September 2017

Is it just me? I’m now what you might call a ‘frequent flyer’ and while I don’t particularly worry about flying when taking scheduled flights (where the inflight magazines have route maps) I’m always a little apprehensive when aboard a charter flight with a holiday company. I don’t know why, it’s just the way things are – possibly because I have my family with me when normally I fly alone. 

So I’m in a bus on my way to Alghero airport having enjoyed a week of Sardinian sun, and on the day I’m flying home the wind picks up and the rain starts to fall. But all was well, the flight was smooth and the plane landed softly in my ‘safe European home’, although it’s not so safe anymore. These days, there’s no escape from nutters. However, having read Nevil Shute’s On the Beach I figure that if any nation is going to survive a nuclear winter, it will be Australia. That said, with Beach Ball face nearby, firing off missiles like there is no tomorrow and threatening to attack Guam, I’m not so sure.

If you’ve got this far you’ve probably guessed that I’ve returned from my vacation suffering from writer’s block. I’ve been away from the steel industry for a week and I’m floundering, although North Korea seems like a topic worthy of discussion. Every day of last week, while waiting in my hotel room for dinner, I watched a French television channel, broadcast in English, showing footage of the aforementioned Beach Ball consulting with his uniformed cohorts and clapping as missiles were launched into the sky.

North Korea has a steel industry, but it’s not in the big league. While Platts has reported a steelmaking capacity of 12Mt/yr, the country was producing just over 1Mt/yr in 2015. The Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex is the country’s star player, capable of producing 6Mt/yr of steel.

Despots with missiles are not to be tolerated and while military action would prove disastrous, the UN has approved more sanctions against the ‘rogue state’ – sanctions which have led North Korea to engage in a sneaky practice of changing the composition and names of its state-run commercial enterprises and putting them under the nominal ownership of individuals to circumvent the latest UN sanctions. Dick Dastardly once said he was so sneaky he didn’t even trust himself, but clearly the Beach Ball has no such qualms.

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September 2017 highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge

4 News – Industry news, diary dates and amazing facts and figures

7 Innovations – the latest new products and contracts

16 The hour before dawn – changing down a gear

18 Latin America Update – Argentina's long steel market

20 Conference report – Steel Success Strategies XXXll

26 Conference report – Future Steel Forum 2017

33 Rolling – Vision-based strip steering control

41 Rolling –  Work roll upgrades for extreme speeds

51 Special steels – Desulphurising liquid steels

53 Special and stainless steels – Neutrons point the way

57 Perspectives – Steel, an essential base material

60 History – Preserved cast iron bridges by Harry Hodson