In a move aimed at cutting costs, Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point division said yesterday that it will team up with a Canadian company to build a $10 million roll-grinding facility.
Under a joint venture between Bethlehem Steel and C. H. Maryland -- a newly formed subsidiary of Ontario-based Court Holding Ltd. -- construction of the facility will begin this summer.
The project, named Bethlehem Roll Technologies LLC, will start operating next spring.
Grinding prepares rolls for additional processing in finishing mills, such as the $300 million cold-rolling mill under construction at Sparrows Point.
Cold-rolled products from Sparrows Point are used in containers, tubing, machinery, storage tanks, car parts, metal furniture and hardware.
"With cutting-edge technology to prepare rolls for our finishing mills, we will have the ability to further improve the surface quality of our sheet steel products for customers while improving productivity and reducing costs," Duane R. Dunham, president of Bethlehem's Sparrows Point division, said in a statement.
Bethlehem officials said the joint venture is aimed at cutting fTC
capital and operating costs. Ted Baldwin, a Bethlehem spokesman, said the new facility will employ about 30 people, most likely from existing roll-grinding shops at Sparrows Point. He said Bethlehem will close its primary roll-grinding facility at Sparrows Point after the new one is built.
Baldwin said information about how many workers would be displaced by the new project was not yet available. But he said the number is not likely to be significant. "We're going to continue to do some grinding at existing facilities," Baldwin said.
Bethlehem Roll Technologies will use grinders manufactured by
Voith Sulzer North America Inc., based in Appleton, Wis. The facility will have the capacity to resurface up to 4,500 rolls per month, well above Sparrows Point's requirements for about 3,700 work rolls per month.
"We'll have new equipment that is going to be a time saver," Baldwin said. "They will do a better job in a fraction of the time."
John P. Folfas, who heads Sparrows Point's roll shop department, said an agreement between Bethlehem Roll Technologies and the United Steelworkers of America will give workers a high degree of autonomy.
C. H. Maryland will be involved in the operation of the facility. Its parent company, Court Holding, operates small businesses in the steel, aluminum and automotive industries.
The $10 million project is the second significant capital project planned at Sparrows Point. The Bethlehem, Pa.-based steel giant broke ground in April for its $300 million cold-rolling mill complex.
To get the mill built at Sparrows Point, the United Steelworkers of America agreed to $130 million in annual savings -- an amount that will cut about 900 of Bethlehem's 5,100 jobs when the project is finished in 2000.
Workers face the loss of 400 additional jobs in about a year, when Bethlehem closes its plate mill and shifts that work to a mill that it owns as a result of its acquisition last week of Coatesville, Pa.-based Lukens Inc.
Pub Date: 6/02/98