The Risks & Rewards of Maintaining a Steel Mill Pickling Line

In today’s highly competitive global steel market, American steel mill owners and operators are charged with maintaining unprecedented levels of productivity in their operations. Faced with an overwhelming number of highly qualified international competitors, American steel mills have adapted various means and strategies of optimizing their milling process, including relying ever more heavily on automated equipment. While this “roboticization” has indeed reduced labor costs and increased overall production capacity in the average North American steel mill, the steel industry nevertheless remains a human concern, employing hundreds of thousands of American and Canadian workers, many of them interspersed throughout our own state of Alabama. At Fluidtrol, while we can certainly marvel at the ingenuity of automated technology and how it’s revolutionized productive capacity, what we’re truly interested in regarding steel milling is the human factor: more specifically, worker safety. Ensuring steel miller safety during the intensively toxic process of steel mill pickling is one of the foremost services we provide.

Steel mill pickling can be viewed as one of the “necessary evils” of producing high quality steel. Once a steel coil leaves its furnace, it undergoes a series of treatments that – if managed correctly – imbue it with higher levels of abrasion and corrosion resistance. The first stop in this process is the most hazardous: the part where the steel gets immersed in a “bath” of hydrochloric acids that help remove all traces of impure iron oxide from the surface of the alloy, allowing the steel to then be sopped with a rust-resistant oil coating. But trouble can erupt quickly if a plant manager isn’t careful. If the pumps through which the hydrochloric acids are running end up leaking – a common enough occurrence due to the highly corrosive nature of HCl – then not only can machinery being ruined in a split second, but workers can suffer severe injury and much worse.

How can Fluidtrol help in preventing that kind of thing? We manufacture industrial chemical strainers which are specifically endowed with high corrosion resistance. Our fiberglass-reinforced P-Series of strainer, fabricated from premium grades of vinylester resin such as Derakane 411 or Hetron 922, can tolerate almost any sort of “chemical warfare” waged against its material composition.

Certain metals require even more corrosive pickle solutions, making Fluidtrol’s Thermoplastic-Lined Strainers, predominantly the series that utilizes PVDF as a liner, the best choice available on the market. 

Since Fluidtrol strainers are more or less immune to the chemicals used in the steel mill pickling process, it is a prized – albeit underutilized – material for plant owners and managers to build with. The fact that Fluidtrol provides such quality strainers is further evidence that we are committed indefinitely to securing the safety of America’s skilled blue-collar labor force: both today, and for generations to come.