Gloria P. Cahill reports on LTV Copperweld – the steel manufacturer that invites its customers to “expect even more” in high-quality tubing and wire products.
How does one company become North America’s largest tubing manufacturer and the world’s largest producer of bimetallic wire products? In the case of LTV Copperweld, it was a winning strategy that united three top companies with impressive product diversity and geographic reach.
This new business unit of LTV Corp-oration, the Cleveland-based manufacturing giant, was created in 1999 by combining: LTV Tubular Products Company, a division of LTV Corporation and a leading manufacturer of as-welded and drawn-over-mandrel (DOM) mechanical tubing, pressure tubing, steel conduit and pipe; Welded Tube Company of America, the largest producer of structural tubing in the country and one of the few to produce the larger 12-inch to 16-inch square sizes as well as proprietary coated products; and Copperweld Corporation, the largest steel tubing company in North America and the world’s largest manufacturer of bimetallic wire products. Copperweld’s product line also includes DOM, seamless and as-welded mechanical tubing, structural tubing and stainless steel tubing.
Annual sales for the new enterprise are projected at $1.3 billion this year. John Turner, president of LTV Copperweld, makes this comment on the potential of this newly formed business unit, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Our positions in tubing and bimetallic products places us as the undisputed leader in the markets we serve. Our objective is to bring the best qualities of these combined organizations together to be an even more efficient, more reliable and more flexible supplier to our customers. We have outstanding people throughout our organization to make this all happen.”
The Complete Market Basket
The combined operations of LTV Copperweld employ 3,600 people in 22 facilities –15 in the United States, six in Canada and one in the United Kingdom. All told, LTV Copperweld has approximately 5.5 million square feet of manufacturing space, 4.3 million of which is located in the midwestern, southern and western regions of the United States.
Annual shipments are projected at 1.6 million tons of pipe and tubing products and more than 45,000 tons of bimetallic wire. Leading with the largest category, the product mix comprises: mechanical tubing, structural tubing, pipe and conduit, bimetallic wire, fabricated automotive components and stainless steel tubing.According to Robin E. King, director of market research, this combination of manufacturing capability, product diversity and geographic accessibility gives LTV Copperweld unprecedented advantages in the tubular marketplace.
“Our philosophy is to offer our customers a complete market basket of tubing products. We can be their one source for multiple products, so the costs of multiple transactions are reduced.“We are a good fit for customers who want their products faster, more cost-effectively and on a more flexible schedule, because we can manufacture a product at more than one plant. We can do quick turnarounds. And we can produce at sites that are closer to the customer, so we save on freight charges – which takes costs out of the supply chain.”
As the largest producer of steel tubing in North America, LTV Copperweld serves a host of industries. Following is a summary of the major product segments and their markets:
• Mechanical steel tubing products are used in the manufacture of hydraulic cylinders, mechanical parts for automobiles and trucks, construction and farm equipment, and in furniture, appliances, bicycles and other consumer products. LTV Copperweld’s tubing products include DOM, seamless and as-welded mechanical. Among these products is TuffDom® tubing for fluid power and other demanding applications that require high-yield strength and impact and fracture toughness.
• Structural tubing products – also known as hollow structural sections (HSS) – are used for a broad range of construction and architectural applications, structural components for vehicles and industrial equipment, highway guardrails, light poles and enclosures for conduit, cable and pipe. LTV Copperweld’s plants supply HSS tubing products to construction fabricators, original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and steel service centers.
A unique product offered by LTV Copperweld’s structural group is KLEENKOTE®, a preprimer-coated tube that offers manufacturers and fabricators cost savings and improved productivity.
• Fabricated tubular components are used primarily in the automobile industry for parts such as axle assemblies, instrument panel support and door intrusion beam assemblies. The design capabilities, weight efficiency and competitive cost of steel tubing parts are critical to the vehicle manufacturers’ requirements to keep weight and costs down.
• Pipe and conduit products are manufactured in a range of sizes and specifications to meet customer’s needs. Electric-resistance-welded (ERW) standard and line pipe and oil country tubular products are engineered to exacting diameters, wall thicknesses and foot-weights for a broad range of end-use applications. LTV Copperweld’s steel conduit tubing includes Electrunite® electrical metallic tubing (EMT), intermediate metal conduit and Galvite® rigid steel conduit.
• Stainless steel tubing products are manufactured using lasers for the welding – a fast and cost-efficient technology providing improved corrosion resistance compared with a conventionally welded tube. LTV Copperweld ships most of these products to steel distribution centers for eventual use in heat exchangers, boilers and evaporators. •n Bimetallic wire and strand is the line in which Copperweld Corporation forged its initial success, becoming the world’s leading supplier. The main products, copper clad steel and copper clad aluminum wire and strand, are widely used in the cable television, electric utility, telecommunications and electronics industries.
Quality: Three in One
LTV Copperweld’s policies for product quality, innovation, and responsive service are grounded in the established records of the three enterprises that came together in this new business unit.State-of-the-art tube-making processes include high-speed mills, high-speed changeovers, cutting on the fly and in-line painting. Production services include in-line weld seam annealing and non-destructive testing of the weld seam. Quality control is a priority throughout the production process, with checkpoints and inspections documented.
Additional production capabilities include tube cutting, cold drawing, annealing and stress relieving, engineering and design services to provide custom product solutions and machine shop capabilities to make tooling for the manufacturing process. Metallurgical testing services include mechanical property evaluation, metalo-graphy/low-power microscopy, dimensional testing and computerized reports.
Looking to the future of LTV Copperweld, King emphasizes that this new business unit is working toward a specific goal — growth. “Our philosophy and our strategy is that we want to take a leadership position in the markets we serve. So, we will reinvest in our business in order to create better products and provide better services to our customers.
“We are striving to build on the strengths of each of the three businesses. We are finding ways to cross-fertilize our capabilities and our experience so that we can come up with innovative solutions to our customers’ needs. That’s how we will build market share.
“When LTV put together these three companies, we were given the charge to be a business that grows. And we’re going to do that.”