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11 10, 2019

Galvanized Steel: Types, Uses, Benefits.

2019-11-01T14:10:28+00:00 October 11th, 2019|News Blog|

Part of an ongoing series on Galvanized Steel

Mosaic-style background of various galvanized steel textures with the words “Galvanized Steel: Types, Uses, Benefits” in the foreground.

What is Galvanizing?

Galvanizing, or galvanization, is a manufacturing process where a coating of zinc is applied to steel or iron to offer protection and prevent rusting. There are several galvanizing processes available, but the most commonly offered and used method is called hot-dip galvanizing. 

Galvanized steel is among the most popular steel types because of its extended durability, having the strength and formability of steel plus the corrosion protection of the zinc-iron coating. The zinc protects the base metal by acting as a barrier to corrosive elements, and the sacrificial nature of the coating results in a long-lasting and high-quality steel product. 

This versatility makes it applicable to a variety of projects and industries, including agriculture, solar, automotive, construction, and so on. Below, we aim to provide a comprehensive description of how galvanized steel is processed, different galvanization methods, its benefits, and how it is used in these various industries.

The steps in the galvanizing process are as follows:

  • The steel is cleaned in a degreasing solution
  • After being cleaned, the steel is pickled by being lowered into a vat of diluted hot sulfuric acid
  • The steel is then fluxed in an aqueous solution (typically zinc-ammonium chloride)
  • After the flux, the steel is galvanized through immersion in a vat of molten zinc
  • Afterward, the steel is inspected for consistency and a complete coating
A worker at National Galvanizing donning full safety gear as he stirs a molten zinc bath with stack of zinc ingots in the foreground.

What are the advantages of galvanized steel?

Many different industries utilize galvanized steel primarily because it has such a wide array of benefits for industries to take advantage of, including having:

Low initial cost compared to most treated steels. In addition, galvanized steel is immediately ready to use when delivered. It does not require additional preparation of the surface, inspections, painting/coatings, etc. sparing companies more costs on their end.

Longer life. With galvanization, a piece of industrial steel is expected to last more than 50 years in average environments, and can last over 20 years with severe water exposure. There is no maintenance required. The increased durability of the steel’s finished product also increases the product’s reliability.

The sacrificial anode ensures that any damaged steel is protected by the surrounding zinc coating. It doesn’t matter if the steel section is completely exposed; the zinc will still corrode first. The coating will corrode preferentially to the steel, creating a sacrificial protection to the areas that are damaged.

Rust resistance from the zinc coating. The iron elements in steel are incredibly prone to rusting, but the addition of zinc acts as a protective buffer between the steel and any moisture or oxygen. Galvanized steel is very protective, including sharp corners and recesses that couldn’t be protected with other coatings, making it resistant to damage.

Different methods of galvanizing

As stated above, there are several different processes for galvanizing steel.

Hot-Dip Galvanizing

The first and foremost method for galvanization is hot-dip galvanizing. The process is very similar to what the name suggests! In this method, steel or iron is dipped in a molten pool of zinc that maintains a temperature of around 860°F (460 °C). This molten bath begins a metallurgical bond between the zinc and the receiving metal. After the metal is pulled from the bath, it reacts to being exposed to the atmosphere, and the pure zinc mixes with oxygen to form zinc oxide. The zinc-oxide further reacts to carbon dioxide and forms zinc carbonate, which makes up the final protective coating on the material. The tell-tale sign of a hot-dipped galvanized material is the presence of a crystalline-like pattern on the surface, sometimes referred to as “spangle.”

A stage-style backdrop with spotlights shining towards a graphic illustration of 8 different galvanized steel textures – smooth, glossy, mosaic, crystalline, and brushed – with the words “Spangle” above the illustration.

The hot-dipped galvanizing method is an economical choice that can be quickly executed on both simple and complex shapes. 

The new coated material can be worked and machined in a similar fashion to uncoated materials. Galvanized steel can be used in high-temperature applications up to 392 °F, but use in temperatures exceeding that level will cause the zinc-carbonate layer to peel off. 

Galvannealing

Galvannealing is the outcome of combining the annealing and hot-dip galvanizing processes in order to produce a specialized coating on steel. The process of galvanization is performed via hot-dipping and instantaneous annealing, which produces a matte gray finish.

