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Construction’s Comeback: the Long, Hard Road to Building a New America

February 4, 2013

Construction carbon steel

Apart from the financial and automotive sectors, the construction industry took the hardest hit from the so-called “Housing Bubble” collapse of late 2008. Unlike many global banks and Detroit-based car companies, construction received no equivalent compensation or bailout package for all its troubles. What seemed to be one of America’s most resilient, robust industries throughout the 00s seemed suddenly to buckle and cave in. The nationwide binge on new skyscrapers, sports arenas, and suburban duplexes drew to a near standstill as real estate prices plummeted in tandem with the financial collapse.

But that, as they say, is already ancient history. Or at the very least, it’s starting to look like water under the bridge. As recently as August of this past year, the nation’s ABI (architectural building index) fell into positive territory with a score of 50.2 While still a far cry from the frenzied heyday of construction in cities such as New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, it was welcome news for the thousands of contractors, suppliers, and raw materials producers that form the driving engine behind construction. And while spending still remains below the boomtown standards of 2007, major construction projects are underway all over the nation: the San Francisco 49ers, for example, are building a new stadium for their team in Santa Clara, CA that will be a landmark showcase for all things structural steel. It’s estimated that 18,000 tons (14,000 pieces overall) will go into supporting the 1.85 million square foot stadium; the equivalent of 3,000 elephants. Likewise, the residential market seems to be performing solidly, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 new housing units, a 45% increase from just a year ago.

Spending is the new trending, and we at Continental Steel and Tube are here to insure your business can profit from the reemergence of construction.  We are a virtual compendium of all the different types of carbon steel you’ll need to satisfy consumer demand, supplying everything from structural steel, steel plate, tubing, and piping on down to copper, brass, and bronze wiring: we’ve got it all. When it comes to real estate making a full recovery from the Great Recession, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Be sure to be there on the ground floor to take advantage of the new opportunities before competitors do: we at Continental Steel will have your back, all the way.

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Retrofitting America’s Ports to Accommodate the 21st Century

January 21, 2013

supertankersAs of now, there are 50,000-some vessels on Earth which together comprise the international shipping industry. It’s a staggering number of freighters and tankers by anyone’s count. Likewise, these ships constitute 90% of the total international trade on Earth, far outnumbering overland and airborne trade-routes in sheer bulk tonnage and volume. Obviously, these ships come in many different sizes and tonnage capacities, the largest being the so-called “supertankers” that ply the oceans – the largest of them weighing, at full load capacity, a staggering 564,763 tons. As has been mentioned in other blog entries on our site, while supertankers form a small minority of total sea traffic, they carry an outsized amount of the world’s total seaborne goods, particularly when it comes to commodities like crude oil. While these ships carry a disproportionate total of the goods and services, there are many ports throughout the world that do not have the capacity to harbor these giant ships. Indeed, up until recently, even the Panama Canal has not been able to carry supertankers through its waters.

All that is changing rapidly with the exponential increase of globalization and international trade. Supertankers are wallowing behemoths, sure, but they are the practical reality of the day, and the world’s 20th century port infrastructure needs desperately to catch up with that reality. All along the Eastern Seaboard, American cities are dredging their harbors and increasing the length of their berths and piers in order to allow supertankers to safely navigate. New York, Newark, Baltimore, Savannah, Miami, and New Orleans all are getting in on the act of building giant steel-based facilities that each city hopes will attract more supertanker traffic to its port.

We are Florida-based but have many years of experience serving ports and port projects all over the US and the world. Continental Steel and Tube salutes and welcomes the ambitions of America’s cities to better integrate into the global trade framework. We carry all of the essential metal components and compositions needed to help retrofit America’s ports: things like corrosion-resistant stainless steel beams, plating, tubing, and pipe, as well as Grades 1 and 2 Titanium bars, flanges, forgings, sheet, pipe, plate, and welding wires. We are happy and honored to support the construction of America’s new port facilities. Contact us today to see what we can do for your city, state, or company.

Repairing the Tri-State in the Wake of a Hurricane

January 8, 2013

Hurricane SandyIt’s been twice in the past two years that hurricanes have slammed into the Tri-State Area. Neither of these storms has been a laughing matter, but 2012’s Hurricane Sandy was especially ferocious, costly, and deadly. The United States Senate has approved some $60.4 billion in hurricane relief for the devastated areas, but financial appropriation is just the tip of the iceberg. Jobs, homes, and human lives have been lost. The pace and progress of reconstructing buildings and important pieces of public infrastructure will not be measured in weeks or months, but rather years. The psychological effect for many who endured the worst of the storm will, doubtlessly, last into the foreseeable future.

But rebuild we must, and that’s exactly what Americans are doing. In addition to the funds appropriated by Congress, the private sector has been showing up in full force to play its part in the reconstruction of America’s largest metropolitan area. Some 30,000 construction workers are now gainfully employed performing repairs, upgrades, and full-on reconstruction jobs in all regions impacted by the superstorm. From the Coney Island Boardwalk to the equally legendary Jersey Shore, schools, hospitals, businesses, and homes are slowly making their way back to a pale shade of normal.

With many customers, friends, and family in the New York Metro Area, we couldn’t view this tragedy from a more personal angle. All the resources and consulting services we provide as a company are on standby to help in the relief effort. Critical construction materials like rebar, steel beams, wire mesh, angles, tubing, and pipes are at the disposal of those who need them most in their rebuilding efforts. Furthermore, we are able to deliver these materials directly to wherever the jobsite in quick time. Whether you’re in the private sector, or a branch of government, or working as part of an NGO, Continental Steel is here to add its muscle and consultative brainpower to your project. 2012 has been too rough a year for too many of us in the United States. Together, let’s make 2013 into the comeback year it deserves to be.

Extracting Oil from Chile with the Help of Continental Steel

October 19, 2012
Increase in Fuel Consumption

As fuel consumption continues to increase the need for untapped oil resources becomes evermore imperative.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the need to provide adequate resources for growing worldwide fuel consumption. At the current rate, overall gasoline consumption rises 1% per year, and this percentage is forecasted to increase for many years to come. With several of the world’s traditional oil producers predicting depletion of their stocks in the years to come, the need for fresh, untapped oil resources remains as imperative as ever. One of the areas where new oil is being sought after in particular is the South American nation of Chile. With its vast Magallanes Basin that reputedly contains hundreds of millions of barrels of untapped oil, Chile is a strong contender in global oil markets.

Continental is furnishing a North American oil pump company with the necessary raw materials to build horizontal multistage pumps for the Chilean oil industry. The pumps’ ability to accommodate up to 6,500 gpm (gallons per minute), and their capacity to withstand pressures of up to 590 psi and temperatures of up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, makes them reliable workhorses as far as the oil extraction business. They are capable of withstanding the harsh temperatures of Chile’s Atacama Desert, which has been dubbed “the driest space on Earth,” a place with almost no rainfall in any given year. While superior American engineering also plays a factor in the high performance of these multistage pumps, there’s a distinct advantage provided by the stainless steel supplied by Continental. With its heat, pressure, and corrosion resistant properties, Continental stainless steel for the oil industry is the perfect means of helping resolve a global problem.

Continental Will Win You the Space Race

October 8, 2012

Titanium for Aerospace ApplicationsWith all eyes on the skies these days, specifically on the planet Mars; and with NASA’s space probe, the Opportunity, broadcasting hi-res images of the Martian landscape in a way that’s never been done before, we thought we’d take this “opportunity” here at Continental to talk about bikes…

Perhaps we have a bit of explaining to do.

You see, as chance would have it, a high-tech biking company in Chattanooga, TN was contracted by those who represent NASA to furbish the new Mars rover with high-grade titanium for its mobility systems. In other words, the same titanium that goes into that company’s titanium mountain and hybrid bike frames has found a new use (and a new home) on the Opportunity’s wheel braces! It’s a small step perhaps for NASA, but a far leap indeed for bicycles.

