November-December 2018

After flying from London to Tokyo, I found it amazing, after glancing at a map once I was back on terra firma, just how far away the Japanese capital is from dear old Blighty.

Flying doesn’t particularly bother me; I put my trust in the technology and the physics and look forward to the in-flight meal. In fact, I’m quite happy to eat my fellow passengers’ chicken dinners if they’re happy to offload them.

These days I consider myself a ‘frequent flyer,’ but that doesn’t mean I’m happy when the seat belt sign suggests turbulence, however much the crew tries to persuade me that it’s perfectly safe. It’s even more irksome when everybody around me carries on reading as if nothing is wrong. I grip hard to the seat and wonder when it will all end.

By and large, however, flight safety is pretty much guaranteed, although I don’t subscribe to the view that, statistically, I’m safer in the air than in a car.

I was in Tokyo to attend the World Steel General Assembly – see page 18 for details of worldsteel’s short range outlook. For me, one of the best presentations at this year’s conference was given by Jim How of Safety Solutions, a man with a passing resemblance to Harrison Ford, who recently had a close call while flying his light aircraft into John Wayne airport in Orange County, USA. Safety was clearly not on his agenda that day, although Mr Ford did land safely. 

When it comes to safety in a steel plant, things are a little more unpredictable. How says that steelmakers need to improve their thinking. He argues that while injury rate is the number one measure of safety performance, what we measure can mislead us. That reducing the frequency of incidents prevents serious and fatal injuries and illnesses is ‘one risky myth’, he said. The key to accident prevention, says How, is to get a grip on the company culture in order to obtain critical information: ‘the workers have it and they don’t have to give it to you,’ he told delegates. Culture influences whether the workers will provide the information. Will they be blamed? How will the steel company respond if issues are raised? It all influences whether the workers will tell it like it is. For How, it’s all about trying to understand the context of what’s going on: “You can punish or learn, but you can’t do both,” he said.

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November-December 2018 highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International

4 News – a round-up of monthly news plus astounding facts and figures and diary dates

9 Innovations – the latest contracts and new products, plus a round-up of steel news from around the world

12 Innovations – Handling: Nucor's emergency crane brakes

14 USA Update – Prices up and pants on fire, as Donald Trump claims he has saved the steel industry

16 Latin America Update – ArcelorMittal's new investments

18 World Steel Association General Assembly – Short-range outlook points to upside and downside risks

25 IIoT applications – Asset health and the Internet of Things

32 Viewpoint – How tech catalyses disruptive change by Mick Steeper

38 Minimills – A good year for the US carbon steel bar market, says Myra Pinkham

42 Steelmaking – Slag detection in steelmaking

46 Perspectives: Thermo Fisher Scientific – "China is our single largest market."

48 History: Nasmyth's super tool – the steam hammer