Articles in Category: Product Developments

Oracle announced Thursday it agreed to acquire Textura, a cloud-based solution for the construction industry with end-to-end capabilities spanning from initial bid estimation and sourcing through to subcontractor management, communication and collaboration, invoicing and payment.

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Textura can not only catalog the cost of installation of this structural form, but also log its completion and pay the sub-contractor that put it in. Image: Jeff Yoders/MetalMiner.

“Textura’s mission is to bring workflow automation and transparency to complex construction projects while improving their financial performance and minimizing risks,” Textura CEO David Habiger said in a statement. Read more

Allegheny Technologies, Inc., reported in its first quarter earnings call this week that its high-performance materials and components segment sales were up. Sales were $493 million in the first quarter, up approximately 8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. 73% of segment sales were to the aerospace and defense market.

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Operating profit increased by nearly 40%, compared to the fourth-quarter 2015. Segment operating profit was 5.9% of sales.

New Generation of Jet Engine Parts

ATI’s product mix improved through increased sales of next-generation jet engine advanced materials. Sales of nickel-based alloys and specialty alloys increased by 8%, and sales of titanium and titanium alloys increased by 17%. Sales of ATI’s precision forgings increased 15%, driven nearly exclusively by growing demand for jet engine components and airframe forgings.

StuartsF35_500

ATI is very pleased with its sales of airframe and jet engine materials.

“Our differentiated products here include proprietary and unique alloys, as well as products that few others can make,” ATI CEO and President Richard Harshman said, “such as ATI 718+ alloy, Rene 65 alloy, ATI 720 alloy large billets, plasma arc-melted titanium alloys, powder metals, titanium aluminides, as well as hot-die forgings, isothermal forgings and titanium investment castings.”

PAM Power

ATI is currently the only qualified plasma arc melt producer of titanium alloys used for jet engine rotating parts.

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PAM is the preferred process for titanium alloys used in jet engine rotating parts for much of the industry.

“ATI has the most powerful open-die press forge in the industry, which enables fine-grained structure in complex nickel-based super alloy billet and the billetizing of powder alloys,” Harshman said. “ATI is one of only two independent and integrated qualified producers of nickel super-alloy powders and isothermal forged parts.”

Saudi Aramco released an IPO plan of sorts about how it plans to diversify from being the world’s largest energy company to being much more and the Federal Reserve, as expected, left rates unchanged.

Saudi Aramco’s New Plan

The world’s biggest energy company, Saudi Aramco, outlined financing plans on Wednesday that will support its expansion into new areas under a sweeping economic reform plan released in Riyadh this week. The reforms envisage Aramco transforming itself from an oil and gas firm into a “global industrial conglomerate” involved in many sectors and services, using its vast financial resources to create jobs and help diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil.

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The plans suggest Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, which Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman estimated this week was worth over $2 trillion, aims to move rapidly into a new role offering diversified services such as shipbuilding and offshore rig services in the near term.

Fed, As Expected, Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged and remained ambiguous about raising rates in June as mixed global economic signals and low inflation at home weighed on policy makers struggling to spark robust growth seven years after the recession’s end.

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In a statement Wednesday after a two-day meeting, the Fed stuck to its longstanding plan to move carefully on raising the benchmark federal-funds rate, which it has held between 0.25% and 0.50% since December, when it raised short-term rates after holding them near zero since 2008.

Allegheny Technologies, Inc., hosted its first quarter earnings call yesterday morning and reported higher earnings for many of the specialty metal markets it serves, while admitting it has not yet “right-sized” its flat-rolled products business. ATI booked a net loss of $101 million ($0.94 cents per share), a loss that was less than most analysts anticipated.

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Revenue for the first quarter fell 33% year-over.year to $758 million.

ATI's Brackenridge facility is the future and commodity stainless is its past. Source: ATI

ATI executives noted during yesterday’s conference call and webcast the company’s Brackenridge production facility is only open three days, with three shifts each day. ATI would like to increase production there. Source: ATI

“Our High Performance Materials and Components segment is well positioned for profitable growth over the next five years, driven primarily by strong and growing demand from commercial aerospace,” ATI CEO Richard Harshman said. “We are committed to making the tough decisions to return our flat-rolled products segment to sustained profitability. This requires the business to be repositioned and restructured and to be more focused on differentiated products that have higher technical barriers to entry and serve markets that are global with attractive long-term growth prospects.”

Aerospace Products

Harshman and ATI’s executive team reported that the commercial aerospace market, which ATI has pursued as a growth market for the last two years, was starting to show dividends.

“ATI sales to the aerospace and defense markets grew 12% in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the fourth quarter 2015,” Harshman said. “Breaking that growth rate down by specific end markets, sales to the commercial aerospace market grew approximately 20%, with jet engine sales growth of nearly 15% and airframe sales growth of nearly 30%.”