Galvannealed steel is a zinc-iron alloy product, where the base metal is coated by the hot-dip process, then heated to induce alloying between the molten zinc coating and the steel. The resulting finish is a dull matte surface. Galvannealed steel is conducive to welding and the surface is excellent for paint adhesion.

Pre-galvanizing

Also similar to the hot-dip galvanizing method, but performed at the very first stage of production. Pre-galvanizing is a process that involves rolling the sheet metal through a cleaning agent to quickly prime material for galvanizing. Then, the metal is passed through a pool of molten liquid zinc and is immediately recoiled. The primary advantage of this method is that coils of steel sheet can be rapidly galvanized on a large scale with a more unified coating than the traditional hot-dipped method.

Electrogalvanizing

The most unique of these outlined methods, electrogalvanizing does not involve dipping the material in a molten vat of zinc. Instead, an electric current is introduced to an electrolyte solution that is applied to the steel, which reduces positively charged zinc ions to zinc metal – which is then deposited on the positively charged steel. Like pre-galvanizing, this method is typically done at the first stage of production.

Galvanizing advanced high-strength steel

For more information about the galvanization process for advanced high-strength steel, as well as our partner National Galvanizing, please click here.

What industries utilize galvanized steel?

Galvanized metals are used everywhere!

The bodies of cars and many bicycles are made from galvanized metals. Some drinking water pipes are still made from galvanized steel. Cool rolled sheet metal is also frequently galvanized. Nuts, bolts, tools, and wires of all kinds are now galvanized because it is a cheap process, and helps boost the metal’s lifespan!

Galvanized steel, in particular, is often what is used in modern “steel frame” buildings. Galvanized steel is also used to create structures like balconies, verandahs, staircases, ladders, walkways, and more. Galvanized metal is the ideal choice if your project will live outside after it’s done. Fences, roofs, outdoor walkways, these are all great choices for galvanized metal!

  • Wind & solar industries – Solar projects must have a continuous workflow once installed and any repairs/maintenance results in disruption to service (a.k.a. revenue loss). This means that hot-dipped galvanized steels are popular in solar projects for their corrosion protection. It is also popular for its ‘environmental’ friendliness because it does not produce emissions and ensures decades without maintenance. For example, it is often utilized in the agriculture industry because the equipment is susceptible to being easily corroded, creating a demand for tougher, more resilient equipment. Hot-dip galvanized steel provides corrosion protection that can often last for decades, even when exposed to the harsh environment of farming.
Mosaic-style background of various galvanized steel textures with the words, “Galvanized Steel Industries” and flat white icons representing wind, solar, automotive, construction, and telecommunication.
  • Automotive industry – Though only used on luxury models up until the 1980s, the use of zinc-coated bodies for automobiles is now the norm in auto manufacturing. The ‘body-in-white’ of a car makes up about 80% of the body, all using galvanized steel. The rust -resistance of galvanized steel is also a good marketing tool for the automotive industry because it can provide ‘anti-rust warranties’ to customers.
  • Construction industry – Whether for residential or commercial, the durability of galvanized steel has made it popular for over a century in the construction industry. It is also selected for construction because of its aesthetics; The ‘shine’ that galvanized steel provides gives it a contemporary feel and is popular in modern architectural designs. Also, it isn’t just used for large structural pieces but things like fencing, gutters, rails, tubing, poles, and much more.
  • Telecommunication industry – Phone lines are not an easy maintenance job, they are tall and often difficult to reach. Hot-galvanized steel can be used on phone wiring and equipment boxes which decreases the risk of damage and need for maintenance at all.

Well, there you have it! With our partner Heidtman Steel, National Galvanizing  runs a 245,000-square-foot facility, featuring pickling, galvanizing, galvannealing, and slitting, all in one location, convenient to major markets. This combination of capabilities provides our customers with unparalleled responsiveness to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s market.

About National Material L.P. – With more than 3,000 employees from a multinational portfolio of companies, NMLP provides engineered metal products which include aluminum extrusion and stainless steel rolled product companies to automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, electrical, and industrial markets. Request a Quote Online or give us a call (U.S.) 847-806-7200

22 07, 2019

An Overview of U.S. Steel Service Center National Material L.P.

