Remelt plant thriving in Texas

Dec. 1, 2003
HYDRO Aluminum North America's remelting facility in Commerce, Texas, is producing primary-quality billet that is being turned into the extrusions that

HYDRO Aluminum North America's remelting facility in Commerce, Texas, is producing primary-quality billet that is being turned into the extrusions that are finding their way onto many of today's trailers.

The Commerce plant is the newest remelt facility — having opened on Nov. 15, 2002 — for Hydro Aluminum North America, whose parent company, Hydro Aluminum, is the world's third-largest aluminum producer and the largest billet producer. Now fully operational, Commerce is producing 90,000 metric tons of extrusion billet a year made mostly from aluminum scrap.

Hydro Aluminum built the plant in Commerce to more efficiently meet the demand of the Southwestern aluminum market. Its customers are primarily from the transportation and building and construction sectors in Texas. Up to 40 truckloads of scrap are delivered to the plant every day.

The $37-million facility has state-of-the-art technology with 90,000-lb melting and holding furnaces, regenerative burners, metal filtration and degassing in a Hydro SIR system, a casting system featuring Hydro HyCast-Gas Slip Technology, and a continuous homogenization and cooling process.

The plants use only 5% of the energy consumed in typical primary aluminum production, without any loss in quality. Besides being energy efficient, the plants enable customers to recycle their own scrap, in ways that optimize their production processes.

Of the overall consumption of extrusion or sheet in the United States, 29% is being used in the transportation industry — marine, trucking, automotive, and aerospace — as global manufacturers discover more innovative ways to apply the metal in their new models.

At several of Hydro Aluminum's plants, up to 35% of their product ends up in the transportation industry.

“That's where they also see the largest gain in the years coming forward — the automobile industry,” says Bill Painter, materials manager at Commerce. “It's just growing and growing.”

Trailer connection

At Hydro Aluminum's plant in Belton, South Carolina, 50% of its aluminum is extruded directly for the trailer business. They fabricate it, drill it, and weld it for the trailers.

The plant, with over 200 employees and approximately 165,000 sq ft of space, has three extrusion presses that can accommodate nearly every extruded shape requirement. Along with engineering assistance for product design, its fabrication capabilities include rotary bending, cut-to-length miter cuts, drilling, milling, punching, as well as light assembly. Painting is done in-house. Anodizing is available through long-standing partnering arrangements.

The plant produces seven alloys (6060, 6063, 6005, 6005A, 6061, 6082, and 6105) in five diameters (7", 8", 9", 10", and 12") and log lengths of 144" to 288".

Hydro Aluminum NA is an integrated aluminum company providing complete aluminum solutions ranging from metal sourcing to manufacturing of complex assemblies. Headquartered in Linthicum, Maryland, it has facilities from New York to Mexico, and revenues that approach $1 billion.

Hydro Aluminum expanding trailer fleet

Hydro Aluminum's Commerce plant has been using this steel-frame, spread-axle trailer to transport the logs that are produced in the one-year-old plant.

The trailer, built by Lite-N-Bolt Manufacturing in Millwood, Kentucky, has an all-aluminum box with a 25' access door on both sides to accommodate the largest logs, which are 24'.

Hydro Aluminum wants to expand its fleet and is looking for a small manufacturer to build 20 trailers similar to the one already being used.

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.