How Can Steel America Help You Fulfill Your HydroPower Needs?

Published: Monday, June 5, 2017
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

Steel America has a robust resume stacked with gate projects that have been completed safely and with high-quality craftsmanship. From bulkhead gates in the Midwest, to the largest sector gates on the Hurricane Katrina flood wall in New Orleans, Steel America has become a leading expert in gate fabrication.

Gates come in all different shapes, sizes, materials, and each type of gate serves its own unique purpose. Some block off roadways during disaster evacuations (roller gates), some hold back rivers in a dry dock so shipyards can repair the hull of a naval vessel (caisson gates), and some control water flow in a canal (tainter gates).

Our most recently completed gate project was in 2016, where Steel America fabricated one new Emergency Reservoir Drainage System Bulkhead Gate for the Strontia Springs Dam in Douglas County, Colorado. The project consisted of detail design, fabrication, welding, machining, assembly, and painting of a 14′-6″ wide x 18′-2″ tall steel and stainless steel bulkhead gate assembly. The gate was fabricated in two sections with bolted connections for ease of transportation. After all welding was completed, each section was sub-harmonic vibratory stress relieved. The gate was fully assembled and inspected for flatness and dimensional tolerance prior to shipment to the site. It utilized the use of a 2″ thick skin plate with horizontal and vertical stiffeners to withstand a differential hydraulic head of over 215 ft.

Employee Spotlight: Meet Kelby Saunders, Rigging Supervisor

From excelling as an apprentice at the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprenticeship School, to shining as the new rigging supervisor, Kelby Saunders is showing others in his shop what it means to be a trustworthy and honorable employee. Steel America fabricates and machines large heavy objects – moving modules and projects of that magnitude is risky and could lead to disaster if not done properly. Kelby does an excellent job at making sure others around him are aware of their surroundings and helps teach others the dangers of moving cranes and trucks. One of the core values at C.S.I and Steel America is “family” – we took a few minutes to sit down with Kelby to get his insight on Steel America and learn more about him.

How long have you worked for Steel America/Colonna’s Shipyard?

“I’ve worked for Steel America for just over a year.”

What does a typical work day look like for you?

“Every day is different for me. I am part of every moving evolution at Steel America so I am always busy. There are lots of moving parts.”

What do you like most about working here?

“The company core values and the freedom. Management really trusts me to use my mind and run with it. You don’t get that a lot of places.”

What do you find most challenging about working at Steel America?

“Finding the order in which to do projects and trying to please everyone. Since I am involved with so many people and projects, sometimes it’s hard to figure out priorities with projects. Sometimes it seems like every project manager thinks their evolution is #1.”

How has Steel America helped you in your career development?

“It has forced me to develop a new way of looking at things. Being here has really helped me find the importance of looking at the bigger picture. It has encouraged me to think outside the box.”

If you could switch your job with anyone else within our company, whose job would you want?

“Probably Mr. Colonna [C.S.I/Steel America’s Owner].”

What advice do you have for prospective new employees?

“Definitely be careful and be alert. Don’t get complacent with your actions. This is a very dangerous environment and even the most experienced workers can get hurt. It’s easy. Be alert and watch where you are walking.”

What has been your favorite project since being here, and why?

“Driving to Titusville, PA… in the snow. It was a challenging drive, but I knew the company was counting on me to deliver the parts. It felt good to get it done, safely, and not let the company down.”

One of our core company values is “Pride” what is your proudest moment at Steel America?

“Completing the shiploader project. That was a tough project for everyone. It was awesome to get it finished for the customer. Oh, and creating a bridge crane operating class. It’s still in the works, but it includes instructions on how to do things safely and doing things the right way and not cutting corners.”

What are three words you would use to describe Steel America?

“Improving. Quality. Opportunity.”

When you aren’t at work, what is your favorite thing to do to decompress/have fun?

