World production of crude steel in March 2022 fell by 6.8 per cent compared to the same month in 2021, and Federmeccanica had already reported an 8 per cent increase in product prices last year. The war in Ukraine, therefore, inserted itself into an already tested context, bringing even greater instability. ‘In September 2020, with the resumption after the stop imposed by the Pandemic, a sharp increase in demand began, which led to a doubling of steel prices in February this year. And with the outbreak of the war, prices rose again, effectively stopping work. Today the situation has turned upside down: the market has not absorbed this further increase and orders have been frozen.’ This is how Marco Gatti, managing director of Steel S.p.A., a Piacenza-based leading company in the field of steel distribution, sums up the sector’s performance over the past two years, emphasising how ‘in such a context it becomes crucial for companies to choose the right distributor to rely on.
The advice is to turn to professionals ‘who work with suppliers distributed all over the world and who can therefore overcome the difficulties linked to problems, such as those related to the increase in production costs, which affect Europe.’ In fact, this is the only way to guarantee the continuity of steel supplies to customers at affordable prices, allowing companies the necessary margin to offer their finished products on the market at competitive costs. After all, steel is a fundamental material for many sectors and the difficulties in finding it risk putting the Italian and world economies in crisis. ‘We work with companies in many sectors, from automotive to earthmoving to the moulding of various components. In fact, everything that is mechanical,’ adds Gatti, who points out that even very large companies that ‘could operate autonomously, but prefer to delegate the task of material procurement and storage in order to be able to concentrate on production,’ are now turning to distributors.
Given the increasing complexity of the market, then, an efficient distributor today must also offer its customers additional services. The growth of Steel S.p.A., for example, has led to the creation of a new branch of the company: Ttp, which deals with heat treatment, i.e. enriching the mechanical properties of steels. ‘Being able to carry out this treatment internally without having to turn to external companies,’ explains Gatti, ‘allows us to shorten times and reduce costs for our customers, who can have everything they need by turning to a single interlocutor.
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