Editorial – August 2021
As we all know, steel industry is one of the core industries and steel is the input for many industry verticals. Thus if the economic wheel has to move, the steel furnaces have to blast and the rolling mills have to run. This was once again proved in the post second wave industry scenario.
There are few verticals which suffered heavy losses during this period and are still struggling to come back on track. Tourism industry is a glaring example. Probably they have to reinvent themselves, completely change their approach and try to redefine the tourism industry. This exercise, I am sure will not only help them to float but also to grow. Though there is no such threat posing the iron & steel industry, and it will continue to operate and produce the required quantity of steel, I am worried about the steel producing and processing cost. Steel being input material for many industries like auto, construction, white goods etc., high steel prices have cascading effect on the prices of finished goods such as automobiles, refrigerators, washing machines and many such products. The customer industries have already started complaining about the rise in steel prices.
I genuinely feel it is the time for our metallurgists, process experts and technologists to come out with cost effective technologies, processes of steel making and processing. We have been hearing a lot about the concepts like ‘Green Steel’ and ‘Hydrogen based reduction process’ but they are not yet employed on a commercial basis. Yes, Industry 4.0 can help to increase the efficiency and reduce the per ton steel making cost but up to a point. We need a breakthrough technology and process. Can the government, research labs, our ministry put together a development fund and chart a time bound program ? One may feel that I am too much worried abou the customers and their costing but mind well, unless our customer industries grow, the steel demand can not grow beyond a point. If we, as a nation want to achieve 300 MT steelmaking capacity creation target by 2031, we need exponential growth, not a linear one.
As I am writing this piece, the covid cases in Mumbai are slowly increasing. The doctors and authorities are asking us to get ready and be prepared for a third wave. Though I am very sure that we, as a industry are very well prepared for such an eventuality. The first two waves have taught us the proper protocols and behavior during pandemic. So, let us be ready but not get scared for a possible third wave !