From an article in Welding and Gases Today Winter 2003
Wright Brothers Steel Cutting Innovation

There's a first time for everything, as Wright Brothers' (Cincinnati, OH) CEO Charlie Wright and Mike Pinson, president of steel industrial products, well know. Recently, one particularly important first for the distributor involved an industry-changing process.

It all started two years ago, when Wright and Pinson saw an opportunity to improve the efficiency of a caster cutting operation in a steel plant by using an alternative fuel instead of natural gas. After countless hours of research and development and dozens of tests, both on-site at steel plants and in Wright Brothers' lab facility, the team developed a new process for cutting steel slabs, billets and blooms using propylene as an alternative fuel. Wright Brothers has a patent pending for the use of alternative fuels for caster operations and slab yards in steel plants across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In order to support the process, Wright and Pinson partnered with supplier BMS/BTU. “We knew BMS/BTU is able to transport large amounts of propylene fuel across the nation and Canada,” says Pinson. He adds that BMS/BTU's Sales Manager Steve Baughman and Sales Representative Skip Traxler were essential in coordinating the transport of large amounts of gas, which were necessary to move ahead in the project. In addition, Wright Brothers also partnered with Shawn Toops, president of Flame Technologies, and Tom Hossler, national sales representative, for the necessary torches and tips. “The combination of the gas and the tip is part of what makes the whole process work,” says Wright.

Pinson approached Kentucky Electric Steel, a bar mill that produces billets for end-users, and explained how Wright Brothers could help in the billet cutting process for their caster operation. It was a system that would add benefits for their cutting operation, one that Kentucky Electric Steel found appealing. Many different tests were conducted to assess the quality of cut, yield savings and speed of the continuous caster operation as it cuts solidified steel with torches and propylene gas. According to Pinson, the tests provided Kentucky Electric Steel with confidence to move forward with the process. “After testing, we were able to put the whole package together—torches, tips, gas and all.”

Kentucky Electric Steel signed a contract with Wright Brothers in September. Following the installation of piping and tanks, the facility was up and running by November 6.

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