By Lynn Stanley

Above: Design-build specialist Delta Industrial completed foundation projects for three equipment lines including Blanking Line 1 which specified a press pit for this 800-ton press, a loop pit, utility trenches and other ancillary equipment foundations.

Partnership provides building blocks that help greenfield plant and three major equipment lines rise on time and on budget

October 2017 - “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens’ opening statement to his 1859 novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” summarized the British author’s thoughts about the French Revolution. The popular phrase makes a handy catchall for modern times, too.

Juggling construction of a new service center with the installation of two blanking lines and a slitter, Samuel, Son & Co. Ltd.’s Sergio Cipriani, blanking operations manager for North America, readily agrees with Dickens.

“The rain that winter was horrible,” Cipriani recalls of conditions at the 30-acre site in Columbia, Tennessee. “We had three feet of mud.” But it was also a season of partnerships like the one cemented between Samuel and Delta Industrial. Despite harsh weather, the machine foundation and press pit specialist helped the Mississauga, Ontario-based company navigate its construction challenges and complete its projects on time and on budget.

Samuel’s five-year-plan earmarked the greenfield venture to provide regional support to the South’s growing automotive market. Market studies conducted by the family owned and operated network of metal manufacturing, processing and distribution divisions revealed an uptick in demand for die blanking and slitting technology that could process high-strength steels. There was also a need for quality aluminum.


“Our partnership with General Motors was the catalyst for the project,” Cipriani says. “[GM’s] Springfield, Tennessee, stamping plants were underserved. We also saw an opportunity to increase our commitment to the North American metals market and improve support to Tier 1 automotive manufacturers.”

With access to rail, the 105,000-sq.-ft. greenfield space was designed to house a hybrid automotive blanking line with a width capacity up to 80.7 in., and an 84-in.-wide slitter able to apply lubricants, inspect Class A surfaces and process advanced high-strength steels. Before the facility was completed, however, the division received approval from corporate for an additional 100,000-sq.-ft. and a second blanking line.

Each line constituted large foundation projects—$1.5 million to $3.2 million—that required anchor bolt and steel embedments installed to tight tolerances. Due to shortened timeframes, foundation builds were engineered concurrently with Samuel’s brick and mortar construction and expansion.

“We had to mesh the schedules and tasks of a diverse group of companies,” says Cipriani. “It also meant we had to find companies that shared common ground when it came to work ethics and safety. I was part of a team that had worked with Delta Industrial in 2001 and was aware of their high standards.”

FFJ 1017 stamping image1

During the quoting process for Samuel, Delta Industrial talked about the value-adds it could provide that would obtain the best results. “Their experience and field knowledge convinced us we had the right company for the job,” he says.

Equipment vendors provided the measurements for a rough foundation layout. “Delta Industrial understands construction costs,” Cipriani continues. “They were able to modify the foundation designs without compromising the integrity of the structure or the performance of the equipment. It resulted in a substantial costs savings for us.”

Delta Industrial began work on the first blanking line in February 2015, approximately five weeks after Samuel broke ground.

Elbow grease

“The day we were supposed to start, Columbia got 2 inches of ice,” says Tom Lytle, vice president of Delta Industrial, based in Chesterfield, Michigan. “I couldn’t even get to the city office to get a work permit. But we still showed up at the work site to initiate preliminary set ups and get a general layout. When the weather broke, we were ready to go.”

Blanking line 1 specified a foundation for an 800-ton press, a looping pit, utility trenches and other ancillary equipment foundations. “Essentially, we value engineer these installations based on a variety of data that includes machine drawings, soil information, facility drawings and geo-technical data,” Lytle explains. “We also work backwards from the delivery date of the equipment to establish a timeline.”

All three lines had to be reinforced to bedrock due to less-than-ideal soil conditions. “Logistically it was a prime location for Samuel,” says Lytle. “But from a substructure standpoint, the acreage was challenging. The subgrade or top layer of soil was fatty clay. The deeper we dug we hit shelf rock, which made it difficult to evaluate stability. As a result, both machine foundations and building columns had to go deep. Micro piles and piers had to be anchored in bedrock.”

Underground conditions weren’t the only challenge. Samuel wanted to install the press for the blanking line as soon as possible. “Press delivery for the first blanking line was delayed six to eight weeks,” says Cipriani. “That meant there was an overlap of schedules between Delta Industrial and the building contractors.”

The slitting line comprised Samuel’s “largest and most complicated foundation.” Explosives demolition was required for the looping pit to achieve a depth of 40 ft. Micro and shoring piles had to be installed with more than 200 anchor bolt canisters. Steel embedments, hundreds of feet of utility trenching and electrical conduits were included in the project’s specifications.

“The slitting line was supposed to be installed in Bay 2 so we decided to move ahead with controlled blasting,” says Cipriani. “Then we got approval for the expansion and the second blanking line, which altered our plans for placement of the slitter. This meant Delta Industrial had to stop work midstream and relocate the slitter so that the second blanking line could be installed in Bay 2.”

The change also meant Delta Industrial had to complete work on both foundations at the same time. Lytle and his crew, “reacted very well and demonstrated their hallmark flexibility to adapt, despite a compressed timeframe,” he says. Cipriani also credits the vendor with quickly determining how to minimize costs..

Blanking line 1 was completed in August 2015 and entered production when foundation work for blanking line 2 commenced. Completed in June 2017, blanking line 2 had a finished depth of 20 ft. for the press foundation. Subsurface work for the slitting line was approximately 6 ft. deep, with a 40-ft.-deep looping pit. Installation was finished a month earlier in May 2017.

Finish line

“There were some pretty extreme logistical and timing challenges including handling explosives demolition for the slitter’s new location,” says Lytle. “We were able to stagger work on the two lines and move crews back and forth.”

With the slitting line, the general contractor was “putting up the building around us.” With the second blanking line, the building was already up and production underway. “We were able to minimize disruption within the facility and maintain safety while hitting all of our schedule milestones,” Cipriani adds.

Samuel is using Blanking Line 1 to process blanks for body, side panel, roof and floor components used by GM suppliers. Commissioned in August, Samuel has run aluminum on the slitter. The equipment can also be used for automatic inspection of coils for possible defects. Blanking line 2 was commissioned in September. Operators will likely use the line to apply wet or dry lubrication. They will be able to shuttle dies between the two blanking lines for different tasks.

“There were so many things going on at the same time that Delta Industrial really had to be on top of all of it,” says Cipriani. They  stayed in constant communication with Samuel and with the other vendors. “In the end, we stayed on budget, on time and the equipment installations went well. Delta Industrial was a key player from start to finish.” FFJ



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