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 […]

12 03, 2020

What is Roll Forming?

2020-05-14T15:21:27+00:00 March 12th, 2020|News Blog|

Roll forming is a continuous process which converts sheet metal into an engineered shape using consecutive sets of mated rolls, each of which makes only incremental changes in the form.  The sum of these small changes in form is a complex profile.

The Forming Process

 In conventional stamping the entire part is formed all at the same time. The part shape – and especially how complex it can be is limited when the strains from forming exceed what the metal is capable of achieving before splitting.  In roll formed parts, only a small amount of forming strain is put into the part during each station and even here, only a small section is bent at any given time. Because of this, more complex shapes can be achieved with an appropriately designed roll forming process.

In the forming process, a coil or long individual strips are fed through a roll forming line which converts the flat sheet to a contoured cross-sectional profile. The unique aspect of this approach is the use of consecutive forming stations, each of which nudges the metal towards the desired shape.  Based on the targeted profile, a computer calculates the optimal placing and shape of the rollers for maximum efficiency and designs the track.  The more advanced the desired shape, the more rollers the material goes through. The roll forming line can bend metal, form metal into tubes, create metal maze-like structures, and punch the metal with holes during the process.

A rendered image of four grey rollers placed in a cross-pattern forming a metal profile that resembles a capital, backwards “Z” and “G” joined together at the top.

The rollers are precision-contoured metal dies that shape the incoming sheet metal. In most cases, they are also the powered drive rolls that pull the strip through the roll forming unit. These rollers can be as simple as the cylindrical rollers used to roll luggage through airport scanners, or they can take on more intricate shapes. After the final forming station, the strip is sheared to the ordered product length. Typically, no additional work is needed before shipment, since the final form has been achieved.

3D rendered image of a shiny steel roll former.

Advantages of the Roll Forming Process


There are a variety of advantages to roll forming. Because of the “assembly line” efficiency of roll forming, long lengths of metal can be produced and cut in large quantities, which reduces cost.  Secondary processes such as punching or even welding can be integrated into a single production line. The profiles that can be produced using roll formed sheet steel are similar to what is seen in extruded aluminum.

The roll forming process makes creating lighter-weight steel parts easier compared to other shaping processes, since the wall thickness can be targeted based on the structural needs of the component.  Parts can be rolled even if a finish or paint has been applied. While hot forming can produce similarly complex profiles, roll forming is a room temperature process.  As such, […]

7 02, 2020

Galvanizing vs. Galvannealing 101

2020-02-11T00:38:14+00:00 February 7th, 2020|News Blog|

Infographic highlighting differences and applications between Galvanizing vs. Galvannealing described in the article’s written content, with an additional “call out” that reads, “Did you know NMC provides G235 coating thickness, excellent for infrastructure and agricultural projects?”

Galvanized and galvannealed steel are popular and useful steels because of their flexibility, durability, and ability to be applicable to a variety of projects. Both steels can be a good match for many industries. See our infographic for their primary differences and applications.

For more information, visit our Galvanized Steel page. National Material Company continues to further increase our stake on the domestic and international steel industry by providing only the highest quality products to ensure the success of your next project.

About National Material L.P. – National Material L.P. (“NMLP”) and its affiliates have a long history of quality and service dating back to 1964. Since its founding, the company has grown to over 30 business units and is now one of the largest privately held suppliers of metal related products in North America. NMLP currently consists of the Steel Group, Stainless and Alloys Group, Raw Material Trading Group, Aluminum Group, and Related Operations.

If you believe your company can benefit from our services, please visit us at nationalmaterial.com or email us at nmcsales@nmlp.com to discuss how we can be of service.

8 01, 2020

Galvanized Steel in The Agricultural Industry

2020-01-15T19:15:45+00:00 January 8th, 2020|News Blog|

Rows of planted crops on mounds of brown dirt that stretch towards the horizon line and meet a blue sky with clouds. In the middle of the picture are 5 white, transparent bubble logos with green designs in the middle, from right to left: a water drop, a farmer with a shovel, a tall stalk of wheat, a tractor, and a sun.

Metal and Farming:  A Perfect Match


The union of farming and metalworking has led to many of civilizations technological and agricultural developments. Before the invention of farming, most early civilizations existed as gatherers and hunters. Because farming created the conditions in which people could settle, it ultimately contributed to the building of modern society and culture. Farming, and the stability farming provided humanity, led to the benefits of modernity: technology, politics, literature, the arts, and culture. Metal, like farming, helped to tilt the balance of power between mankind and nature towards mankind. Human beings could finally subdue the natural elements around them, which, beforehand, they seemingly had little to no control over.

Before the union of farm work and metal, farmers had inefficient tools to contend with the harsh conditions. These medieval farms only produced somewhere between 4.34 seeds for each seed of wheat sown. Entire village populations were constantly on the brink of starvation. Metalworkers introduced the iron plow to farmers, who had been using the ineffectual wooden plow. The new iron plows could cut through the heavy northern European soil, even during winter frost. This mingling of metal and farm work, among other technological/intellectual developments, led to the Enlightenment era and a population boom that reshaped the social order.

A painting of oxen pulling a blue and brown plow across brown dirt; a bearded man in a blue tunic and brown pants follows behind, with both hands on the plow.

Today, the interaction between farming and metalworking continues to provide humanity with bountiful harvest. Although farms have become much more efficient, profit and competitive margins remain slim. Advances in metallurgy – like galvanized steel, are a keystone to modern farming operations by helping farmers to save time and money.


The Benefits of Galvanized Steel


Galvanized metal has been around for hundreds of years, although the methods for applying the zinc coating have become more sophisticated.

Galvanization improves steel’s longevity through a protective coating that prevents rust from forming. The process of hot-dip galvanizing creates a product with many benefits that other types of coatings don’t offer. For example, galvanized steel is:

  • Less expensive when compared with most treated steels.
  • Lower in maintenance cost than other coated metals – saving time on repairs and replacements.
  • Damage-resistant, very durable, and can withstand outdoor elements.
  • Self-healing in the way it’s coating provides automatic protection for damaged areas and will corrode preferentially to the steel, creating protection to the areas that are damaged.

Ready to use immediately upon delivery – it does not require additional preparation of the surface (painting/coatings, etc.) prior to installation.

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