Indian steelmills to Danish space craft

20 March 2012

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Our features this month give an indication of how global manufaturing is changing. Over recent years, India has become the fifth largest steel producer in the world. By 2015, it looks likely to be the second biggest steel producer in the world, driven by infrastructure investment and a growing automobile industry.

All of that increased production will require the country to build many new steel mills, and ladle cranes. However, as Anupam's B D Basu argues in this issue, many contractors leave specifying a crane to the last minute. This can mean that a piece of equipment vital to the production process is not up to scratch. To help buyers make that decision wisely, Basu gives his opinion, as a manufacturer, on the questions to ask about this type of crane.

As well as selecting the right crane, metals processing requires picking the right control system. In this issue, we also look at a recent installation of a Demag crane at a foundry in Norway. Here the customer needed to be able to select precise amounts of different types of scrap materials. The system from Demag allows them to pick exactly the amounts needed.

While the steel sector is growing in India, its future is less certain in Scandinavia. The region is still home to some of the world's biggest producers of high quality steel. However, as local automobile manufacture falters, and countries like India develop their own steel capacity, demand is less assured than it was.

That lack of certainty, not just in the steel sector but across manufacturing, means that economic recovery is still slow. As Phil Bishop finds in this issue's region report, that means the crane industry is seeing only gradual, unsteady growth.

However, as developed countries find them facing increased competition, there are still areas where they can excel. Also in our Northern Europe section, Cristina Brooks looks at an unusual and innovative use of a shipyard crane in Denmark.

Copenhagen Suborbitals are working to develop space craft capable of taking humans into space, under open source, non profit, principles. As part of their development programme, they want to carry out splash tests for a space capsule and parachute. To do this, they made use of a giant shipyard gantry.

Western companies will continue to find themselves subject to fiercer and fiercer competition within general manufacturing. However, the innovation and expertise demonstrated by jobs like this may mean that the future is not entirely gloomy.


Will North