As the year draws to a close on what has been a challenging time for many in our industry, one wonders whether next year will be any better. Stainless steel apparent consumption (SSAC) for the past 12 months is 2.1% down compared with the previous 12 months. The global economic outlook does not look rosy either.
In October, the IMF forecast a global growth rate of 3.1% this year and 3.6% for 2016. The relevant figures for Sub-Saharan Africa were 4% and 4.3%, while the predictions for South Africa were 1.4% this year and 1.3% in 2016. The Metal Miner Annual Metals Outlook – 2016, released in October 2015, characterised commodities markets as unhealthy and stated that this environment has not helped support metal prices. However, the report suggested that the bottom of the commodities price cycle could be imminent.
Thus, as an industry, we will continue to face heavy headwinds as we focus our businesses on optimisation and lean practices. It is at times like these where it is more important than ever that sassda makes a difference to the lives of our members. Sassda has embarked on a number of initiatives to help grow the South African stainless steel converting industry.
This includes the launching of our new advertising campaign with a stainless steel feature in the 23rd October edition of Engineering News, followed by targeted campaigns in other architectural and industrial publications.
We have also engaged with project houses and, in November, will start with lunchtime presentations on stainless steel. The aim is to demystify stainless steel and to make sure that engineers’ concerns when specifying stainless steel are addressed.
In addition we have stepped up our education and training efforts. We gave a lecture to fourth year architectural students at ten universities and are presenting “Stainless steel in Architecture” morning workshops with various architectural institutes across the country.
This year also saw the launch of our shopfloor courses to add to the existing three courses that have all been recently revamped. This has seen a doubling in delegate numbers in the past year.
We are now nearing completion of the year-long study to understand the imports and exports of stainless steel finished products. This study will help to identify possible import threats and whether trade remedies should be considered.
In addition, potential export market hotspots for stainless steel finished products will be revealed. This will guide the future direction of our outward bound missions and participation in trade shows with the dti.
Sassda is broadening its alliances with other metals associations and the Manufacturing Circle. Sassda converting members would have received a survey for the Quarterly Manufacturing Bulletin. This will ensure that the concerns of the stainless steel industry are heard and that we can partner with the Manufacturing Circle with their excellent lobbying track record.
The sassda team has also stepped up member engagement in order to build a closer relationship between sassda and its members. This has allowed sassda to become more member focused – an “outside-in” association – which will help to ensure that our products and services are aligned to our members needs and add value. Indeed, the hard work of the entire sassda team, over the last twelve months, is now starting to bear fruit.
On behalf of all of us at sassda, may we wish you and your families a relaxed and well-earned break and that next year turns out to be successful and prosperous