8 SNEAKY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BUYING YOUR NEXT WEAR PLATEJADCO • Rich F.
You may wonder…
Why should you even have to ask sneaky questions?
Because your job, your career and possibly your business depend on the results.
Making any decision without accurate information makes it difficult or impossible for you to make the proper decisions to get the longest life. There is no doubt; you are responsible for the value you receive.
In reality, you are not buying wear steel – you are investing in avoiding unplanned breakdowns for as long as possible.
Wear resistant steel is a sacrificial, consumable item. It has an expected life cycle. How long the cycle lasts, depends on many factors. Every wear application is unique.
Your goal should be to install the longest lasting material; at the best price available for your equipment. Simply put; the longest life for the lowest cost = the greatest value for your investment.
When you ask the following questions, you may discover the lowest priced option is often your most expensive choice. Now you can finally determine if you actually get what you pay for.
The 80/20 Rule of Wear Resistant Steel Challenges
What we commonly call the 80/20 Rule, is Pareto’s Principle.
In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Pareto further developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.
It is not the exact number that matters. At times it could be 70/30 or 90/10, but the principle is always there, and it is very important.
Here are a few examples of why it has a big impact in your daily life:
- You can bet where you work, 80% of the sick days are taken by 20% of the employees.
- You wear 20% of the clothes in your closet, 80% of the time.
Everyone I asked these questions, has always answered yes. So what does this have to do with wear resistant steel?
Here is why it not only matters; it is critical to your success.
20% of your wear plate challenges are responsible for 80% of your equipment downtime
Yet most people continue to reorder what they have always used, hoping for different results. If that statement sounds familiar, it is Albert Einstein’s definition of Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”
So finally. Here are the 8 questions most people never consider when comparing wear resistant steel.
1) In Which Country Is Your Steel Made?
Most steel distributors buy their products on the open market. This means the steel they buy today may be completely different than what they offer next month. If you have experienced okay results onetime and poor results other times, this is the reason. You will never get predictable results with this method.
There are only a couple of steel mills in the USA capable of making wear resistant steel today. What you buy from steel distributors could be any product, from any country.
Despite the USA’s long steel producing heritage, much of the steel available on the open market today comes from overseas steel mills. This leads directly to the next sneaky question…
2) Does Your Wear Steel Meet AR400 Industry Standards?
This is a very sneaky question because there are no industry standards for wear resistant steel.
Unfortunately, this means anyone can call any steel AR400.
If they answer that it meets the standards for AR400 steels, thank them for their time and look for another source. If they claim their steel is made to ASTM standards, don’t miss number 5.
3) How Hard Is Your AR400 Wear Resistant Steel?
Most people will say their AR400 is 400 Brinell. Because there are no industry standards, it could be any hardness number. We have seen steel from overseas claiming to be AR400, yet when tested it actually measured just 302 Brinell! I don’t think they received the value they paid for, do you?
Recently we have seen vendors offering AR200 as wear plate. This is little more than heat treated mild steel, and will never have the same hardness all the way through the thickness of the steel.
Others offer AR500, AR600 or other values. They claim because it is harder, it will automatically last longer. That is certainly not the case. Harder does not guarantee it will last longer.
Yet they will seldom tell you that very hard steels do not take impact well.
4) How Often Is Your Steel Tested For Hardness?
ASTM, the American Society for Testing and Materials, requires steel mills to test only one plate per heat and every 40 tons of steel within a certain range of thicknesses. The term ‘heat’ means the quantity of melted steel. This is another sneaky question for several very important reasons.
Here is why this is critical to your steel investment:
- Wear resistant steel plates are heat treated ONE PLATE AT A TIME. This means except for the single plate they tested out of the 40 ton heat they made, you have absolutely no idea what the hardness is on the steel you just bought.
- Thinner plates typically test harder than thicker plates in the heat treating process.
For example their wear plate order from the steel mill may be for 10 plates of ¼” thick; 15 plates of 3/8”; 10 plates of ½” and 5 plates ¾” thick. In that range of thickness they can test the ¼” plate which will nearly always test harder than the thicker plates. Using the term ‘Average Hardness’, the steel mill then certifies EVERY plate from that heat as having the same hardness! You have betting odds that the true results are dramatically different.
The statement below from the Hardox® website clearly states their hardness listed on the literature is “not performed or guaranteed for Hardox 450 material.”
JADCO QT-Plus ® Is Hardness Tested On Every Single Plate.We can assure you will get what you paid for, with JADCO wear resistant steel products. Or take your chances with the other guys.
5) Can You Easily Form Your Wear Plate, Or Will It Crack?
