Due to its strength and durability, structural steel is one of the most important materials used in construction. It is vital in building applications ranging from framing to roofing to support structures and more. Because of its widespread availability and reusability, structural steel will continue to be a key resource in current and future building projects. Without structural steel, many construction projects would not be possible. However, manufacturing new steel can have major environmental effects, as these processes often require a substantial amount of energy.
Recycling structural steel is an effective method for reducing the building industry’s environmental impact. Steel is a highly recyclable material that can be reused without deteriorating quality or durability. Moreover, recycling requires less energy than creating new products, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
This article will explore structural steel recycling and how this can contribute to a more sustainable future.
How Is Steel Recycled?
As consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of the construction industry, they are looking for more sustainable options for their building projects. Recycling structural steel can be a key component of these practices.
First, scrap yards collect and purchase various types of discarded steel from homeowners, companies, and other metal users. The scrap yard then sorts the steel by type, quality, color, and weight before processing and shredding them into smaller pieces. Rail cars transport the sorted, shredded steel to regional steel mills for recycling.
Structural steel recycling consists of gathering steel scrap from diverse origins and meticulously classifying it according to its type and quality. The sorted scrap is subsequently subjected to melting in furnaces, utilizing either Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) methods. The steel attains the desired composition through refinement, subsequently taking the form of beams, columns, or plates.
In the BOF method, molten iron is combined with scrap steel, and oxygen is blown into the furnace. This results in a chemical reaction that removes impurities and adjusts the carbon content to create high-quality steel. On the other hand, the EAF method uses electricity to generate intense heat, melting scrap steel in an electric arc furnace.
Remarkably, the recycled content of structural steel produced in the United States averages 93%, and steel is 100% recyclable. In contrast, other construction materials like reinforced concrete can only be downcycled. At the end of a building’s lifespan, 98% of all structural steel is recycled into new products—such as new buildings, automobiles, and home appliances—without losing physical properties. This makes structural steel a cradle-to-cradle material that can be recycled repeatedly, contributing to sustainable construction practices and resource conservation.
The Importance of Environmental Product Declarations
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are valuable tools in emphasizing the significance of recycling structural steel and meeting the requirements for sustainable, environmentally friendly construction materials. EPDs serve as comprehensive documents that provide transparent and credible information about the environmental impact of products.
Various rating systems exist to assess and certify the environmental performance of construction materials. These systems, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and other regional rating systems, establish criteria for evaluating the sustainability aspects of building materials. The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) actively collaborates with steel mills to develop industry-wide EPDs that comply with these rating systems.
The manufacturing process of structural steel involves certain environmental impacts, which are evaluated and disclosed in EPDs. These impacts include global warming potential, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, and ozone creation. EPDs also provide an overview of the life cycle of structural steel, from raw material extraction to manufacturing and transportation. This allows stakeholders to assess its overall environmental performance.
Benefits of Structural Steel Sustainability
Structural steel sustainability offers numerous benefits for a more environmentally friendly and economically viable construction industry. Being a highly recyclable material, steel is easily recoverable and recyclable at the end of a building’s life cycle. This recycling capability reduces the carbon footprint associated with steel production.
Steel’s strength and durability contribute to the longevity of structures. Steel buildings can have a longer lifespan compared to other construction materials, reducing the need for frequent replacements and renovations. This extended lifespan results in fewer materials consumed over time and lower environmental impacts.
Steel’s durability and low maintenance requirements lead to long-term cost savings for building owners. Furthermore, steel structures’ design flexibility and efficiency can result in reduced construction time and labor costs.
Choose Infra-Metals for Premium Structural Steel Supply and Services
Since 1990, Infra-Metals has been a leader in servicing the structural steel market! Our strategy is to focus on providing quality steel products and precision processing, enabling us to offer an array of services. These include plate burning, drilling, saw cutting, and forming. We also prioritize professional and ethical business practices with our customers, suppliers, and employees.
Steel is a versatile material that has been used to build bridges for over a century. They are ideal for several applications due to their durability, sturdiness, and reliability and are commonly used for road and railway projects. Moreover, they offer many benefits, including high strength-to-weight ratios, long spans, and various design options.
This post will review some of the most significant factors to consider while constructing a steel bridge.
Factors To Consider When Designing Steel Bridges
The following are the things to keep in mind when designing structural steel bridges:
Loads and Load Combinations
Loads are the forces that act on a bridge. Live loads are vehicles and other moving loads, while dead loads are the bridge structure. On the other hand, wind, seismic, and temperature loads are environmental loads. These combinations must be considered during the design process to ensure the bridge can safely handle them.
