Driving the company’s direction to meet the needs of our global customers
Posted on 23.09.15 by
Maintaining our position as the leading steel supplier to the automotive industry means never standing still. In previous blog posts, we’ve looked at how ArcelorMittal continues to drive industry momentum through the likes of R&D investment, innovative new products, and award-winning customer service.
In the last of our automotive blog series, Brian Aranha, Head of Global automotive and commercial coordination, talks about the importance of our downstream network – at how we’re investing in all aspects of the automotive supply chain to support our customers’ global platforms.
With 63 per cent of vehicles expected to be built on global platforms as soon as 2020, carmakers need to be able to access the same products across all their different production facilities, worldwide. This emerging dynamic poses a challenge for steel suppliers to better align their processes with those of their customers. But we enjoy a challenge at ArcelorMittal and our truly global footprint – together with our automotive production facilities around the globe – allows us to deliver the right products, to the right markets, at the right time.
Our automotive division benefits from industrial resources in Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America and South Africa. This industrial network is also strategically positioned to deliver to markets like Argentina, Mexico, the Middle East and Russia.
What’s more, we continue to grow our comprehensive global footprint with joint ventures that help us provide our multinational customers with consistent, high-quality services and solutions around the world.
One of our most exciting joint ventures to date is AM/NS Calvert. In February 2014, we acquired the world’s most modern steel finishing facility, in Calvert, Alabama, in partnership with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metals Corporation (NSSMC). AM/NS Calvert is the largest newly-constructed steel processing plant the US has seen in more than 40 years. The plant is well-positioned to supply the growing demand in south-eastern USA and Mexico, providing steel grades that meet the 2025 safety and fuel economy targets. The site is on track to reach full capacity optimisation by 2016-2017.
But AM/NS Calvert is not the only landmark facility we’ve launched as a result of joint-venture collaboration. Our first greenfield joint-venture facility – Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive, or VAMA – opened, in China, in June 2014 and now serves the world’s fastest-growing automotive market. Expanding our downstream network is enabling us to meet demand in China for advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) and to leverage our technological knowhow.
However, we knew that we needed to look beyond Europe and the Americas to further expand our footprint in the emerging markets. To that end, this May we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) to study the feasibility of creating a joint venture to construct an automotive steel production facility in one of the major auto clusters in India.
Forecast to become the fourth largest in the world by 2020, India’s automotive market was a natural next step in executing global automotive strategy, and we intend to bring together our technical leadership, expertise, and customer relationships with SAIL’s local expertise and production scale.
We are also able to better serve our customers through ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks, which has an extensive network of sites throughout the world. A tailored blank is a sheet of steel that combines several grades and/or thicknesses and/or different coatings in one piece. The different parts are laser welded together, in order to place the best material in the best position for a real “tailor-made” solution for our customers after stamping. Through these blanks strength is concentrated where it is most needed for crash resistance and overall material thickness is reduced, decreasing weight and emissions. Meanwhile, manufacturing, material and transport costs are also all reduced.
We currently have 21 Tailored Blanks sites globally serving automotive markets in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe and throughout Asia and Australia. We are continually growing this network and have a further four sites currently in development.
And a third of our global R&D investment is committed to automotive innovation and our investments have had a significant impact on overcoming industry challenges. Pioneering next-generation steels for the automotive industry is an important part of our R&D investment strategy. Our R&D teams are working together with the Metallurgical Research Centre and have developed the world’s only jet vapour depositioning (JVD) process for galvanisation, which allows steel to be coated with zinc at high speed. Full-scale industrial production is scheduled to start in mid-2016 and the JVD line will mainly be used to produce Jetgal, a new coating for the AHSS steels used in the automotive industry.
Through continued investment, innovation and network expansion we have built both our geographical and technological leadership in the automotive market. We know that we must ensure we continue to expand, improve and innovate across all these areas to ensure we do not lose our market-leading position.
Want to know more?
> Find out more about our automotive offering
> Discover more about VAMA, China’s premium automotive steel company
> Watch the “Steel, the optimal automotive lightweighting solution” video
> Catch-up on other posts in this series:
• Developing our automotive footprint to capture demand growth
• True or false: the steel industry is innovating faster than the mobile phone industry?
• The importance of bringing automotive steel to global markets