A steel distributor imports steel for use in the construction industry. Such companies must have extensive warehousing facilities to carry a large inventory. This is necessary to meet the various needs of the industry and avoid delays.
Often the steel distributor holds stock that the fabricator wants supplied on a Just-In-Time basis. This calls for excellent forward planning and good communications. The steel distributor must monitor the demand from fabricators and place orders with suppliers accordingly.
Sourcing steel from leading mills throughout Australia and the Asia region, steel distributors supply major construction projects such as sports stadia, warehouses, central city high-rise apartments, shopping centres, car-park buildings and bridges.
There are two distinct categories of steel products: long and flat. Long products are typically obtained from electric arc furnaces that use scrap as the raw material to produce structural beams, merchant bar and hollow sections. Because of cost considerations, customers tend to order pieces cut to size. This requires modern plasma and oxy cutting machines, complementary plate processing equipment and materials handling to ensure efficient throughput. Flat products are usually produced by blast furnace mills which use iron ore as the raw material to produce flats and plates. Flat products under 3mm are generally referred to as coil, and products over 3mm up to a maximum of 250mm are referred to as plate. The steel mills used to process coil, but as demand has increased this has moved into the remit of the steel distributor.
People working in materials management will need the following skills and knowledge:
- Storing and handling materials at manufacturing and other industrial sites
- Receiving and processing inwards goods and materials
- Storing, issuing, dispatching and returning goods and materials
- Monitoring inventory
- Applying safety practices
- Communications and listening skills
- Managing First Aid in emergencies, including resuscitation
- Forklift truck license
- Distributing goods and materials
- Developing and maintaining quality assurance procedures.