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Japan creates 1st artificial rare metal (US)

Category : Recherche & Développement

In a world first, Japanese researchers have produced a new alloy similar to the rare metal palladium, a breakthrough that could help alleviate the nation’s dependence on other countries for this resource.The alloy was produced with nanotechnology and has properties similar to those of palladium, a rare metal located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table of the elements.Led by Prof. Hiroshi Kitagawa of Kyoto University, the research team also produced alternatives to other kinds of rare metals.Rhodium and silver molecules usually do not mingle, and remain separated like oil and water even after melting at high temperatures. To mix the elements, Kitagawa focused on a technique that produces ultramicroscopic metal particles.His team created a solution containing equal quantities of rhodium and silver, turned the solution into a mist and mixed it little by little with heated alcohol to produce particles of the new alloy. Each particle is 10 nanometers in diameter and atoms of the two metals are equally mixed.The new alloy has the same properties as palladium, which is used as a catalyzer to cleanse exhaust gas and absorbs large quantities of hydrogen, the researchers said.Rhodium, palladium and silver have 45, 46 and 47 electrons, respectively, numbers that determine their chemical characterizations.”The orbits of the electrons in the rhodium and silver atoms probably got jumbled up and formed the same orbits as those of palladium,” Kitagawa said.The new alloy will be difficult to produce commercially, but Kitagawa intends to use the production method to develop other alloys for use as alternative rare metals.Kitagawa has begun joint research with automakers and other companies, but said he could not disclose any information because of patents and other reasons.Rare metals exist only in small quantities and are economically difficult to mine or extract. Because adding just a small quantity of rare metals can change or improve the properties of other materials, rare metals are called the “vitamins” of industry.For example, palladium is essential for making electronic parts, and lithium is used to produce batteries.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

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Rosatom purchased Ukrainian Energomashspetsstal forgings-maker (US)

Category : Strategy

15 000 tons automated forging unit includes 15 000 tons press fitted with manipulator of 170 tons lifting capacity and forging crane of 600 tons lifting capacity. ( Credit Photo @Energomashspetsstal )

(Fr)

ROSATOM, le constructeur russe de centrales nucléaires vient de faire une acquisition stratégique en rachetant Energomashspetsstal : le producteur ukrainien de grosses  pièces forgées et moulées en acier spéciaux  .  Par cette acquisition ROSATOM vise  entres  autres à  :

  • Casser le quasi-monopole que possède le   producteur russe d’aciers spéciaux  OMZ-Speststal  qui domine le marché Russe et celui de l’Europe de l’est dans le domaine des grosses pièces forgées et moulées  en acier spéciaux  destinées à l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Empêcher ses compétiteurs de racheter  ce fleuron  ukrainien de l’industrie des aciers spéciaux.
  • Sécuriser ses approvisionnement à travers une filière interne  pour accompagner l’essor de l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Maîtriser la production des pièces critiques en acier spéciaux destinées à l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Renforcer sa compétitivité vis à vis des ces compétiteurs tels que : AREVA, DOOSAN, et GE/Hitachi

Le Russe ROSATOM se met ainsi au diapason des grands constructeurs de centrales nucléaires qui maîtrisent depuis plusieurs années la fabrication en interne des très grosses pièces forgées destinées au marché du nucléaire comme le fait le sud-coréen Doosan au sein de son conglomérat. Le rachat de l’ukrainien Energomashspetsstal par le russe ROSATOM rappel  le rachat de Cresuot-Forge en septembre 2006 par Areva.

AA

(US)

SC Rosatom has purchased the Ukrainian metal works Energomashspetsstal (Kramatorsk) which is a specialist in casting and forging. Nuclear.Ru was told by a source in Rosatom that the acquisition deal was closed on December 22. “This was a purely commercial deal, without involvement of Ukrainian authorities,” the source emphasized, adding that the works’ shares had been bought out with cash from the owners. Purchase of this facility was “extremely important” for Rosatom, since forgings were most demanded parts in the nuclear equipment manufacture, the source said.

Interfax-Ukraine quoted a source at the state Rosatom corporation said Russia Atomenergomash has bought Energomashspetsstal a producer of special steels and billets for nuclear power plant equipment based at Kramatorsk in Ukraine.The source said, without saying how much it cost that “We closed the deal to buy Energomashspetsstal yesterday.”The source said the acquisition would de-monopolize the special steel market, which in Russia is dominated by OMZ-Speststal. The Ukrainian plant is licensed by nearly all the world’s nuclear power engineering players to produce forgings.The source said “Billets are the weakest kink in the expansion of nuclear power plant construction. He said only a few plants on the world produce these billets and queues form to order them.”The source said Rosatom is prepared in time to expand the Ukrainian plant’s product range. The plant will produce the whole range of products for us. This is partly why Rosatom sought control of the company as it needs to make the corresponding technology available to it. And if we hadn’t bought it, our competitors would have.”Rosatom might in time bring a foreign partner into the Ukrainian plant and offer it up to 49% of the plant’s shares.

Source : Nuclear.ru – Interfax & Steel Guru

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ATI intends to restart the titanium sponge plant (US)

Category : Strategy

Dec 15, 2010 – Metallurgical Union Technology International (ATI) to promote its titanium sponge raw material standard of overseas supply may run out after 2012,yttria oxide, the company could restart in Albany so the air titanium production plant. Mid-2009, ATI idle at Albany 22 million pounds of titanium sponge production plant, after 18 months has been to rely on third-party providers to maintain the downstream products. CEO L. Patrick Hassey said that although the current external supply stable, but still limited, probably after 2012 will lose supply. Overseas suppliers of vertical integration is the reason behind the supply crunch. For example, titanium producer UST Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan Titanium Magnesium Plant (UKTMP) joint venture with Pohang plant,yttrium oxide msds, it will make exports to the United States reduce the number of titanium sponge. UKTMP exports to the United States is currently the only major manufacturer of titanium sponge. Titanium sponge production in 2010 is expected to reach 22 million pounds. But this year, the company will ship Pohang sheet to further processing into non-aerospace grade commercially pure titanium plate, titanium sponge market companies fade from the world, put in more effort to improve their own production of titanium ingots melted,yttrium hydroxide, thereby deepening the industry value chain. The case of supply contraction, ATI has become the motor Albany plant suppliers. Despite the resumption of production Hassey did not give a specific date, but he admits was originally shut down the plant temporarily. If the Albany plant re-production, it will work with ATI Timet’s Henderson plant and another plant Rowley became one of only three in a large-scale production of titanium sponge manufacturers. By 2011, ATI will have an annual output capacity of 24 million pounds of titanium sponge,yttria oxide price, including the 1500-2000 million pounds of titanium sponge A-level. Hassey also said that if market demand increases, they also consider the expansion of production capacity.

Source:  PR Log

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Baosteel launches The First Chinese nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube (US)

Category : Actualités

SHANGHAI, CHINA  Worker loads steel products on a crane at a factory of Shanghai Baosteel Group on January 9, 2007 in Shanghai, China. Baosteel is China’s largest iron and steel conglomerate. It ranks fifth in the world with an annual steel output of 20 million tons.  (Credit Photo @ LIFE)

Recently, the so-called Chinese nuclear power first tube, the nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube went successfully off the assembly line in Baosteel Baoyin Special Steel Tube Co., Ltd.. In the test, the product’s bend radius, straightness and other physical properties conform entirely to standard. The first batch of products will be used on Fangchenggang No1 nuclear power unit. As a result, following France, Japan and Sweden, China becomes the fourth country capable of producing such product.Nuclear steam generator 690U tube is the key special material used in million-kilowatt nuclear power plant. Because of its extremely demanding manufacturing requirements, manufacturing process is extremely complex and represents the current nuclear power production top level. In accordance with national nuclear power development overall strategic planning and the demand for clean energy, joint ventured by Baosteel, Yinhuan company and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Baoyin Special Steel Tube Co.,Ltd. was formed by Baosteel and the first domestic nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube professional production line was built. The project was grounded in June 2007 and construction was officially started in August the same year.The first domestic nuclear power steam generator 690U tube will be delivered to Dongfang Electric (Guangzhou) Heavy Machinery Co., Ltd.. The product testing representative Gong Yuchang said, “Baosteel 690U-tube site testing equipment is of world-class level. According to the assessment of product manufacturing, item control, quality assurance and quality control ability, Dongfang Electric Steel has identified Baosteel as qualified supplier.

Source: Basoteel

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ThyssenKrupp Opens Calvert Steel Mill plant (US)

Category : Actualités

(Credit Photo @ FoxTen News)

CALVERT, Alabama (WALA) – It’s been several years in the making, but Friday, the Thyssenkrupp steel plant in Calvert will hold its grand opening. In this season of giving, it will be hard pressed for Mobile County to receive a gift more significant than a giant glowing piece of steel. Since November 2007, the county has been waiting for the ThyssenKrupp steel mill in Calvert to open. Friday, the wait is over.  “This has been a moment we’ve been waiting for for three years,” said Scott Posey, the communication director for ThyssenKrupp Steel USA. “So it’s hard to even describe how excited we are to be here at this moment.” Claudia Zimmermann, the director of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce was the original project manager for recruiting ThyssenKrupp. “The project started in February 2006, so it’s been several years to come to this point. On the state and local levels, we had almost 100 people involved in winning this project,” said Zimmermann. The German steel-maker will hold its grand opening celebration in one of the facilities at the $5-billion complex, which should ultimately provide around 2,700 jobs. Posey said while the steel industry has struggled recently along with the economy, the future at TK looks bright. “We weren’t looking at this as a short-term investment,” Posey said. “You don’t look at $5-billion and expect that to turnaround overnight. We’re looking at his like a multi-generational investment.” One of the biggest benefits of having a large international corporation like ThyssenKrupp in Mobile County is that it serves as an example for other international companies to follow suit. “With the largest private investment in the United States coming to Alabama, it definitely puts us on the international map and people know where Mobile, Alabama is,” explains Zimmermann. It’s where the gift of steel keeps giving. ThyssenKrupp officials said there will be about 4,000 invited guests at the grand opening show and festivities, including Governor Bob Riley.

Source : Fox Ten News

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The Three battles of Nippon Steel’s Chairman (US)

Category : Economie

Chairman Akio Mimura says soaring prices of raw materials are among the steelmaker’s biggest challenges. (Credit Photo @ Andreas Seibert for The Wall Street Journal)

Akio Mimura, chairman of Nippon Steel Corp., is trying to restore the Japanese company’s luster while battling a strong yen, rising raw-materials prices and increased competition from other steelmakers trying to tap China’s lucrative market.Mr. Mimura, through an interpreter, says this is one of the toughest times to be a Japanese steel executive. The yen’s strength makes domestic steel production more expensive when sold in overseas markets, but he says he feels a social responsibility to keep jobs in Japan. Chairman Akio Mimura says soaring prices of raw materials are among the steelmaker’s biggest challenges. Meanwhile, the cost of raw materials like iron ore and coal are rising while uneven global demand for steel pressures prices. He also must determine the best way to capitalize on China’s rising demand. In a bid to recapture Nippon’s influence within the industry, the company is offering technological expertise to Chinese steelmakers to get a foothold into that market by showing the Chinese that Nippon can be a better partner than steelmakers who are unwilling to share technological secrets. Mr. Mimura recently sat for an interview in Tokyo. Edited excerpts:

WSJ: What is one of the biggest problems Nippon is facing?

Mr. Mimura: The soaring prices of raw materials. As you know, iron ore, coking coal as well as other minerals, are priced by supply and demand.Our strong concern relates to the concentration of ore suppliers.

WSJ: How do you manage Nippon through these high raw-material prices?

Mr. Mimura: In the short term, we have limited options. However, mid- to long term, we can make innovations in technology.

WSJ: What kinds of technological changes are you developing to counter the increase in raw-material prices?

Mr. Mimura: For instance, you can add tar to increase the hardening qualities of softer coking coals [used in steel production]. Coal is converted into cokes. It needs to maintain a certain degree of hardness in order to have the air circulating effectively.

WSJ: What about buying your own sources of raw materials, such as iron ore and coal mines, as your rival ArcelorMittal is doing now?

Mr. Mimura: Our cash flow is limited. We can’t do everything. We are not trying to make a profit out of mining as a business.

One major direction we are pursuing is overseas mining joint ventures. Unless we have some amount of captive mine supply materials, we won’t be able to enjoy advantages in this competitive landscape. It does not necessarily involve physical raw materials being supplied from captive mines, but equity investments in mines. That lowers the effective price of our sourcing of raw materials because we receive dividends.

WSJ: Unlike some other steel makers, Nippon is allowing China to use some of Nippon’s technological advances free. Why would Nippon give these secrets away?

Mr. Mimura: We understand that U.S. steel producers are very hesitant in disclosing technologies. We have made an exception for environmentally friendly technologies. There is a constant risk whether the disclosure of technology will strengthen the technology capabilities of our competitors. This drainage of technology is a constant question we need to address effectively.

WSJ: is it fair to say that Nippon’s future growth is going to be outside of Japan?

Mr. Mimura: Having steel mills in Japan is most favorable. We could develop close relationships with [Japanese customers. Second, we would like to provide local employment and maintain that social responsibility.However, it might be better with a change in the global environment to capture demand directly where it exists. Demand is rapidly growing in other parts of the world outside of Japan. This has been reidentified within our priorities. We have turned our position to a global player rather than being a domestically production-based player. Therefore, we are developing all of our new capacity overseas.

WSJ: Where is Nippon seeing opportunities to grow and in which kinds of steel products?

Mr. Mimura: Galvanized automotive steel [which has properties to avoid rust]. We have two lines in China, as well as in Brazil. We are advancing to launch one line in Mexico. We have one line existing in the United States. We are advancing in India.

WSJ: Is one reason why Nippon is mobilizing its growth out of Japan and into other countries due to the strength of the yen?

Mr. Mimura: The concern that I have most urgently is the sharp appreciation of the yen, which has, I believe, accelerated the pace of transplanting [production] overseas because it results in reduced domestic demand.

WSJ: You are already under pressure to be more environmentally friendly within Japan. Can Nippon achieve this?

Mr. Mimura: The Japanese government has declared that Japan would like to further reduce emissions by another 25%. If this was implemented as pledged, it would be almost impossible to maintain steel production or develop new capacity within Japan. Of course, we will see how the debate works out internally among the Japanese sectors that are involved and how Japan would like to balance this with the rest of the world.

WSJ: Many steelmakers around the world are trying to get a leg up by closing their doors to imports or seeking government subsidies. Is Nippon looking to the Japanese government for help?