2019-09-12T18:26:00+00:00 July 22nd, 2019|News Blog|

An image depicting a map of the different locations of NMLP steel service centers in the U.S, with the text An Overview of U.S. Steel Service Center National Material imposed on a blue background.

You know National Material Company as a company that specializes in supplying, servicing and processing steel with unmatched efficiency. We operate steel processing facilities and service centers throughout the U.S. and Mexico to serve your manufacturing needs in a wide variety of markets.

But the full scope of NMC’s parent company, National Material L.P, is much larger.  NMLP and its affiliates have a long history of quality and service dating back to 1964.  NMLP serves many industries throughout the globe and is one of the largest suppliers of steel in America. With over 30 business units, this families’ capabilities go beyond just steel service.

Here, we will provide a brief overview of National Material’s family of companies, separated into six categories – steel service centers, steel processing facilities, stainless steel and alloy manufacturing, aluminum manufacturing, raw material trading, and related operations.

Steel Service Centers

The NMLP Steel Group includes National Material Company, National Material of Mexico, and Interstate Steel Company. Together, these three companies have made NMLP a well-recognized leader servicing the needs of the steel industry and leading industrial and consumer product manufacturers by means of nineteen specialized processing facilities located throughout North America.

National Material Company operates ten steel service facilities and is the family’s premiere steel manufacturer in the U.S. NMC specializes in supplying, servicing and processing the following: Hot Rolled, Cold Rolled and Cold Rolled Motor Lamination Steel, Oriented and Non-Oriented Electrical Steel, and Galvanized, Galvannealed, Aluminized and other coated metals.

National Material of Mexico operates seven steel servicing locations between partners and wholly owned facilities. NMM is the premier processor in Mexico for a variety of steel products, from uncoated non-exposed to coated exposed carbon steel in slit, sheet or blank form, in all steel grades available on the market, including all types of AHSS steel grades.

An impressive, fire-engine red piece of machinery known as a Red Bud Slitter housed in NMM’s brightly lit manufacturing facility, as part of their advanced high-strength steel slitting line.

Interstate Steel Company is a division of National Material Company and provides highly engineered pre-painted products. ISC also specializes in processed cold rolled & galvanized products. Interstate Steel’s capabilities include precision high speed slitting of surface critical products.

Steel Processing

National Material Processing operates three slitting and two pickling and cut-to-length steel processing facilities and was the first steel processor to introduce a push-pull pickle line in the Indiana Harbor area. NMP specializes in the processing of heavy gauge, hot rolled carbon steel up to .500″ (1.27cm) thick and offers precision slitting, cut-to-length and advanced PRO-ECO, hydrochloric acid pickling services.

Interstate Steel Processing (ISP) is a premier national distributor of flat rolled steel with a primary focus on the prepainted steel market. ISP was the first service center to sell prepainted steel, and has been a leader in the evolution of prepainted steel technology and applications since 1972.

National Galvanizing is a leader in heavy gauge galvanizing and is recognized as the first galvanizing plant in North America to continuously hot dip .250″ (.635cm) steel. Its state-of-the-art facilities provide a high level of flexibility and responsiveness in meeting the changing needs of its customers. Additionally, NG boasts an impressive 99% on-time delivery record.

Close up shot of a shining galvanized roll of steel held tight by a blue band.

National Blanking is a joint venture between National Material Company and Heidtman Steel Products. The two companies partnered to offer their customers operational blanks that include utilizing expertise in high strength low alloy steels, as well as Advanced High Strength Steel.

Waukegan Steel LLC is a structural steel, miscellaneous and architectural metals fabricator, as well as a steel job shop and warehouse. Waukegan’s capabilities in the industry are wide and varied ranging from multi-million dollar commercial projects to simple projects like railings or beams for a single family home.

Stainless and Alloys

CMM and CMC are premier processors and distributors of flat rolled stainless steel sheet, strip, and foil.

Elgiloy Specialty Metals has facilities in Elgin, Hampshire, and Sycamore, IL and processes and markets over 45 high-performance nickel-cobalt, titanium and stainless alloys to customers in the Aerospace, Automotive, Electronics, Medical and Energy markets.

