeware division is diversification for the company and is volume driven but it is starting to keep the machines busy with daily development and improvement and additions to our product range, even though we have only been in the market for a year.”

“Speed, accuracy, quality with maximum uptime, with repeatable results that are economic for us as a processor and for our clients, is what we are all about. Literally we like to be at the cutting edge of technology,” concluded Mischel.

For further details contact National Stainless Steel Centre on TEL: 011 552 8800 or visit www.nssc.co.za