“Coaching. I coach a local high school football team and referee at high school basketball games. I really enjoy working with kids and helping them grow into productive members of society.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“Oddly enough, a truck driver. I’ve always liked big trucks. Or I wanted to be a firefighter.”

People would be surprised if they knew… (i.e. speak more than one language, hidden talents)

“I am a drummer at my church, and I sing in the choir. And I’m a people person, but I don’t think that will surprise anyone really.”

Employee Spotlight: Meet Russell Gray, QA/QC Manager

If there’s one person who knows the ins and outs of all things Quality Assurance here at Steel America, it’s our QA/QC manager Russell Gray. Russell oversees inspectors, ensures all inspections are accomplished thoroughly, accurately, and on-time, and actively participates in research on codes within the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and American Welding Society (AWS).  His extensive background in QA/QC makes him an essential asset to the Steel America team. One of the core values at C.S.I and Steel America is “family” – we took a few minutes to sit down with Russell and get his insight on Steel America and learn more about him.

How long have you worked for Steel America/Colonna’s Shipyard?

“I’ve worked for Steel America since 2009.”

What does a typical work day look like for you?

“I come in, meet with my boss to discuss the plan of the day, then meet with my guys to talk specifically about their tasks for the day. Then I’m under a mountain of paperwork.”

What do you like most about working here?

“I like how everyone is willing to let you do you job. They let you run with your ideas.”

What do you find most challenging about working at Steel America?

“Definitely the variety of codes we work in accordance with. All different codes. All weird too. The are just dissimilar enough to cause problems.”

How has Steel America helped you in your career development?

“It has made me a better manager. Between the volume, variety, and re-organizations I have grown to be a better manager.”

If you could switch your job with anyone else within our company, whose job would you want?

“Nobody. I like doing what I do.”

What advice do you have for prospective new employees?

“As a whole – be prepared and be flexible. Know what the company does before you come in for an interview. In the QA world specifically – bring documentation for any skills and certs. A lack of documentation proving your skills can be the difference between being hired or not.”

What has been your favorite project since being here, and why?

“Probably Caisson Boston. I liked the historical aspect and the magnitude of the project,”

What are three words you would use to describe Steel America?

“Agile. Competitive. Detailed.”

When you aren’t at work, what is your favorite thing to do to decompress/have fun?

“Listening to music. I listen to whatever Pandora throws my way.”

Do you have a personal motto or quote you live by?

“Extra effort requires no skills.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I was kind of floaty as a child. I never really wanted to be anything specific. Rich… comfortable.”

People would be surprised if they knew… (i.e. speak more than one language, hidden talents)

“I spent 8 years as an intelligence analyst.”

Big Betts – Back in Business!

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2017
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

The big Bett’s lathe reassembled post-move

Our big Betts Lathe (95′ between centers, 144″ swing, and 200-ton capacity) is officially back in business! In late 2016 our team disassembled the lathe, upgraded some internal pieces, and reassembled the machine on it’s new foundation. We just finished our first shafting project post-move and everything ran as smooth as ever!

One of the main reasons our operations and management teams decided to move the monster machine was to help improve project flow through the shop. Our management team is constantly evaluating how the shops operate to see if there may be a way to help streamline production. Our Opportunities For Improvement (OFI) program is another avenue for increasing efficiency in the shops. Our resource managers, production managers, and management team encourages employees to recognized areas for improvement and submit an OFI form for review. Top OFIs at the end of the month/quarter/year receive special recognition and a reward. We truly value each employee’s input and suggestions on how to make Steel America a safer and more efficient place to work.

From our Friends at FARO/Quality Digest

Published: Friday, January 20, 2017
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

In the fall of 2016, Ryan Day with Quality Digest reached out to Steel America to do a case study on Steel America’s use of the FARO Laser Tracking System. The FARO Vantage Tracker utilized in the shop and in the field, allows Steel America to take accurate measurements of the project (on-site foundations for example) before, during, and after various steps in production to ensure dimensional control. Steel America’s Operations Manager, Chris Hartwig, provided excellent insight to the benefits of having in-house laser tracking services. “Even though some of SA’s customers require third-party verification, they use the Vantage tracker for in-house verification before inviting a third party. ‘If a part fails a third-party inspection and they have to return to recheck… well, they’re not cheap,’ quips Hartwig.”

