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14 05, 2020

EDI – Value-Added Benefits in the Steel Industry

2020-05-14T15:52:23+00:00 May 14th, 2020|News Blog|

A photograph of the electronic data, including 1s and 0s and a pastel blue and yellow outline/graphing system on a digital screen.

If your company takes part in supply chain processes, then you know how easy it is to lose control of the entire document flow and how important it is to have real-time access to reliable information regarding the delivery process. In traditional methods of business to business (b2b) communication, misunderstandings can often occur. Often, these misunderstandings are regarding collection and loading time, load capacity, product specificity, how the goods were packed and sent, and status of delivery. Manual entry data can result in incorrect documents, invoice totals can be erroneously entered, inaccurate invoice information can delay payment date, and delay receiving money to buy raw materials. Paper documents can become lost or filed in the wrong file and thus be difficult to find. Electronic data interchange, or, EDI, optimizes data exchange and management, and improves b2b communication and processes. EDI includes payment, invoices, delivery confirmation, delivery, packing, and ordering.

Like many other early information technologies, EDI was inspired by developments in military logistics. The complexity of military operations that required vast quantities of data and information about transported goods inspired the first innovations in large-scale communication, which later shaped the first TDCC (Transportation Data Coordinating Committee) standards in the United States. Among the first integrated systems using EDI were Freight Control Systems. An example of this is the London Airport Cargo EDP Scheme (LACES) at Heathrow Airport, London, in which a modem-like system would forward information to agents who would directly enter information into the customs processing system, reducing the time for clearance.

EDI provides a technical basis for automated commercial “conversations” between two entities, either internal or external. The term EDI encompasses the entire electronic data interchange process, including the transmission, message flow, document format, and software used to interpret the documents. EDI is the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents in a standard electronic format between business partners.

Each term in the definition is significant:

● Computer-to-computer – EDI replaces postal mail, fax, and email. While email is also an electronic approach, the documents exchanged via email must still be handled by people rather than computers. Having people involved slows down the processing of the documents and also introduces errors. Instead, EDI documents can flow straight through to the appropriate application on the receiver’s computer (e.g., the Order Management System) and processing can begin immediately.
● Business documents – These are any of the documents that are typically exchanged between businesses. The most common documents exchanged via EDI are purchase orders, invoices, and advance ship notices. But there are many, many others such as bills of lading, customs documents, inventory documents, shipping status documents, and payment documents.
● Standard format – Because EDI documents must be processed by computers rather than humans, a standard format must be used so that the computer will be able to read and understand the documents. A standard format describes what each piece of information […]

14 04, 2020

Automotive Steel Processing: AHSS and Galvanized Steel

2020-05-14T15:38:03+00:00 April 14th, 2020|News Blog|

Graphic image of a car silhouette with the words “Automotive Steel Processing: AHSS and Galvanized Steel” set above the car image.
Steel continues to be the frontrunner when it comes to car manufacturing because of its strong and dependable nature. According to worldsteel.org, there are several benefits of using steel in automotive production. Steel:

● Contains recycled steel and is endlessly recyclable.
● Has lower CO2 life cycle emissions than any other automotive material.
● Enables engineering of crash-resistant structures.
● Is a higher strength steel that enables lightweight vehicle construction that is stronger, safer, and more fuel-efficient
● Enables creative, flexible designs.
● Is easy to repair with existing techniques and equipment, making repairs more affordable.
● Is cost efficient compared to all other structural materials.

There are several common uses for steel in an automotive vehicle. Most of this steel is found in the skeletal body of the vehicle, often called the “body in white,” which is the foundation from which the rest of the vehicle is created.

The “body in white” of a car, also known as the car frame or skeleton.

