Numerous coil storage safety incidents are reported each year. Such incidents often result in damage to the coil(s) or property and can even cause injury or death. These incidents are usually caused by employee failure to follow proper storage protocol, structural malfunctions of wood storage blocks or chains, and the need for companies to double and triple stack coils when they require increased floor space. Without a well thought out, implemented and maintained coil storage system, an operator is gambling against the odds that a catastrophic incident will not occur.
Understanding the Company’s Safety Culture
For one multinational steel service company’s locations throughout the world, excellence in safe operational practices is not an option! Its overseas parent company instituted a culture of “safety first,” which permeates through to every employee and activity throughout the company. This firm’s internal processes require that they not only report safety incidents, they are also required to report all “near miss events” to a highly-proactive safety committee. Their local safety committee conducts root cause analyses for each incident from which a safety improvement initiative is developed, implemented and regularly monitored. The safety program statistics, lessons learned and best practices implementation are monitored closely by headquarters. All in the company are sensitive to management’s global “zero tolerance safe practices” requirements. Therefore, corporate management requires the same high safety standards to be employed in every one of their internal practices!
Defining the Issues
Safe steel coil storage is no exception in the client’s “safety first” program. Processing in excess of 30,000 tons of steel per month in just one of their domestic facilities, the operation is constantly moving coils to and from storage areas throughout its warehouse. This high volume of activity statistically increases the likelihood of an incident, thus requiring heightened levels of attention to detail. The company’s culture of requiring continuous safety program improvement was reinforced when the company recently experienced a non-injury “near miss” safety incident when a chain bracing system failed and allowed a coil to displace from its wood storage timbers. The company’s safety program required that this matter be corrected, and promptly!
Studying Available Alternatives
The customer expressed a need to optimize valuable floor space. He also recognized that using wooden blocks and chain bracing was introducing safety hazards while negatively impacting operations personnel performance efficiency. With these issues in mind, the facility operations team embarked on a detailed study to determine how to implement a coil storage system to meet the company’s “gold-standard” safety requirements. Through their industry-wide investigation process, the safety and operations teams sought assistance from The Philpott Rubber Company, an internationally recognized leader in providing polymeric solutions for industrial applications. Philpott’s project team had numerous meetings with the operator’s committee and, together, came up with criteria for satisfying the appropriate storage solution requirements. The critical issues identified included:
High reliability in safety for storing coils
High return-on-investment from a long lasting coil storage system
A system that would allow coil stacking without the need for chain bracing
Safe stacking up to 3-coils high
Protection of the outer coil wraps from damage during the handling and storage processes
Increased storage capacity on the same or less warehouse footprint
Elimination of wood blocks that crush & absorb oil/dirt
Simple installation by warehouse personnel
Modular design that would allow easy moving of the storage system components
Finding the Appropriate Solution
After working closely with the operator’s task group for this project, it was clear that the company was serious about implementing a cost-effective coil storage system that had a primary focus on safety. Philpott recommended a system made of an advanced polymer design, called RollStop™, which employs an easy to install, modular design. The RollStop system is assembled on two rails that run the length of each storage row, which maintain their parallel placement through the use of regularly placed spacers. The rails are supplied in 13 foot lengths that are joined end to end using a specially designed, threaded connector. The RollStop blocks, whose placement can be changed at any time based on the diameter of the stored coils, are placed over the rails, four blocks per coil. The blocks secure themselves to the rails via the specially designed “mating rib pattern,” which eliminates the need for separate mechanical fasteners. The angle of bevel on the RollStop blocks prevents coils from rolling laterally as they can with wood timbers. Further, this design eliminates the need for chains, which are difficult and labor intensive to properly place and often damage the coils.
The operator first installed a RollStop trial system that was planned for a several month evaluation. After using this trial system for just a few weeks, members of the safety and operations teams unanimously recommended that management not only implement a RollStop system throughout their facility, but also at the other company locations all over the US.
The operator’s top management closely monitored the RollStop installation during its progress. One management official indicated that his team was highly impressed with the speed in which this neat, clean system was placed. In no time, they were placing coils on the system at a pace that exceeded the operator’s expectations. This operator said that the best part of the RollStop installation process was that it could be done by company warehouse personnel using simple hand tools. The components were easily lifted and placed by hand, without the need for assistance of hoists or forklifts. Therefore, even the installation itself provided a safe work process!
Company executives expressed that they could not have been more pleased with the RollStop system. Local and corporate management were equally impressed with the safety features that the RollStop program has brought them. The operator commented, “Not only should this keep our coils where we put them, it will also eliminate the strenuous task of chaining and unchaining our coils as well as chain related accidents.” This manager explained to Philpott’s team members that he was having his insurance company tour the facility in the near future. He believed that the obvious safety features and labor saving benefits provided by the RollStop system should earn his company a reduction in its property and casualty insurance premiums, which he said, “is a pleasant, unanticipated financial benefit!”
Although safety was the operator’s primary concern when they selected the RollStop system, it has also made a very visible improvement in the look and feel of the company’s coil storage areas. The operator explained that the system also allows them to store more coils in the same warehouse footprint, which should defer until a later date the need to expand the warehouse facility, thus preserving precious working capital. A company manager explained, “We have always viewed our facility as a show place when our many customers come to visit.
The installation of the RollStop system at this facility accomplished a long list of the operator’s stated goals. These objectives included:
• Improved safety
• Flexibility for multiple coil ODs
• Rugged, long lasting design
• 3-high stacking capability
• Riddance of chains & related accidents
• 100 ton per coil load bearing capacity
• Elimination of wood timbers:
Oil, weather & splinter resistant
• “Soap & water” washable components
• Installation ease
• Increased storage capacity
• Ability to easily remove,
store and relocate storage system
• High return on capital employed
Meeting these stringent project requirements indicates that the RollStop system should be considered by operators throughout the industry with similar, safe coil storage needs and concerns.