The South-East Asia Iron and Steel Institute (SEAISI) is recommending key focus areas for the steel industry to speed up its recovery from the weakness experienced by the sector due to the COVID-19 related lockdowns last year.
According to Dr. Jun H. Goh from Posco Research Institute, the industry must increase its awareness of the global landscape that will influence steel demand, products, and consuming industries. This includes awareness about the technology, urbanization trends, industrialization, motorization, and globalization.
The SEAISI noted that ASEAN steel mills took action to move forward during the pandemic. Initiatives include energy saving, process optimization, restructuring, digitalization, increased customer engagement, and investment in research & development (R&D). Still much can be learned from supporting ASEAN member countries like Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In South Korea and Taiwan, for example, mills and the automotive industry are focusing on R&D to build core technology for electric and hydrogen-based vehicles. Firms are also developing advanced steel solutions for the construction sector. In Taiwan, the steel industry has made a concerted effort to focus on developing high-strength steel for the construction industry, the biggest steel-consuming sector which comprises 47pc of global steel demand.
Environment-friendly product development is also in focus for higher value-added segments. The standard is met with lower emission production, lighter and stronger steels, and higher safety standards possibly with longer use life.
Digitalization and automation along with streamlined and flexible supply chain planning increased in importance in the priorities of steel companies. More companies are transferring sales online, integrating artificial intelligence into factory processes, and upgrading old production lines with robotics.
Supply chains are also being diversified and moving outside of China throughout the ASEAN region to ensure a robust and flexible format for raw materials. Digitalization will ensure the rapid transfer of timely information to optimize decision-making.
ASEAN countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.