EUROMETAL Meeting Central Europe debated CEE steel supply chains and digitalization

EUROMETAL Regional Meeting Central Europe was convened in Prague on 24-25 April 2019.

The meeting was hosted by FERONA, which celebrates this year its 190th anniversary.

Ferona is a main regional steel stockist and SSC operating in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

The meeting was moderated by Daniel Guinabert, who took office as new EUROMETAL Director General on 1. April 2019.

Ferona speaker Dr. Jan Moravec gave an outlook on economic perspectives of CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) steel markets, outlining that the short term perspectives remain positive, but that there are augmented business risks for Central European steel markets, related to the slow down in automotive production, the weaker forecasts regarding German economy and the uncertainties surrounding the Brexit issue.

The meeting also took an outlook on neighboring CIS (Community of Independant States – former Soviet Union) steel markets. Alexander Siryk, from Metals Consulting International, outlined the scope of CIS steel supply chains where the role of steel distribution and SSC is significantly different from the distribution structures in EU steel markets, with a strong focus on stringent mill ties but with a significant lower service level, when compared to EU steel distribution markets.

Matt Watkins, CRU, addressed the meeting with an in-depth presentation on the global steel outlook. Matt related the efforts of China to reduce steel capacities, indicating that China is in fact the only global region where steel capacities are going to be downsized, whereas in Europe, North America, India and South East Asia steel capacities are going to be increased in coming years.

SSAB speaker Josu Pina Bilbao spoke about how to position and differentiate business strategies regarding prime steel products in view of achieving ultimate customer satisfaction with end users. These strategies are supported by digital tool “SmartSteel”.

Andrej Kristofcik from USS Kosice explained the efforts of his company, the biggest strip mill producer of Central Europe, to develop sustained Research & Development in order to provide to the market steel products with highest quality level. USS Kosice is not tied to downstream service centers but acts as a privileged partner to the SSC industry.

Wojciech Ochojski, ArcelorMittal Longs Poland, referred to their construction tool “Steligence”,  an holistic approach to building construction  to support architects, planners and investors in their choice for the right steel for the right project.

The afternoon session was dedicated to digitalization in steel distribution and SSC.

Georges Kirps, GK Management, opened the session with a presentation on how Digitalization will challenge traditional approaches in steel distribution business and outlined that the 21. Century will be the century of the digital revolution.

XOM Materials is a digital platform linking vendors and purchasers of steel, tubes, metals and  plastics. Tim Milde explained the present status as well as the challenges and developments encountered while developing this digital tool open to all potential partners of the industry.

A panel discussion followed these two presentations where participants of the panel and the audience exchanged a lot of interesting points of view regarding chances but also problems linked to the introduction of digital tools in a steel distribution business with still rather traditional commercial behaviors.

EUROMETAL Regional Meeting Central Europe in Prague was attended by 80 participants.