5 applications from the digitization of the steel market

Iwona Dybał, President of the Board of the Polish Union of Steel Distributors

In the last week of October, at the conference organized by the Polish Union of Steel Distributors, we had the pleasure to host representatives of the entire metallurgical industry in Warsaw, from producers through distributors and processors to final recipients and companies from the business environment. In total, over 110 people attended the meeting “distribution 4.0 – steel market in the face of digitization challenges”, the first conference in Poland on the digitization of the steel market. What to remember from this event?

The first application that stuck through all the presentations: it is already happening. Digitalization of the steel market is not a song of the future but real changes that we are observing on the market right now. Drones fly over commodity stores at ArcelorMittal Poland to measure their condition, 3D printers print spare parts for devices in steel mills, steel is sold via online platforms, mobile applications are used to contact customers and monitor orders, not to mention first projects using blockchain. Which of these technologies uses your company?

Secondly, digitalization is everywhere, at every stage of the supply chain and has many faces, as evidenced by the example of a Port representative in Antwerp. The most important topic in the presentations was that Industry 4.0 is a set of many elements from various areas of the company’s operation. Small and huge projects. In order not to be marginalized, it is necessary to act consistently and in small steps to implement your digital strategy resulting from the adopted business model. Which model presented during the conference is close to your business?

The third conclusion is quite obvious. Digitization is a great challenge and opportunity. Chance, because it can be a new impulse in the company’s operations, opening to other markets and areas of activity. The challenge because it is a complex subject requiring knowledge to be gained. Demanding unconventional approach and not copying other entities from the market. In the end, it requires personnel that are missing from the market. Do you know how to take advantage of these opportunities and meet the challenges?

Fourthly, industry 4.0 trends also pose a threat to distribution and you have to be aware of it. It is expected that steel producers may seek to marginalize distribution in the supply chain, the fight for the customer will be even more fierce and more demanding, and the emergence of strong online platforms like Amazon, may exacerbate the competition between the distributors themselves. Are you aware of these threats? Which one of them can affect your company?

After all, in the fifth part, in the process of running a company through digital transformation, you can get support if you know what support you need. Literally one week before our conference, the government adopted a draft law on the Platform for the Future Industry Foundation, which is to act as an integrator and accelerate the transformation of the Polish economy towards industry 4.0. A representative of the ministry present at our meeting talked about it in detail. Obtaining help is conditioned, however, by thorough knowledge of their needs and having an action plan. What is your digital strategy?

If you have not had the opportunity to attend the conference, it is worth answering the questions contained in my applications. If most or all of the answers were “no” or “I do not know”, it means that there is still a lot of work to do and topics to think about in a very short time, unfortunately. Thinking about all of you for whom too many questions are related to digitalization, we are planning another edition of the conference in the middle of next year. Again, we will try to present concrete solutions existing on the market implemented in the steel industry and to raise topics that this time is not enough. Thanking you for such a large participation in the event, I am convinced that at the next meeting, we will all be a step further in the process of digital transformation.