Quarterly Numbers

The overall sales total of $758 million was up 3% over the fourth quarter of 2015, even though it was down year-over-year. High-performance materials and components sales were $493 million, up 8% over Q4 2015. Flat-rolled product sales, though, totaled $265 million, down 6% over Q4 2015. Harshman and the other ATI executives blamed the long work stoppage that ATI weathered for more than 8 months and said that production would increase with United Steelworkers personnel back on the job. ATI attributed $26 million of pre-tax costs to the work stoppage and labor contract return-to-work provisions.

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ATI also booked a $9 million for severance packages from recent flat-rolled products layoffs.

The American Iron and Steel Institute praised strong statements from eight nations meeting in Brussels to deal with the steel overcapacity crisis. The U.S. Mint might stop making pennies.

Wither the Penny?

The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos reported that in a March memo to President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said he planned to suspend production of the venerable penny.

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Pennies fall out of circulation almost immediately, forcing the U.S. Mint to continually stamp out more, and they cost almost twice as much to produce as they’re worth, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Mint.

American Steel Organizations Applaud Overcapacity Statement

The American Iron and Steel Institute today said that a joint statement by eight governments on steel overcapacity issued yesterday at a meeting of most major steel producers in Brussels is an “important demonstration that many major steel-producing nations are united in their commitment to take action to address the global steel overcapacity situation that is negatively affecting the world’s steel industry.”

The statement was issued by the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Switzerland, and Turkey as a result of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s High-Level Meeting on Excess Capacity and Structural Adjustment in the Steel Sector this week.

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It follows a strongly worded statement from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative on Monday criticizing China, and other countries, for their unwillingness to work to address the overcapacity issue while at the OECD meetings.

The size of the U.S.contingent at India’s DefExpo 2016, held recently in the state of Goa, was enough to send out a clear message.

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Of the 47 participating countries, the U.S. was among the event’s largest international exhibitors, clearly underlining the importance of the region to the American defense and security business. This was the first time that DefExpo, India’s most prominent defense and security trade event, was held outside the capital, New Delhi.

Who Makes What? Or Asks For it?

The event saw a bit of “Make in India” mingling with “Ask America First.” The U.S. International Pavilion saw potential buyers looking for ways to meet a critical mass of U.S. suppliers, and an onsite business hub for American exhibitors looking to maximize their exposure and impact at the event.

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The Polaris DAGOR was designed for U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and U.S. Special Operations Forces. Source: Polaris. 

“When U.S. companies commit to exhibit at DefExpo, they’re saying they believe in the power of this event to attract real business prospects and customers. The global interest in this show speaks for itself,” said Kallman Worldwide President and CEO Tom Kallman, in a media release. Kallman Worldwide, Inc., was the designated U.S. Representative of the show, in coordination with numerous U.S. government agencies

“The United States is the world’s biggest aerospace and defense supplier, but that’s no guarantee that buyers will look to work with American companies over others,” Kallman said. We want every visitor to ‘Ask America first’ at DefExpo, and to be assured that America is listening.”

Heavy Defense Hitters

The list of participating companies read like a veritable who’s who of the U.S. defense and aviation industry. Boeing was there, of course, along with Honeywell, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and Textron, along with a cross section of leading American suppliers working to strengthen or initiate international partnerships. A high-level federal government delegation, which included General Dennis L. Via, Commander of the Army Material Command; Ann Cataldo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation; and Thomas L. Vajda, the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai were part of the U.S. delegation.

Clearly, as voiced by the Consul General, defense and space technology is now high on the list of cooperation between the U.S. and India. And the efforts of the federal government to reach out to local Indian manufacturers such as Tata Steel and Mahindra, who of late have formed their own defense equipment producing units, should boost India’s “Make in India” campaign.

Such collaboration could be music to the ears of both Indian and American steel and other metals manufacturers since outside of infrastructure and automobile, defense is one of the largest consumers of steel and aluminum.

For example, Polaris India Pvt. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Polaris Industries Inc. a leader in off-road and all-terrain vehicles, showcased its  products, the Dagor (Deployable Advance Ground Off-Road) and the Mrzr4 at the DefExpo India 2016.

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These vehicles were brought to India for the first time. Polaris also showcased its six-wheel drive off-roader, BosSportsman Big s 6×6 and its Ranger 6×6 800 at the event.

Polaris India has developed the DAGOR vehicle under a contract from elements of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and international Special Operations Forces (SOF) customers.

Today, at the American Institute of Steel Construction‘s North American Steel Construction Conference in Orlando, engineering software provider Autodesk announced new capabilities for its Advance Steel steel detailing software.

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The new additions include an automatic parametric tool for inserting cold-rolled steel sections, such as purlins and side rails, and their corresponding steel connections.