Mr. Mimura: We believe we are well positioned to enhance our global competitiveness, so we are not seeking any government subsidies to sustain our businesses.

However, there are other external conditions: corporate income-tax rates, environmental regulations, as well as market access to overseas by economic-partnership agreements. We have strongly demanded the government to at least maintain an equal footing with our competitors abroad in these terms.

Source : WallStreet Journal  – Robert Guy Matthews

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Chinese companies recruiting Japanese Steel Engineers (US)

Category : Economie

Un employé de Japan SteelWorks posant devant une piéce en acier forgée pour une centrale nucléaire.

Le quotidien japonais  ASAHI   dans son édition du 4 décembre 2010, vient de publier un article très intéressant sur le  phénomène des ingénieurs et chercheurs  japonais qui se font recrutés au sein  des entreprises chinoises notamment dans le secteur de l’acier. La Chine cible notamment les retraités de l’industrie et de la recherche japonaise pour profiter de leurs immense savoir-faire,  accumulé pendant des décennies de labeurs. A l’instar de cet retraité japonais  de l’industrie de l’acier que cite le quotidien ASAHI en exemple qui  a été embauché par un  groupe chinois de l’acier en le mettant à la tête d’un centre de R&D. Un centre où travaillent plus de 115 ingénieurs de toutes nationalités. La Chine n’a pas juste envie de copier le savoir faire du monde occidental, elle veut se positionner comme  le leader l’industrie mondiale du  21éme siècles. En recrutant ce métallurgiste japonais le CEO  de ce groupe chinois  de la métallurgie qui fait partie de 500 plus grosses fortunes au Monde selon le magazine FORBES  lui a dit ceci : “Use all the money that you need. I want you to develop the technology that will support the future of this company by converting it to a course of high-end products.”. Une phrase qui en dit long sur les ambitions chinoises dans le domaine de la R&D. Un pays qui compte 17.000 universités et 24 millions d’étudiants a tout le potentiel pour développer sa R&D mais la Chine veut  rattraper au plus vite le retard de son  industrie et sa recherche en profitant au maximum des retraités occidentaux. Au moment où en Europe et aux USA les seniors  et les retraités de l’industrie sont considérés comme un “problème”   , la Chine voit en eux une solution et une aubaine et n’hésite pas à les attirer et les faire venir en Chine. En partant en retraité, les ingénieurs et techniciens de l’industrie  métallurgiques occidentale partent en emportant avec eux  un savoir faire inestimable  et parfois aussi de véritables  secrets industriels  acquis  grâce à d’importants efforts matériels et humains emmagasinés  pendant des décennies et qui risquent d’être  livrés sur un plateau  à des pays émergents qui ont soif de savoir-faire industriel  et qui ne se gêneront pas à embaucher des retraités de l’industrie occidentale. Un “espionnage industriel” qui ne dit pas son nom et dont les groupes métallurgiques occidentaux devraient s’en méfier… il en va de leur survie.

AA

 

Despite the intensifying efforts of Japanese companies to protect their prized technology, the information continues to reach rival companies overseas, particularly in China.Yet it is not necessarily industrial espionage or outright theft that is causing the leaks. More often than not, the source is simply a retired Japanese engineer just looking for a place to work.One example is IAT, an automobile design and development company that has set up a work place in the suburbs of Beijing.The company handles many orders to develop new brands for Chinese manufacturers under Chinese President Hu Jintao’s call for “indigenous innovation.”Within IAT’s warehouse-like building are such Japanese vehicles as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla and Allion.Narrow tape is attached to the curves of the car interiors to make readily visible what lines have been used. Prototypes of car interiors were being made with clay nearby.”We received requests from manufacturers who say, ‘We want an interior like this brand,’” said chief designer Chen Qunyi.About one-third of IAT’s 180 or so senior designers have been hired from abroad. Playing a central role are about 40 Japanese engineers who used to work for such manufacturers as Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.”Japan is a nation that is very cold to people who have quit their companies. We are grateful that skilled retirees are willing to come to China,” IAT Chairman Xuan Qiwu said.Xuan himself studied in Japan and once worked on engine development at Mitsubishi Motors. He founded IAT after leaving Mitsubishi Motors and recruited retired engineers from the company.In January 2009, Xuan visited a research lab in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture, a research base for Enax Inc.Enax was founded by Kazunori Ozawa, 65, after he led the development of the world’s first mass-produced lithium-ion batteries while working at Sony Corp.IAT is now seeking to move into electric vehicles, a forte of Japan.”While it may be difficult to overtake Japan and the West in cars that run on gasoline, we do have a chance of becoming the top company in the world if it is electric cars,” Xuan explained.IAT’s plans call for cooperating with venture businesses that have their own technology to produce “kits” of main auto parts, such as batteries and motors. Chinese manufacturers would be able to sell electric vehicles by installing those kits into their existing vehicles.Negotiations with Ozawa led to the decision to build a battery factory through a joint venture in Shanghai. The leading shareholder in the joint venture will be a Chinese government-affiliated research institute in charge of creating technological standards.The collision between a Chinese trawler and two Japan Coast Guard vessels off the Senkaku Islands in September had no effect on the preparations, and the factory will begin operations next summer.”It is obvious that they want to know various things,” Ozawa said. “By bringing in lawyers from both Japan and China, we have limited the technology that we provide. I have no concerns because we have also implemented legal defense measures.”However, some within the Japanese automobile industry have raised concerns that China could swallow up Japan’s advanced technology along with the venture businesses.China has obtained foreign capital and technology by promising access to a huge market for the technology.As China’s efforts to obtain technology have moved to the cutting edge, Chinese companies are targeting key individuals involved in the development of automobile batteries, LCD and plasma TV sets and semiconductor design.One such individual is an engineer who has won international awards in materials engineering and who now lives in a municipality along the Changjiang river where steel manufacturing is the main industry.The engineer, who asked for anonymity, lives about a five-minute drive from the steel works in a hotel room provided by the steel company.The engineer was given free rein over the research department and handled everything from creating the organization and designing the research building to hiring staff. Now, about 115 researchers from around the world work there. Five of the 15 in senior positions are engineers who used to work for Japanese companies.The individual fondly recalls when the chairman of the company that broke into Fortune’s list of the world’s top 500 companies said: “Use all the money that you need. I want you to develop the technology that will support the future of this company by converting it to a course of high-end products.”After retiring from a major Japanese steelmaker, the engineer visited the Chinese company on a number of occasions to give lectures at the request of an acquaintance. The individual at first was hesitant when approached by the company chairman about working for him.”It is highly unlikely that a major steel works will be built in Japan, and I found the possibility of working together with young engineers who I would train very attractive,” the individual said.At the same time, the engineer held concerns that “if I taught them everything, problems might appear for the operations of Japanese companies.”The engineer also thought that the Chinese company probably wanted the technology that Japan is rightfully proud of, such as high-end magnetic steel sheets used in motor cores and super-high-tensile steel used in automobiles.
The individual finally agreed on the condition that everything could not be taught.”I thought that goodwill between Japan and China might proceed if my experience and technology could contribute to Chinese society,” the engineer said.But the hard-line stance taken by the Chinese government over the incident near the Senkaku Islands has given the engineer second thoughts.The incident has also increased speculation that the passing of Japanese technology might only benefit China in the end.The United States has raised major concerns about China’s recent efforts to obtain technology. A report for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described China’s efforts as a “blueprint for technology theft on a scale the world has never seen before.”That criticism first emerged from around 2003, when Chinese companies began recruiting Japanese engineers who had been let go amid early-retirement programs pushed by home appliance manufacturers and the closures of entire business divisions to concentrate resources on a few sectors.An engineer in his 50s working for a major Japanese manufacturer still receives offers from China for a two-year contract with an annual income of 50 million yen ($590,000).A scout who approached him had a list of specific individuals targeted. Such lists include not only the names of the engineers, but their experience, affiliated department, technological specialization, standing within the company, evaluation and remuneration. There are also comments saying the individual is not being rewarded with an appropriate position despite the technology held.The list was compiled after talking to retirees hired by the Chinese company.”While I don’t want to sell out my old company, mandatory retirement is approaching and I have to think about my future,” one individual said.Since 2003, the Guangdong Galanz Enterprise Group Co., a major home appliance company, has hired several dozen engineers from Japan and South Korea.”In addition to methods for quality control and standardizing work procedures, we also learned the importance of dealing with everything in a serious manner from the Japanese engineers,” Liang Zhaoxian, the company’s chief executive officer, said.Guangdong Galanz set up a research institute in Osaka in 2006. While it started out as a manufacturer of microwave ovens, it developed the core parts of air conditioners after hiring engineers who used to work at major Japanese appliance manufacturers. It now also produces refrigerators.”In home appliances, Chinese companies have become stronger and Japanese companies have lost the competitiveness they had in the past,” Liang said. “With the development of core technology having reached the end of one stage, future competition will involve coming up with the products that best match their respective markets.”If Japanese companies are thinking about competing in China, now is the time to think seriously about working together with Chinese companies in everything from development to product design.”However, many Japanese companies are hesitant about entering joint ventures with China because they feel their technology will be stolen.Many Japanese companies have also taken steps against head hunters.To prevent their engineers from going to South Korea or China over the weekend to provide technical assistance as part-time work, some companies hold on to the passports of all their engineers.Other companies have videotaped the boarding gates at airports over the weekend and then asked those in charge of various departments to check to see if any subordinates appear on the tapes.However, in recent years, with more companies unable to raise salaries amid measures to hold down personnel expenses, some companies allow their employees to moonlight.”There is no way we can stop those who leave the company from finding new jobs,” a senior official at a major electrical equipment company said.Keiji Tamura, 85, has been involved in providing technological assistance overseas in the manufacturing sector for many years.However, he is now worried.
“While I am asked by Chinese companies to provide technological guidance, there are an increasing number of cases that can lead to the leaking of technology,” Tamura said.He is particularly knowledgeable about metal casting. Tamura heads the International Cooperation Center of Senior Manufacturing Experts, which has about 110 former engineers as members. They have been sent to Asia and Africa to provide technological guidance.Tamura’s concerns are mainly about technological cooperation with Chinese companies.About one-third of the world’s metal casting products come from China. If Chinese companies continue to increase their share of the market, Tamura fears that Japanese companies will be unable to procure the parts they need at the prices they are willing to pay.”Even if I provide technological guidance, in the case of China, the companies could end up selling only in China and the business would not flow back to Japan,” Tamura said. “Unless Japan fosters more local companies in Southeast Asia, it could face problems procuring parts from overseas suppliers.”At the same time, Japanese companies seeking to move into the global market are teaming up with Chinese companies using the provision of technology as a tool in the partnership.A prime example is Daikin Industries Ltd., Japan’s largest manufacturer of air conditioners. In spring 2008, it entered a full partnership with Gree Electric Appliances Inc., China’s largest air conditioner manufacturer.Daikin provided the inverter technology that conserves energy while automatically adjusting the temperature released by the air conditioner. Gree Electric provided methods for cheaply producing the air conditioners.Takayuki Sugimoto, 59, is now the Daikin official in charge of the joint venture.”If we use the metal molds of Gree Electric, the costs can be held to under half of what it would be in Japan,” Sugimoto said. “We were struggling to make profits domestically, but we have been able to record profits in no time (after the partnership). I cannot believe it.”However, three years ago when Sugimoto was still in charge of product development at Daikin’s Shiga plant, which manufactured air conditioners, he strenuously opposed the plan of company Chairman Noriyuki Inoue to negotiate a partnership.Inoue yelled at Sugimoto, “Why don’t you quit?”While China has a huge market, most of the air conditioners sold are cheap, non-inverter types.The high-end air conditioners of Japanese companies had difficulties making inroads.Inoue looked at China as a step for global prominence.”If we bring Gree Electric in as a partner and teach them our technology, inverter air conditioners would move into the mainstream in China and other emerging economies, and it would become the global standard,” Inoue said.At the same time, Daikin is careful about not providing all of its technology, even to a partner.Although Gree Electric asked for the control software, Daikin only agreed to provide the technological information in a “black box” form.There is also a tug of war over metal mold technology at the joint venture plant. Gree Electric is asking for an early start to production of high-end molds using Daikin’s technology.However, a Daikin official said, “The important thing is to get production of general-use metal molds on a smooth course.”Inoue insists the company will not change its plans even after the diplomatic spat over the Senkaku Islands.
“We will have to teach our technology after determining the limits that would be safe, based on the market and the progress in the technology held by our partner in China,” Inoue said. “Even if we did not provide the technology, if some other company did, we would fall behind. China is a case where the risk of not providing the technology is much greater than the risk of providing that technology.”

(This article was written by Yasuyuki Nishii and Jun Wakamatsu.)

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VSMPO-Avisma is tightening control over the manufacturer of the master alloy for titanium alloys (US)

Category : Strategy

Ouralredmet (Credit Photo @ ApiUral)

(Fr)

La Corporation “VSMPO-Avisma” envisage d’augmenter son paquet d’actions de l’OAO “Ouralredmet” jusqu’au paquet bloquant. Une fois qu’elle aura bientôt acquis 7% des actions, la corporation en possédera 25,98%.L’OAO “Ouralredmet” est située aux alentours d’Ekaterinbourg. L’entreprise produit principalement des ligatures à base de vanadium pour les alliages de titane. “Ouralredmet” entre dans la liste officielle des fournisseurs des compagnies “General Electric” et “Timet”. Actuellement 95% de sa production est livrée à “VSMPO-Avisma”.Comme la corporation l’a indiqué à “RusBuzinessNews”, “VSMPO-Avisma” a fermé sa propre production de ligatures pour se faire livrer par “Ouralredmet” pour des raisons de logique économique. Afin d’avoir un contrôle direct sur la qualité des ligatures acquises auprès de cette entreprise, la Direction de la corporation a pris la décision de racheter le paquet d’actions bloquant de la S.A.”Ouralredmet” et de faire entrer ses représentants au sein du Conseil d’administration de l’entreprise.En septembre 2010, “VSMPO-Avisma” avait racheté 18,98% des actions d’”Ouralredmet” à la société “Romtex Co Limited”. Les experts ont estimé ce paquet à 5,4 millions de dollars.

