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Summer 2006, Issue 8
In This Issue

Quotes and Quips

“No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson  

Contact Us
You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567 code 422, or sending us an e-mail.

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Metals and Money

For accurate forecasting and planning, it helps to understand the movement of key industry indices. The graphs below were compiled by Air Products economists to illustrate three-year trends for utility and metals pricing as well as industrial production. We'll continue to keep you updated once a quarter.

Industrial Production Indexes Industrial Production Indexes
Source: US Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors
Click here to view the graph.

Utility Pricing Metrics Utility Pricing Metrics
Source: Inside F.E.R.C., Bureau of Labor Statistics
Click here to view the graph.

Steel Prices Steel Prices
Source: Market Pricing
Click here to view the graph.

Key Metals Prices Key Metals Prices
Source: London Metals Exchange
Click here to view the graph.


Metal Tech: Cyclohexane Enhances Vacuum Carburizing

Adapted from an article first published in the October 2002 issue of  Industrial Heating magazine.

A new vacuum carburizing technology (U.S. patent #699,687) known commercially as VringCARB® has been introduced by Surface Combustion, Inc. to yield repeatable, high-quality results over a wide range of process variables. The process is performed at low pressure in a vacuum furnace using high-purity cyclohexane as the carburizing compound.

For the high-pressure gas quench step of this process, Air Products and Surface Combustion have developed storage and distribution systems for gases such as nitrogen, argon and helium, as well as methods to help maximize product quality and safety.

Want more? Get a complete copy of "New Technology Is the Next Step in Vacuum Carburizing," which includes test results, injector system details and furnace configuration options, or call 800-654-4567, code 422.


External assessment improves internal processes at Hamilton

Like many successful businesses, Hamilton Precision Metals had developed systems and processes based on operating experiences and internal know-how. Their system worked; the reroller of specialty metals recently celebrated its 25th year in business, boasting 85 employees and 90,000 square feet under one roof.

Last year, under the direction of company president Barry Brandt, Hamilton began a continuous improvement program to address constraints in its annealing area. Management determined that a more methodical approach was warranted to help identify and remedy the plant's production issues. "We didn't know what we didn't know," says Jim Eichelberger, Senior Project Manager at Hamilton.

Air Products has been a long-term industrial gas supplier for Hamilton and has always provided technical support when appropriate. Don Bowe and Rob Edwards from Air Products went to Hamilton where they discussed the process constraints and offered to provide assistance. After some follow-up meetings, they recommended a productivity assessment that has been recently implemented at numerous Air Products operating facilities. This process has recently been approved as an official continuous improvement tool at Air Products.

"The assessment identifies the things you're doing right, and it maps the manufacturing processes to show where you can make improvements," says Edwards.

The comprehensive assessment looked at everything from purge times and process controls to alternative cleaning operations. "We presented a number of options—high impact, low impact, high resource, low resource—almost a shopping list, so Hamilton could decide what would be most useful," Edwards says.

One recommendation related to determining optimal purge time is expected to save 50% in purge gas volumes for the hydrogen atmospheres alone. Other specific recommendations geared to increasing capacity and reducing operating costs are in the process of execution.

Open, honest communication was the key to the project's ultimate success, says Eichelberger. "The whole assessment was handled with a professional approach from Air Products," he says. "They added great value toward making our processes better."

For more information on how Air Products can help you improve your operation, call 800-654-4567, code 422, to schedule your productivity assessment.


Options abound for thermal spray processors

What's critical to your success? In thermal spray coating applications, the consistent quality of consumables such as gases and powders is essential to deliver high-quality coatings.

As a leading producer of gases like hydrogen, oxygen, helium, argon, nitrogen and gas blends, Air Products offers a range of supply options, equipment and services to meet your process specifications:

  • Microbulk Solutions for smaller-volume users as an alternative to unwieldy high-pressure cylinders and dewars
  • Design, installation and commissioning of your piping system to help meet your unique requirements, including seismic and NFPA codes
  • Operational gas audits to assess and optimize your process
  • Safety programs and assessments

Download our brochure for more information.


What's New

New Technology Agreement Improves Roll Properties
Air Products has signed a joint cooperation agreement with C.D. Wälzholz and SMS Demag that enables us to share and develop our combined experience of rolling gap technology using a combination of lubricants and Air Products' cool rolling technology. This technology utilizes liquid nitrogen to cool and inert the sheet and rolls at the roll bite.

Now, our cool rolling technology can be retrofitted or used in conjunction with SMS Demag's Least Quantity Lubrication system. Combining both technologies enables users to roll harder materials as well as to produce a higher end reduction, while also substantially cutting lubricant quantities.

Call us at 800-654-4567, code 422, to learn more about replacing conventional water-based cooling fluids in wet rolling.


Ask the Expert

Minfa Lin

Minfa Lin
Senior Principal Research Engineer

Q: Why does the gas or gas blend make a difference in high pressure gas quenching?

A: Different gases have different thermal conductivity, which is inversely proportional to gas molecular size and mass. Learn how this affects cooling capacity.

View previous "Ask the Experts" columns.

Learn whether you're following best practices in atmosphere supply and other operational areas by assessing your process at www.metalsassessment.com.

Send us a question, and you could win a $100 gift certificate. Congratulations to Richard Humphrey, last quarter's winner.


Where to Find Us

Our representatives hope to see you at these events to discuss your metal processing needs.


Meet This Quarter's Metal Head
John Dwyer

John Dwyer What do crossword puzzles have in common with designing atmosphere systems for metals processing operations?

For principal industry engineer John Dwyer, it's the fulfillment found when tapping your cranial mass to overcome mental challenges.

"I usually visit customers if they have a problem with their metals processing applications," says Dwyer, an aficionado of everything from sudoku to the daily crossword. "There's a lot of satisfaction when you leave the customer after having solved the problem for them."

In addition to troubleshooting, Dwyer uses his 25-plus years of metals industry experience to help new and existing customers design atmosphere systems, optimize processes and institute safety training programs. He has special empathy for his customers, as he worked for six years in a steel company's heat treating and wire mill department before migrating to the gas supply side of the business.

"I spent years doing heat treating and getting product out the door. There's great value to that knowledge and understanding," he says. "Now as a consultant, I still do lots of hands-on work and help customers improve their productivity."

So if you ever see "1-down. Five-letters. Clue: Problem solver," in a puzzle, chances are that "DWYER" will fit quite nicely.


Useful Web Links


Contact Us

You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567, code 422, or by sending an email to gigmrktg@airproducts.com.


Use this link to unsubscribe from Air Products' quarterly Metals E-Mail Newsletter.

© Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. 2006          330-06-039.2-US

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