Aluminum

The NMLP Aluminum Group includes leading extruders and processors of thousands of different aluminum alloy components used in virtually any application. Offering a broad array of capabilities and backed by design, fabrication, testing, treatment, inventory management and quality assurance, this group has shortened the developmental lead-time and expense of aluminum component manufacturing for customers.

Taber Extrusions, LLC is a fully integrated aluminum products extruder producing thousands of uniquely shaped and sized parts. Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billets which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS in 1995 which houses a casthouse and two additional presses, with a fabrication area that has been expanded multiple times. Today, Taber Extrusions is still growing with the launch of expanded capabilities that include microextrusions, friction stir-welding, and 7” billet molds.

Close up black-n-white image of the tip of a friction stir-welder

Tower Extrusions, Ltd. manufactures more than 10,000 different solid and hollow extruded shapes and parts. They offer aluminum extrusions up to 14.5″ (36.8cm) circle size, 2-step color anodizing in lengths up to 38.5′ (11.7m) and a full complement of fabrication services that include polishing, cut-to-length, de-burring, drilling, milling and punching.

Astro serves in the manufacture of residential grade extrusions for replacement windows, sunrooms, solariums, and RVs. Astro Shapes also provides high quality aluminum extrusions for commercial, heavy commercial, and architectural grade products.

Raw Material

NMLP Raw Material Trading Group is comprised of two trading companies that are recognized for their exceptional quality products and service. The raw material trading group offers customers unmatched service through long-standing relationships with mills and companies, as well as integrated connections throughout other NMLP companies that afford for greater flexibility and logistical advantages.

National Material Trading (NMT) is a leading importer of basic, foundry and ductile pig iron from Brazil, providing the United States steel and foundry industry with high quality, low cost virgin iron units. Through an extensive network in Latin America, NMT also sources iron alternatives such as hot briquetted iron (HBI) and direct reduced Iron (DRI). NMT’s international logistics experience provides full service management to deliver products anywhere in North America at the lowest cost to customers.

Related Operations

NMLP Related Operations Group has a broad array of applications and capabilities, each providing high value services and products to their customers. Made up of five separate manufacturing, processing and trading operations targeted at servicing the specific needs of its highly differentiated customer segments, related operations range from building manufacturing and coating to metal casting and aluminum trailer production.

Global Tooling Resources (GTR) is an innovative company that is staffed with highly skilled engineering talents serving clients globally in various industries as a worldwide source of Engineering and Supply Chain Management Services. With high efficiency at a lower cost base, GTR can assist its clients to reduce costs and add value at every stage of the clients’ Manufacturing Product Lifecycle.

National Coating Technology has developed a series of wear-resistant and protective coatings using advanced Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) technologies. NTC’s unique coatings, such as TiN, CrN, TiAN, TiCN, ZrN and multi-layer coatings, are widely applied on machine components, medical parts, cutting tools, die & mold, plumbing fixtures, cookware and other applications.

Metal Resources International manages the import of ferrous and nonferrous metal casting and forging for a growing list of steel mills, railroad car manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and customers within the automotive and truck industries. Drawing on over thirty-five years of international business experience, the company instructs customers on securing imports with domestic convenience and benefits.

Corefficient S.R.L. de C.V. designs, manufactures and markets energy efficient electrical cores; a major component used in the manufacture of dry-type and liquid-filled transformers. Based out of Monterrey, Mexico, the joint venture agreement between Hammond Power Solutions Inc. and NMLP is reflective of the strong, long-term relationship between the two companies which both bring the value of people, technology and financial strength to Corefficient.

Multiple transformer cores being pushed down a manufacturing line at Corefficient’s manufacturing facility.

SKD Tooling Company Ltd is an automotive tooling facility located in Wujiang district, Suzhou City of the Jiangsu province in China. The company is capable of building a complete line of mid to large size automotive stamping tooling, including progressive dies and transfer dies.

SKD’s objective is to establish a world class tool & die and components manufacturing facility in mainland China to supply the domestic and international automotive industries.

National Material has an impressive network of steel and metal service companies, providing an unmatched breadth of capabilities for their customers. Since 1964, NMLP has been setting the standards of steel – not only in quality of product, but in the kind of comprehensive service that can only be achieved with a tight-knit family of integrated steel service partners.