(US)

The VSMPO-Avisma Corporation JSC is planning to increase its existing stock of Uralredmet JSC shares to the blocking shareholding. After purchasing of 7% shares in the near future, the corporation will own 25.98 % of shares.Uralredmet JSC is located in Ekaterinburg suburbs. The core product of the company is vanadium-based master alloy for titanium alloys. Uralredmet has been included in the list of established suppliers of General Electric and Timet. At present, 95% of the products are supplied to VSMPO-Avisma.As the representatives of the corporation informed “RusBusinessNews”, VSMPO-Avisma has closed down its own production of master alloys and switched over to supplies from Uralredmet for the reasons of economic feasibility. To be able to monitor the quality of purchased master alloys, the corporation executives made a decision to buy out the blocking stake of Uralredmet and have their representative in the Board of Directors of the company.In September 2010, VSMPO-Avisma acquired 18.98% of the Uralredmet shares from Romtex Co Limited. Experts appraised this stake at 5.4 million US dollars.

Source : Rus Business News

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MS International H1 Profit Soars (US)

Category : Entreprises

Forgings and defence equipment manufacturer MS International plc (MSI.L) reported Thursday a surge in profit for the first half, reflecting higher revenues coupled with an exceptional gain of GBP 1.25 million.Profit for the period attributable to equity holders rose to GBP 3.06 million from GBP 837 thousands in the year-ago period. On a per-share basis, earnings were 17.0 pence versus 4.7 pence in the comparable period a year earlier.Profit before exceptional gain and taxation reached GBP 2.56 million, up from GBP 1.23 million a year ago. Earnings per share excluding the exceptional gain more than doubled to 10 pence from 4.7 pence in the prior-year period.Half-yearly revenue grew 40% to GBP 25.34 million from GBP 18.1 million in the year-ago period.The company operates in three divisions, namely defense, forgings and petrol station forecourt superstructures.The company’s defence division was profitable, benefiting from a well-balanced order book and higher revenues. Forgings division posted a narrower loss, showing signs of a modest revival for the first time in two years.Petrol station structures division slipped to a loss, despite higher revenues. Since becoming wholly owned by the group, the division has been reorganised and the one-off costs have adversely affected results.Looking forward, the Board is reasonably confident about the full-year outlook. According to the company, defence segment has a considerable production output scheduled for delivery and installation within the current financial year for domestic and overseas shipbuilders and navies. Subject to customers maintaining these schedules, the company expects that a strong second half out-turn for defence would be possible.Additionally, the Board has declared an increase in the interim dividend per share to 1 pence from 0.7 pence it paid in the prior-year period.MSL.L is currently trading at 142 pence, up 14.50 pence, or 11.37%, on the LSE.

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The Slovenian Minister for the Economy visits Metal Ravne (US)

Category : Actualités

(Credit Photo @ Metal Ravne)

In the context of the Slovenian government – Premier Borut Pahor and his ministerial team – visiting the Slovenian region of Koroška, the Minister for the Economy, Ms. Darja Radič, MA, visited the steelworks Metal Ravne, the Group SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla (Slovenian Steel Group), on 3 November 2010.  The Koroška region finds itself in a very difficult situation due to the economic crisis and related redundancy. For this reason the appreciative and encouraging words of Darja Radić directed to the employees of Metal Ravne gave them a fresh impetus and an obligation at the same time to follow the set objectives even more actively: „I need to say that after today’s meeting I am very happy and very optimistic. Metal Ravne has successfully survived the last world’s economic crisis. Their plans as well are very daring and directed towards development. This company will play an important role, if not even the most important, in Koroška’s economy.”

Source : Metal Ravne

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Roberto Marzorati:“La Cogne non inquina, lo possiamo dimostrare” (Italian)

Category : Suitable Development

Roberto Marzorati, vice presidente della Cogne Acciai Speciali (Credit Photo @ Aoste Sera)

Roberto Marzorati le vice-président de Cogne Acciai Speciali a du monter au front  la semaine derrière pour démentir  les  graves accusations du conseil régional et de la presse sur des éventuels violations de la législation environnementale. Roberto Marzorati qui a convoqué les journalistes pour une conférence de presse a tenu à répondre point par point à toutes les allégations qui concernent entre autres :

  • Les certifications environnementales de l’entreprise
  • La pollution de l’eau souterraine du site de Cogne Acciai Speciali
  • L’utilisation de chrome hexavalent
  • Le non-paiement de la taxe sur l’eau par Cogne Acciai Speciali
  • Le plan d’amélioration du système d’extraction des fumées

AA

Aosta – Il vicepresidente della Cas ha affrontato le perplessità sollevate dal consigliere regionale e dalla stampa. “La Cas non impiega cromo da anni, ma preleva, utilizza e restituisce acqua pulita”. Bocciata sul nascere l’ipotesi di delocalizzare la Cogne.  Quando si dice “vedo”, a poker, è un momento decisivo. Si voltano le carte e tutti possono constatare quali argomenti i giocatori abbiano realmente in mano. Ieri Roberto Marzorati, vice presidente della Cogne Acciai Speciali, ha lentamente calato i suoi assi sul tavolo, uno dopo l’altro, rispondendo punto per punto alle domande che circolano attorno all’azienda. Il consigliere regionale Alberto Zucchi ha espresso, anche nei giorni scorsi, non poche perplessità riguardo alle eventuali responsabilità della CAS nella presenza di cromo esavalente nella falda acquifera aostana, ma sul tappeto ci sono molte altre questioni, dal canone di pagamento dell’acqua industriale all’ipotesi di delocalizzare lo stabilimento. In mattinata una delegazione di consiglieri è stata accompagnata dentro lo stabilimento per osservare di persona piezometri, impianti e filtri, e comprendere come il loro funzionamento. Dopo il sopralluogo, in serata, è stata invece convocata una conferenza stampa per fare chiarezza su tutti i dubbi sollevati in questi ultimi mesi e anni. Il dossier preparato per i giornalisti si presenta come difficilmente oppugnabile. “I dati parlano chiaro, alle voci incontrollate opponiamo il rigore dei fatti”, ha sostenuto Marzorati, che ha riassunto in punti chiave tutte le risposte dell’azienda.

Le risposte di Marzorati alle  domande di Zucchi

Punto primo: La Cas non è priva di certificazioni, dal momento che ha ottenuto l’Autorizzazione integrata ambientale (Aia), resa obbligatoria dal Ministero dell’ambiente in tutta Italia. L’Aia riassume in sé le varie certificazioni necessarie, e infatti coinvolge tutti i soggetti, l’impresa, la Regione, i Comuni, l’Arpa, l’Usl, i Vigili del Fuoco e il Corpo forestale. Questo significa che la Cas ha superato positivamente una fase istruttoria che tra le altre cose prevede la verifica del rispetto di tutti i limiti normativi ambientali. “Da un anno e mezzo stiamo lavorando per ottenere il certificato di prevenzione degli incendi, che come l’Aia è frutto di un impegno collettivo” ha aggiunto Marzorati.

Punto secondo: Non è vero che la Cas non paga il canone per l’acqua. La Cas ha in usufrutto dei pozzi, non essendo collegata né all’acquedotto né alla rete fognaria, e paga ogni due anni, come prevedono le regole per i canoni dell’acqua industriale. La Regione ha perso tempo, e solo nel 2010 ha trasmesso il riepilogativo degli ultimi quattro anni. La Cas ha controllato le cifre – d’altronde si tratta di “bollette” di centinaia di migliaia di euro – e ha concordato un piano di pagamento suddiviso in due scaglioni.

Punto terzo: di tutta l’acqua che arriva al depuratore della Cogne una parte consistente viene trattata e riutilizzata dalla stessa acciaieria. In condizioni standard di lavoro il 75% dell’acqua impiegata dallo stabilimento è frutto del riciclo interno, e solo il 25 % è prelevata dai pozzi della Cas all’interno dello stabilimento. L’acqua non riutilizzata viene depurata e finisce nella Dora Baltea. Lo scarico viene monitorato automaticamente una volta al secondo, ed è settato in modo da dare l’allarme non appena gli elementi inquinanti raggiungono il 50-70% di quanto ammette come valore limite la certificazione Aia.

Punto quarto: Il cromo esavalente, in ogni caso, non viene più impiegato nei processi lavorativi della Cas da anni.

Punto quinto: In azienda non viene impiegata acqua inquinata dal cromo. Le analisi condotte una volta al mese sull’acqua prelevata dai pozzi della Cas hanno messo in luce una presenza di cromo inferiore a 0,1 microgrammi per litro, 500 volte inferiore al limite massimo imposto dalla legge (50 microgrammi per litro). “Si tratta di uno dei valori più bassi registrati in Italia” ha spiegato il vice presidente dell’azienda. “Tra l’altro – ha aggiunto – dei due pozzi che abbiamo, l’unico che impieghiamo solitamente, perché l’altro è di riserva, è posizionato a cinque metri di distanza da uno dei pozzi da cui si preleva l’acqua potabile per gli abitanti di Aosta. Quindi se il nostro pozzo fosse inquinato potrebbe non esserlo anche quello del comune?”.

Punto sesto: La qualità della falda acquifera sotto la piana di Aosta è verificata periodicamente attraverso una rete di piezometri dislocati in vari punti. Quello che si trova a valle dello stabilimento Cas, e quindi nella posizione più favorevole per raccogliere dati significativi sull’eventuale inquinamento della falda, è costantemente analizzato. In base a quanto registrato non solo i valori di cromo sono nei limiti, ma sono anche in calo, anno dopo anno.

Punto settimo: Il piano di miglioramento dell’impianto di aspirazione dei fumi è stato portato a termine. “Noi già prima di progettarlo eravamo sotto i valori massimi di emissioni di inquinanti previsti dalla legge” ha ricordato Marzorati. “Nessuno ci ha imposto nulla. E’ volontariamente che abbiamo deciso di adottare tecnologie più recenti per l’aspirazione dei fumi, e di migliorare ulteriormente il nostro profilo ambientale”. La Cas ha speso un milione e 800 mila euro in due progetti, da ultimare entro il 2008. Solo il primo progetto è stato terminato nei tempi previsti, per il secondo è stato necessario un anno in più. Per la gestione e la manutenzione dei due impianti la Cas spende annualmente 780 mila euro addizionali.

Dopo avere replicato così, Roberto Marzorati ha mostrato delle tabelle riguardanti l’aspirazione dei fumi. Impianto per impianto, sono stati presi in esame i vari elementi inquinanti emessi dallo stabilimento, confrontando i valori limite imposti dalla legge con i valori effettivi registrati nel 2008, 2009 e 2010. Già nel 2008 lo scarto era evidente. A due anni di distanza, a lavori ultimati, la presenza di elementi inquinanti si è drasticamente abbassata. Per fare un esempio, se il forno Uhp può ammettere per legge fino a 35 mg/Nmc di polveri totali, nel 2008 la Cas ne emetteva 14,5 e nel 2010 appena 0,176.

E i valori di cromo esavalente segnalati dall’Arpa nel suo sito internet?

“L’inquinamento è preesistente, noi non usiamo il cromo da tempo, usiamo e restituiamo acqua pulita. L’Arpa dovrà intervenire, e anche noi daremo un contributo per eliminare questa eredità del passato. Intanto, come si può vedere, dedichiamo risorse e tempo per migliorare costantemente”.

Infine, Marzorati ha commentato anche le ipotesi di delocalizzazione dell’azienda circolate in questi ultimi tempi. “L’idea - ha sottolineato – non è stata mai neanche presa in considerazione. Ci sono impianti che non possono essere spostati, dovrebbero essere smantellati completamente e ricostruiti altrove, e non è una scelta economicamente possibile”.

Source : Aosta Sera

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Presentati i dati sulle emissione degli impianti e sulla qualità dell’acqua della Cogne Acciai Speciali (Italian)

Category : Suitable Development

18/11/2010 -AOSTA. Già al momento della privatizzazione dell’azienda il problema dell’impatto ambientale e delle situazioni pregresse era stato il principale oggetto di discussione. Da allora la Cogne di Aosta ha mantenuto alta l’attenzione al problema ambientale predisponendo e dando seguito a piani di miglioramento continuo e, nei casi più significativi (come le emissioni in atmosfera), ponendosi dei traguardi ancora più restrittivi dei soli limiti di legge. Nella sostanza è quanto ha ribadito nel corso di una conferenza stampa dal vice presidente della Cogne Acciai Speciali, Roberto Marzorati, che ha incontrato i giornalisti al termine di un sopralluogo della Commissione consiliare regionale “Asseto del Territorio” (presidente Dario Comé) e dei capigruppo allo stabilimento.«I piani di miglioramento ambientale – ha assicurato Marzorati – sono programmi continui che proseguono senza interruzioni, come dimostra il piano di investimenti per l’anno 2011 recentemente approvato dal CdA il quale, pur di fronte ad una riduzione di alcuni investimenti impiantistici, riconferma per un valore previsionale di 1.800.000 euro i foni destinati al miglioramento di Ambiente e Sicurezza».Il sopralluogo della Commissione e la conferenza stampa hanno inteso chiarire alcuni aspetti sollevato dal pidiellino Alberto Zucchi in ordine a presunte inadempienze della Cas in materia di sicurezza e tutela ambientale. Dall’incontro è comune emerso che l’impianto decapaggio presenta come principale criticità le emissioni gassose provenienti dalle vasche, pertanto sono necessari adeguati impianti di aspirazione e depurazione delle sostanze inquinanti. «Per il processo di depurazione – è stato rilevato – sono installate idonee torri di trattamento le quali sono monitorate in continuo sulle 24 ore, i cui risultati sono condivisi in tempo reale con gli enti preposti. Questo sistema di rilevazione è stato il primo realizzato in Europa, con modalità di controllo in continuo, su impianti analoghi».Per quanto riguarda la qualità delle acque potabili, le acque emunte e distribuite all’interno dello stabilimento ad uso potabile vengono campionate ed analizzate mensilmente da un laboratorio esterno certificato. Anche in questo caso, l’acqua è prelevata da due pozzi dedicati, presenti all’interno dello stabilimento, ad una profondità di 50/60 metri.«Nel corso degli anni – hanno assicurato i manager Cas – non sono mai state rilevate non conformità rispetto agli standard normativi di riferimento. In particolare, per quanto attiene ai dati relativi al CROMO totale, tutte le analisi sinora condotte hanno dato come risultato un valore inferiore a 0,1 µg/lt, che costituisce il limite minimo di rilevabilità. Il valore di riferimento normativo è di 50 µg/lt.»Anche la qualità della falda acquifera sottostante lo stabilimento viene verificata attraverso una rete di piezometri dislocati in vari punti dell’area. «Il piezometro MW4, considerato particolarmente significativo in quanto posto a valle dello stabilimento – è stato ribadito – è ormai da anni oggetto di una costante attività di analisi». I piezometri sono dei dispositivi finalizzati a rendere possibile il campionamento delle acque di falda. La profondità di captazione si attesta di norma intorno ai 20/25 metri, ossia nella porzione più alta della falda, dalla quale non vi è alcun prelievo di acqua da parte dei pozzi di captazione.

