The ISSF: a reflection on my first year

Published 15 October 2020

ISSF Secretary-General, Tim Collins, has been in ISSF for one year now. Upon completion of the ISSF Member Meetings this October, he reflects on his first full year with the association.

I felt it would be useful to reflect on my first full year leading the ISSF. The last quarter of 2019 was consumed with much thinking and discussion about how to make the ISSF relevant for its members during 2020 and beyond. A number of key themes were identified for development, namely;

  1. Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) development;
  2. Market development; new applications for stainless steels and consideration of opportunities in markets dominated by other materials
  3. Education; novel approaches to ‘teaching the world’ about the wonderful credentials of stainless steels
  4. Communication; reaching out beyond our old demographic of 40 – 60 year old males!
  5. Member engagement; seeking the views of our members in terms of what they want from the ISSF
  6. Raw materials innovations; How can we avoid wastes and material losses?
  7. Revitalising the ISSF team to support each other and look beyond their normal work

 

In the areas of HSE and market development we are now running task forces to provide greater clarity and feedback to members on the most compelling market development opportunities and enhance and share best practices in the fields of HSE. The Long Products Committee has consistently run task forces however we are further developing their concept to provide some clear commercialization guidance on compelling opportunities for our members. The work to develop and run task forces has certainly increased member engagement and the positive input and enthusiasm from all involved has been particularly encouraging.

In terms of education we have been gradually updating old education packages and as a result of the travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic our intentions of speaking at major conferences was quickly switched to running webinars on key subjects. We have run 2 webinars so far, one entitled ‘Building Bridges for Generations’ and the second one headed ‘Understanding Corrosion‘. Our target audience has included our members but also, we have reached out to architects, materials specifiers, construction and engineering companies, academia and local governments. The webinars have been both well-attended and well received. The early indications are that they have provided a strong understanding of stainless steels to a much wider community of potential users and specifiers. The questions arising from these webinars are certainly demonstrating that people really want to understand about and stainless steels and how to use them.

We have also improved our communication through developments to our own website and more recently the Team Stainless website. We have spent time to optimize our response to search engines in order to ensure that we become much easier to locate through a variety of digital platforms. Our new ‘mobile device friendly’ website is much easier to navigate and our content is refreshed much more frequently now.

Feedback from the Raw Materials committee in October 2019 was highly aligned to looking at new subject matter including new opportunities in the raw materials world from capturing metal content from waste streams to reducing stainless scrap losses at end of life.

I have received great support from the whole ISSF team with Jo, Kai and Bernard all contributing solidly and consistently to the work we do. Kai has managed to enhance our economics and statistics reporting and bring on board new insightful inputs from a new set of analysts. Kai has also picked up the challenge to lead our regular Stainless Stocks and Flows Study which will now switch from input by Yale University to input from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). KIT are also skilled in this field of work and are both geographically closer and can offer much shorter lead times for each piece of work. Jo has steered the introduction of our modernized and mobile device friendly new website and also coordinated the release of the re-designed Team Stainless website, whilst managing all the other core and relentless communication tasks. We released our guidance brochure on duplex stainless steels at the start of 2020 which has been very well-received. Special thanks must be given the Bernard Héritier and his Long Products team for their solid work in producing this brochure.

The input from our research fellows has also been a strong positive experience with Siyoun Chung’s work on market development and Mitsuo Ikeda’s work on new applications both compelling and noteworthy. The ongoing support of their host companies, namely POSCO and NIPPON STEEL Stainless Steel Corporation has been invaluable to our work. The tenure of our 2019 / 2020 HSE fellow Fumiaki Kirihara from Nippon Yakin Kogyo was somewhat curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, however during his time with us, Fumiaki both improved his English language skills whilst producing some solid HSE reports based on members inputs. We have also benefitted from the notion of remote working fellows which have included Eduardo Carregueiro from Böllinghaus Steel (in the area of long products) and more recently Kazuki Mochizuki from Nippon Yakin Kogyo (as an HSE fellow). In summary, we have very much managed to expand our output and broaden our content whilst retaining a small and highly effective team.

There is no doubt that the current pandemic has prevented much of our face-to-face contact which has been sorely missed, however I believe we have quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’ and we are preaching the stainless message far and wide to good effect. There are also significant challenges for our industry as we begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Our current focus on market development which is heavily aligned to the preservation of scarce resources, initiatives associated with global decarbonization and building resilient infrastructure will only serve to encourage people to ‘think stainless’. Our family of products have so many amazing attributes and wonderful life-cycle credentials, I believe our future is bright and not rusty. We just have to remember we are all part-time marketeers and we should ‘preach stainless’ at every opportunity we are presented with.

Our future is bright however we still have to communicate relentlessly about our products and our great environmental credentials. ‘Fast forgetting’ is still alive and well in the world.

Take care and let us all continue the positive work.

Tim Collins
Secretary-General
International Stainless Steel Forum
15 October 2020

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