Bumpers and Reinforcements

Bumpers are some of a vehicle’s first defenses against any major impact, thus they demand a very high level of force absorption. The durability and crash resistance of high strength steels make it a great option for bumper systems. Further driving its use is the ability to employ a thinner steel, promoting additional weight savings. UHSS bumpers are typically roll formed. For more detailed information on steel bumper systems for passenger cars and light trucks, visit this website: https://www.a-sp.org/-/media/doc/smdisteel/bumpers/smdi-steel-bumper-systems-manual-6th-edition—january-2019—final.ashx

There are many other areas of a car that need strong reinforcement. Sill reinforcements and cross-members, for instance, both require high energy absorption. Stiffness can be maintained when transitioning to thinner panels by changing the geometry of the parts. High strength steels are well suited for these forming challenges, with the reduced thickness leading to a lighter weight part.

Door Beams and Seating

Again, weight savings are a major consideration here. Side impact beams are now commonly made using the highest strength steels, leading to both increased safety and lighter weight products. While seats are not traditionally considered part of the Body-in-White, they are some of the heaviest items in a passenger vehicle. As such, they are prime candidates for lightweighting using high strength and durable steels.

Chassis and Frames

High-strength steel benefits the entire frame’s support capabilities. The chassis is subject to some of the most extreme stresses seen on any of a car’s parts, so it needs excellent fatigue resistance properties – such as those found in high-quality steel. Using high strength, high formability steels allows the vehicle designer the flexibility to create lightweight complex shapes while maintaining the structural integrity demanded by the application.

Rolls steel coils presented in an artistic way, with the coils in the foreground and background blurred out, favoring a sharp image of a shiny coil in the middle.

 

Advanced High Strength Steel

Forbes.com recently cited that […]

4 01, 2020

AHSS Leads the Automotive Industry in 2020

2020-01-04T02:09:53+00:00 January 4th, 2020|News Blog|

A steel slitter running a fresh coil of steel through it in a steel processing plant.

No one has ever walked into a car dealership and said to the salesperson: “Hey, do you have anything made out of an unstable material?” When assembling vehicles, car manufacturers face a specific challenge: they need materials with seemingly contradictory properties: lightweight, but strong, and highly formable into rigid structures. This is a challenge in light of how metals deform.  The strains from forming accumulate into localized areas on the part, leading to excessive thinning known as “necking.”  These areas are thinner than the rest of the part, and are the most likely to have durability or fatigue problems during the vehicle life.  Higher strength materials are more likely to experience “necking” during the production process, which, in turn, creates an unstable part. Most would agree that would never be a good quality in a car.

Four photographs of steel at different stages during the tensile test: a) uniform deformation, b) diffuse necking, c) localized necking, and d) fracture.

The first antidote to this challenge was introduced in the 1980’s when the steel industry developed interstitial free (IF) steels. These steels have a microstructure primarily consisting of a single phase known as ferrite, which is iron with typically less than 50ppm carbon in an interstitial solid solution. It has a body-centered cubic (bcc) structure at room temperature.  ULC steels are highly formable, a desirable trait for auto companies that have a high demand for steel that can be molded into the new complex shape of cars.  However, these steels are relatively soft which makes them poor candidates for the automotive body structures that need to withstand increasingly stringent crash resistance requirements.  Steelmakers had to create new steel grades that combine mechanical strength with high ductility (the ability to undergo significant plastic deformation before rupture). Enter advanced high strength steel!

What is AHSS?

A sea of steel coils at one of National Material Company’s brightly lit North American steel processing facilities.

The metallurgy and processing of advanced high strength steel (AHSS) grades are somewhat novel compared to conventional steels. Their remarkable mechanical properties are the result of their unique processing and structure. They are classified into categories based on their microstructure or how they deform: dual phase (DP) steel, transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP) steel, complex phase (CP) steel, martensitic (MS) steel, ferritic bainitic (FB) steel, and twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP) steel. AHSS solves two distinct automotive needs by using two different groups of steels. The DP and TRIP grades of steel have increased values of the work hardening exponent. These possess higher strength levels with improved formability and crash-energy absorption compared to the current HSLA (High Strength, Low Alloy) grades. The CP and MS grades extend the availability of steel in strength ranges above the HSLA grades.

Additional steels are designed to meet specific process requirements. These include increased edge stretch flangeability, strengthening after […]