Source : AostaOggi

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Baosteel Chief urges for less Pollution and more Innovation (US)

Category : Strategy

There is no King Canute to turn the tide for China’s steel smelters who are wrestling with a below-average profit margin in the industrial sector, but greater efforts in structural adjustment, consistent innovation and less pollution may pay off in the long run, said an industrial leader.  “Global steelmakers have been undergoing unprecedented hardship in business operations since the outbreak of the financial crisis two years ago, and this situation will keep worsening for quite a long time,” said He Wenbo, general manager of Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel).  “Rising costs of both labor and raw materials, along with public concerns on environmental protection, have compromised the steel sector’s profit. It’s time to make changes,” he added.  Not every company will survive the restructuring, especially when China is saturated with a myriad of low-efficiency and high-pollution mini-steelmakers. But the industrial shake-up gives Shanghai-based Baosteel an opportunity to become stronger through “consistent innovation and structural adjustment”. In order to form a better picture of future developments in the Chinese steel industry, the Fourth Biannual Baosteel Academic Conference invited more than 20 prestigious experts from overseas to discuss the latest technological innovations in steel manufacturing. Hanging over the forum was the unpalatable fact that the average profit margin for China’s medium and large-sized steel makers was only 2.84 percent in the first nine months of this year. In September alone, the steel industry’s profit rate was 1.16 percent, much lower than China’s average industrial profit margin of 5 percent, according to Zhang Lin, an analyst from Lange Steel Research Center. “Outdated industrial structures and a lack of value-added products are the main reasons for the low profit rate,” Zhang said. “As a rapidly growing industry, steelmaking will have one-third of its existing products replaced about every ten years, and all the steel enterprises should innovate consistently,” Zhang added. In recent years, Baosteel has been a pioneer in the practice of innovation and greener production. The company applied for patents on 7,044 items in 2009, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year. In December 2009, a cold-rolling mill at Meishan Steel (a holding company of Baosteel) was officially put into production. This marked a breakthrough for Chinese steel manufacturers in upstream technology competition with foreign counterparts, mainly companies from Germany and Japan. Meanwhile, Baosteel recycled up to 97.6 percent of the industrial water used in its group processes and more than 98 percent of solid waste, thereby lowering production costs and lessening environmental pressures. “The steel industry should adapt to changes in the macro environment, and to show the world that steel can be both innovative and green,” said He.

Source : China Daily

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POSCO will Extend Retirement Age (US)

Category : Human Resources

Le géant sud-coréen de l’acier Posco veut augmenter l’âge de départ à la retraite de 56 ans à 58 ans. Contrairement à la plupart des  états européens qui ont augmenté l’âge de départ à la retraite pour des raisons d’équilibres budgétaires, Posco comme toutes les entreprises sud-coréennes s’attend  à subir des départs en retraite massifs  des baby boomers qui sont nés en 1955 et qui arrivent  cette année à 55 ans. Un scenario catastrophe pour les dirigeants de Posco qui craignent une perte considérable de savoir-faire.

AA

The first wave of post-Korean War baby boomers, or those born in 1955, hit age 55 this year. Despite undergoing exam hell, they still had to struggle to survive the ever-competitive Korean society. Though they must work more to help their children attend college, get jobs and marry, the baby boomers will soon retire. Some could even be pushed out before the official retirement age. Many people in their 70s and 80s remain physically active thanks to medical advances and higher life expectancy. The baby boomers are still too young to retire before age 60.For companies, they want to continue utilizing the baby boomers’ work experience and skills but high salaries are forcing them to push these employees out. In France, the government implemented a plan to lower the pension age and raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 despite strong opposition from unions. Korean workers have every reason to envy the French since many Koreans are forced to retire at age 55. Korean steel giant POSCO will raise the retirement age for workers from ages 56 to 58 by adopting a wage peak system. Under the plan, pay will be frozen for workers from ages 52 to 56, cut 10 percent at age 57 based on the wage received at age 56, and reduced another 10 percent at age 58 on pay received at age 57. The wage peak system enables companies to employ experienced workers without additional personnel costs, creating room to hire new staff. Employees can also enjoy stable employment and income. Among the country’s 8,399 companies with more than 100 employees, 937 (11.2 percent) have introduced this system.Expenses for children’s education take up a large part of household spending in Korea. Many in their mid-50s or older want to keep working even if they earn just half of their salaries in peak years. The wage peak system is beneficial for the economy since it simultaneously reduces the economically active population and social costs for the elderly. By 2040, those over age 65 are expected to number more than half of the Korean population between the ages of 15-64. Allowing senior citizens to work and support themselves is desirable. Younger people, however, might not welcome raising the retirement age given high youth unemployment.

Source : Dong A Libo

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Russian Company Sterk to be joined as partner in proposed Titanium Plant in Orissa (US)

Category : Actualités

A Russian Company Sterk will be joined as partner with the proposed Titanium Plant to be set up in Chhatrapur of Ganjam district. The Company will join as partner and provide technical supports to the Titanium Plant. The representative of the Company for India V.N.Singh meet with the Industries Minister Raghunath Mohanty on Tuesday in the Orissa Secretariat.After discussion with the Minister Sri Singh  told the media persons that Earlier it was decided to set up the Titanium Plant in Chhatrapur jointly by the NALCO and Indian Rare Earth (IRE) .The NALCO  share capital 52% and IRE share capital 48%. Now it has been changed. And it has been decided that the Rusian Company Sterk will purchase half share i.e 26 % of the NALCO share. The MoU will be signed on 12nd November.Further Sri Singh expressed that the Company has established another plant in Balasore. It will produce Ferro Manganise and Ferro Silicon from the month of December. The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been requested to inaugurate the Production of the plant.

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Iran demand boosts steel prices (US)

Category : Economie

The robust demand for steel in Iran has led to an increase in billet and scrap prices in the Black Sea region (Credit Photo @ Press TV)

Traders say the strong demand for billet in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Iran, pushed up prices, Reuters reported. “Two months ago, Iran bought an enormous quantity of billet, and that has caused a shortage for November and December shipments,” a trader said. Traders say the Black Sea free-on-board (fob) billet is at around $550-560 a ton, up from $530-550 a ton last week. Scrap prices in Turkey, one of the world’s top consumers of the material, stood at about $390-400 a ton, up from $375-380 a week ago. Trade sources and analysts believe that steel’s advance looks fragile and demand is still weak in the slow global economic recovery. However, they say demand from Iran is still robust. In late August, Isfahan Steel Company Managing Director Safarali Barati announced that the company would produce over 3 million tons of different steel products, such as iron beams and round bars, by March next year. Several major projects have recently come on stream in Iran’s steel industry. In early July, a major steel project came on stream in the city of Bonab in the northwestern Iranian province of East Azarbaijan and phase three of a major steel complex was inaugurated in the city of Natanz in the central Iranian province of Isfahan on June 28. According to the World Steel Association, Iran is the second leading steel producer in the Middle East. The country’s steel production rose 2.7 percent in the first half of 2010 to 5.9 million tons. Meanwhile, Persian Gulf Mining and Metal Industries Special Zone CEO Masoud Hendian said that with the inauguration of the Hormozal project, Iran can increase its aluminum output by 47 percent to 457,000 tons per year. Iran started building its largest aluminum smelter plant, with an annual capacity of 147,000 tons, in the southern city of Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan province in October 2009.

Source : Press TV

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Carpenter Technology Reports First Quarter Results (US)

Category : Entreprises, Non classé

Carpenter VAR Furnaces (Credit Photo @ Carpenter Technology)

  • First quarter net sales excluding raw material surcharge up 40% from a year earlier on 39% higher volume.
  • First quarter net income of $0.17 per share compared to a loss of $0.21 per share in the prior year.

WYOMISSING, Pa., Oct 26, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Carpenter Technology Corporation (NYSE:CRS) today reported net income of $7.6 million or $0.17 per share for the quarter ended September 30, 2010. This compares to a net loss of $9.3 million or negative $0.21 per share for the same quarter a year earlier.”Strong revenue and volume growth contributed to a significant increase in operating margin and profitability over the prior year,” said William A. Wulfsohn, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We also maintained a consistent operating margin compared to our recent fourth quarter on slightly lower, seasonally-adjusted volumes, which was in line with our expectations.”"Demand in our key end markets continues to strengthen. In addition to ongoing strong demand for materials used in aerospace engines, we have seen a significant pick-up in our energy business. This includes increased demand for materials used in power generation and our expanded participation in oil and gas applications. We still expect aerospace fastener demand will increase in the second half of the fiscal year.”"The increase in order activity is creating tight capacity and longer customer lead times,” said Wulfsohn. “Our inventory levels are also running higher due to strong customer demand for our premium products. We are hiring and training employees to expand available production. We are also taking pricing actions and making mix management decisions to improve our profitability and create additional flex capacity for attractive incremental volume.”"Overall, the year is shaping up as we expected. We expect our financial performance will improve over the balance of the year behind higher volumes, an increasingly favorable product mix, our continued cost focus and the impact of pricing actions. We also plan to be active in pursuing growth strategies that improve our position in the marketplace.”

First Quarter Results

Financial highlights for the first quarter include:

(in millions, except per share amounts & pounds sold) 1Q 2011 1Q 2010
Net Sales $351.7 $233.7
Net Sales Excluding Surcharge (a) $263.7 $187.9
Operating Income (Loss) excluding pension earnings, interest and deferrals (a) $22.9 $(3.8 )
Net Income (Loss) $7.6 $(9.3 )
Diluted Earnings (Loss) per Share $0.17 $(0.21 )
Net Pension Expense per Diluted Share (a) $(0.21 ) $(0.21 )
Free Cash Flow (a) $(46.5 ) $17.8
Pounds Sold (000) 48,190 34,560

(a) non-GAAP financial measure that is explained in the attached tables

Net sales for the first quarter were $351.7 million, up 50 percent from the prior year. Excluding surcharge revenue, net sales were $263.7 million, up 40 percent from a year ago. Total pounds sold in the first quarter were 39 percent higher than the fiscal year 2010 first quarter. Sequentially, net sales excluding surcharge decreased 2 percent on 7 percent lower volume as a result of typical seasonal effects in the summer quarter.Gross profit was $49.8 million compared with $19.2 million in the fiscal year 2010 first quarter. The higher gross profit in this year’s first quarter was driven by significantly higher volumes and better overall cost performance, partially offset by a slightly weaker product mix. The overall mix results are comprised of strong margins in the Premium Alloy Operations (PAO) segment, more than offset by low margins in the Advanced Metals Operations (AMO) segment as a result of taking on increased volumes over the last year in lower value applications within automotive and other markets. SG&A expenses were $35.7 million, compared with $32.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010. The year-over-year increase is due to higher variable compensation accruals versus the prior period, and resources added to drive strategic growth initiatives. For the year, SG&A cost is expected to increase about 8 percent. This is consistent with the Company’s goal to support growth strategies while limiting the increase in fixed costs to less than half the rate of revenue growth.Operating income for the first quarter was $14.1 million compared with a loss of $13.3 million a year earlier. Excluding surcharge revenue and pension earnings, interest and deferrals (EID), operating margin was 8.7 percent for the quarter compared to a negative 2.0 percent in the fiscal year 2010 first quarter. There was little earnings impact in the quarter from LIFO effects. Sequentially, operating income was higher in the current quarter compared to $10.2 million reported in the fiscal year 2010 fourth quarter.Other Income was $1.6 million compared to $1.5 million in the fiscal year 2010 first quarter. The provision for income tax was $3.9 million or 34 percent of pre-tax income compared with an income tax benefit of $6.8 million or 42 percent of pre-tax loss a year ago. The full fiscal year tax rate is expected to be about 28 percent.Net income was $7.6 million or $0.17 per diluted share, compared with a first quarter net loss of $9.3 million or $0.21 per diluted share in fiscal year 2010.Free cash flow, which we define as cash from operations less capital expenditures and dividends, was a negative $46.5 million in the quarter. The negative cash flow mainly reflects investment in higher inventory levels to support growing customer demand.

Markets:

Aerospace market sales were $146.1 million in the first quarter, up 42 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Excluding surcharge revenue, aerospace sales were up 32 percent on 29 percent higher volume. Aerospace results reflect the fourth consecutive quarter of strong demand for engine components and the beginning stages of improved fastener order activity. Demand for nickel, stainless and titanium fasteners is expected to strengthen in the second half of the fiscal year.

Industrial market sales were $83.0 million, up 68 percent compared with the first quarter of fiscal year 2010. Excluding surcharge revenue, industrial sales increased 46 percent on 36 percent higher volume. The year-over-year result reflects increased overall demand for industrial products that outpaced general market growth rates. There was also a positive mix shift to higher value fittings and semiconductor applications.

Consumer market sales were $33.7 million, an increase of 45 percent from the first quarter of fiscal year 2010. Excluding surcharge revenue, sales increased 36 percent on 38 percent higher volume. Increases in volumes and revenues resulted from supply chain inventory restocking and demand growth from Asia for fasteners and electronic applications.

Automotive market sales were $30.3 million, an increase of 55 percent from a year earlier. Excluding surcharge revenue, automotive sales rose 36 percent as volumes increased 46 percent. The year-over-year volume increase reflects demand growth related to fuel system components as well as strong shipments of lower value automotive valves.

Energy market sales of $29.9 million increased 145 percent from the first quarter a year earlier. Excluding surcharge revenue, energy market sales increased 156 percent on 149 percent higher volume. The year-over-year increase reflects sharply higher demand and expansion into new applications in the oil and gas sector, as well as recovering demand for high value materials used in industrial gas turbines.

Medical market sales were $28.7 million in the first quarter, up 10 percent from a year ago. Excluding surcharge revenue, medical market sales increased 16 percent on 9 percent higher volume. The year-over-year increase reflects increased demand and re-stocking of titanium products within the supply chain.

International sales in the first quarter were $109.8 million, an increase of 53 percent compared with the same quarter a year earlier. Sales in Europe were up 42 percent on 36 percent higher volume driven mainly by increased demand in Aerospace and Energy. Revenues increased 63 percent in Asia on 45 percent higher volume driven by significant broad based growth in most markets. International sales in the quarter represented 31 percent of total sales, unchanged from the prior year.