Structural analysis determines the behavior and performance of a bridge under various loads and load combinations. It considers different factors, including the structural system, material properties, geometric dimensions, and boundary conditions.
Redundancy involves providing additional structural members or elements to maintain the bridge’s integrity, even if one or more parts fail. Thus, a redundant design ensures the bridge’s safety, even in unforeseen events.
Limit states are the conditions beyond which a structure can no longer perform its intended function. The limit-state design approach aims to prevent these conditions by ensuring the structure remains within safe limits under all loading conditions.
Design for Constructability
A well-designed bridge should consider constructability, reducing the complexity of the construction process and ensuring that it can be completed within budget and on time.
Design for Fatigue
Structural steel bridge designers must consider fatigue, especially for high-traffic bridges. Fatigue occurs when a material weakens and fails after repeated loading and unloading cycles.
Substructure design refers to the bridge’s supporting components, such as piers, abutments, and foundations. It must maintain these components and maintain the bridge’s weight and load.
Splices are critical components of steel bridges, joining individual steel members together to create the overall bridge structure. It will ensure the connection is strong enough to resist various loads and combinations.
Bearing design is essential in steel bridges, as it supports the bridge’s superstructure and transfers loads to the substructure. It must consider the loads the bridge will carry, the type of bridge, and its location. The most common types of bearings used in steel bridges are as follows:
Elastomeric bearings: commonly used in short and medium-span bridges
Pot bearings: preferred for long-span bridges
Spherical bearings: mostly used in curved bridges
The bearing design must also consider the bridge’s movement due to expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes.
Bridge Deck Design
A bridge deck is critical in structural steel bridge design because it carries traffic loads and provides a stable surface for vehicles. In addition, it must consider factors such as the type of deck material used to ensure safety and longevity.
The bridge’s strength and safety depend on its ability to carry loads and withstand forces, and a bridge’s load rating determines its maximum load-carrying capacity. Thus, it calculates the safe weight limit for vehicles and other loads crossing the bridge.
Moisture, salt, and chemicals can corrode steel bridges over time. Therefore, steel bridges must be designed and built with corrosion protection in mind to ensure their long-term durability, safety, and sustainability.
Build Durable Bridges With High-Quality Steel From Infra-Metals!
As one of the biggest steel service centers in the US, Infra-Metals offers an extensive selection of products and services to meet your needs. Our centers are designed to cater to each region’s unique demands. We are committed to delivering high-quality services that are both efficient and cost-effective!
As more individuals seek alternative energy sources, the demand for solar electricity is expanding. One of the critical components of a solar energy system is the mounting structure. Solar panel mounting systems give solar panels the support they need to catch sunlight and convert it into usable energy.
This post will discuss crucial factors when selecting the most suitable solar steel panel mounting structure for your business.
Types of Solar Steel Panel Mounting Structures
Different types of mounting structures offer various characteristics, so selecting one that fits your needs is important. Here are the most common types:
Ground-Mounted: These solar panels are typically placed on the ground, in a field, or large open spaces. They are supported by a frame or mounting mechanism that ensures they remain firmly in place even in inclement weather.
Rooftop: Rooftop solar panels are an excellent solution for buildings with limited ground space. These are positioned on the building’s roof using a specialized mounting technique.
Pole-Mounted: Pole-mounted solar panels can be a great option in areas where rooftop and ground space are both limited. These systems may be deployed in several places around the facility and are mounted on one or more poles.
Floating: Solar panels built on bodies of water — such as reservoirs, ponds, or lakes — provide a unique chance to create renewable energy. The floating platform on which these panels are installed has many advantages, including lowering water evaporation and improving water quality.
Materials Used in Solar Steel Panel Mounting Structures
There are several materials used in mounting structures for solar products, including the following:
Cold-Formed Steel (CFS): This material has high strength, a long lifespan, and affordability. It is frequently used for solar panel systems that are roof-mounted and ground-mounted.
Aluminum: Aluminum is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant material easily molded to meet specific designs.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a long-lasting, corrosion-resistant material that can survive seawater exposure. Thus, it is frequently utilized for solar steel panel mounting structures in coastal locations.
Galvanized Steel: This material has been zinc-coated to prevent rust and corrosion, making it ideal for places with tough weather conditions.
Structures for mounting solar panels are best made of CFS. This is a popular choice because of its strength and low cost. Further, it can assist in cutting installation costs while assuring the system’s long-term endurance and dependability. Still, selecting the material that best meets your project’s unique requirements is most important.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Solar Steel Panel Mounting Structures
Choosing the right panel mounting structure requires careful consideration of various factors, such as:
Location and Geography
The location and geography of a solar project can considerably influence the mounting structure chosen. For example, if the site is on a steep slope, a pole-mounted structure may be preferable over a ground-mounted system.
