The steel industry in Australia has witnessed a surge in competition with the entry of several foreign manufacturers especially from Asian countries including China and India over the past few years. The steel available from importers based in these countries has attracted Australian companies owing to the lower costs as compared to the price of locally manufactured steel. While the attractive prices have contributed to the hype surrounding the entry of these players, several issues regarding the quality of steel from some of the offshore manufacturers have also come to forefront.
Properties of Australian Steel vs Imported Steel
While the domestic steel manufacturers in the country strictly adhere to the standards that are laid down by recognized national and international bodies such as Standards Australia, the same cannot be said about steel imported from other countries.
Though the steel imported from offshore manufacturers might be cheaper, but its quality is directly proportional to its cost. There has been non-consistency in the properties across the same block of steel indicating poor and technically flawed construction process. Virgin steel sometimes was reported to be adulterated with inferior quality steel to lower its price which also impact its structural properties like durability, integrity and strength.
Steel from international manufacturers such as those in China has lower durability and toughness and requires addition of alloys like Vanadium and Niobium for improving its stability. This also increases the hardness of the steel making it less weldable and more susceptible to welding defects. It is also more prone to rusting and corrosion. Boron has been found in steel supplied by some foreign manufacturers that makes the steel brittle when it is subject to welding process. This can lead to an increase in risk while using such quality of steel if special countermeasures are not employed.
As compared to steel imported from offshore manufacturers, Australian Steel contains a lower amount of Carbon and other alloying elements leading to a lower CEq value. Hence, the domestic steel has a higher weldability as it is less hard than its imported counterparts. Defects that can occur during the welding process especially cold cracking caused by Hydrogen and spot weld peeling are rare occurrences in Australian steel. The Australian steel has a higher Sulphur content which besides improving its weldability also enhances its machinability. This is especially important for industries engaged in manufacturing steel parts such as axles.
Hazards of using a lower quality cheaper product
There have been several instances around the country pointing towards poor quality of the steel bought from offshore manufacturers. In one such incident in western Sydney, a bridge that was made from imported steel had compromised structural integrity due to employment of substandard materials. The deflection of the bridge was six times more than that allowed in its design. The welds in the bridge were disintegrating and there was a high risk of the bridge collapsing.
In another instance reflecting the inferior grade of imported steel, three foot bridges that were made in China did not meet required standards. These bridges situated at Busselton, were examined by Australian Steel Institute and were found to be highly prone to rusting. Their welding was lacking in quality and the deflection in them was beyond permissible limits. Not only did these bridges incur high upkeep costs but they posed a threat to safety of the users.
Though the imported steel might be cheaper that the one manufactured locally, but it is found wanting in its quality and structural integrity. This becomes especially important in parts that are used in industry. It might lead to safety concerns if employed in buildings as well as machinery constructed from low grade imported steel may cause a hazardous environment for the people employed to operate it.
Work Spheres reflecting Good Quality of Australian Steel
On the other hand, Australian steel has been used both domestically and internationally in various projects successfully that are a testimony to its quality. The Chadstone shopping center situated in Melbourne is among the largest around the world and has been built out of Australian steel. Translational Research Institute’s building is constructed of steel from one of the leading manufacturer of the country. The AAMI Park is another perfect example of durability, strength and versatility of Australian Steel. Companies from distinct industrial domains make use of Australian steel for fabricating parts. Government agencies like the Australian railway industry make use of rails and sleeper systems fabricated from local steel. The widespread usage of the Australian steel reflects its superiority as compared to imported steel.
Is imported steel actually cheaper in the long run?
Though the initial buying costs associated with steel from foreign manufacturers might appear lucrative in short term, the different issues that are associated with it eventually make it more expensive to use.
The faster wear and tear and need of continuous maintenance and repair increase the costs that are incurred in the long run when using imported steel. Damaging of machinery will also lead to longer downtimes in industry and further add to their losses. Structural integrity of buildings using the foreign steel is undermined and there may be a risk of it collapsing as has been seen in various bridges made from imported material.
Employing substandard steel for manufacturing vehicle parts especially axles and frame can be dangerous both to the vehicle as well as its occupants as it may increase the chances of accidents to due failure of equipment. This may result in litigation costs for the manufacturers of both vehicle and the parts used in it.
Advantages of using Australian Steel
Not only is Australian steel more cost effective when weighing the pros and cons, it is also more durable, safe and stronger as compared to imported steel. Buying steel manufactured by a domestic company comes with the added benefit of technical inputs given by the experts employed by these companies that assist in improving the quality of product or structure to be constructed. Using locally manufactured steel will also help to provide employment to the local population hence giving an economic boost to the nation as well.
Axles are the integral component of a trailer or any other vehicle and employment of a high-quality material for their manufacturing is an absolute necessity. We at Holroyd Goad value the importance of a high-quality axle for trailers and make use of the highest quality of the Australian steel. The process we employ for construction is refined by our team of engineers to ensure that the finished product is of best grade and up to required standards.