Three Months Ended
September 30,
NET SALES BY MAJOR PRODUCT LINE 2010 2009
Product Line Excluding Surcharge:
Special alloys $ 122.4 $ 88.2
Stainless steel 91.3 61.0
Titanium products 34.0 26.8
Tool and other steel 12.4 9.2
Other materials 3.6 2.7
Consolidated net sales excluding surcharge $263.7 $187.9
Surcharge revenue 88.0 45.8
Consolidated net sales $351.7 $233.7
Three Months Ended
September 30,
NET SALES BY END USE MARKET 2010 2009
End Use Market Excluding Surcharge:
Aerospace $ 107.6 $ 81.3
Industrial 60.1 41.3
Consumer 24.8 18.2
Medical 24.8 21.4
Energy 24.3 9.5
Automotive 22.1 16.2
Consolidated net sales excluding surcharge $263.7 $187.9
Surcharge revenue 88.0 45.8
Consolidated net sales $351.7 $233.7

SOURCE: Carpenter Technology Corporation

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Titanium metals in aerospace industry (US)

Category : Recherche & Développement

A simplified section of a commercial gas turbine aeroengine highlights the different material groups used, and in particular the range of Ti alloys, their general location and approximate operating temperatures.

A review of latest developments on this critical group of aerospace materials from David Aspinwall, Richard Hood, Sein Leung Soo – Machining Research Group, University of Birmingham.

Prior to the 1950’s and the development and growth in gas turbine engines, titanium was essentially a reference book material familiar to metallurgists but largely unknown to the general public. It was a British mineralogist and clergyman, William Gregor who’d  first identified titanium in Cornwall 160 years earlier, while studying the mineral ilmenite from which it can be derived. A German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth, at about the same time, isolated titanium from rutile, and gave it its name, but Gregor who ultimately got the glory.Viable extraction had however to wait until the early part of the 20th century with the development of the Hunter, and later the Kroll processes. Today, titanium alloy use is widely appreciated, but application is focused, not least because of cost. Metal Exchange prices quoting aluminium at ~£1.40/kg, copper at ~£4.40/kg and titanium at £15.0/kg give some appreciation of this, but don’t provide the full picture.  Alloy processing, format and scale effects have a big impact. The price of steel is around £0.40/kg but titanium alloys can be anything from £40 to £100/kg for ’standard’ products and up to £800/kg for the newer intermetallic alloys.The success of the modern gas turbine engine owes a great deal to nickel-based superalloys, but titanium alloys also figure significantly. It is estimated that around 33% of the weight for a civil/passenger engine is due to use of Ti alloys,  and that the figure for military engines approaches 50%. Power to weight ratio is all important and in this context their low density (4.5g/cm3), other favourable mechanical/physical properties (strength, corrosion resistance etc.) and moderate temperature resistance (typically up to 600ºC) in comparison to other materials, are key features favouring tselection. In ball-park figures titanium alloy components are 40-45% lighter than their equivalent steel or superalloy counterparts.The range of alloys available is very wide and reflects in part, the growing use of titanium outside the aerospace sector ie  for chemical, marine, biomedical, automotive and other industrial applications. Machining-related publications focus mainly on the alpha/beta alloy Ti-6Al-4V, which is used extensively in aeroengine manufacture for fan and low pressure (LP) components including blades/aerofoils, discs and for static components such as casings, which are subject to temperatures <315ºC. It is also one of the cheapest alloys available and accounts for 50-60% of Ti alloy production.There are upwards of 60 titanium alloys, not counting the growing number of fibre/particulate reinforced titanium matrix composites, Ti-Ni shape memory alloys and gamma TiAl intermetallics (of which more later); but for aeroengine use a more realistic number is 7 or 8. These include the alpha/near alpha phase alloys Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo which can operate at up to 540ºC and is used for rotating components in the LP and HP compressor for blades & discs etc,  Ti-5.8Al-4Sn-3.5Zr-0.7Nb-0.5Mo-0.35Si-0.06C (IMI 834) and Ti-6Al-2.8Sr-4Zr-0.4Mo-0.4Si (Timetal 1100 – modification of Ti-6242), both with a ceiling of 600ºC; the previously mentioned alpha/beta alloy Ti-6Al-4V together with Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-6Mo and Ti-5Al-2Sn-2Zr-4Mo-4Cr (Ti-17), the latter two capable of operation up to 400ºC; and beta alloys such as Ti-35V-15Cr (Alloy C) and Ti-15Mo-3Al-2.7Nb-0.25Si (Beta 21S). The temperature ceiling/limit for Alloy C is reported as 540ºC whereas for Beta 21S, a normal operating range of 480 – 565ºC is generally quoted, with short exposure possible at up to 650ºC. Much of the current drive for improvement with titanium alloys is for high temperature (> 500ºC) and high mean stress capability and developments associated with a new burn- resistant Ti-25V-15Cr-2Al-0.2C (BuRTi) and the gamma TiAl alloys reflect this. With decades of research behind them, the gamma alloys such as Ti-45Al-2Mn-2Nb-0.8TiB2 and similar products are said to be able to operate at temperatures in the region of 700/750ºC and can therefore in theory replace significantly heavier Ni superalloy blades and stators in the HP compressor as well as both blades and stators in the LP turbine. Figure 1 shows a simplified section of a commercial gas turbine aeroengine and highlights the different material groups used, and in particular the range of Ti alloys, their general location and approximate operating temperatures. Typically titanium alloys are restricted to rub-free aeroengine components, as with some alloys thin sections subject to frictional heat will ignite.Titanium intermetallics may be significant in the production of future aeroengines; however,  progress from laboratory to machine shop has been slow despite 25 years of serious R&D on both sides of the Atlantic. Current estimates predict service in civil engines in the next 2 years. First generation alloys have given way to 4th generation thermomechanically processed duplex alloys, delivering better strength, creep resistance and high temperature performance. Incremental developments in casting technology enable the production of complex aerofoil and blade root sections. On machining front, key processes such as grinding, high speed milling and some non-conventional methods have been intensively investigated to ensure processing of the finished part meets the stringent technical and safety requirements of the aerospace industry. Some basic operations such as turning and drilling (using conventional twist drill arrangements) have proved surprisingly difficult to perform without compromising workpiece integrity although some progress has been made using hybrid processes involving ultrasonic assisted techniques and grinding methods.One could be forgiven for thinking that machining a titanium alloy containing ~ 45at% aluminium would be more straightforward than alloys such as Ti-6Al-4V, especially with a 3-fold improvement in thermal conductivity (heat generated during machining can diffuse away from the cutting zone more readily). But this positive aspect is not carried through to other machining related properties, especially not room temperature (RT) ductility. For most conventional titanium alloys this is between 15-20%, for nickel alloys it can be up to 10% and steel up to 60%. The figure for gamma TiAl is less than 1.5%  – so from a practical standpoint, machining glass provides a more appropriate analogy than most metals. Also the presence of TiB2 ceramic particles in some alloys (as a result of grain refinement strategies) increase tool wear. The crunch comes however not in the simple act of removing material to meet bulk shape conformance, but in ensuring the machined surface has the appropriate integrity to meet its operating criteria ie is fit for purpose. For critical aeroengine parts, this means ensuring not only surface roughness tolerances are met, but also that the machined surface is free from flaws and that subsurface microstructure, microhardness and residual stress levels are within specification. With inappropriate use of tooling or other operating conditions, the generation of a surface which originally had a hardness of 450HK0.025 can easily rise to 700HK0.025 with an adverse tensile stress regime and comprised fatigue performance.For machining, grinding is more straightforward,  but selecting appropriate operating parameters remains critical. This applies to the wheel system (abrasive grit, bond, etc) and all machining factor levels, not least dressing. Just how narrow the margin is between acceptable and unacceptable performance can be gauged from the accompanying end of test photographs in Figure 2, which show Ti-45Al-8Nb-0.2C surfaces which have been creep feed ground using a conventional vitrified bonded SiC wheel.At the lowest parameter levels, (v=15m/s, f=150mm/min, d=1.25mm) surface A shows minimal burn and there is no obvious chatter or surface cracking. Increasing the wheel speed to 35m/s and the depth of cut to 2.5mm however gives a different picture (see surface B), with significant surface topography flaws, chatter, thermal banding and gross fracture.Using superabrasive grits at a wheel speed of 35m/s, higher G-ratios of up to 500 can be obtained without surface burn or cracking, due to the higher hardness and thermal conductivity of the grits. Such good news however has to be considered in relation to dressing requirements and higher wheel costs.With the worldwide push for reducing carbon emissions and achieving greater fuel efficiency, use of lightweight materials such as titanium is set to increase. From an aerospace perspective, titanium alloy developments are continuing at a pace and the move to replace heavier nickel components where feasible will undoubtedly quicken. Machining issues with regard to productivity in respect of the more standard alloys, are less of a problem due to recent tooling developments and the use of high pressure fluid systems etc. With leading edge alloys such as the titanium aluminides, the situation is somewhat different and for the moment, material removal rates are secondary to achieving acceptable component integrity.

Further reading:

  • S.L. Soo, R. Hood, M. Lannette, D.K. Aspinwall, W.E. Voice. 2010. Creep feed grinding of burn resistant titanium (BuRTi) using superabrasive wheels, International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, In Press
  • R.Hood, F. Lechner, D.K.Aspinwall, W.Voice. 2007. Creep Feed Grinding of gamma titanium aluminide and burn resistant titanium alloys using SiC abrasive, International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture, 47, 1486-1492.
  • Boyer R, Welsch G, Collins EW (1994) Materials Properties Handbook: Titanium Alloys. ASM International, Ohio
  • E(linger J, Helm D (2004) Titanium in Aero-Engines. In: Lütjering G, Albrecht J (eds) Ti-2003 Science and Technology Vol V: Proceedings of the 10th World Conference on Titanium; 2003 Jul 13-18, Hamburg, Germany, Wiley-VCH, Darmstadt, pp 2845-2852
  • Boyer RR (1996) An overview on the use of titanium in the aerospace industry. Mater Sci Eng A213:103-114

Source : The Engineer

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Steel industry’s outlook gloomy on slower growth (US)

Category : Economie

The steel industry’s outlook has dimmed with the unevenness of the global economy. Sales have dropped, prices have fallen, costs have risen and some companies see more tough times ahead.Some of the world’s biggest steel manufacturers turned in third-quarter performances on Tuesday that fell short of expectations they had just three months ago. They say slow economic growth worldwide is hurting the industry in a number of sectors. Steel is used in everything from construction to automobiles, appliances and other consumer products.”Companies and countries aren’t importing steel because they’re still worried about where the growth is going,” Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky said. “They don’t see it picking up noticeably down the road.”As China tries to slow its economy, steel makers there may try to undercut U.S. companies by selling their products overseas at lower prices. U.S. companies must then slash prices to compete.United States Steel Corp. Chairman and CEO John Surma said he has noticed an increase in imports, particularly from South Korea, which will lead to lower shipments and lower prices for his company.In July, U.S. Steel predicted a third-quarter profit due to improving demand in the first part of the year. The Pittsburgh company tempered the outlook as the quarter wore on because of softening market conditions. The result was a net loss of $51 million. The last time U.S. Steel posted a quarterly profit was at the end of 2008.Although U.S. Steel’s results were better than in the third quarter of 2009, they were worse than the June-July quarter.Compared with the second quarter, shipments and prices fell for flat-rolled steel, which is used in everything from appliances and automobiles to construction. U.S. Steel blamed the decline largely on the choppy recovery in North America and Europe, a weak construction market and seasonal buying patterns.”The flat-rolled market in the U.S. has been more challenged right now than it has been earlier this year,” said Bridget Freas, a steel analyst for Morningstar Inc.Looking ahead, U.S. Steel expects fourth-quarter results will be similar to the third quarter because of lower average prices, shipments and production volume.In a conference call with analysts, Surma said the future of U.S. Steel hinges on the economy. If the economy improves “then I think steel consumption should move back to where it traditionally has been over 20, 30, 40, 50 years. In that world we can do just fine,” he said.”If the overall consumption rates settle out some place lower … we would have to look exclusively at our configuration and see if we’re configured right for the world we’re in.”Another big steel maker, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, reported third-quarter results fell 21 percent from the second quarter, although it posted a 48 percent jump in profit from a year ago.The company said steel demand was well below pre-recession levels as the construction and automobile sectors continued to struggle.Chief Financial Officer Aditya Mittal said demand in China fell as the country tried to slow its economy.Mittal said the U.S. construction sector was weak, but the automobile industry was improving. He also said Northern Europe was doing well but high unemployment and slow growth curbed demand in Southern Europe.ArcelorMittal said shipments are expected to improve in the fourth quarter, but average selling prices are expected to decline. Costs also are expected to increase on higher raw material prices.AK Steel Holding Corp., based in West Chester, Ohio, said on Tuesday that it lost $59.2 million during the third quarter as iron ore prices soared, nearly doubling. AK Steel said the higher ore prices added $76 million to its operating loss.The company makes flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steels, primarily for automotive, appliance, construction and electrical power generation and distribution markets.U.S. Steel shares fell $1.42, or 3.4 percent, to $40.85. Arcelor Mittal lost $1.88, or 5.4 percent, at $32.93. AK Steel dropped 53 cents, or 4 percent, to $12.84.

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TISCO to construct world’s largest vacuum decarburization plant in China (US)

Category : Actualités

Computer-animated visualization of Siemens VAI’s vacuum decarburization plant for the Taiyuan Iron & Steel Co. (Credit Photo @ Siemens VAI)

Siemens VAI Metals Technologies will be installing a new vacuum decarburization plant at the Taiyuan Iron & Steel Co. (Tisco) steel works. The plant will be designed as a double system with a capacity of 180 tons, which will make it the world’s largest plant of its type. The order also includes the engineering, the supply of core components, and services. This secondary steelmaking plant is scheduled to come into production in the middle of 2011, and is part of Tisco’s capacity expansion program. Computer-animated visualization of Siemens VAI’s vacuum decarburization plant for the Taiyuan Iron & Steel Co. Tisco is located in Taiyuan, in the Shanxi Province. It is one of China’s leading steelmakers and its number 1 high-grade steel producer. The company is currently expanding its range of special steel grades. The new double vacuum decarburization plant will be installed in steel works no. 2, which was also constructed by Siemens VAI, and came into operation in 2006.Siemens VAI will handle the plant engineering and supply core components. These include a special copper ladle cover, which will be used for the first time with a vacuum decarburization plant. It is intended to substantially reduce the formation of slag skulls on the upper part of the furnace. The new decarburization plant will be installed directly alongside ladle furnace no 2. The project is being jointly implemented with Siemens China, which will be responsible for the vacuum locks and the basic automation. The main reasons for winning this order were Siemens VAI’s expertise in the industry and the good working relationship it has established with Tisco during previous projects. For example, Siemens VAI earlier installed a new hot and cold rolling mill for this Chinese high-grade steel producer.