About National Material L.P. – With more than 3,000 employees from a multinational portfolio of companies, NMLP provides engineered metal products, including aluminum extrusion and stainless steel rolled products, to automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, electrical, and industrial markets.

Visit National Material: http://www.nationalmaterial.com or call (U.S.) 847-806-7200, Diana Pulido.

28 04, 2019

What is Precision Slitting?

2019-05-29T23:23:00+00:00 April 28th, 2019|News Blog|

A detailed shot of a steel slitting machine in one of National Material’s steel processing facilities.

In the metal processing world, every new contract comes as a new and customized challenge. Increased demand for steel coils with finer width and length parameters have ushered in an era of more robust precision slitting – with technological advancements in slitting equipment, software, and tooling practices fueling the wave.

Slitting is a metal manufacturing process wherein a coil of material, such as aluminum or steel, is slit into the lengths and widths specified by the end application. As the material runs through the machine, the steel rolls are moved through extremely sharp circular blades, making the cuts. In order to make the slice, substantial compressive forces must be applied – and when the forces exceed the tensile strength of the material, it slices. The end product is long strips of material cut to the buyer’s specifications.

A steel slitting machine is comprised of three major parts – the uncoiler, the slitter, and the recoiler. In order to ensure that the quality of the process is optimized, each element must be precisely aligned during setup.

National Material’s breadth of slitting capabilities is of tremendous value to our customers, who know that we have the right equipment to  process their orders on time and to the right specifications. Our customers appreciate the high level of precision and quality we offer in our slitting process, as it eliminates the excess material waste that can be produced by their own manufacturing processes creating real value.

Finished slit steel coils that have been rewound and are preparing for shipment

National Material processes hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanized steel for a wide variety of gauges and lengths.

Our slitting lines offer the following benefits:

  • Reduced time-to-delivery
  • Reduced scrap
  • Reduced costs
  • Streamlined material flow

About National Material L.P. – With more than 3,000 employees from a multinational portfolio of companies, NMLP provides engineered metal products, including aluminum extrusion and stainless steel rolled products, to automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, electrical, and industrial markets.

Visit National Material: http://www.nationalmaterial.com or call (U.S.) 847-806-7200, Diana Pulido.

21 03, 2019

History of Galvanized Steel in the Automotive Industry

2019-09-05T20:37:54+00:00 March 21st, 2019|News Blog, NMC Media|

Galvanized steel is among the most popular and useful steels due to its durability, cost effectiveness and, most importantly, its rust-resistant qualities. But galvanized steel wasn’t always in high demand.

In the early 1990’s, steel was consistently the go-to material in automobile manufacturing, but public demand for corrosion-resistant steels in the North American market hadn’t become wide enough for manufacturers to begin implementing it.

In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1980’s, when the Japanese began importing automobiles with anti-corrosion features, that Western markets would discover the advantage of the material. Galvanized steel was indispensable in Japan, a country with a coastal environment that created heavier levels of oxidation and rust.

A close up of a headlight on a rusty car.

At the time, North American made vehicles were experiencing severe durability issues due to rust – a serious issue that (quite literally) couldn’t be solved by just throwing on another coat of paint.

Western automakers had developed specific standards for their warranties which further exacerbated the problem of switching to galvanized steels, as its implementation into processing lines would take serious time and money. However, forced to compete, they began to make the transition.

This important switch led to the use of electrogalvanizing lines.

Electrogalvanizing is a process in which a layer of zinc is bonded to steel in order to protect against corrosion. The process involves electroplating, running a current of electricity through a saline/zinc solution with a zinc anode and steel conductor. The plating of zinc was developed at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, the electrolyte was cyanide based. A significant innovation occurred in the 1960s, with the introduction of the first acid chloride based electrolyte…The 1980s saw a return to alkaline electrolytes, only this time, without the use of cyanide.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Going into the mid 90’s, electrogalvanizing was the only process that was approved for automotive quality; but automakers had set their sights on another way to galvanize steel – hot dip galvanization. This technique was being used in other markets, but hadn’t yet reached the level of quality necessary for automobiles. That is, until the 1990’s.

