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Welding

Dealing direct

By Nick Wright

By offering same-day shipping for consumables both common and hard-to-find, Midalloy lets Team Industries keep a lean stock of wire

July/August 2014 - In 2013, when FFJournal last covered welding consumable supplier Midalloy, the St. Louis-based company chalked up part of its recent growth to having reliable distributor relationships through which it generates about 85 percent of its business. But not all of its revenue derives from distributors, a crucial channel through which consumable makers reach their end customers.

Midalloy has reached further into the supply chain to connect with and respond to end users directly. It’s not just a matter of having spools or shelves of wire to pick from and getting orders out quickly (same-day shipping is standard). With warehouses in St. Louis and Houston, Midalloy has effectively aligned itself with regional powerhouse industries like energy, chemical, and oil and gas. It’s turned out to be a smart strategy.

One of its customers is Team Industries, in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, between Appleton and Green Bay. Team Industries makes piping and vessels for markets including petrochemical, refining, pulp and paper, industrial gas, water and wastewater. Team has two additional shops in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, and Port Arthur, Texas, under the name Team Fabricators LLC. Combined, those facilities encompass about 250,000 sq. ft. under roof. 

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Team Industries sources a range of stainless and high-alloy rod for TIG, MIG, SAW and flux-cored welding. It uses those consumables in joining such materials as carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum as well as high-strength alloys like chrome-moly, Duplex, Inconel and Hastelloy. The company can fabricate 1⁄2 in. up to 80 in. diameter pipe with wall thicknesses up to 3.25 in. Plates up to 1⁄2 in. thick can be sheared and rolled in-house while rolling of heavier plate is outsourced. Plate and tank fabrication capabilities include towers, vessels, tanks and custom structural components. Fabrication of vessels up to 20 ft. in diameter is limited only by the lengths that can be shipped.

Although the company produces a steady output of energy infrastructure fabrications, it runs a lean inventory of consumables.

“We are a job shop so we deal with Midalloy on an as-needed basis,” says Mike Schmidt, piping operations superintendent at Team Industries. “Midalloy offers a large product range, which allows us to source most consumables from one vendor.”

First impressions

Team Industries began working with Midalloy several years ago when it needed a big order of nickel welding wire in a hurry for a nickel piping fabrication project. After fulfilling that need, Midalloy gradually grew as one of Team Industries’ short list suppliers.

Today, Midalloy provides the fabricator with stainless steel, nickel alloy, low-alloy and mild steel products for MIG, TIG and sub-arc processes. The flux-cored consumables Midalloy supplies to Team Industries is its Mastercor E308LT1-1⁄4 AP and E316LT1-1⁄2 AP. For bare wire MIG and TIG operations, Midalloy has delivered nickel alloys in Midalloy grades FM 276, FM 622 and FM 625. Some wire grades for welding stainless are tough to find, like ER310 and ER347, but Midalloy stocks them.

Team Industries welds its fabrications with multiprocess machines and TIG, MIG and SAW welders. They’re mostly Miller Electric machines, including XMT inverter units with 70 series dual feeders and Miller PipeWorx machines, according to Schmidt.

The consumables experiencing the strongest growth at Team Industries has been with Midalloy’s new low-alloy and mild steel copper-free wires, which produce clean welds without copper contamination, Midalloy co-founder Brad Brunk says. Team Industries buys that material in mostly TIG wire grades like ER80SNI-1 and in other chrome-moly grades for welding high-strength low- alloy materials.

Quality assurance

Verification of the grade and quality of all materials incorporated into a project is critical to safety both in fabrication and with the final product in use. Team Industries requires material test reports from all suppliers and traces the material through fabrication of each project piece. Meeting the traceability requirements for a project is a matter of practice because Midalloy maintains and provides weld material test reports on all of the wire in stock.

“We also have the ability to have any material for Team Industries tested to other criteria like mechanical test reports,” says Brunk. Midalloy is ISO 9001 certified, making its products best suited for a customer like Team Industries because its in-house quality assurance program gives it the security and confidence that it will get the right wire for each specific welding job.

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“Team’s broad customer base continues to grow as the demand for quality of the highest order, delivered on time with organized and complete quality documentation, increases,” says Lacy Collins, a recently retired vice president at Team Industries.

Quality control efforts by Team Industries’ vendors are important considering the capacity and clientele it has. Team Industries can produce and ship 5,500 pipe spools per month, both large and small bore. It’s certified for ASME “PP” and “S” stamp work for the assembly and fabrication of power piping and fabrication of power boilers, respectively. 

Although they’re not projects you’d drive by every day, Team Industries’ fabrications are incorporated in expansive constructions for Imperial Oil (Kearl Oil Sands Project, Alberta, Canada), Tioga Gas Plant (Bakken Shale Region of North Dakota), and Midstream Fractionation (Utica East Shale region of Ohio). Team was also an integral part of the Total Deep Conversion refinery project (Port Arthur, Texas), the Ivanpah Solar Electric Project (Nipton, California), and Prairie State’s Energy Campus (Marissa, Illinois). 

As FFJournal reported last year, the welding consumables market, specifically in the global power industry, endured a 21.5 percent decline when the global financial crisis hit in 2009, according to figures from market research firm Frost & Sullivan. But Midalloy persevered through the Great Recession by projecting inventory based on changes in energy alternatives, to prosper in a weaker market. Signs now point to rising market demand and by working directly with customers like Team Industries, Midalloy hopes to be able to maintain its growth potential.

Team Industries’ pace of project wins illustrates the recovery. The company is building a 30,000 sq. ft. expansion to augment loading, paint drying and postweld heat treatment. The expansion will include two fabrication bays totaling 42,000 sq. ft. The project unveiling was attended by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who heralded the 25 to 30 jobs the company expects to create. Team Industries also works with welding students in local technical schools by sharing industry knowledge through tours and guidance from employees. By reaching out, Team Industries is doing its part to keep qualified workers in the pipeline.

“Team Industries is very good, very experienced at what they do and they hire the very best professional welders,” Brunk says. “They know what they need and Midalloy usually supplies it for them in an efficient, timely manner, shipping the same day an order is received from them.” FFJ

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