Read the entire case study by Quality Digest here.

What Exactly are Wind Tunnels? Why are They Important?

Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2016
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

While the first “true” wind tunnel wasn’t developed until the early 1900’s, the concept of simulating flight for research purposes actually dates back to the 1700’s. In the early stages of aeronautical research, experimenters discovered the need to replicate the movement of air around an object in order to understand flight. These aeronautical pioneers couldn’t fathom building a flying structure without first understanding lift (the force that directly opposes the weight of an airplane and holds it in the air – think buoyancy) and drag (the force that acts opposite to the direction of motion – think friction or resistance).

The first research efforts consisted of moving a test model through the air at a pre-determined speed to attempt to understand the movement of air (similar to flying a kite). Research quickly transitioned to keeping the test model stationary and pushing air past said object to study the patterns of wind. Early models of the latter research theory consisted of a whirling arm to force air, but researchers quickly learned that this model was not as effective as initially thought and went back to the drawing board.

Back at square one, researchers determined that they could use a propulsion system to create lift and forward motion. Sir George Caley (1773-1857) was one of the first aeronautical pioneers to use an engine to generate this operation via the wings of an airplane¹.  This discovery is what helped aeronautical theorists and researchers take flight.

Jumping forward to the end of the nineteenth century, researchers designed the first wind tunnel. This device is composed of an enclosed area in which air is forced through the space using a fan or appropriate drive system¹. Wind tunnels in this day in age are substantially more complicated than the early days, although the same basic principle is still used today.

Springing forward to 2016 – wind tunnels are still being improved upon and built to continue aeronautical research. Steel America (through a local customer/partner) is fabricating a wind tunnel that will be delivered to a leading aeronautical institute of higher education in the United States. There, students will utilize this wind tunnel (along with the others in their extensive laboratory) to study flow visualization over airfoils; lift, drag and movement; as well as propeller performance. This new wind tunnel is an extremely complicated project, but is an exciting project for the Steel America fabrication team.

ASE Wind Tunnel

First Wind Tunnel Unit being Fabricated in Bldg. 7

When the wind tunnel is fully fabricated and assembled, it will be a 35 foot by 107 foot rectangular structure. The current estimated weight (minus the fan/driving system and model support systems) is 77-tons. If you were to stretch the wind tunnel out into one long tube, it would be roughly 250 feet long. One interesting feature about this project is the tunnel’s unique shape. This tunnel has two round-to-square transitions that must be held to exact standards. Dimensional control plays a major key factor in the fabrication of this project. If the tunnel is warped – even the slightest bit – it can (and will) affect the way air moves throughout the structure and will influence the way research is conducted.

The wind tunnel is still in the early stage of fabrication, but it is currently being built in 5 main sections consisting of the following pieces: low speed diffuser, high speed diffuser, contraction unit, fan support, stilling chamber, and four corners. All of the units being fabricated at Steel America will be coated inside and out prior to delivery.

There are many moving parts and players in this project; if all goes according to schedule, the wind tunnel should be delivered and ready for installation at the final site in January 2017.

¹ “Whirling Arms and the First Wind Tunnels.” Last Modified 12 Jun. 2014, https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/WindTunnel/history.html

Employee Spotlight: Meet Rey Gutierrez, Lead Mechanic Supervisor

rey-gutierrez-copyServing as a lead mechanic supervisor in our large fabrication shop Rey Gutierrez is an integral part to the Steel America Fabrication Team. Rey works hard to ensure that projects are completed efficiently, on budget, and still keep the high quality our customers have come to know and respect. An interesting task that Rey has acquired over the years is serving as a translator for our employees who are from the Philipines. Rey was born in the Philipines, but moved to the United States in 1996. One of the core values at C.S.I. and Steel America is “Family”. We took a few minutes to sit down with Rey to get his insight on Steel America and learn more about him on a personal level.