Nowadays, the use of zinc-coated bodies for automobiles is standard procedure in auto manufacturing. The ‘body-in-white’ of a car makes up about 80% of the body, all using galvanized steel. The rust resistance of galvanized steel is also a good marketing tool for the automotive industry because they can provide anti-rust warranties to customers.

What are the Benefits of Galvanized Steel?

There’s a reason so many different industries utilize galvanized steel. It has a wide array of benefits for industries to take advantage of, including:

  • Low initial cost compared to most treated steels.
  • Lower maintenance costs than most coated steels (saves time on repairs and replacements).
  • Increases durability of the steel’s finished product which also increases the product’s reliability.
  • Galvanized steel is very protective, including sharp corners and recesses that couldn’t be protected with other coatings, making it resistant to damage.
  • Self-healing, meaning the galvanized coating includes an automatic protection for damaged areas. The coating will corrode preferentially to the steel, creating a sacrificial protection to the areas that are damaged.
  • Galvanized steel is immediately ready to use when delivered. It does not require additional preparation of the surface, inspections, painting/coatings, etc.

NMC is proud to offer the highest quality galvanized steel coated with zinc to create a long-lasting corrosion and rust-resistant alloy. For more information, visit our ‘Galvanized Steel’ page or our National Galvanizing website. National Material Company continues to further increase our leadership position in the domestic and international steel industry by providing the highest quality products you need to ensure the success of your next project.

About National Material L.P. – With more than 3,000 employees from a multinational portfolio of companies, NMLP provides engineered metal products, which include aluminum extrusion and stainless steel rolled product companies, to automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, electrical, and industrial markets.

Visit National Material: http://www.nationalmaterial.com or call (U.S.) 847-806-7200, Diana Pulido.

4 03, 2019

What is a Toll Processing Company?

2019-05-29T23:06:19+00:00 March 4th, 2019|News Blog|

A close shot of a collection of steel coils in one of National Material’s steel processing facilities.

The convenience of outsourcing manufacturing work for products and services is becoming more and more popular. This method of contracting with a material processing service center is known as toll processing. (Also known as tolling, contract processing, toll manufacturing, or toll conversion.)

Businesses turn to toll processing because of the expertise and cost savings that the processing center provides. A growing business might lack the facilities, manpower, and time required to process the materials required for their products, leading to shortfalls in efficiency and delivery. Usually, processing centers have decades of experience in a number of different industries,  They have also made significant investments in equipment that can help take a project from concept to completion. Toll processors can offer the contracting company with important information, including difficulties or circumstances that might be encountered when processing specific types of material.

Benefits of toll processing

  • Significantly reduced capital investment
  • No additional permits required
  • No need for additional storage space
  • No need to hire additional employees
  • Can adjust production levels on-the-fly depending on demand
  • Faster time to completion
  • Opportunity to expand your network by working with experienced professionals
  • Avoid extended lead times
  • Affordable costs

Types of toll processing services

Toll processing companies, such as National Material Processing, can cover a wide range of services for their clients. This includes services such as slitting, configured blanking & stamping, cut-to-length processing, pickle & oil, galvanizing / galvannealing, product storage, shipping, , quality analysis, and more.

How to find the right toll processing company for you

When looking for a company to contract with, you should consider a few key factors. First, you should try to select a company that is reasonably located nearby in order to create supply chain savings. The quality of the team of professionals you’re going to work with, as they are going to become an extension of your business once you enter into a contract with them.

Your chosen toll processor will become the link between you, your customers, and your product, and this choice should not be taken lightly. You should choose a company that will not only make your manufacturing processes easier, but also a company that can reduce risk, add to your bottom line, and put you ahead of the competition. Review their quality assurance and control procedures, their supply chain management experience, and their track record.

If you believe your company can benefit from our toll processing services, please visit us at nationalmaterial.com or call (U.S.) 847-806-7200 to discuss how we can be of service.

About National Material L.P. – Since its founding in 1964, National Material Limited Partnership has grown to over 30 business units and is now one of the largest suppliers of steel in America. The National Material group of industrial businesses consists of the Steel Group, Stainless and Alloys Group, Raw Material Trading Group, Aluminum Group, and Related Operations.