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Economy and Business


Republic's blown transformer takes an electric arc furnace off line
Steelmaker says it can keep up with customers if the shutdown is only for a week or two
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


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M.L. Schultze
 
Republic has been running both the electric arc furnaces at the melt shop in Canton at close to full capacity.
Courtesy of Ell Brown, Flickr
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A transformer has blown on one of the two huge furnaces at one of the nation’s biggest steel producers, shutting down the furnace. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze on what this may do to a boom business.

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Republic Steel’s Canton plant has two electric arc furnaces and both have been running pretty much nonstop to supply the booming auto industry. Until  Friday. That’s when a transformer on one blew, shutting it down.

Spokesman Mark Huemme says crews are working now to determine not just what happened, but if it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. He says Republic is hoping for repair because — as he says-- new transformers “are not just available at ‘Transformers R Us.’

The transformers generally measure 10 by 15 feet, but the key Huemme says is the weight. They weigh as much as 400 tons.

For now, Republic is ramping up production even further on the second furnace, which was part of a $15 million upgrade last fall. Huemme says  if the shutdown is a matter of a week or two, the company likely won’t have to turn away business, but there’s no guarantee beyond that.

Republic had already planned to phase out the troubled furnace but says the upgraded one is not yet ready to handle the full load.

Republic is headquartered in Canton and has mills in Canton, Lorain and Massillon. It’s the top supplier in North America of special bar quality steel and employs more than two thousand people.

 

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