 

How long have you worked for Steel America/Colonna’s Shipyard?

I’ve worked for 4 and half, 5 years.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Busy every day… I don’t want to be bored. When I have nothing to do, I feel sleepy.

What do you like most about working here?

Working as a team – that’s best. People work with me & cooperate when a project is behind. 

What do you find most challenging about working at Steel America?

Trying to get an improvement in attendance with the guys. I try to improve the culture.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within our company, whose job would you want?

Tom Godfrey [our company’s president], but I am happy where I am.

What advice do you have for prospective new employees?

If you learn a lot and do a good job you will/can be promoted. Learn to use your tools well also.

What has been your favorite project since being here, and why?

I like every project. The crane loader project was the most complicated. It was a challenge.

One of our core company values is “Pride”, what is your proudest moment at Steel America?

Earning respect. If everyone respects each other, then the jobs would get even better. We are like a family.

What are three words you would use to describe Steel America?

Family, Family, Family.

When you aren’t at work, what is your favorite thing to do to decompress/have fun?

Home improvement – I am learning about wood working. I am building shelves for my closet.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I went to school in the Philippines. I wanted to be a mechanical engineer to build and design things.

People would be surprised if they knew… (i.e. speak more than one language, hidden talents)

I watch HGTV & YouTube. I am addicted. If I watch it I can do it. I like to work on home improvement projects.

604-ton Barge Fabrication

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

When you walk through the main fabrication building at Steel America you will find a multitude of different projects in various states – but one unique project currently in production is a custom barge for a long-term customer/partner.

Barges are flat bottomed boats generally used for carrying/transporting freight, but this custom barge is extremely distinctive in its sheer size, configurations, and plans for use. When completed, the barge will be 180’ x 59’ x 10’ and will weigh roughly 604-tons. This spud barge will be built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and will be an official ABS Classed Vessel.

United States' Largest Marine Travelift - 1,000MT

C.S.I./Steel America’s Marine TraveLift transporting a barge module in the West Yard – Jul. 2014

Two things that make this barge so special, are the interior design and planned usage. The vessel has specially designed longitudinal bulkheads and girders to accommodate three (3) extremely different heavy lift cranes. Upon completion it will serve as a floating platform for an American 11320 crane, with the capability of supporting a 750-ton crawler crane or a Manitowoc 4100 Ringer. In addition to the special interior design, the barge will feature flexi-float connectors to allow the final customer to attach additional flexi-float barges to increase stability and buoyancy during a heavy lift pick. The barge has also been designed to have bulkier/bigger stiffeners and material in the aft of the vessel – this will help withstand a heavier load and not compromise the stability of the vessel. Listing (leaning to one side or another as a result of unbalanced weight and cargo) is a very real danger when it comes to heavy crane lifts, this heavier aft and specialty design will offset the risk of damaging the load, crane, or barge as a whole.

The fabrication team will build the barge in five (5) modules in the main shop and then transport the modules over to our 360,000 square foot assembly area (West Yard) for final assembly and launch using the 1,000MT TraveLift (more on our TraveLift’s capabilities here).

This barge will serve as a tool to help the waterfront community adapt to heavy construction in Hampton Roads. With expansions and upgrades coming to the ports and local shipyards, the Hampton Roads area will soon become a focal point for heavy construction along the Eastern seaboard.

Employee Spotlight: Meet George Kucy, Boring Mill Operator

 

George Kucy

If you’ve ever walked through the Steel America large machine shop, you have seen George Kucy operate our 60-ton boring mill. George has mastered boring mill operating over the years and is an expert at dialing in the mill to each individual project and task at hand. One of the core values at C.S.I. and Steel America is “Family”. We took a few minutes to sit down with George to get his insight on Steel America and learn more about him on a personal level.