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The new cold-rolled cold-rolled sections tool in Advance Steel 2017. Source: Autodesk.

Components can be selected from default vendors available in the application or other vendors can be added by users. The default cold-rolled section vendors are Lysaght, Strammit, Dimond (fastBrace and channel) and MetalCraft (standard and camlock).

The Advance Steel 2017 Extension for Autodesk’s parametric building information modeling program, Revit can now be downloaded and installed from Autodesk’s App Store website. The 2017 extension comes with a set of enhancements that offer a higher level of building model information exchange, especially with synchronization for Revit models containing steel connections back and forth with Advance Steel.

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In the 2017 version, Revit will now support the level of development (LOD) 300 and 400 specifications directly in the program. The LOD spec is a reference standard that enables practitioners in the AEC industry to specify and articulate with a high level of clarity the content and reliability of BIM data at various stages in the design and construction process. Here is a rundown of what the different levels (100, 200, 300, 400) mean.

This is part two of a series on tin and its evolving uses in the many industries that purchase it. Check out part one, if you missed it.

It has been known for nearly 200 years that that a thermal gradient formed between two dissimilar conductors can produce electricity, but it has taken researchers at Northwestern University to show that tin selenide is such a poor heat conductor that it makes a remarkably promising thermo-electric material whose unique properties can be exploited in solid-state thermo-electric devices for a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings. The US wastes 50% of the energy it produces as heat.

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Two thirds of the energy in gasoline disappears out the tailpipe, imagine the reduction in generating capacity or in fuel use that could be achieved if a portion of this could be captured and used? Potential areas of application for such materials include the automobile industry, heavy manufacturing industries such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants, and places where large combustion engines operate continuously such as in large ships and tankers.

PV Power?

Touching back on our reference to energy storage, one of the technologies that has created the demand for storage more than most is solar panels. The cost has come down and the efficiency has gone up with silicon crystalline photovoltaic panels to the extent that they can operate without subsidy in southern states. But although costs have fallen, the smart money believes it has much further to go… and tin could be the key.

Source: ITRI

Source: International Tin Research Institute.

Research money is pouring into perovskite solar cells, which can be produced for a fraction of the cost of silicon solar cells in part because they do not need the high-tech, super -lean manufacturing environment that conventional silicon PV panels demand. Read more

The combination of rising Chinese steel exports and weak demand has led to an unsustainable situation for steel producers that are losing money day after day. The issue is particularly bad in the U.K., where its steel industry is not enjoying the same protectionism that the U.S. is.

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Last week, India’s Tata Steel announced its intentions to close its business in the U.K. if it cannot find a buyer. Tata Steels giant Port Talbot, Wales, steel plant would be shuttered if it cannot find a buyer and that would all but bring steel production in Britain to an end.

Consolidation Factor

Tata will only produce steel in the Netherlands once it sells/closes its U.K. business. The announcement has increased expectations of Tata merging with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp. ThyssenKrupp is one of the world’s largest steelmakers and the company also provides components and systems for the automotive industry, elevators, escalators, material trading and industrial services.

ThyssenKrupp’s Steel Europe unit is profitable and so are Tata Steel’s Netherlands operations. Both companies have held talks about combining their operations before. If an agreement materializes, it would help both companies achieve scale and cost savings. Also, a reduction of its steel exposure would help ThyssenKrupp focus on its engineering business. The move would likely please investors, at least that seemed to be the case as ThyssenKrupp’s shares jumped to their highest level this year on the news of the possible merger.

How to Save European Steel

The consolidation of the steel sector in Europe makes a lot of sense. Indeed, the industry has waited too long to close or merge underperforming operations, and that has led to a crisis where many business are now cash flow-negative. If European steelmakers knew prices were going to get this low they would have probably reacted earlier. Shutting down capacity is always an undesirable option as companies are unwilling to let their competitors win market share.

ArcelorMittal (in black) laggin US Steel Corp (in red)

ArcelorMittal’s stock price (in black) lagging that of U.S. Steel Corp. (in red). Source: MetalMiner analysis of @StockCharts.com data.

Combining Tata Steel’s Dutch plant with Thyssenkrupp’s operations would create Europe’s biggest steelmaker after Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, which is no stranger to the steel crisis in Europe, itself. Read more

Our own Lisa Reisman, executive editor, MetalMiner™, will be front and center for sister site Spend Matters’ upcoming webinar with TAMR. What Lies Beneath: Hidden Ways Falling Commodity Price Risk Can Wreak Havoc on Your Procurement will take place Thursday, April 28 at 11 a.m. CDT and will cover:

  • Several case studies highlighting two different scenarios: When internal and external data were combined to predict supplier distress and…
  • How data was used to turn these risks into a savings opportunity​ 
  • How companies can start using all of their data to enable risk management 2.0

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