Source : Siemens VAI

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ATI Announces Third Quarter 2010 Results (US)

Category : Entreprises

  • Sales increased 52% compared to Q3 2009 to $1.06 billion
  • Net income attributable to ATI was $1.0 million, or $0.01 per share
  • As previously announced, net income includes a LIFO “catch up” charge of $0.21 per share and a tax charge of $0.04 per share
  • Segment operating profit was $63.0 million, or 6% of sales
  • Year-to-date gross cost reductions of $102.4 million
  • Cash on hand increased to $443.3 million
  • Net debt to total capitalization improved to 23.2%
  • Total debt to total capitalization improved to 34.1%

PITTSBURGH–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:ATI – News) reported net income for the third quarter 2010 of $1.0 million, or $0.01 per share, on sales of $1.06 billion. Third quarter 2010 results included a pre-tax LIFO “catch up” charge of approximately $33 million, or $0.21 per share, primarily as a result of the recent significant and unexpected increase in the cost of nickel. The third quarter 2010 also included a tax charge of $0.04 per share primarily due to the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act. Although the tax law change has a one-time negative income tax provision impact, it will have a favorable cash flow impact to ATI in 2011. In the third quarter 2009, net income was $1.4 million, or $0.01 per share, on sales of $697.6 million.For the nine months ended September 30, 2010, net income was $55.6 million, or $0.56 per share, on sales of $3.01 billion. In addition to the charges discussed above, the 2010 year-to-date results include a non-recurring tax charge of $5.3 million related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was recorded in the first quarter.Results for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 were a net loss, including special charges, of $6.1 million, or $0.06 per share, on sales of $2.24 billion. The nine months ended September 30, 2009 included non-recurring after-tax charges of $17.0 million, or $0.17 per share, related to second quarter 2009 actions to retire debt and the tax consequences of our $350 million voluntary pension contribution. Excluding special charges, results for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 were net income of $10.9 million, or $0.11 per share.“Sales in the first nine months of 2010 have recovered nicely, and are now just $45 million below total sales for the full-year 2009. We continue to see 2010 as the transition year to the resumption of strong secular growth in our key global markets,” said L. Patrick Hassey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.“In our High Performance Metals segment, operating profit improved by approximately 7% compared to the second quarter 2010, primarily due to improving average selling prices and a better product mix. Demand from the aero-engine market strengthened as a result of increased build schedules as well as increased demand for aftermarket spare parts. Demand from the medical and high-energy physics markets remained at high levels.“However, third quarter operating profit in the High Performance Metals segment was negatively impacted by approximately $12 million of start-up and developmental expenses at our new Rowley, UT titanium facility, including the associated idle-facility costs. In addition, this segment was negatively impacted by approximately $7 million related to a two-week shutdown of our zirconium facilities for major maintenance. This is a one-time charge.“Although demand and resulting volume for most products was nearly the same as the second quarter 2010, our Flat-Rolled Products segment lost $11.8 million in the third quarter 2010, primarily due to a LIFO inventory valuation reserve “catch up” charge of approximately $38 million, and $5 million of higher than normal major maintenance expenses.“For our Engineered Products segment, sales were flat and operating profit was lower in the third quarter 2010 compared to the second quarter 2010, mainly from reduced demand in our cutting tool business during the seasonal summer slowdown, primarily in Europe during August.“In the third quarter, we also recorded a one-time tax charge of $3.9 million, or $0.04 per share, as a result of recent legislation. While the charge has a 2010 third quarter negative impact on ATI’s tax provision, we expect to receive a cash refund in the first half 2011 of approximately $30 million.“Our key global markets, namely aerospace and defense, oil and gas/chemical process industry, electrical energy, and medical, represented approximately 68% of ATI sales during the first nine months of 2010. Also during this period:

  • Sales increased 34% over 2009.
  • Total titanium shipments were over 29 million pounds and continue to improve.
  • We announced new price increases as volumes for specialty products are growing and lead-times extending.
  • Direct international sales were nearly 32%.
  • Our cost structure improved with over $102 million in gross cost reductions.
  • The melt shop consolidation was completed at our Brackenridge, PA Flat-Rolled Products facility. We expect to see annual cost savings of approximately $30 million from this consolidation beginning in 2011.
  • Our titanium and superalloys facility in Bakers, NC continued to obtain customer qualifications, and is adding needed capacity and new capabilities.
  • Our Rowley, UT facility is producing titanium sponge. We are working on standardizing the process and improving yields as part of our orderly production ramp up. Market prices for titanium scrap continued to increase.
  • We generated cash from operating profits and have built the working capital necessary to meet increasing demand while modernizing our facilities to significantly improve production efficiencies and capabilities.

“In addition:

  • Progress will accelerate during the fourth quarter on our new hot-rolling and processing facility.
  • We now expect approximately $250 million in total capital expenditures in 2010.

“Our key markets are performing well. We are seeing increasing opportunities in 2011 to supply large projects in the oil and gas market and chemical processing industry in Asia and the Middle East.“Also, we are cautiously optimistic that demand for our standard sheet and plate products will continue to recover. However, this demand is being driven by modest U.S. and European GDP growth expectations, and operating results are subject to being impacted by volatile raw materials costs.“We recently announced price increases for some of our high-value products. These range from 4% to 7% for certain nickel-based alloys and specialty alloys in long and flat-rolled product forms. In addition, Uniti, our industrial titanium joint venture, announced that it is increasing prices by 6% to 9% for its CP titanium products. Due to lead times that extend into the first quarter 2011, these announced price increases are expected to impact 2011 performance.“Our focus remains on execution as we continue to position ATI for the expected strong growth trends over the next several years in our key global markets. We expect 2011 to be much improved as demand recovers and we grow faster than our key markets as a result of new customers and LTAs, the growing use of our innovative new products, our new technically advanced manufacturing capabilities, and a global focus on our key markets.”

High Performance Metals Segment

Market Conditions

  • Shipments of our titanium and titanium alloys and nickel-based alloys declined compared to the second quarter 2010 as inventories were replenished during the first six months of 2010 and buying is now more in line with demand. Order entry for future delivery strengthened during the quarter from jet engine, oil and gas, and electrical energy customers. Demand from airframe customers remained stable with a shift in mix to higher value products. Demand remained at high levels from the medical and high-energy physics markets. Compared to the second quarter 2010, shipments of our titanium alloys decreased 9% and nickel-based alloys and specialty alloys decreased 7%, however, pricing for these products increased 7% and 13%, respectively, primarily due to raw material surcharges and better product mix. Shipments of exotic alloys increased 3% while pricing decreased 4% compared to the 2010 second quarter, primarily due to product mix.

Third quarter 2010 compared to third quarter 2009

  • Sales were $344.4 million, 23% higher than the third quarter 2009. Shipments increased 19% for titanium and titanium alloys and 36% for nickel-based and specialty alloys, primarily due to improved demand from the commercial aerospace jet engine market. Shipments of exotic alloys increased 14% primarily due to increased demand from the medical and energy markets. Average selling prices declined 2% for titanium and titanium alloys due to a more competitive pricing environment, but increased 1% for nickel-based and specialty alloys primarily as a result of higher raw material surcharges. Average selling prices for exotic alloys decreased 6% due to product mix.
  • Segment operating profit increased to $72.0 million, or 20.9% of sales, compared to $51.3 million, or 18.4% of sales, for the third quarter 2009. The increase in operating profit primarily resulted from higher shipments and the benefits of gross cost reductions. In addition, third quarter 2010 operating profit was adversely affected by approximately $12 million of start-up and idle-facility costs associated with our titanium sponge operations and by approximately $7 million related to a two-week shutdown at our zirconium facilities. Third quarter results included a LIFO inventory valuation reserve benefit of $4.9 million for the 2010 period compared to a $10.0 million benefit for the 2009 period.
  • Results benefited from $14.8 million of gross cost reductions, bringing gross cost reductions in this segment to $50.6 million for the first nine months of 2010.

Flat-Rolled Products Segment

Market Conditions

  • Shipments of our standard stainless products decreased 6% compared to the 2010 second quarter. Sales of high-value products, which include titanium, nickel-based alloys, Precision Rolled Strip® products, and grain-oriented electrical steel, improved 1%. A significant improvement in titanium shipments for the industrial markets and Precision Rolled Strip® products was partially offset by somewhat lower shipments of nickel-based alloys, specialty alloys, and grain-oriented electrical steel. Flat-Rolled Products segment titanium shipments, including Uniti joint venture conversion products, were approximately 3.8 million pounds for the third quarter 2010 and approximately 9.5 million pounds for the first nine months of 2010. Direct international sales represented 26% of total segment sales for the third quarter 2010. Average selling prices for all products, which include surcharges, increased 4% compared to the second quarter 2010.

Third quarter 2010 compared to third quarter 2009

  • Sales increased to $619.2 million, 70% higher than the third quarter 2009, primarily due to increased shipments, higher raw material surcharges, and improved base-selling prices for stainless products. Shipments of standard stainless products (sheet and plate) increased 31% and high-value products shipments increased 26%. Average transaction prices for all products, which include surcharges, were 33% higher due to increased raw material surcharges and improved base prices for stainless products.
  • A segment operating loss of $11.8 million for the third quarter 2010 was primarily due to a LIFO inventory valuation reserve charge of $38.9 million, primarily as a result of the recent significant and unexpected increase in the cost of nickel. Segment operating profit was $11.3 million for the third quarter 2009, and included a $6.8 million LIFO inventory valuation reserve charge.
  • Results benefited from $10.4 million of gross cost reductions, bringing gross cost reductions in this segment to $37.0 million for the first nine months of 2010.

Engineered Products Segment

Market Conditions

  • Demand continued to improve from the oil and gas, transportation, aerospace, electrical energy, and automotive markets which helped to partially offset the seasonal slowdown from European customers.

Third quarter 2010 compared to third quarter 2009

  • Sales increased 75% to $95.2 million, compared to the third quarter 2009, as a result of the improved demand.
  • Segment operating profit was $2.8 million compared to a loss of $8.6 million in the third quarter 2009. The benefits of increased sales and gross cost reductions were partially offset by a LIFO inventory valuation charge of $1.2 million. The third quarter 2009 included a LIFO inventory valuation reserve benefit of $1.3 million.
  • Results benefited from $4.9 million of gross cost reductions, bringing gross cost reductions in this segment to $14.8 million for the first nine months of 2010.

Source : ATI

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Titanium Machining (US)

Category : Recherche & Développement

A new approach offers manufacturers of titanium parts four times the productivity and double the tool life.

The appeal of titanium is no mystery. Its material properties of toughness, strength, corrosion resistance, thermal stability, and lightweight are highly beneficial to the construction of today’s aircraft. However, aerospace manufacturers producing titanium parts quickly discover the difficulty these material properties present during the machining process. The combination of titanium’s poor thermal conductivity, strong alloying tendency, and chemical reactivity with cutting tools are a detriment to tool life, metal-removal rates, and ultimately the manufacturer’s profit margin.Producing titanium parts efficiently requires a delicate balance between productivity and profitability. However, in standard machining practices these two factors share an inverse relationship, meaning greater productivity can come at a higher cost due to rapid tool degradation, while the desire to increase profit margins by extending tool life may result in decreased metal-removal rates and extended cycle times.“Overcoming this issue requires a new approach in which all components of the machining process are developed and integrated specific to the material’s unique challenges,” says Mark Larson, Makino’s titanium process R&D manager. “This requires a reassessment of even the most basic machine tool design considerations. This was the concept for our new T-Series 5-axis horizontal machining centers with ADVANTiGE technologies, and the results speak for themselves – four times the productivity and double the tool life.”

Changing the Rules

In the past, and even in some shops today, typical machining of titanium uses multi-spindle gantries and machines with geared head spindles. While these technologies have been effective, the growing complexity of part geometries and required accuracies have brought forth several limitations, including machine and spindle vibration, poor chip removal, slow acceleration and deceleration times, limited tooling options, limited 3D machining capabilities without multiple setups, programming issues, limited workpiece access, and a lack of automation capabilities. In support of the aerospace industry’s demand for titanium, Makino established a Global Titanium Research and Development Center at their North American headquarters in Mason, OH. This facility is managed by a select group of engineers, all of whom possess the knowledge and experience around titanium in both academic and industrial backgrounds. “We are assessing every component of the titanium machining process, including tooling, cutting strategies, and machine design,” Larson states. “This has led to dramatic changes in our approach to machine and spindle rigidity, vibration damping, chip removal, coolant delivery, cutting strategies, and automation capabilities.”The company’s latest breakthrough, ADVANTiGE, is a comprehensive set of technologies that includes an extra-rigid machine construction – Active Damping System; high-pressure, high-flow coolant system – Coolant Microsizer System; and an Autonomic Spindle Technology. Each technology, designed specifically for the titanium machining process, provides dramatic improvements in both tool life and productivity.

Creating a Rigid Platform

The rigidity of a machine tool is one of the single most important components in titanium machining, heavily influencing the equipment’s stable cutting parameters. Machines designed with low rigidity offer limited stable cutting zones, dramatically reducing the achievable maximum level of productivity across all spindle speeds. To increase the productivity of a low-rigidity machine, manufacturers have only one option: taking lighter cuts and increasing spindle speeds, resulting in dramatic reductions in tool life. “Higher rigidity machines provide a more flexible, stable cutting zone,” Larson says. “This is the basic building block for ADVANTiGE, allowing a solid, reliable platform for all other technologies while further suppressing vibration for reduced tool chipping and improved metal-removal rates. This principle was our primary goal in the design of our T-Series machinery.” The T4 5-axis horizontal machining center, Makino’s product for ADVANTiGE, is designed specifically for the machining of large titanium aerospace structural parts. Constructed of a massive bed, 1.7m wide column, box guideway system and large-diameter ballscrews, this machine provides immense rigidity.