How long have you worked for Steel America/Colonna’s Shipyard?

I have worked for Steel America for 5, almost 6 years.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I work on the boring mill, so every day is different and challenging. It’s not boring shaft work. I have to think outside the box.

What do you like most about working here?

Stability. I like knowing that I have something to do.

How has Steel Steel America helped you in your career development? (i.e. new certs, new skills, etc.)

I have done this since I was six. I like the challenge to get it done. I will teach anyone who wants to work. Don’t waste my time!

If you could switch jobs with anyone else within our company, whose job would you want?

Jordan Webb. I’m going to management. I am going big.

What advice do you have for prospective new employees?

The shipyard is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, dirty work but it is honest.

What has been your favorite project since being here, and why?

When we redid the Navy Betts Lathe from a manual lathe to CNC because I knew the project without drawings.

One of our core company values is “Pride”, what is your proudest moment at Steel America?

I am proud of anything I do! I give my best every day.

What are three words you would use to describe Steel America?

Hot, cold, and indifferent. It is a good place to work.

When you aren’t at work, what is your favorite thing to do to decompress/have fun?

I like to ride my Harley Ultra Limited motorcycle.

Do you have a personal motto or a quote you live by?

Never tell a lie.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Old.

People would be surprised if they knew… (i.e. speak more than one language, hidden talents)

I have a small long hair Chihuahua named Ozzie. He is a bad to the bone Harley dog… I also have a kitten.

Back to Basics: Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

Published: Firday, September 15, 2016
By: Stephanie Rubiaco, Marketing Coordinator

According to The American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT), nondestructive testing (also known as NDT) is “the process of inspecting, testing, or evaluating materials, components or assemblies for discontinuities, or differences in characteristics without destroying the serviceability of the part or system.” While there are over a dozen different types of NDT in the industrial world, Steel America currently performs four in house. Our certified inspectors perform Magnetic Particle Testing (MT), Liquid Penetrant Testing (PT), Ultrasonic Testing (UT), and Visual Testing (VT). Each process is unique in its own way, and is essential to ensuring good quality workmanship.

The most commonly used NDT procedure at Steel America is Magnetic Particle Testing (MT).

Magnetic Particle Testing can be broken down into 6 easy-to-follow steps:

  1. Clean the surface to be examined. This can be accomplished using detergents, organic solvents, descaling solutions, paint removers, vapor degreasing, sand or grit blasting, or ultrasonic cleaning methods.
  2. Introduce a magnetic field into the part.
  3. Apply the ferromagnetic medium (MT Powder) while the part is magnetized.
  4. Remove excess ferromagnetic medium with a light air stream from a bulb, syringe, or other source of low-pressure dry air.
  5. Interpret and evaluate any indications to the applicable acceptance standard.
  6. Turn the yoke 90 degrees from the original position and repeat steps 2-5. Clean and demagnetize if necessary.

MT

QA Inspector, Paul Reed, performing MT services on a shaft in our 200-Ton Betts Lathe.

 Advantages:

  • Can detect both surface and near-surface indications.
  • Surface preparation is not as critical compared to other NDE methods.
  • A relatively fast method of examination.
  • Indications are visible directly on the surface.
  • Low-cost in comparison to other NDT methods.
  • A portable NDT method, especially when used with battery-powered yoke equipment.
  • Post-cleaning generally not necessary.
  • A relatively safe technique; materials generally not combustible or hazardous.
  • Indications can show relative size and shape of the discontinuity.
  • Easy to use and requires minimal amount of training.

 Disadvantages:

  • Non-ferrous materials, such as aluminum, magnesium, or most stainless steels, cannot be inspected.
  • Examination of large parts may require use of equipment with special power requirements.
  • May require removal of coating or plating to achieve desired sensitivity
  • Limited subsurface discontinuity detection capabilities
  • Alignment between magnetic flux and indications is important.
  • Each part needs to be examined in two different directions.
  • Only small sections or small parts can be examined at one time.