This issue of Metals Magazine takes a detailed look at East Asia and the region's steel industry. Over the last few decades, the changes that have happened there were vast: China became the world's largest steel producer, Japan built on its long legacy of delivering precision technology, South Korea became the country with the highest steel use per person worldwide, and Taiwan saw its producers find the right market niches to sustain its highly export-driven business orientation.

As I have worked in the steel industry for several decades now, I have witnessed many of the changes that the East Asian steel industry implemented over time. I have been very impressed by East Asia's willingness not just to grow but also to adapt to new trends. Within the last ten years alone, the market underwent a succession of changes, and the East Asian steel producers always showed great resourcefulness and made remarkable achievements.

It is certainly true that, in 2017, the steel industry is also moving at a fast pace. Global overproduction of steel has led to substantial overcapacity. While some steel manufacturers have remained largely unaffected by this development, others are struggling. Those who have not yet started to target value-added, high-quality steel grades as their main production output are often confronted with very low coil prices, which render them unable to sustain complete operational profitability.

In times of great changes, there is a call for great solutions. And for these solutions to arise, the right innovations have to be made at the right time. This is where Primetals Technologies is at its best. Our technology specialists are constantly working incredibly hard to improve our already available technologies – and to design completely new ones. Our approach to supporting the steel industry is customer- and innovation-­driven. An important factor fueling this approach is our extensive, multinational company structure that unites the efforts of many local R&D facilities. These facilities are all state-of-the-art and have long histories of well-­applied innovation power. The result is an unparalleled selection of highly sophisticated solutions. One good example is Cross Seam Welder technology, which was chiefly invented in Hiroshima, and this issue of Metals Magazine features an interview with one of its creators.

“Readily available solutions have always made a big difference, and in times of change, their importance is even more pronounced.”

Whether it is a large-scale greenfield project, an upgrade for an existing plant, or a new maintenance arrangement: at Primetals Technologies, we will provide you with the most innovative and future-proof solution available. This applies to dedicated hardware components as well as to more software-based control and monitoring systems, which can also bring decisive advantages when aiming to ensure a consistent production of high-quality steels. Readily available solutions have always made a big difference, and in times of change, their importance is even more pronounced.

As CEO of Primetals Technologies, it is my responsibility to ensure that we as a company always support our customers in the best-possible way, no matter what their needs are. Maintaining our culture of innovation and our future-oriented focus are two of the most crucial tasks on my CEO agenda. Therefore, I am constantly in conversation with our customers, trying to get a clear idea of where their problems lie, and what will help them in resolving their most pressing issues.

Whether you are a steel producer located in the East Asian region or elsewhere: if there is a need to adapt to changing market conditions, we will be there as a reliable partner – with our technology experts, our deep knowledge, and our large array of solutions. Let us rise to the challenges and create the future of metals as one. 

Yasukuni Yamasaki
CEO and Chairman of Primetals Technologies