Vibration Damping System

Complementing the rigid machine structure, ADVANTiGE also incorporates an Active Damping System into the machine’s slideways. By adjusting frictional forces based on low-frequency vibration sensing, this technology avoids structure resonance in real time, enabling deeper cuts, higher metal-removal rates, and reduced tool wear, benefits necessary for efficient titanium machining. Makino’s Active Damping System contains four major components. As previously noted, the first component is a rigid machine structure to limit the machine’s overall maximum resonance. Second is a stiff connection between the servomotor and the major component of the machine control, which prevents shaking from occurring between the motor and that component. Next is a controlled mechanical damping. A controlled damping factor enables the system to respond and adjust its structure in such a way as to absorb vibration energy, reducing machine vibration. Last, an advanced servo control is used to almost instantaneously detect vibration energy from the cutting force and generate an opposing force to absorb and cancel out vibration.

Spindle Technology

Heavy cutting forces resulting from the titanium machining process can also create hazardous vibrations inside the work zone and are capable of dramatically reducing tool life. To eliminate this vibration, Makino has developed an Autonomic Spindle Technology. This developmental-technology can detect, think, decide, and react to the displacement caused by excessive cutting forces. Makino’s Autonomic Spindle Technology uses displacement sensors in X-, Y-, and Z-axis to detect the direction and level of displacement. This information, processed by the machine’s control software, measures the stability of the current cutting conditions. If cutting conditions are unstable, the machine automatically adjusts machining parameters in real time to establish stable cutting. This adjustment allows for optimal productivity with extended tool life, an important quality when working with costly titanium tooling.

Coolant System

Titanium’s poor thermal conductivity also bears adverse conditions for cutting tools where deflection of heat, from the cutting zone onto the tool, causes rapid tool destruction. In order to reduce heat in the cutting zone, chips must be removed quickly and thoroughly when coolant is continuously applied to the work zone.

The ADVANTiGE solution is a high-pressure, high-volume coolant system featuring an overhead shower, spindle nozzles, and through-spindle coolant. At a maximum delivery of 1,500psi and 55gpm, this coolant system blasts chilled coolant to the work zone with enough pressure to evacuate chips at metal-removal rates of 24.4 cubic inches per minute. Adjustments to the pressure and volume can also be made through enhanced M-code functionality in the control unit to best suit the operation at hand.

Microsizer System


When machining titanium, there are three significant forms of tool damage: mechanical, heat, and adhesion. Through ADVANTiGE’s rigidity, damping, coolant, and adaptive spindle technologies, mechanical and heat damage are effectively minimized. To address adhesion damage, Makino is developing a Coolant Microsizer System. This tool-life extension developmental-technology improves the cooling lubricity of a tool by reducing coolant particle sizes for more efficient delivery to the cutting zone.

Productivity

One solution for increasing productivity without reducing tool life is the addition of pallet changing and automation capabilities. Using these technologies enables manufacturers to reduce spindle downtime and operator maintenance.

In addition to ADVANTiGE technologies, Makino’s T4 features a unique two-pallet system with rotating table units located on either side of the machine. At one position, the table units are positioned horizontally for easy part loading/unloading via an overhead crane. Pallets are rotated to a vertical position to meet the spindle’s horizontal orientation, providing improved chip evacuation and coolant flow. The machine’s simultaneous pallet change provides a chip-to-chip time of approximately two minutes. T-Series machining centers can also be integrated with an automatic pallet transfer and storage system in a highly flexible Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) for extended periods of unattended operation.

The Future

“The economics of titanium aerospace part production are changing,” Larson says. “By improving productivity and profitability simultaneously, aerospace manufacturers have new opportunities to lead this industry in future developments of aircraft designs and capabilities. “And while we have seen amazing results through our ADVANTiGE technologies, there is no single solution for all titanium machining applications. Our goal is to continue pursuing optimal cutting strategies, providing manufacturers with detailed best practices for all types of machining processes.”

Source: Aerospace Manufacturing & Design

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Precision Castparts Corp. Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2011 Earnings (US)

Category : Entreprises

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 21, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Achieving strong year-over-year aerospace and general industrial sales growth, Precision Castparts Corp.  maintained its solid operational performance during the second quarter of fiscal 2011, mitigating lost leverage from the planned downtime of major forging complexes and seasonal European holidays.

Second Quarter Fiscal 2011 Financial Highlights

In the second quarter of fiscal 2011, total sales were $1.5 billion, increasing 17 percent over sales of $1.3 billion a year ago. Operating income also grew by 8 percent year over year, reaching $362.6 million, or 24.0 percent of sales in the quarter, compared to $337.3 million, or 26.1 percent of sales last year. Net income from continuing operations (attributable to PCC) in the second quarter totaled $243.6 million, versus $218.4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. Earnings per share from continuing operations (attributable to PCC) in the quarter were $1.70 (diluted, based on 143.5 million shares outstanding), compared to $1.54 (diluted, based on 141.6 million shares outstanding) in the same quarter last year.During the quarter, Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) reported $7.4 million of net income from discontinued operations (attributable to PCC) primarily due to the sale of an automotive fastener operation. As a result, in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, net income(attributable to PCC) including discontinued operations was $251.0 million, or $1.75 per share (diluted), versus $207.3 million, or $1.46 per share (diluted) a year ago.

Business Highlights

Investment Cast Products: In the second quarter of fiscal 2011, Investment Cast Products sales grew to $512.3 million from last year’s second quarter sales of $444.1 million, an increase of 15 percent. Aerospace orders showed significant improvement across all operations, driving a 25 percent increase in sales over last year’s second quarter. Countering this strong growth was continued weakness in industrial gas turbine (IGT) sales year over year, which resulted in the segment taking a modest severance charge at a United Kingdom manufacturing operation to better align the workforce to current IGT production levels. During the quarter, Investment Cast Products effectively leveraged its increased aerospace volume and maintained strong operating income, largely overcoming both the severance charge and the impact of European holidays. Second quarter operating income increased by 20 percent to $162.5 million, or 31.7 percent of sales, compared to operating income of $135.4 million, or 30.5 percent of sales last year. Contractual material pass-through pricing showed a small increase year over year, moving from approximately $9 million a year ago to approximately $10 million in the current quarter.

Forged Products:

Second quarter sales for the Forged Products segment reached $668.7 million, a 29 percent improvement over sales of $516.7 million in the same period a year ago. Similar to Investment Cast Products, this segment continues to see a resurgence in its base aerospace business across all operations, growing aerospace sales by 40 percent year over year, not including a solid contribution from Carlton Forge. General industrial sales also showed a significant improvement, increasing by 40 percent over the second quarter of fiscal 2010. Seamless pipe sales, however, dropped by almost 50 percent year over year, challenging overall segment margins. Interconnect pipe orders have begun to recover, with shipments expected to begin late in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. Forged Products successfully continued to leverage the increased aerospace and general industrial volumes across manufacturing operations with greatly improved cost structures, which helped to overcome the seasonal operating challenge of preventative maintenance across its major forging complexes. In December 2010, final repairs will be made on the segment’s 29,000-ton forging press in Houston. Permanent columns were received in the third quarter and will be installed to replace the temporary columns that have been in operation since shortly after the forge’s outage in late 2008. The repairs are anticipated to be complete and the forge to be back on line by the beginning of the fourth quarter. Operating income in the second quarter increased to $130.2 million, or 19.5 percent of sales, this year, compared to operating income of $120.0 million, or 23.2 percent of sales in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. Although contractual material pass-through pricing was flat, higher selling prices of external alloy sales from the segment’s three primary mills added approximately $33 million to top-line revenues.

Fastener Products:

Fastener Products sales totaled $327.1 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, which were relatively flat as compared to sales of $330.2 million a year ago. Sales in the segment’s aerospace markets were down more than 5 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 2010, driven by lower OEM and distributor demand year over year. Sales of airframe structural fasteners, one of Fastener Products’ core markets, dropped by more than 50 percent at two of the segment’s major manufacturing facilities. The segment has worked diligently over the course of the year to offset this decline with non-structural fasteners. Fastener Products continues to increase its market share in aerospace products and to strengthen its position for solid growth as demand starts to return. Also helping to mitigate the decline were increased orders for non-core industrial products. Aggressive performance improvements throughout the Fastener Products operations have enabled the segment to generate solid operating margins despite the shift in product mix, providing a firm foundation for strong upside earnings going forward. Operating income for the second quarter was $97.0 million, or 29.7 percent of sales, compared to operating income of $110.7 million, or 33.5 percent of sales a year ago.”In the second quarter, we drove increased aerospace and general industrial volumes over a much improved cost structure to achieve solid results,” said Mark Donegan, chairman and chief executive officer of Precision Castparts Corp. “We continue to see increasing volume on long-lead time castings and forgings for the base commercial aircraft programs, and general industrial sales have risen significantly from last year’s lows. On the other hand, we had to overcome tremendous pressure from a major year-over-year drop in seamless pipe sales, but these sales have already begun to recover slightly from first quarter levels.”Looking ahead, we are very well positioned on all the base and new aircraft programs; the components are developed, and we are ready to manufacture and ship,” Donegan said. “Our Investment Castings and Forgings aerospace order books are emerging strongly year over year after a long, dry spell of customer destocking. We have not yet seen the same dynamics in Fastener Products, but we anticipate a vigorous recovery moving into next year. Added to that are the solid increases in the narrow-body and wide-body aircraft build rates beginning the middle of fiscal 2012 and the 787 program. The 787 aircraft continues to be our most significant upside catalyst, ramping up through next year and carrying us well into the future. During the quarter, however, our 787 engine customers revised their schedules downward for the fourth quarter, which moves much of the acceleration we would have seen in the fourth quarter into early next year. In addition, the seamless pipe backlog is starting to fill with interconnect seamless pipe, which we will start to ship late in this year’s fourth quarter and into fiscal 2012. As these aerospace and pipe deliveries begin to strengthen through year end and into next year, we will get a major upturn in sales growth, and we are committed to getting strong leverage from this additional volume.”At the end of the quarter, cash stood at $410.6 million, and debt had dropped to $237.6 million.

Source : Market Watch 2010-10-21

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Alstom : A higher stake on Indian market (US)

Category : Strategy

Executive vice-president of Alstom, Philippe Joubert (R) and the chief executive officer of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani are pictured during a news conference on the Infosys campus in Bangalore, 31 May 2005. French engineering firm Alstom said that it has joined hands with Infosys Technologies in a 39 million dollar research facility that will employ 300 engineers in India’s high-tech capital.

Global power equipment major Alstom is sharpening its focus on the Indian power market as the government focuses on facilitating domestic manufacturing capacity for power equipment. India’s electricity requirement is projected to grow at a sustained pace over the long term as the economy remains on a high growth trajectory. This offers huge business potential for a company like Alstom, which provides complete power plant solutions.The French company has been manufacturing and supplying high-duty boilers for power plants across the world. However, it had limited itself in India to providing design and engineering for turbines.“Alstom has been operating in the Indian market for the last hundred years. However, it was not in the business of manufacturing turbines,” Guy Chardon, senior vice-president, Alstom Power, told FE, on a recent visit to India.But when the Indian government formulated a supercritical policy in 2009 to promote indigenous power equipment capacity, Alstom was quick to reposition itself as a supplier of turbines by forging a joint venture (JV) with Bharat Forge, a global leader in forgings.“We have to fit with the policies of the government,” Chardon said.The Alstom-Bharat Forge JV has emerged as the lowest bidder for NTPC’s contract for the bulk supply of 660 mw supercritical turbine-generators, beating competition from Bhel and a JSW-Toshiba consortium. This should help Alstom establish itself in the Indian supercritical turbine-generator market.Alstom holds a majority stake in the JV, which is setting up turbine-generator manufacturing facility of 5,000 mw a year in Mundra, Gujarat. “We have brought the right technology and made the right investment in the JV. Bharat Forge brings on the table knowledge of the market and knowledge of metallurgy and forgings,” Chardon said.“NTPC is one of the best thermal power generators in the world. The fact that the JV has come out as the lowest bidder for NTPC’s project proves that we are very competitive,” Chardon argued.“We want the JV to become a leading player in India. We have provided people to build and run the manufacturing facility and will also provide it all the technological know-how and know-why required to make that happen,” Chardon said.Alstom is pursuing its boiler supply business in India through Bhel. It has licensed its boiler manufacturing technology to Bhel under a 15-year agreement.Alstom supplies key components of boilers to Bhel from its manufacturing facility in Durgapur, West Bengal. Besides, Alstom is also entitled to a royalty on the licensed technology.Power plants are very complex. Buying equipment is not like any other products. The plant design and specifications have to match with the quality of key physical inputs like coal and water. Alstom’s competitive edge lies in the fact that it is a total plant solution provider, and not just an equipment supplier.While Alstom does equipment supply for coal and gas-based power projects through Bhel, it has been bidding for equipment supply for hydropower projects on its own. It is implementing India’s largest hydropower project, Lower Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh, for NHPC. The company also provides its services for the renovation and modernisation of ageing power plants through its JV with NTPC.Alstom has partnered with IT services major Infosys to set up an R&D centre at Bangalore, which would provide engineering solutions. Application of these innovations help increase life and efficiency of mechanical components in power plants.The French multinational has 4,000 people working at its manufacturing plants and R&D centres in places like Vadodra, Dugapur and Bangalore.Alstom can expand its manufacturing facility in India on requirement. “Once you have a base, you can also expand,”Chardon reasoned. Alstom will complete hundred years of its India operations in early 2011.

Source : India Express

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GKN sales continue to grow with help from powder metallurgy division (US)

Category : Actualités

GKN Aerospace outer wing assembly for the X-47B UCAS-D

20th Oct, 2010 -In an interim management statement, GKN Plc announced that the group had continued to make strong progress through the third quarter 2010 and expect a solid close to the year. Group sales in the three months ended 30 September 2010 totalled £1,336 million, a 21% increase over the comparable period in 2009. Favourable currency translation and acquisitions increased sales by £40 million and therefore underlying sales increased by 17%.

Growth in Powder Metallurgy
In the automotive sectors, including the group’s powder metallurgy business, overall demand during the third quarter remained at similar levels to the second quarter, with the European seasonal decline less than normal and strong demand in North America and Asia. Sales increased by 34% compared with last year, to £800 million (2009: £598 million), up 28% on an underlying basis.Overall, Automotive trading margin was 6.9%, with Powder Metallurgy trading margin at 7.9% and Driveline at 6.6%. Driveline’s profits were held back somewhat during the quarter as a result of additional temporary labour costs in Europe to meet higher than expected customer demand during the holiday season and increased raw material costs which should largely be recovered over coming months.

