May-June 2017

This month I found myself in Nashville, Tennessee, the 'music city", and I must say that I was very impressed. What a great place – apart from the food, which was a bit too 'burger and kettle chips' for my liking.

I was in town for AISTech 2017 at the Music City Centre, an amazing structure with a curvy roof and a tremendous interior depth (and height) that dominates downtown Demonbreun Street. It was an ideal venue to host a premium get-together of the global steel industry. Next year the event moves to Philadelphia. I can't wait as I've always been a fan of AISTech, mainly because it offers an unrivalled opportunity to meet the cream of the US steel industry, although I never saw the larger-than-life figures of John Ferriola and Mario Longhi.

For me there were three key occasions to this great event: the Howe Memorial Lecture; the President's Breakfast; and, of course, the Town Hall Forum. I'll be reporting on the event in our next issue. 

For now, though, I thought I'd focus on a comment made by Big River Steel's CEO, Dave Stickler, who spoke at the aforementioned President's Breakfast.

Big River Steel is arguably the newest and most technologically advanced steel plant in the world. It embraces technology such as artificial intelligence, it operates the first 'learning' mill and its various systems operate 'in the cloud'. According to Stickler, however, the 'status quo' steel industry is not known for innovation.

Having recently developed the programme for Future Steel Forum, a conference devoted to Industry 4.0 and its application to steel manufacturing ( I feel I must pass some kind of comment on Stickler's assertion, although whether I agree with him or not might have to wait until after my conference (14-15 June, Sheraton Hotel, Warsaw, Poland). Why? Because while there is a lot of technological innovation going on in the steel industry, the big question must be: Is the steel industry taking full advantage of it?

Big River Steel is new, built from scratch and, therefore, was in the perfect position to capitalise on all the latest hi-tech equipment and systems available. My view is that the wider steel industry has embraced the potential of new technology and is in the process of taking digital manufacturing very seriously, judging by the calibre of the Future Steel Forum's growing list of delegates. Remember one thing: It's all about 'connectivity'.

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May-June 2017 highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge

4 News and Events Diary

6 Innovations – a look at some of the latest products for the steel industry

11 US Update – is Trump's indecision cause for concern?

14 Latin America Update – Gerdau Summit, a new strategy

16 The hour before dawn – 'The wonder product investors avoid'

Automotive steels

20 Motoring ahead – a broad look at what's happening around the world

24 Molybdenum and lightweighting

27 Developing automotive steel grades

32 Conference Report – "It's all about China, or is it?"

38 Structural Steel – "If Trump's as good as his word..." by Myra Pinkham

45 Process Control – Optimising desulphurisation at Rourkela Steel Plant, India

51 Perspectives: Aeromon's chairman, Jouko Salo, answers our questions

56 History – Early cannon made in England, by Dr. Tim Smith