Finland-based steel company Ruukki, which recently launched in the North American steel market, is showcasing its energy efficient specialized steels, as well as one of its recent U.S. customers today at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014, one of the construction industry's largest trade shows.
Ruukki announced that Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company is using its Optim® brand of ultra-high-strength steel to manufacture its next-generation of telescopic crane booms. The 130-year-old Lexington, Kentucky-based company has become a global leader in the material lifting equipment industry by building cranes that are stronger, longer lasting and farther reaching. Link-Belt has designed a family of telescopic boom cranes ranging in lift capacities of 30 to 275 tons built with the most advanced materials and technologies, including Ruukki steel.
Link-Belt selected Ruukki steel for both its performance and quality surface. Optim steel not only achieves or exceeds Link-Belt's specifications for strength, lightness and durability, the steel's exceptional surface quality is saving the company and its customers large amounts of dollars per boom in manual surface preparation costs, according to Dave Necessary, Material Sourcing Manager at Link-Belt.
"Link-Belt's painted booms have become the visual hallmark of our quality reputation," he said. "That's what customers want to see, and it's a key reason we are more surface-conscious than anyone else in the industry. Ruukki steel helps us achieve that superior look. Ruukki steel requires a minimal amount of prep work, which saves us money. A good surface is important because customers want a crane that looks well-made. They want high quality equipment that they are proud to have in their fleet."
Time-savings was another benefit Link-Belt gained with Ruukki steel. The company's production system focused on shortening the time between the customer order and production shipment through lean manufacturing and efficiency practices. Ruukki steel's superior surface quality helped Link-Belt gain a competitive advantage through shortened cycle times and waste reduction during the finishing process.
Link-Belt has also seen the market shift toward "greener" fleets with better fuel efficiency. To that end, the telescopic booms are manufactured using 130/160 gauge Ruukki Optim steel that provides superior strength with lighter weights.
"We are seeing a growing market trend towards increasingly powerful cranes that are more mobile, lighter weight and can reach further," said Necessary. "That's why we are constantly innovating at Link-Belt. We developed new all-terrain cranes, for example, to meet the growing need for reach and mobility. Ruukki steel is helping us design booms for those cranes that offer greater operational flexibility."
Energy-efficient specialized steels
Ruukki is also attending CONEXPO-CON/AGG to educate manufacturers of transportation, heavy lifting, mining and other demanding industrial applications on its unique energy-efficient steel products.
Ruukki's metals expertise lies in specialized steels developed with direct quenching technology that provides excellent mechanical properties such as superior surface quality, core hardness and uniform toughness. In addition to its Optim steel, Ruukki will show samples of its Raex® wear-resistant steel, also marketed in North America.
Ruukki's Optim steel helps manufacturers reduce energy costs of equipment, vehicles and other industrial products while gaining extra high-strength performance. Optim is ideal for frame structures in commercial vehicles, mobile machines, equipment booms and other heavy lifting equipment.
Raex is a wear-resistant steel with a hardness and impact toughness best suited for bucket trucks and containers, mining equipment, platform structures, feeders and other high-wear applications. With plate thicknesses ranging from 0.079"up to 3.150" (2 mm up to 80 mm), Raex wear plates can extend the lifespan of machinery, decrease wear in structural components and save costs.
Ruukki pioneered the use of direct quenching technology. This breakthrough enables the energy-efficient manufacture of high-strength and wear-resistant Ruukki steels using hot-rolled steel quenched at about 1650°F (900°C) to ambient temperature immediately after rolling. This saves energy because the reheating stage after hot-rolling is omitted.
"Customers are able to design energy-efficient products with lighter structures, longer service life and higher payloads using our high-strength and wear-resistant special steels," said Thomas Hörnfeldt, Senior Vice President, Ruukki Metals. "Our customers have achieved savings in tare weight of up to 20-30 percent in heavy vehicles. This has enabled a four to seven percent higher payload on top of fuel savings."
Samples of Ruukki Optim and Raex steels, as well as case study materials of Link-Belt's use of Ruukki steel, can be seen at CONEXPO-CON/AGG Booth #2856.