Another key factor to consider is soil type, as some soils may only be able to handle the weight of a ground-mounted system with additional foundation work. Shade from trees or other objects near the location can further restrict the amount of energy produced by the panels.
Wind and Snow Loads
The construction must be built to handle the area’s projected wind and snow loads. Failure to do so may cause damage to the panels or the building itself, potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacements.
Solar Panel Size and Orientation
The appropriate angle and orientation of the panels must be set to optimize energy production while meeting size and orientation specifications. For example, if the location has a southern exposure, the panels should be positioned to face south. Hence, the angle of the panels should be adjusted to capture as much sunlight as possible.
Budget and Cost-Effectiveness
It is important to weigh the advantages of the mounting structure against its cost. For instance, consider the long-term savings obtained by selecting a high-quality, long-lasting mounting framework.
Sustainability and Environmental Factors
Select a structure that has a minimal environmental impact and is built of environmentally friendly materials. Furthermore, it should be constructed to be easily dismantled and recycled at the end of its life.
Infra-Metals: Your Go-To Source for Steel Solar Panel Mounts!
At Infra-Metals, we are your one-stop shop for all your structural carbon steel needs! We have streamlined materials and processing capabilities, allowing us to provide you with the best materials and components for your application. Moreover, our extensive inventory enables us to offer multiple types of products on short notice.
Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you. You may also request a quote today to work with us on your next custom solar panel mounting project!
We say farewell to long time President, Mark Haight.
After graduating from Ohio Northern University in 1980, Mark Haight went to work for a steel service center in MI. Mark was new to the business, but it was an opportunity, so he took it. He worked hard, tried to make a positive impression and it got noticed. Within a few months he was included in vendor, customer and industry meetings, taking notice of his opportunities to move up. Towards the end of 1982, that business was sold and the VP of Sales left to start a new business in CT, where he eventually would offer Mark an opportunity to join.
Years later in 1990 Mark was given the chance to build a business and Infra-Metals was born. His primary goal was to build a business that could survive in all markets. To accomplish that everyone needed to feel like they had a stake in the business and essentially feel like an owner.
“It has always been my mission to build a business where all involved had a chance to live their American Dream.”
After 32 years leading Infra-Metals and thereafter Delta Steel, we all thank you Mark Haight for your mentoring, leadership and friendship and wish you Godspeed and good fortune in your much deserved retirement from Infra-Metals and Delta Steel.
Effective January 1st Oak Williams was promoted to President of Infra-Metals and Delta Steel.
Oak joined the sales team at Infra-Metals in 1998 shortly after graduating college with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont. In 2014 he accepted the challenge of being the leader of the greenfield operation we built in New Boston Ohio. As General Manager, Oak put together the commercial and operational teams that were ultimately responsible for the very successful startup we had there, achieving profitability in just a few short months.
In 2018 Oak was promoted to Vice President – Commercial and spent a lot of time reorganizing and reenergizing the leadership teams throughout Infra-Metals and Delta Steel.
Now as President and COO Oak looks forward to continuing to lead by example and continue the mission to create an environment where everybody wants to come to work each day.
On May 11, 2022, Infra-Metals and Delta Steel received the 2021 MSCI Safety Innovation & Improvement Award for the the Infra-Metals Trailer Rail Safety System.
In early 2019, our company had experienced several injuries and/or near misses resulting from falls from trailers. As a result, we challenged ourselves to find a solution to eliminate and reduce the fall risk while working on top of a trailer deck.
The Infra-Metals Trailer Rail Safety System is a fall prevention safety device which provides a barrier around the perimeter of the fall hazard when working on top of a flat bed trailer deck. The system eliminates the fall hazard that would normally require a fall protection device. It is lightweight, portable, durable, and can be installed quickly by attaching the safety device to the trailers existing rub rail. The safety device is made from welded and bent tubing and can be sized to fit multiple trailer configurations and can used in area’s where width is a concern. A newer version with a walk platform has been developed when materials prevent a walking area on the trailer and casters were added for ease of movement.
From Concept to Execution
We created a multi-location team that consisted of a mix of shop personnel and our highest-level management to brainstorm and test potential solutions. Our research revealed that while we could reduce the number of times, we got onto the trailer deck there were still circumstances where it was unavoidable. We reviewed, purchased and tested several promising devises that were available on the market, but none were effective in meeting our operational requirements.
