As well as manufacturing a full range of lifting devices, from J-hooks to these 92-inch tandem magnets, Winkle Industries now offers customized on-site management programs to help steel mills maintain consistent "end-to end" performance and productivity.



Alliance, OH - For the past several years, Winkle Industries has been expanding its engineering and manufacturing capabilities to provide the industry’s most extensive range of above-the-hook and below-the-hook devices, from crane brakes to coil grabs to lifting magnets. Now, Winkle has unveiled a new program designed to supply customers with a complete package of lifting products plus the services to ensure continuous improvement and reliability in the mill.

"Our people have been part of the steel industry for over 50 years," says Joe Schatz, President of Winkle Industries. "As mill operations have become leaner, our customers have increasingly looked to us for support services and expertise in the lifting area. With our Lifting Device Management Program, we are making it simpler than ever for them to source all types of lifting devices, complete with the knowledge to ensure safe, reliable and productive operation."

The Lifting Device Management Program was developed directly with Winkle customers over a two year period. According to Joe Schatz, the program picks up on a growing trend that began in the industry's mini-mills. "The mini-mill concept works because it runs very lean in terms of human resources. They found that the best way to get the most value from their own staff is to set up strong relationships with "system suppliers" in specialized areas: areas that aren't core to the steel-making process. For instance, a mill could have a single-source system supplier for all its pump-related products, or all its lubricants. Our customer identified lifting devices is another area that could be sourced on a system basis, but there was no supplier in position to take on that role. So we went to work filling in the gaps, and this new program is the result."

Winkle distinguishes itself from other suppliers in the steel industry by manufacturing both magnetic and mechanical lifting devices. The company originated as a specialist in manufacturing and remanufacturing lifting magnets and auxiliary crane components. Since then, the firm has invested extensively to support new product development with advanced CNC machining facilities and engineering resources. The combination of aftermarket experience, commitment to innovation and hands-on knowledge of steel mills all comes together in the Lifting Device Management Program.

At the Nucor steel mill in Decatur, Alabama, lead maintenance supervisor Scott Mills has seen the Winkle program working first hand. "Reliability and safety are the primary responsibilities for maintenance people. To single-source this kind of equipment, you naturally have to look at the manufacturing and quality capabilities of the suppliers. But, here, we were looking for a supplier that can take complete responsibility for how all the products in this category perform in the plant – to keep us operational, productive and safe. That's what gives my people the freedom to focus on the mill."

"Commodity" vs "Process" - People make the difference
Meeting that need goes far beyond basic manufacturing and distribution of the products. "Our people really become an integral part of the customer's operation," says Schatz. "We work with the customer to detail the scope of devices required. We recommend inspection schedules and procedures and we provide the inspection team. We establish a communication network with the customer to review new or alternate methods which will enhance product performance and reliability. We incorporate these mutually agreed upon methods during our maintenance, repair or replacement process. We follow up with detailed reporting and documentation to allow mill managers to monitor performance, costs and improvement easily. We make lifting devices a completely transparent part of the mill's operation, with minimal demand on the mill staff, and enhance it with the data they need to monitor their return on investment."

Joe Schatz believes that the Lifting Device Management Program will not only change the way a mill purchases lifting devices, it can impact the way the mill operates. "Our program really takes a systemic approach to reliability and productivity," he claims. "By working so closely with the mill, we get a broader appreciation of its needs and challenges. That knowledge gives our engineering and service people a better basis for recommending improvements. As their on-site lifting specialist, we not only help customers to deploy better lifting devices, we can help them to improve the processes that use lifting devices. It truly becomes an 'end-to-end productivity' solution."

Benchmarks for Reliability
A key concept behind "reliability" is "trust". When Winkle Industries began developing its Lifting Device Management Program, the company recognized that "trust" would have to be a built-in component.

State-of-the-art manufacturing facility, advanced engineering and a disciplined quality assurance program all contribute to the reliability of Winkle products. But to turn product reliability into "trust", Winkle looks outside its own resources. While Winkle provides design, production, maintenance and consulting services directly to its customers, on-site lifting device inspections are performed in conjunction with an independent testing firm.

"Of course, the program would never get off the ground if our ongoing relationship with the customer hadn't already been established," explains Joe Schatz. "With third-party inspection, we reassure the customer that our standards and goals are being met. And by building it into our management program, it's one less thing the customer has to be concerned with."

When the inspection team first enters a mill site, all devices covered by the Winkle program are subjected to non-destructive testing (NDT). The tests would identify any components in need of replacement or repair and also establish benchmarks for predicting maintenance and repair requirements. We provide a full range metallurgical testing methods including radiography, magnetic particle inspection and liquid penetrants. The protocol is designed to measure wear and hidden stresses as well as locate any cracks or degradation in the lifting device material.

"Apart from telling where we need to go to work first," says Schatz, "the inspection reports give some benchmarks that let all parties monitor our performance over time. We can quantify the condition of the full inventory of devices when we start, establish our goals and report on our performance."

"When you can back up your service promise with objective data," he says, "it doesn't take a leap of faith to achieve a high level of trust."

About Winkle Industries

Winkle Industries is a worldwide leader in engineered solutions for users of mill-duty material handling equipment. Capabilities include below-the-hook lifting devices, mill equipment, crane products, engineering services, aftermarket services, machining and fabrication. Winkle’s experience and resources is “raising customer expectations” on a wide range of needs, from innovative product design to customer process improvement. 

2080 West Main Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601
Tel: (330) 823-9730 Fax: (330) 823-9788

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For more information on Winkle Industries and their complete portfolio of products and services, contact:

Mark Volansky
Director of Sales

Winkle Industries

2080 West Main Street
Alliance, Ohio 44601
Ph: (330) 823-9730
Fax: (330) 823-9788
Email: Visit the web site at: