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Primetals helps steelmakers roll

Warren company manufactures large bearings for steel companies

Staff photo / Ron Selak Jr. Steve Bedard, general manager of Primetals Technologies facilities in Warren and Cortland, explains the function of a Morgoil bearing line made and serviced at the Warren plant. Earlier this year, Primetals Technologies, based in Massachusetts, moved the Morgoil bearing production line to a plant on Dietz Road NE, Warren.

WARREN — Bearings used in more than 1,500 steel mills on six continents that ease the hot-rolling process are made and serviced at the 300,000-square-foot former Service Guide, a nondescript manufacturing plant in the Golden Triangle.

Primetals Technologies sought out the Dietz Road facility to relocate its Morgoil line of oil film bearings, manufacturing of which the company fully moved from Worcester, Massachusetts, this year to be nearer to customers in the Midwest and South.

Each bearing assembly weighs several tons.

“You can imagine transporting from a customer in the Chicago area all the way to Worcester, Massachusetts, some of these components makes no sense,” said Gabriel Royo, vice president, metallurgical services, Primetals Technologies. “It’s a competitive disadvantage from a location point of view to be in Worcester, Massachusetts, for heavy components.”

The local workforce and culture of service shown by employees were other characteristics that made the facility attractive.

“We have always been impressed with our employees in Ohio about the mentality of service,” Royo said. “That is ingrained in them, it is something that is in the DNA of that organization. That is something that we liked and also another factor for moving the Morgoil product line. How good you service customers is very critical.”

The plant has been manufacturing and reconditioning rolling-mill components for customers for decades.

Service Guide was founded in the mid-1960s in Cortland as a repair, welding and machine company. It acquired the Dietz Road facility in about 2000 from American Welding, said Steve Bedard, general manager of the Warren and Cortland plants.

Three years later, Siemens acquired Service Guide and rolled it into its metals technology group. Mitsubishi Heavy Metals partnered with Siemens in 2015 in a joint venture for the metals business, calling it Primetals Technologies. The arrangement lasted five years before Mitsubishi bought out Siemens, leaving Primetals Technologies fully owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Talks to move the Morgoil line to Warren started in 2015. The decision was confirmed in 2017, Bedard said.

To make room for the new line and manufacturing equipment, space needed made. That meant, Bedard said, opening the rear of the building and moving production bays. It also meant moving equipment from Massachusetts to Warren.

What essentially happened was warehouse space was made into “operational, functional space” with roof, wall, lighting and floor upgrades. Heat also was added.

Part of the facility is dedicated to manufacturing new Morgoil bearings. The operation also includes bearing reclamation services.

The bearings were developed in the 1930s.

“The principle of the bearing is it slides in an oil film and the oil has a much higher compressibility module than steel, so basically … this bearing at the same size has a much higher capacity than a roller bearing,” Royo said.

“A roller bearing would have to be much, much bigger to carry the same (or) similar loads, making the complete hot strip mill much bigger, much more expensive,” Royo said.

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