When we talk about innovation today, we tend to think about the Silicon Valley, Google or Elon Musk. But while all eyes are on the biggest technological hub of the planter, other industries keep pushing themselves towards perfection. One of them, in particular, has shown a relentless effort to improve their products and processes over the years: The Metal Industry.
Even if they are not making the front page of the technology magazine – because, let’s face it, the discovery of a Titanium-gold alloy four times harder than most steels will sell less paper than new ways to grow tomatoes on mars – innovation in the metal industry is nonetheless important.
Innovation is the DNA of the Metal Industry
Innovation in the Metal Industry is a story of survival embedded in the DNA of most organizations. Why? Imagine a company using materials and processes of the 50’s competing on price with assembly lines, machines and computers. It is simply impossible. If you do not make any investment to develop materials more resistant, lighter and cheaper or cutting-edge processes, your company is bound to have a competitive disadvantage in the upcoming year that could prove dramatic. This is why most Metal businesses strategically devote time and resources in Research and Development (R&D) and the innovations that come from it are often radical.
A recent survey published by PwC demonstrates that over 45% of respondents from the Metal Industry expect to see “radical” or “breakthrough” innovations in either Technology or Systems & Processes.
Never Stopping the Innovation
The results of this mindset have been seen in numerous ways across the Industry. Materials are more flexible, lighter and stronger than ever. In the past 30 years, Steel companies from North America, Japan, and Europe have reduced their energy consumption per ton of steel produced by 50%. And the metal parts of metal buildings are now reusable at a rate close to 100%.
The best part is that these innovations are not only beneficial for company owners. Down the line, they made steel materials one of the most cost-effective components on the market. Steel buildings, for example, are drastically reducing the costs of construction for individual and professionals, enabling countless numbers of projects to come out of the ground. With these characteristics, it is not a surprise that over 50% of non-residential low-rise buildings in America are made out of steel.
And the Industry never stops innovating. In the video below produced by MBMA, you can discover another great application that directly benefits the consumer. Standing Seam Metal Roofs develop capabilities that no other material could provide.
As seen in the PwC survey, innovation of a product is not the only focus of metal companies. Systems and process improvements also play an important role in the strategic development of a company. The rise of electronic and IT systems have permitted companies to further automate production and increase productivity. Machines replace the work of ten men and software technologies connect every aspect of operation, from production to inventory and accounting, helping the Metal Industry be more competitive than ever.
There are many good reasons why metal materials are favored for a new construction project or the next component in your phone. Their weight, malleability, solidity, and cost-effectiveness are the results of decades of audacious innovations that live in the heart of every metal company.