SSAB Special Steels is aiming for 1.35 million tonnes of shipments by 2020. Part of this will come from upgrading but expanding sales in emerging markets will also play an important role in achieving this aim. Latin America is one potential geographical area for growth. We want to maintain and strengthen our position as the global leader in wear, structural, protection and tool steels as well as in related value-added services.
“Compared to more traditional markets like the US and Europe, there is still a lot of potential in Latin America in the usage of high-strength steels. In some cases this also means challenges for us, since many OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and end-users have no experience of high-strength steels and little knowledge of their benefits or how to work with our premium steels,” says Sales Director Luiz Monegatto from SSAB Special Steels.
We have been active during the last few years, and are working hard to increase our presence in the area. Growth of the Hardox Wearparts network, more experienced regional sales managers and close technical cooperation with major OEMs and end-users have created demand for our high-strength steels. This increase in volume has also allowed us to improve our logistics and intra-sales thereby creating added value for our customers,” Monegatto continues.
Technical support, strong brands and marketing programs tools for growth
We want to develop our presence in less traditional segments and countries while maintaining our current market position in the face of some traditional competitors and some new alternatives such as steel service centers and local steel mills. For that, we will continue telling about the advantages of our strong brands and marketing programs like My Inner Strenx and Hardox In My Body. We are continuously improving our service level through better response to customers.
SSAB Services is also an important part of our Latin America strategy. The Hardox Wearparts network has grown from 8 centers in 2014 to more than 30 centers in 2017 and there is good potential across the whole region. The Wearparts Center in Santiago for example has a key role in supporting our growth in the Chilean market and in delivering important value to customers. In Brazil, a new Shape Center has just started and will create more opportunities for future growth.
Many different countries and markets, but also similarities
Although each country has different profile, in general, Mining and Trailer are strong segments in most of the Latin American countries. More recently, increased participation by Brazil and Mexico in the Agriculture segment presented us with an opportunity to utilize our improved portfolio, including QT (quenched and tempered) strip and also structural tubes.
“I can give you one successful example from Chile, where our team has worked for many years in order to develop the application of thick Hardox 500, 550 and 600 for the SAG/Ball Mill as an alternative to castings. This project has just started to change the SAG/Ball Mill market in the region, expanding to Peru, Argentina and Brazil. This is also being supported by our fully-owned Hardox Wearparts Center in Santiago, which has recently invested in a third cutting table and also a pre heating furnace to improve both quality and local capacity,” tells Luiz Monegatto.
SSAB Mexico has shown amazing growth rates in past 4 years and, considering the current projects and the opportunities that we foresee, will continue to outperform in the next two years. Argentina and Colombia also delivered great growth both in volumes and SSAB customer numbers – adding more than 120 new customers since 2016.