One competitor claimed his steel was so much harder, he could not even bend it. The reality is, his steel was so brittle; you cannot form it without the steel cracking.
One of the major benefits of steel wear plate is the ability to form it into the shape that benefits your application. This means steel wear plate can be formed using rollers or a press brake to your desired shape. This is required when forming the steel to a curve like you see in a chute or bucket.
Some wear plates are listed as AR400F. The F stands for formable. Attempting to form AR400 that does not have the ‘F’ designation will result in cracked or broken steel. You will never see AR600 with the ‘F’ designation, because it is not formable.
JADCO QT-Plus ® is readably formable without heat, given that your press brake or press rolls have enough tonnage to make the bend.
A quick Forming Rule of Thumb for QT-Plus ® is 4 times the force needed for the same thickness of mild steel. If you can form 1.5” mild steel plates, you will only form 3/8” thick QT-Plus ®.
The following items determine if your equipment can form JADCO QT-Plus ®:
- Tonnage capacity of the press
- Width of the plate to be formed
- Bottom die opening of the press brake
One of JADCO’s 1,000-ton press brakes required for forming thick QT-Plus ® plates. We operate two of these brakes every day at our facility just North of Pittsburgh.
The highest quality wear resistant steel plates are designed to be formable and take impact. If they are too brittle to form, they will crack from impact. Speaking of impact wear…
6) What Are The Impact Values Of Your Wear Steel?
While nearly everyone selling wear resistant steel will tell you the hardness and price of their products, few know the impact resistance without having to look it up. That is like buying a new car when the only available information is top speed. Yes it is a measure of performance. If your main concern is miles per gallon, or how many people it will carry; top speed has little meaning.
Wear resistant applications in your industry nearly always have a combination of impact and abrasion. How much of each depends on your specific installation. As stated earlier, any salesperson recommending their material without thoroughly examining your specific conditions; are only looking for a sale and not focused on solving your challenges.
Charpy Impact testing is the ASTM standard. It consists of a prescribed size test sample, cooled to a specific temperature. The sample is placed into a machine where the impact from a swing hammer measures the impact resistance prior to the sample failing.
The greater the resistance, the more impact it will withstand in your application. And colder temperatures usually mean a lower impact score. Some wear plate manufacturers list their test values at 0° F, while others list it at -40° F.
QT-Plus ® has passed the Charpy Impact test, withstanding 25 ft lbs. of impact with the sample cooled to -40° F. Regardless where you are located, this steel will perform in the worst conditions on the planet.
7) What Plate Sizes Are Available?
Local steel distributors want to sell you a 4’ x 8’ plate, or an 8’ x 24’ plate. If you are a welding or fabrication shop, that may work depending on your volume requirements. As an end user, it often means you have a odd shaped piece laying around for a long time. This means your actual steel cost for the application is not the square foot price; it was the price of the entire plate.
Why not order JUST WHAT YOU NEED? If you only need a piece of ½” x 4.5” x 117.75”, shouldn’t you be able to get that size instead of a 48” x 120” plate? And only pay for what you need? We all realize cash flow remains tight in this economy. The steel warehouses only want to deal with easy-to-handle sizes and no left-overs.
JADCO will sell you exactly the sizes you want, eliminating the need to pay for drops you can’t use today. What can we get for you?
8) What Wear Resistant Steel Do You Recommend For My Application?
This final sneaky question determines if they understand your applications or have experience in your industry. Suggesting any type of wear resistant steel without seeing the installation is like a doctor prescribing medication without asking about your symptoms.
When any salesman or company does this, they are simply offering a one-size-fits-all product. They are far more interested in taking your money than solving your challenges.
When you are ready to solve your wear plate problems, feel free to utilize JADCO’s more than 42 years’ experience in your industry.
JADCO’s QT Plus ® delivers greater performance in your wear applications than the various AR400 steel plates you have used previously. Being able to create wear resistant steel having the same hardness through the entire thickness of the steel, demands you accurately control the alloying chemistry with precise heat treating.
Doesn’t Every Steel Company Make Their Wear Plate Last As Long As JADCO QT Plus ®?
The quick answer is No; although the attention to detail required at the steel mill in Pennsylvania is available to anyone. Yet most wear plate distributors choose to reduce the proper quantities and percentages of these essential alloying elements just to get a lower price.
For over the last 42 years JADCO has focused exclusively on delivering consistent, longer equipment life for our customers.
Now you understand why we are able to deliver better results to our customers. We think differently by strictly focusing to improve your current results.
We will schedule a meeting with one of our local wear plate specialists at a time that best fits your schedule.