Aerospace & Land Systems
Aerospace markets continued to perform broadly in line with expectations although the seasonal decline in third quarter sales in Europe proved somewhat greater than normal. Third quarter sales in this sector were down 3% on last year at £349 million (2009: £361 million) and down 7% on an underlying basis. Trading profit was £39 million (2009: £43 million) and the trading margin was 11.2%.The markets for Land Systems returned to normal third quarter seasonal patterns and GKN sales were 11% lower than the second quarter. However, compared with last year, Land Systems’ third quarter sales were up 30% at £165 million (2009: £127 million) with trading profit of £8 million (2009: trading loss of £3 million) and a trading margin of 4.8%.

Positive outlook for PM Business
GKN state that the outlook in the fourth quarter remains positive with Group sales expected to be at a similar level to the third quarter. Production schedules support another solid quarter for the  Driveline and Powder Metallurgy businesses, with Land Systems sales expected to be flat and Aerospace expected to have strong fourth quarter sales.

Source : IPMD

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Novelis Announces Price Increase on Aluminium Rolled Products in Europe (US)

Category : Entreprises

Novelis Fusion™ multi-alloy aluminum ingots ready for rolling at Novelis’ facility in Oswego, N.Y.

ZURICH, October 6, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Novelis today announced that it is increasing the prices of the speciality aluminium sheet products that it sells to European distribution and industrial customers. The company’s fabrication charge will increase by up to 140 Euros per tonne, depending on the product.The price change is effective immediately for all new orders booked and for all shipments on or after January 1, 2011. Orders currently under a fixed contract are not affected by this announcement.”There are a number of reasons for this price increase,” said Tadeu Nardocci, senior vice president of Novelis Inc. and president of Novelis Europe. “The tight supply situation, with demand remaining strong, must be reflected in our prices and payment terms. Furthermore, the upward trend in metal premiums continues and this cost increase is also a factor.”

Novelis is the leading supplier of high quality aluminium sheet to the European market.

About Novelis

Novelis Inc. is the global leader in aluminium rolled products and aluminium can recycling. The company operates in 11 countries, has approximately 11,600 employees and reported revenue of US$8.7 billion in its 2010 fiscal year. Novelis supplies premium aluminium sheet and foil products to automotive, transportation, packaging, construction, industrial, electronics and printing markets throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Novelis is a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries Limited (BSE: HINDALCO), one of Asia’s largest integrated producers of aluminium and a leading copper producer. Hindalco is a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group, a multinational conglomerate based in Mumbai, India. For more information, please visit http://www.novelis.com.

Source: PR Newswire

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Voestalpine launches advertising campaign (US)

Category : Actualités

(Credit Photo @ Veotsalpine)
  • voestalpine present through campaign for the first time in Austria and Germany
  • Campaign highlights importance of innovations and breadth of Group
  • Employees and their ideas take center stage
  • Target audience – general public and opinion leaders
  • voestalpine launches new website with social media integration

On the theme “When ideas come knocking, let them in” voestalpine will for the first time launch a classic advertising campaign in print, online and on TV this Friday. Through the campaign, the Group will offer the general public a glimpse into its world, focusing on the importance of innovation and placing its employees and their ideas on center stage. The campaign, which will take shape in several stages in Austria and Germany, was developed in collaboration with the advertising agency Jung von Matt/Donau.Austria’s most research-focused industrial concern with some 40,000 employees will soon become increasingly familiar to newspaper readers, TV consumers and online users. The unusual media action staged by the corporate group, which produces, processes, and further develops high-quality steel products in 60 countries, is a somewhat surprising move for a B2B group. The campaign centers on the cornerstone of the Group’s corporate mindset: employees and their ideas. After all, every development begins with a person and their idea. voestalpine employees possess one singular trait: the ability to embrace novelty. Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG, explains: “When an idea comes knocking at the door, there has to be someone there who will let it in and actually do something with it. Our employees believe there is nothing so good that they can’t improve it. They are the reason for our success.”The campaign “When ideas come knocking, let them in”, which was developed in collaboration with the advertising agency Jung von Matt/Donau, highlights precisely this crucial moment of inspiration. The print subjects featured in the campaign reflect the breadth of products and services offered by the Group. The campaign shows that it is employees with ideas who make the difference and who ensure that voestalpine will stay one step ahead in the future.Josef Koinig, CEO of Jung von Matt/Donau, agrees: “Not just in advertising, but also in industry, good ideas are more important than ever today. Working together with customers who see this in the same way is a lot of fun for everyone.”The voestalpine campaign will be implemented in several stages, with coverage in Austrian and German media. For more information about the campaign along with the subjects and the TV spot, visit www.voestalpine.com.

Source : VoestAlpine

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Higher-Grade Steel Aids Severstal, Evraz (US)

Category : Entreprises

Workers at an Evraz Steel Plant

18 October 2010-Severstal and Evraz  Group, Russia’s top two steelmakers, are outperforming their largest competitors in Asia and Europe as a drive by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to expand manufacturing boosts domestic demand for car parts, rail track and pipelines. Severstal opened two plants near Moscow in the third quarter to supply automakers including Peugeot and Volkswagen, who are setting up assembly lines in Russia as sales rise. The steelmaker’s shares have soared 80 percent in Moscow trading this year, compared with a 42 percent slump for Hebei Iron & Steel, the listed unit of China’s biggest producer. Selling higher-grade metal at home rather than exporting semi-finished steel offers bigger profits for Severstal and its Russian peers, after a jump in Chinese output and a weakening global economy dragged down prices from 2008 highs. Russian producers are benefiting from fewer export expenses and higher domestic consumption as Putin spearheads a $1 trillion infrastructure boom to diversify the economy. “Investors now are more interested in Russian steel companies’ exposure to a vibrant domestic market than their overseas ambitions,” said Alexander Pukhayev, an analyst at VTB Capital. “The shift to high-value products sold in Russia is one of the cornerstones of the investment case today.” Russia’s five biggest steelmakers will see earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization more than triple on average from 2009 to 2012, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Evraz climbed to the highest price in five months in London trading Friday after raising its forecast for third-quarter EBITDA to as much as $600 million, from as low as $480 million previously.Higher-value products sold domestically can earn three times as much profit as semi-finished exports, said Boris Krasnozhenov, an analyst at Renaissance Capital. Steel-slab sales contribute an average $100 a metric ton to steelmakers’ EBITDA, while galvanized steel or thick plates earn $300 a ton, he said. Galvanized steel is used in cars to prevent corrosion. “The government has made this part of their strategy for Russia’s next phase of development,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib Capital. “Moving up the value chain in areas where Russia is already established is easier and quicker to show results than trying to bring in new industries.” Russia was the fourth-biggest steel producer last year, behind China, Japan and India, according to the World Steel Association. The country has offered tax breaks to foreign carmakers on condition that they buy a percentage of their parts from Russian suppliers, a requirement the government may raise to 60 percent from 30 percent. That may deter some overseas manufacturers, according to Eurasia Group. “The risk is that future foreign investors in the Russian car industry will balk at higher localization, investment and production requirements, and elect not to enter the market at all — while those already involved may find themselves at a sharp disadvantage,” said Alex Brideau, an analyst at the New York-based research company. Automakers that decide to take the risk and expand in Russia are set to benefit from a recovery in its car sales, forecast to rise by almost 15 percent this year to 1.67 million units, according to the Association of European Businesses. That rebound is fueled by an economic recovery that’s projected to outpace growth in North America and Europe. Russia has forecast 4 percent growth this year and 4.2 percent in 2011. The comparable figure in the United States is a 2.5 percent expansion next year and 1.4 percent in the euro zone, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. Russia’s investment in high-grade automotive steel is “a whole new phase for the country’s car industry,” Putin said during a July visit to Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, Russia’s fourth-biggest steelmaker. Magnitogorsk, or MMK, will spend $3 billion over three years to boost output capacity by 60 percent, it said Sept. 16. The company will raise the proportion of higher-value products to 50 percent from 35 percent over the period, as Russian demand for automotive steel will triple over the next decade, MMK said Oct. 1, citing World Steel Association data. Severstal increased its proportion of Russian sales to 37 percent of revenue in the first half from 31 percent a year earlier. Evraz, which is upgrading a plant in the Ural Mountains to make high-speed rail track, raised domestic sales to 33 percent from 28 percent. Both are likely to get about 45 percent of their sales from Russia in 2012, according to Renaissance Capital. Putin’s strategy to shift the economy away from dependence on raw materials goes across commodity classes. He’s urged oil companies to refine more crude and export gasoline and petrochemicals, while timber producers have built wood-processing and pulp mills in Russia after export tariffs rose. The government’s 10-year infrastructure investment plan includes spending on railways, roads, airports and ports, as well as pipelines for gas and oil, the country’s biggest export earner. “Domestic steel producers will be utilizing their full capacity, and demand will be strong,” said Timur Salikhov, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Moscow. Mechel, a coal and steel producer, and Evraz will be “two key beneficiaries” of the construction recovery, he said. Evraz and Mechel are investing a combined $1.1 billion in two plants to make rail track, anticipating an increase in orders from Russian Railways, operator of the world’s largest railroad network.”Selling semi-finished products abroad isn’t particularly profitable,” said MMK’s chief financial officer Oleg Fedonin. “Growth prospects in Russia are significantly higher.”

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New ThyssenKrupp stainless steel mill begins production in Alabama (US)

Category : Actualités

ThyssenKrupp’s investment at its Alabama plant is estimated at $5 billion. (Credit Photo @ ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA)

CALVERT, Alabama (WALA) – Thyssenkrupp’s new stainless steel mill is up and running in Calvert, and Tuesday FOX10 got a first look inside the new plant.You can’t help but notice all the bright colors in the $1.4 billion stainless steel facility.According to Plant Director Guido Burgel, there’s a psychological reason behind the colors.”It’s very important for the people that the environment is very friendly and not so dark, as is common in the steel industry,” Burgel said.The new plant has been operating for a few months, and orders for the stainless steel produced in Calvert are already coming in.Burgel walked FOX10 News through the plant to show how the coils become stainless used in elevators, appliances, and pipes.The first part of the process involves reducing the thickness of the coil.”And then they will weld this coil and this coil together with a welding machine,” explained Burgel.The sheets are inspected after every phase of the process. Any defects, even stains, will affect how the steel is finally used.”You see here, the surface of the strip is just a little bit better than what you see earlier,” Burgel added.Burgel compares part of the process to the sanding used in carpentry.”That is the same principle here. We are using this grinding belt to make the surface like that what you see. It’s like sandpaper. Right, it’s a sandpaper,” said Burgel.Team leader Reggie McMillian was among the first group hired by ThyssenKrupp. He said steel plants have changed over the years.”I learned a lot when I went to Germany about all the aspects of steel making, and it’s a lot different than people think it is. As you can see right here, there’s nothing, that’s hot right here. It’s all automated, computerized, so it’s a lot different than people really think,” McMillian said.In the final step, the coils are cut into sheets, and those sheets are then shipped out to customers.There are about 320 people working in the stainless division. That number is expected to increase to 900 over the next two years.

Source : Fox10TV

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Saarstahl to invest in new secondary metallurgy units (German)

Category : Entreprises

 (Credit Photo @ VDEH)

 (US)

The Volklinger Saarstahl AG is to invest heavily in improving their grades of steel. The Supervisory Board has approved an investment package of EUR 144 million. The money is in the steel mill built including a new plant to treat the steel under vacuum.Mr Klaus Saarstahl Harste CEO of Völklinger Saarstahl AG said that “As a result, elements such as nitrogen, carbon and oxygen extracted from the steel. The steel is clean. Moreover, two ladle heaters come into the steel mill. They have the advantage that the steel can be enriched with far more precise than in the preceding metal alloy converter. With these two methods, we can significantly improve the quality of our steel. This would improve especially in the demanding automotive industry, the company’s position. Also generally a strong demand growth for high quality steel products is both on the staff to feel as well as in the wire area. Saar rolled steel bars and wire at three plants.n addition, investing in their Saarstahl bars Nauweiler center in the works.”Moreover, in future, all bars are tested with a new ultrasonic device for cracks or other defects. Further, the steel bars to customers in the future bright peeled. You will not leave dark finish, but the shimmer the work. Customers are thus a processing step removed.This EUR 144 million, the second major investment by Saar steel within a short time. Only in May, the company inaugurated a new forge in which around EUR 450 million in investments have been poured.The Völklinger Saarstahl takes further EUR 144 million in hand to improve the quality of their steel on. The company wants to get involved with his rod and wire products in front. The only way to satisfy the demanding customer requirements and only the company will keep the business independent of capricious cycles in the ordinary steel business. It proves again an advantage that the Saar steel industry has the opportunity to invest their income, instead they distribute as a dividend must.

(German)

Saarstahl investiert 144 Millionen Euro in Standort Völklingen

In das Völklinger Stahlwerk und in das Stabstahl-Zentrum Nauweiler investiert Saarstahl 144 Millionen Euro. Mit diesem Geld soll die Qualität des Stahls noch einmal wesentlich verbessert werden. Völklingen. Die Völklinger Saarstahl AG wird kräftig in die Verbesserung ihrer Stahlgüten investieren. Der Aufsichtsrat hat ein Investitionspaket von 144 Millionen Euro genehmigt. Mit dem Geld wird im Stahlwerk unter anderem einen neue Anlage gebaut, um dem Stahl unter Vakuum zu behandeln. „Dadurch werden Elemente wie Stickstoff, Kohlenstoff und Sauerstoff aus dem Stahl herausgezogen“, erläutert Saarstahl-Vorstandschef Klaus Harste (Foto: SZ). „Der Stahl wird sauberer.“ Außerdem kommen zwei Pfannenheizer ins Stahlwerk. Sie haben den Vorteil, dass der Stahl wesentlich exakter mit Legierungsmetallen angereichert werden kann als im vorgeschalteten Konverter. „Mit diesen beiden Verfahren können wir die Qualität unserer Stähle wesentlich verbessern“, erläutert Harste. Dies würde die Position des Unternehmens „vor allen Dingen in der anspruchsvollen Automobilindustrie verbessern“. Außerdem sei allgemein ein deutliches Nachfrage-Wachstum nach Hochqualitäts-Stahlprodukten sowohl im Stab- als auch im Drahtbereich zu spüren. Saarstahl walzt in drei Werken Stäbe und Draht. Darüber hinaus investiert die Saarstahl AG in ihr Stabstahlzentrum im Werk Nauweiler.

Source : Saarbruecker-zeitung & Steel Guru

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