The steel demand in the country seems to be increasing steadily thanks to the user sectors like infra, construction and auto. The first sign of recovery was visible in September when auto sales showed sizable improvement. Many thought it was accumulated demand as there was almost nil sale during the first few months of lockdown. When the positive trend continued in subsequent months, still it was stamped as festive spike. Now that this upward trend is still continuing, experts are believing it to be a sustainable growth. Lets hope this continues and 2021 be a better year for iron & steel sector in the country.
As mentioned in my last month’s column, after the pandemic, there is a greater need for the industry to be competitive in the global marketplace and for that it must adopt smart manufacturing processes and techniques. Many companies in the manufacturing sector have started looking at Industry 4.0 solutions for increasing the productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of the enterprise. The deadly pandemic has also taught us to care more for the mother earth and thus the iron & steel sector needs to develop environment friendly production and processing technologies creating minimum waste and controlling emission of harmful gases. One such process being developed uses hydrogen as reducing agent instead of coking coal. It is supposed to reduce the carbon footprint during steel production. The problem in developing such green processes is that they are costlier than the prevailing process. It is a big challenge to make them commercially viable so that the industry adopts them for regular use.
The covid period has not only changed the working and thinking of corporations but it has also changed the mindset and the priorities of the society. My gut feeling is that this will have a gradual but definite effect on steel demand profile. Let us remain alert and keep watching how the situation unfolds in coming months !