Infra-Metals and Delta Steel personnel were collectively brainstorming amongst our locations for potential solutions to keep employees safe while working on top of trailers. At the time, Greg Borchardt was the General Manager of Infra-Metals in Petersburg, VA but was transitioning to take over for retiring VP of Operations – Mike Dean, who had initiated the project. We reviewed several different safety devices such as attachable netting and tie-off devices.
During one of these conversations, our GM in our Infra-Metals Marseilles location, Dave VonHolst, mentioned that he had seen some loading platforms in the nearby Nucor Tubular Mill. He inquired with them and was able to get some drawings and was offered a set of platforms to try as a loan. These were nice and spanned the full length of the trailer, included a platform to stand on, a handrail to keep you from falling, and they were on casters. The only problems were that they were heavy and wide. They would not work in our facilities due to the width requirements.
Around the same point in time, our Infra-Metals Wallingford facility had purchased a set of aluminum side rails that would fit into the stake pockets of a trailer. They were conducting a trial of these in their loading operation and they worked, but it took a lot of time to set them up and take them off. They were also difficult to pick up by yourself and get high enough in the air to seat them in the pockets. They were safe but not effective and management worried about the strain of setting 6 of these per trailer on every trailer we handled. These devices would solve the fall risk issue but it would create a strain and sprain hazard in our work environment.
There were several requirements we had established:
The device had to be slim
Be easy to move around
Use casters to eliminate the to lift it
Support a persons’ weight if they fell against it
Prevent a fall risk while on a trailer deck
We studied the drawings and the pictures of the potential solutions and evaluated the benefits of both. We needed to somehow take the effectiveness of both and make them work for our facilities.
The trailers have side rails and stake pockets that we can hook into to provide the lateral stability, so the base doesn’t need to be wide to make them stable if we hook them onto the trailer. We drew out a very rough sketch. It was skeleton made from handrail pipe with wheels and a sliding hook that you could roll up to a trailer, slide the latches up and then hook them onto the side rail. We decided that it needed to be 16’ long which would be light enough to roll in and out of place easily and only take 3 devices per side to cover the entire length of a flat bed trailer. We then took the sketch to the Operations Manager of Infra-Metals Petersburg – Roy Glass and Maintenance Supervisor – Joe Krevonich. We asked them to put their heads together and build a prototype that we could test. It took them about a day, and they had built the first prototype that they thought would work. We took some videos and sent them to Mike Dean, who was Vice President at the time, and explained the concept to him through short videos of the device.
As it turns out, Mike had been asked to sit on a task force with other Reliance Steel and Aluminum family of company’s personnel to try and solve this problem. Also a member of this task force was Ed Comer, who is a Safety Specialist with Reliance that we have worked closely with in the past to solve many different problems. They took the ball and ran with. We worked with a fabricator who was also a customer to develop a 3D CAD drawing for the device. Another Reliance Steel company with engineers on staff made sure the safety device would handle the lateral load. They also produced a set of fabrication drawings to build from. Mike then sent Greg the drawings so we could have a local fabricator customer build a set of 6. We were able use these to evaluate the safety device on the shop floor in a real operational setting.
When this first set of 6 were complete, we put them to use in the Infra-Metals Petersburg warehouse. The feedback from our operators was mixed. They understood the benefit, but it was also another step in the operation, and it slowed them down. As we continued our live evaluation, we realized it only took a few minutes at each stop for the trailer. It wasn’t strenuous and the devise didn’t take up valuable space. The device performance exceeded expectations for eliminating the fall risk while working on a flat bed trailer.
With the support of our President Mark Haight, we rolled them out to all of our locations.
Commitment to continual improvement:
As we began to roll the devices out and use them, one of our locations met with yet another fabricator customer to potentially build them locally. Our General Manager at our Infra-Metals New Boston Facility – PJ Rase and the customer produced another iteration. They built a narrow rail that still hooks into the trailer but added a working platform to it. These had the benefit of a stable platform to work from with a handrail but still maintaining a small enough width to be useable in our facilities. We found that when you use the original narrow rail on one side of the trailer and the larger rail with the platform on the other side the safety device was also complementing our production requirements.
As it goes with all good stories, there’s a plot twist at the end. Today we have the safety rails located and in use at all of our Infra-Metals and Delta Steel locations. We also have been able to establish a firm policy that nobody is permitted on a trailer unless they have the safety rails in place. The twist is that we have continued to introduce “No-Touch” tools and find innovative ways to eliminate the necessity to get on top of flat bed trailers.
While we have significantly reduced the number of times, we get on top of a flat bed trailer with the use of these tools we understand our operations will continue to face scenarios when working on top is the only way to perform certain tasks on a flat bed trailer.