Which got us thinking here at Continental Steel and Tube … Not only do we supply high-grade, high-resistance titanium to the sport-bike industry (in fact, we do business with still another Chattanooga-based bike manufacturer!), but we’ve also supplied titanium for any number of mission critical components for a huge host of applications, including Ferrari and SpaceX. Surely if a bike company can help put a rover on a faraway planet, we at Continental can be of unique service and value.

We look forward to our titanium touching down on alien soil in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, just remember that the titanium that helps you win the bike race here on Earth can also help you win the space race up above.

Global Metals Market

September 30, 2012

global metals industryGlobal Industry Analysts (GIA) released their outlook for the global metals industry.  The research firm sees positive signs for growth and increasing confidence among metal investors and in the industry in general.  This is in addition to increased consumption in developing countries like Brazil, China, and India that will continue to influence overall market growth.

The firm went on to note that the world metals market stabilized in 2011 after steep declines in 2008 and 2009 following the global financial crisis.  The declines were the most severe in the United States and Europe.  But with the markets stabilized, growth and expansion will come from developing countries like Brazil, China and India.  Asia-Pacific is the largest as well as fastest growing metals market, while Europe comes in a healthy second for consumption of metals.

Steel:  For the worldwide steel sector, overall aggregate demand for steel from the major end-user sectors including automotive, infrastructure, and construction contracted significantly in 2008 and 2009. However in 2010, steel was showing a steady recovery in demand, production, and re-stocking. Economic uncertainty continues to bother the steel sector, especially in the US and European markets. Europe is the most unstable as it continues to struggle with its currency and debt problems.

Aluminum:  The impact of economic crisis hit the world aluminum sector very hard. Fortunately per GIA’s reporting, this sector is picking up momentum driven by demand in developing Asian economies. Subsequent to the financial crisis, aluminum is seen gaining prominence as a commodity in the recovering construction and transportation sectors. In addition, high level of activity in infrastructure development in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries will boost aluminum’s future value/pricing.

Iron Ore:  Due to rising ore prices, investors have been flocking to the global iron ore industry, but it looks as though iron ore could see oversupplies, placing a downward effect on pricing as it gets oversupplied.

GIA’s research report “Metals: A Global Outlook” provides statistical anecdotes, market briefs, and concise summaries of research findings from the company’s research staff. The report offers a high level view of the global metals sector, identifies major short to medium term market challenges, as well as future growth drivers.

Built Tough? Ford Trucks Made with Aluminum

September 21, 2012

Ford Motor Company is taking a risk that may be as big as Henry Ford’s risk to undo the horse and buggy society of the 18th Century.  In a move to meet new government fuel –economy standards, the company has decided to redesign their F-150 truck with a lighter metal – aluminum.

This move will require Ford to not only to change the metals they use to build their classic pick-up truck, but also to retool their manufacturing processes and more importantly convince their loyal truck customers that being built of aluminum is as “tough” as being built with steel.  Globally, the F-series is one of the most profitable vehicles. In fact in 2011, a third of Ford’s $8.8 billion global operating profit came from sales of the F-series trucks.  Tinkering with this valuable Ford asset is a high-rolling risk for the company

But the switch to a lighter metal will reduce the weight of their F-150 truck by 700 pounds, about a 15% cut in weight.  This slimming down will give Ford trucks better fuel efficiency.  It also allows the company to introduce smaller engines that can boost the number of miles per gallon.

The redesign is being made for their 2014 model F-150s.  The new pick-up will provide roughly a 25% improvement in fuel economy.  This keeps the company on track to meet the new regulations that require the U.S. vehicle fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  Currently the 2012 F-150 four-wheel drive with a 3.5 liter V6 engine gets about 17 miles per gallon (combined city and highway mileage).

Besides Ford Motor Co., other auto companies both in the United States and overseas are gearing up to design their trucks and cars with lighter metals to meet new fuel economy standards.  This in turn is generating increased production of automotive sheet aluminum.  Continental Steel and Tube looks forward to playing an essential part of this new wave of car and truck redesign.  With a full inventory of all things steel, whether stainless or electrical, as well as of titanium and aluminum products, Continental Steel and Tube will continue serving automakers for many more years beyond its 25 year track record.

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