Steel Dynamics Inc. announced plans to install a state-of-the-art heat-treating system at its Structural and Rail Division (SRD) in Columbia City, Ind. When operational, the system will be capable of producing up to 350,000 tons of standard-strength and head-hardened plain, carbon steel rails for North America's railroad industry. The expansion is expected to create around 40 new, full-time jobs and cost approximately $27 million. Steel Dynamics plans to commission the heat-treating system by the end of 2013, with full production anticipated by early 2016. The company expects to locally source much of the equipment.

Steel Dynamics’ new process will involve a modern universal mill capable of rolling high-quality 320-foot-long rails. These longer rails will be cut to customer-required lengths or welded together into quarter-mile long strings utilizing only four (instead of 19) welds, using the company's existing state-of-the-art Continuous Rail Welding facility. By reducing the number of welds, this system will reduce the potential for weld-related track issues and reduce associated production costs.