We conquer steel heights Belarusian Steel Works: our target this year is to carve out new nishes
What do the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, London and Sochi Olympic facilities, the Panama Canal breakwaters, the National Library of Belarus and the Warsaw National Stadium have in common? These sites, as well as many others all over the world, were built and renovated with the use of the metal materials produced by the OJSC "Belarusian Steel Works – management company of "Belarusian Metallurgical Company" holding". During its 30-year history the enterprise, located in Zhlobin, has truly become the country's national asset, the flagship of Belarusian industry, a large exporter known on five continents. Anatoly Savenok, General Director of the OJSC "BSW – management company of "BMC" holding" has told "Mercury" about the conquest of "steel heights" and the difficulties that Zhlobin metallurgists face.
Anatoly Nikolaevich, how can you describe the enterprise under your management?
The BSW is a unique hi-tech metallurgical enterprise of Belarus clossified as a modern European level mini-works. Nowadays the works consists of four production sites (steel-smelting, rolling, pipe and metalware), connected by one processing chain, infrastructure guilds and enterprise activity control units. Owing to the high-quality personnel the BSW manufactures a wide range of metal products for various purposes, such as hot-rolled and hard-wrought fittings, hot-rolled round billets in bars and coils, special purpose wire rod, seamless hot-rolled pipes, steel cord, bead wire, wire for high pressure hoses, etc.
The enterprise has been repeatedly named the prize winner at the "Best Exporter" annual contest ("metallurgy" category). In what countries are the BSW products most in demand?
Throughout the BSW operation its products have been exported to five continents: Eurasia, Africa, South and North America and Australia. Our total export geography includes 117 countries. Our products were exported to 52 countries in 2016 only, and the share of export in total production volume for the stated period was 85%. The main export regions are Europe and Russia accounting for 70% of the total production exported. Simultaneously in the long run we are trying to implement the 30/30/30 formula with more or less equal shares of CIS, Europe and far abroad countries markets in our foreign contracts portfolio.
Can you describe the factors that predetermined the enterprise's position in the global steel market and its ability to respond quickly to market challenges and changes?
There are several key factors that affect this issue. The first one is the quality of products. The BSW always pays close attention to it, so that nowadays the plant has more than 50 certificates of compliance with national and industry standards. Last year the high quality of our products allowed us to win the title of "The best construction product", and let the enterprise to become the laureate of the Government Prize for achievements in this area. The second factor isthe presence of our own extensive distribution network, which is represented by 15 companies in different countries. All these companies set their own territory sales. As a rule, they deal with end customers, and the BSW by request of the companies ships the products to the destinations required. About 65% of all metal products manufactured are sold through the distribution network. And, in my opinion, the third important factor is the ability to keep up with the time as well as with the unstable customers' demands, rapidly improving the products according to their requirements, as well as bringing new products to the market. To this end, it's necessary to upgrade the technologies and the equipment in use. And that's what the BSW has been introducing since its establishment. For example, we have recently completed one of the most ambitious modernization programs in our history that included both the reconstruction of existing facilities and building of new ones.
Speaking of new facilities at the BSW, you probably mean a new wire-rod mill, which in 2015 was officially put into operation with the personal participation of the Head of State. It's been a year and a half since this moment: Does the large-scale project satisfy the expectations?
Yes, sure. The most important achievement is the output of the rolling mill No. 2 in November 2016 at a full capacity. If we speak about the results of its operation, it should be noted that last year more than 380 thousand tonnes of wire rod, rolled bars and coils produced at the mill were sold for more than USD 127 million. More than 50 grades of steel were shipped to consumers in 27 countries. Ahead there are ambitious plans for expanding supplies to the conveyors of the world's automakers, manufacturers of bearings and other high-tech industries.
You have previously mentioned the ability to meet the consumers' interests and the conquest of new niches in the steel market. Could you back up these words with actual examples of BSW operation?
The first part of the question is perfectly exemplified by our metalware production that has been dealing with the world's leading tire manufacturers for many years. Currently, based on the company's vast knowledge and experience BSW specialists can offer tire companies the directions for the further development of tire reinforcing materials aimed at performance characteristics enhancement. Our experts are developing new steel cord designs for the production of large and outsized tires for JSC "Belshina". We should also mention the development of new ultrahigh-strength steel cord products for such companies as GOODYEAR, NOKIAN, CONTINENTAL, MICHELIN, and others. Many efforts are exerted to develop the production technology of the high-tin bronze coating head wire which is used, for example, by YOKOHAMA company. As for the conquest of new niches, we may take as an example being among the suppliers for bearings manufacturers. The development of this new product was launched together with the construction of the wire-rod mill. Today it is obvious that it has been the right decision. These activities will be further developed and promoted in the future, as well as the efforts to achieve other team goals.