February 2017 – Digital Issue

February 2017 – Digital Issue

My father used to decry anybody who he thought might be ‘mesmerised by the media’, a phrase, like many issued from the mouth of my dear old dad, that baffled me (another being ‘it’s a funny old world we live in, but the world’s not entirely to blame’). But with his media comment I think I know what he meant; he was referring to those who believe that everything they read in the newspaper or watch on the television is the God’s honest truth. People who queue for the latest version of Grand Theft Auto or cover their bodies in tattoos spring to mind.

For many people the media does represent the truth. Blissfully unaware of the vested interests and political leanings of the media proprietors, they accept what they’re reading or watching as gospel.

In these troubled times, however, we now have ‘fake news’. Add to fake news the whole notion of ‘spin’, something perfected in the UK by Tony Blair’s ‘spin doctor’ Alastair Campbell, and you would be forgiven for staying in bed or moving to a remote island off the grid.

And now, of course, we have President Donald Trump, a man who has little faith in any media that doesn’t paint him in a good light. It seems as if the media generally has decided to paint ‘the Donald’ as the bad guy, which in my opinion is a little premature as, at the time of writing, he’s only been in office for 10 days.

Trump’s crime, in the media’s eyes, is his ‘America first’ platform and his no-nonsense patriotism, which, for some reason is frowned upon by the media. Alright, there is an argument that nationalism is dangerous and I can buy into that, but when it comes to the steel industry – and in particular the North American steel industry – Trump’s nationalistic, protectionist tendencies will save and create jobs in an industry ravaged by cheap Chinese imported steel, particularly where future oil country tubular goods (OCTG) projects are concerned.

‘Globalisation’ has a lot to answer for; on the one hand the notion of the ‘global village’ but on the other why should American pipelines be made of anything other than American steel? It is, as the Trump administration would say, a ‘no brainer’. Are the economics of globalisation so screwed up that it costs less to buy inferior steel made in China and shipped halfway across the world?

As my dad would have said, “It’s a funny old world we live in, but...”.

February 2017 – Digital Issue Contents

January/February 2017

January/February 2017

Steel Times International’s Future Steel Forum 2017 will take place in Warsaw, Poland (14-15 June) and is promising to be a memorable event for those with an interest in digital manufacturing and the concept of Industry 4.0.

At the time of writing, I can tell you that we have now attracted a considerable wealth of what I would call ‘top-end’ speakers, mostly with close ties to the global steel industry and strong views on the digitalisation of the steel making process.

Two key speakers are Voestalpine’s Global Chief Digital Officer, Dr. Michael Eder, who plans to discuss the digitalisation of steel making processes taking place within Voestalpine’s Special Steel Division. This leading Austrian steelmaker has long been at the forefront of cutting edge production technology, and Dr Eder’s presentation will be an unmissable event for delegates.

Equally key to the event will be a paper from ArcelorMittal’s Pinakin Chaubal, the largest steelmaker in the world’s General Manager of R&D, who will be taking a global perspective on the subject of Industry 4.0 and explaining how the company is approaching what many call the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

Digital manufacturing will affect everybody involved in the production of steel and in addition to bringing greater efficiencies to steel plants around the world, will also make them safer places to work. While blast furnaces, EAFs and continuous casting machinery will still form the backbone of the process, control and monitoring of these crucial pieces and equipment – and, indeed, the entire process – will be vastly improved. With this in mind, Future Steel Forum’s delegates will also hear from the world’s leading providers of steel production technology – Primetals Technologies, SMS group, Fives and Danieli – and in addition to these stalwarts of the modern steel industry there will be further input from cutting edge companies like PSI and Quinlogic, businesses with their fingers on the pulse of process control and computing power.

In short, Future Steel Forum 2017 promises to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for anybody who needs to know more about Industry 4.0 and how it will affect global steel production. Don’t miss it.

Log on to: www.futuresteelforum.com

January/February 2017 Contents

November/December 2016

November/December 2016

I was watching a BBC television news report recently and was appalled to see how reporter John Sudworth was prevented from interviewing a potential candidate in China's forthcoming nationwide ballot by what amounted to the heavy-handed tactics of Chinese thugs, clearly sympathetic towards the aims and objectives of 'the party'.

While there are many people in the USA, and elsewhere in the world, who doubt President-elect Trump's credibility for the role of leader of the free world – and are worried for what the future might hold – one thing is undeniable: it was the result of a democratic process, fought out, in all its ugliness, in front of television cameras. It's miles too early to pass judgement on Trump, although there are many who have spoken out about the sort of world a Trump presidency is likely to create.

The general consensus of opinion, however, is that Trump will be a 'no-nonsense' President who will take no prisoners; and somebody strongly in favour of protecting the USA's trade interests. Where anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imported steel are concerned, the USA has been far more aggressive than other regions of the world, notably Europe.

It is highly likely that 'the Donald', as he is affectionately known, will intensify such activity, particularly when you consider that Dan Di Micco, former head of Nucor, is now Mr Trump's senior trade advisor.

Speaking to The Economist, DiMicco said that the era of trade deficits is over. "It will be: let's talk, but otherwise we put tariffs on," he said, and went on to praise Ronald Reagan's 45% tariff on Japanese motorcycles in the 1980s. In DiMicco's eyes, it's all about bringing people to the negotiating table.

With DiMicco on-side for trade, Trump is highly likely to champion the US steel industry and, hopefully, revive its flagging fortunes, which many believe are caused by the dumping of cheap Chinese steel. With protectionism on the rise, however, the last thing we need is a trade war.

November/December 2016 Contents