OSHA shows in 2020 flatbed trailers have been involved in 592 major injuries or fatalities.
Infra-Metals and Delta Steel had approximately 60 near-miss or OSHA recordable injuries from 2015 through 2019 working on top of flatbed trailers.
Infra-Metals and Delta Steel reduced the number of near-misses or OSHA recordables to approximately 4 from the time the flat bed trailer safety device was introduced in 2019 through 2020
We have significantly reduced the number of flatbed trailer near-misses and injuries due to the introduction of the “Trailer Safety Rail System” and our “No Touch” tools but our job is not done. We are committed to not just moving steel, but moving steel safely. At Infra-Metals and Delta Steel our number one priority is the safety of our team members, and we will continue to seek innovative ways to do our jobs safer.
Infra-Metals Co. was founded in 1990 intent on becoming the premier steel service center servicing the structural steel market. Since our inception, we have grown into one of the largest service centers with locations along the East Coast from New England to South Florida as well as into the Midwest from Illinois through Ohio and on through the Southwest in Texas. Delta Steel, Inc. is also a member of the Infra Metals organization and both belong to the Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. Family of Companies.
marked 1000 days without an OSHA recordable accident in Petersburg. Everyone’s efforts are greatly appreciated and we couldn’t have achieved this accomplishment without your hard work and dedication to our safety program. As the saying goes; “safety is no accident”. The message we preach can sometimes get stagnant or repetitive, but results speak for themselves. Keep up the good work and let’s set another milestone!
Join us at the 2022 International Partnering Forum for Offshore Wind at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey April 26th-28th at booth# 413. IPF is the premier offshore energy conference in North America. Hosted by the Business Network for Offshore Wind, IPF connects global leaders and businesses in the supply chain offers unparalleled networking opportunities, and delivers breaking updates on the industry, from technology to policy.
IPF is the largest offshore wind conference in the Western hemisphere. It brings together the global offshore wind supply chain and provides the latest in education, networking, and platforms to help you grow your business.
Join us on April 5th, 2022 to learn more about how Infra-Metals supplies fabricators with carbon structural steel throughout the project lifecycle. The Fabricator’s Manufacturers and Suppliers Event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. Register for free to gain access to the latestproduction and manufacturing processes as well as network with attendees and industry professionals.
Keynote speakers include Mike Cowden – Steel Market Update and Stephanie Hoffman – UnderGround Metal Works. Download the event PDF here for more details.
Infra-Metals is the premier service center carrying the largest and most diverse inventory on-hand and available for immediate shipment. You will find everything from angles and merchant bars to wide flange beams, tubing and plate. Click here to review our catalog of products that we offer.
Additionally we offer many first stage processing services which allow you to take delivery and begin fabrication more quickly, saving you time and money. Click here to learn more about our processing services offered at many of our locations across the country.
NASCC: The Steel Conference is back this year to Denver, CO. March 23-25. It has been several years since we have been able to meet in person at one of the largest structural steel conferences in North America.
NASCC is the premier educational and networking event for the structural steel industry bringing together structural engineers, structural steel fabricators, erectors, detailers, and architects. With over 235+ exhibitors showcasing products ranging from structural design software to machinery for processing structural steel, the show has some to offer everyone including many networking opportunities. There are over 200+ educational sessions that cover topics such as the latest design concepts, construction techniques, and cutting-edge research.
You’ll find Infra-Metals exhibiting at Booth #1803, near the front entrance of the tradeshow floor, adjacent to the large machinery exhibits. Stop by to talk to our team and see how Infra-Metals can assist you in your next project delivery by utilizing our extensive inventory and processing capabilities.
Learn more about how we address the project life cycle and how we can help reduce the overall costs of your project. Additionally we work with many of the fabrication software applications serving the structural steel industry for project management. Stop by and ask one of our team members for more information.
We’re not just another supplier. Consider us an extension of your shop. Click here for more information regarding NASCC: The Steel Conference
Join us in celebrating National Truck Drivers Appreciation Week September 12-18, 2021! We’ve been tested to our limits over the last 18 months and this week we celebrate those that have been there through it all, delivering the goods and services needed to keep our country moving forward. From the food served at our tables to the vaccines and emergency supplies that have kept us safe and healthy, truck drivers show up to keep delivering vital supplies to our homes and businesses, even with risk to themselves.
Founded in 1998 by the American Trucking Associations, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week highlights why tucking is critical to our nation’s economy. Thank you to all the hard working men and women drivers who work hard day in and day out! Here are some of the pictures taken during this years celebration across Infra-Metals locations. NTDAW2021 Photo Album
Next time you see a trucker give them a shout out of appreciation for all they do!