To be a leader you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why CMC has always been — and will continue to be — an early adopter of smart, new manufacturing techniques and technology. We’re continuously striving to find innovative ways to do what we do more efficiently, more cost-effectively and with less impact on our environment. At CMC, we believe the only way to move forward is to look ahead.
We take great pride in what we have accomplished.
Electricity + recycled metal = mini mill
In the 1950’s, CMC began thinking about how to make steel differently. And by 1962, had built its first electric arc furnace using electric energy and recycled scrap metal. This important event in CMC history meant that we would not run our mills with coal and iron ore. Every CMC mill uses electric energy and 100% recycled scrap to produce our products, reinforcing our foundation as a metals recycling company and our commitment to the environment.
First micro mill in the world
CMC was the first in the world to successfully operate a micro mill – and now we have two. These plants have smaller footprints and are just the right size for their markets. They connect the two main steps in rebar production – melting recycled scrap into molten steel and forming that steel into a finished product in a single uninterupted strand. They also use energy more efficiently than the mini mill, eliminating the need to reheat semi-finished billets. This technology was an important update to the steel industry, allowing mills to cast steel faster and to run continuously.
As one of the first steel companies to implement vertical integration, CMC realized the importance of connecting its businesses, both up and downstream, to facilitate operations. In 1952, vertical integration was fully implemented with our recycling facilities feeding scrap to the mill and then fabrication shops shaping product for the end-customer. Regionalization in 2010 took this to the next level, allowing our business operations to respond to customer needs and provide support faster.
CMC was the first steel company in the U.S. to build and release an online customer portal allowing customers to order steel, see delivery information, keep track of shipments and more – from anywhere in the world. This puts more tools at our customers’ fingertips, making it easier for them to run their businesses.
When we add a new product to our production list, we make sure we can produce it at the highest quality and that it is a benefit to our customers. CMC recognized the benefits of spooled rebar and became the first producer in the U.S. in order to better serve fabrication customers so that they have less waste, increased productivity and improved safety. We have also proven to make larger, longer spools than any other conventional coils made in the USA, increasing the efficiencies even more.
CMC has its own dedicated trucking fleet under our full management as the shipper. This allows us to partner with our customers in a unique way. With flexibility and control of our own fleet, we can haul steel to customers, then pick up and deliver for them. Not only does this optimize each trip for our trucks so we aren’t driving empty miles, but it benefits our customers as we can help them fulfill shipments to their customers.
Research and development is important in order to constantly improve our processes and products. Developing a rebar slitting process is an example of this, as CMC was the first in the industry to successfully complete a three and five slit process. This process allows for one source of steel to be split into multiple strands as its being rolled, so that rebar can be produced faster and more efficiently – and now almost everyone in the industry uses this process. Our steelmakers committed the time, investment and skilled employees with the expertise and determination to make this process a viable way to produce.
CMC currently operates the most automated T-post fabrication facility in the world. Our T-post plant in Durant, Oklahoma helped create standardization of our fence post product and provided a better environment for what used to be a difficult, manual process.
Investing in the next generation: TA Program
Started in 1986, the Technical Assistant (TA) program takes college graduates from various disciplines to train in hands-on operation roles throughout our mills. After gaining experience and understanding the necessities of steelmaking, they have the opportunity to move into manager roles. This means CMC can hire for talent and not just for open positions – and we can find the best role for them in our business. Learning from this program, we are expanding similar training across all our lines of business. This program empowers new graduates to take their future in their own hands, and many of our top leadership at CMC today are TA graduates.
CMC was the first to complete single rail slitting and holds the patent for the pro-cess. Railroad steel is a great metal for recycling, but the process of slitting it and rolling it into new products was time consuming and often made an inferior product. After years of research and development, we are the only mill that handles rolling rail in this way. Our process increases product yield significantly and is also much safer than other alternatives.
Our CMC culture is one of the things that sets us apart in the industry. We have proven that treating our employees well and running a successful business go hand-in-hand. At CMC, our people have the opportunity to explore new disciplines in other CMC businesses to best utilize their skills. In turn, they have a broader understanding of our business and our teams work better together because we understand one another and are all committed to one CMC team.
Auto benders are common fab shop equipment today – but forty years ago was a different story. Always pushing to improve the safety of our employees, CMC was the first to use an auto bender in our fabrication business in 1980. In an industry that historically lacked forward thinking, by installing automatic bending machines for rebar fabrication, we improved the safety of our team by moving them further away from potential hazards and increased productivity at the same time.
There are two essentials for any steel company – having scrap metal delivered to the mill and delivering finished steel to our customers. These two processes use very different trucks – until our engineering and logistics teams got together and started thinking “What if?” For decades, steel has been hauled on flat bed trailers and if you wanted to load scrap on that truck to return to the mill, drivers had to put up plywood sides that are costly and hard on drivers to set up. Currently being developed through our partnership with Clement Trailers, we have created a multi-use trailer concept that has doors in the front and back to accommodate longer steel shipments and permanent sides and hydraulics to assist with hauling and unload-ing scrap. Our team continues to create and develop better tools and processes that benefit our CMC team, our customers and the industry.