Editorial May 2018

As we all know, majority of steel produced all over the world is mild steel, I mean it is non alloy steel. It is used extensively in construction activity and infrastructure projects. When the steel / steel components are required to possess special properties, specific alloying elements are added at the time of melting. These special steels are used for intricate applications such as automobile parts, engineering equipment, springs, bearings, fastners etc.

Special steels industry in India has come a long way. conventionally mini steel plants employing electric arc furnace supported by LRF used to produce such steels. Capacities of such mills used to be small and even the demand was limited to mostly automobile sector. This scenario started changing after Indian economy adopted liberalisation and globalisation as its basic philosophy. Many overseas automakers set up their manufacturing / assembly lines in India. The then Indian government made it mandatory for these automakers to gradually shift to Indian auto components. This gave a big boost to Indian auto component industry and naturally demand for special steels increased substantially. Many big steel plants started producing these value added steels to achieve higher turnover and profits. Let me caution you, special steels production requires thorough knowledge of metallurgy and very tight control over the process and parameters.

Today, almost all the major international automakers are present in India. The auto sale in India has been increasing continuously for the last few years and it is expected that this trend will continue for some more years. Further, special steels demand is increasing in the sectors like power plants, engineering, infrastructure etc. For the last few years, Indian government has been trying to reduce its dependence on imports in the defence sector. This is opening up huge opportunities for special steel applications in this so far untapped industry. This is the reason along with the traditional scrap + sponge based mini steel plants, a lot of integrated plants are also entering in the special steels business.

The only threat to special steels sector seems to be from electric cars. It is expected that Indian roads will be crowded with these cars in next decade or so. If this happens, the vehicle will no more require today’s complicated engine and the demand of special steels may reduce drastically. It is also predicted that such cars will take many  years to develop supporting infrastructure for the usage of such cars. Let’s see how the future unfolds !

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