If you work in the steel industry you would be well advised to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. It's a huge brick of a book that you might regret buying the moment you try to fit it in your briefcase, but the steel industry is a central theme, it is extremely well-written and it contains some vividly descriptive, well observed passages on the steel production process.
While it would be wrong to say that Rand's epic novel is all about the steel industry – in essence it expounds (some might say arrogantly) her philosophy of objectivism – there are a few choice quotes about the steel industry and one in particular that is of relevance to an article, penned by yours truly, in this month's edition of Steel Times International.
"In view of the critical plight of the steel industry," said Mouch with a sudden rush, as if not to give himself time to know what made him uneasy about the nature of Rearden's glance, "and since steel is the most vitally, crucially basic commodity, the foundation of our entire industrial structure, drastic measures must be taken to preserve the country's steel-making facilities, equipment and plant."
Nothwithstanding the fact that the entire quote resonates when issues such as EU emissions regulations and Chinese exports are considered, it's the last bit that should be ringing bells in the boardrooms of global steel companies.
Rand's brick-sized tome was published in 1957, but its relevance continues today, especially where the reputation of the steel industry is concerned.
While some people argue that a career in the steel industry offers little more than 'dark grey to black prospects' and describes it as a 'dying elephant' with a 'smoke stack' image, others are more optimistic.
Nicholas Walters, director of communications and public policy at the World Steel Association comments that, "Steel is central to making modern society sustainable. It is everywhere in our lives and is at the heart of delivering solutions to so many of today's problems."
There is, to put it mildly, plenty to shout about, but who's shouting the loudest? Those who see only smoke stacks and black prospects or those, like Walters, with a more positive perspective?
My message to steel associations and steelmakers – who are ultimately responsible for improving the image of the industry – is simple: get out there and spread the word that steel is one of the most 'right on' products on the planet and remember that today's steel industry is modern, technology-driven and operates more sustainably than at any time in its long and distinguised history.
July/August 2015 Contents
TMK wins Gazprom tenders
August 28, 2015
TMK, a leading global producer of pipes for the oil and gas industry, took part in Gazprom tenders for premium tubular products and emerged as the winning bidder in 8 out of 13 lots.
Thermo Fisher plant awarded 2015 Swiss Industrial Excellence Award
August 27, 2015
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s plant in Ecublens, Switzerland, has been awarded the 2015 Swiss Industrial Excellence Award, as chosen by an international jury of operations management professors from INSEAD and HEC Paris. The facility is also now a European Industrial Excellence Award finalist.
Leading Russian steelmaker opens metallurgy museum
August 27, 2015
Russian steelmaker Severstal has invested 150 million roubles (£1.4 million) on a Metallurgy Museum in Cherepovets, Russia.
World crude steel production down 3.8%
August 24, 2015
World crude steel production for July 2015 was down 3.8% when compared to July 2014, claims the World Steel Association.
Plenty to shout about?
July 09, 2015
Dark grey to black prospects? A 'dying elephant' with a 'smoke stack' image? When it comes to reputation enhancement, some argue that the global steel industry has its work cut out, but others are much more upbeat. Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International, reports.
Time to get tough?
June 05, 2015
China has been a key theme at steel conferences around the world. Many a distinguished speaker has called for 'a level playing field' and some have warned against awarding China 'market economy status' because it will open the floodgates to even more exported steel. China is already 'dumping' millions of tonnes of steel on foreign markets around the world. While many observers wonder what effect (if any) anti-dumping measures and countervailing duties are having on the situation, there is a growing sense of unease in 'rest of the world' steel markets. By Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International.
Optimising Consteel continuous scrap feeding with roof-fed DRI
April 29, 2015
For EAF furnaces charged jointly with scrap and with DRI through the roof, feeding the scrap via a Consteel pre-heater conveyor rather than by bucket enables a shorter power-on time, increases productivity and improves all other operating parameters, except carbon injection, resulting in a significant saving in electrical energy. By F Memoli*, J A T Jones** & F Picciolo***
No room for complacency
April 28, 2015
Safety in any heavy industrial environment is top priority, and the key to a safer steel production plant is impeccable leadership and constant awareness of the risks. Keeping workers safe is initiated from the top down and there's no room for complacency. By Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International