American Metal Market
Jul 19, 2016 | 04:57 PM | Dom Yanchunas
NEW YORK — OmniTRAX Inc. used an integrated rail and transloading network to transport more than 5,000 tons of steel coil from Hickman, Ark., to Sand Springs, Okla., it said, proving that a train can efficiently carry a load normally moved by barge.
The Denverbased company’s OmniTRAX Logistics Services LLC (OLS) division recently managed the movement of 225 coils from Nucor Corp.’s flatrolled mill in Hickman to a pipe mill in Sand Springs.
OmniTRAX, which wasn’t authorized to identify the customer, said the material was being shipped to one of North America’s foremost providers of tubing solutions to the global market for processing into pipes and structural rods.
Industry observers said the customer was likely Webco Industries Inc., which is based in Sand Springs and operates a number of facilities in the area. Webco Industries did not respond to requests for comment. A dedicated 50car train carried the 45,000pound coils about 460 miles via the BNSF Railway and the OmniTRAXmanaged Sand Springs Railway, the company said. The coils were placed in OLS’ transload facility in Sand Springs for temporary storage.
Previously, such a heavy steel shipment would have been floated on the inland river system and the customer would have received it via the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, OmniTRAX vice president of transload and logistics Tim Eklund told AMM. There, it would be transferred from barges to a warehouse and eventually to trucks for a 25mile drive to the mill.
The rail and transload system demonstrated that coordinated train logistics can compete with the economics of waterborne transits, and that a transcontinental schedule isn’t necessary for rail to be cost effective, Eklund said.
“It was unique in that we could make a very short haul prove attractive in the supply chain,” he said. “We’re quite frankly investigating whether to make this a permanent part of the supply chain—using rail instead of barge when they need this quantity of shipment.” The rail method was quicker than the water route, which can take days. The mill also avoided hiring a trucking contractor to move coils from the port to Sand Springs, taking a busy route through the city of Tulsa.
“The customer sent over (its own) drayage truck to handle the coils, so it created efficiencies that didn’t exist before,” Eklund said.
OmniTRAX also operates similar transload facilities and terminals along its affiliated rail lines in Windsor, Colo., and Brownsville and Borger in Texas, and will soon operate them in Stockton, Calif., and Grand Forks, British Columbia.
The Sand Springs coil delivery is “repeatable” elsewhere, Eklund said, pointing to Stockton as an area with potential for large steel shipments via rail.
“This is not a oneoff,” he said. “We demonstrated that it can work. And it can work again.”
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