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    Steel tubing & piping – Are tech-enabled marketplaces the future for the industry?
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    In 2021, the market for steel pipes in India was valued at over Rs. 55,000 crores – a staggering 9% of the global market – with the valuation split evenly between ERW and SAW/SS pipes. An industry report by CareRatings indicates that the piping and tubing industry is also among the largest consumers of steel in India, accounting for around 8% of the country's total annual consumption. Buoyed by demand from the oil and gas, petrochemical, power, and public infrastructure sectors, the country’s domestic production has continued to grow in recent years, with India emerging as the top 3 producers of steel pipes in the world (next only to the United States and Japan).

    What are welded steel tubes and pipes?

    Welded tubes and pipes are tubular products made out of flat steel plates by bending the plate and welding the seam. The result is a single piece of product that can be used in different applications.

    Welded piping is primarily used to transfer liquids, gases, and slurries in the automotive and construction industries. The material used may vary but steel has been the material of choice for welded pipes and tubes because it resists corrosion and needs less maintenance than other materials.

    The history of welded piping dates back to the early 1900s when it was first used in Europe for water and gas lines. The use of welded piping has grown significantly over the years, with many modern applications relying on it. From the pipes that carry our water to the tubes that transport our gases, welded steel products are everywhere.

    One of the most important consumers of welded steel tubes and pipes is the Indian automotive industry, where is used in a variety of applications, including exhaust systems, body panels, and suspension components. But what makes welded steel pipes so popular? Common reasons include -

    Durability:

    Welded tubes and pipes are stronger and more durable than their seamless pipe counterparts. They are also more versatile which makes them ideal for use in a variety of industries, from construction to automotive.

    Cost-effective:

    Welded tubes and pipes are more cost-effective than other traditional options, making them a more attractive option for businesses. This is because welded pipes are produced using a simple, two-step production process, and only require low equipment investment.

    Energy-efficient production:

    Welded tubes and pipes are more environmentally friendly than conventional seamless pipes, as they require less energy to produce due to advancements in welding and forming technology.

    Let’s take a quick look at the market for steel pipes and tubes.

    Steel pipes and tubes – Major industrial applications

    Automotive industry: Exhaust systems, fuel lines, manufacturing equipment, body panels.

    Construction industry: Scaffolding, pipes, fences, storage tanks, air conditioning ducts.

    Food and beverage industry: Stainless steel pipes for food and dairy, transportation, cooling, heating.

    Environmental industry: Water distribution, sewage and water treatment lines, environmental remediation systems.

    Energy industry: Oil and gas pipelines, fluid conduits.

    2022 – 2023 – The turnaround year?

    This year has seen a surge in demand for steel welded pipes and tubes due to renewed post-pandemic investment in sectors such as housing, oil exploration and transportation, irrigation, and public infrastructure. The industry witnessed a V-shaped recovery with the removal of COVID restrictions.

    The rising adoption of eco-friendly, sustainable building practices is one of the factors driving demand. Due to their greater energy efficiency compared to conventional seamless or seam-welded piping, welded pipes are frequently employed in green structures. Because they may be recycled, welded tubes and pipes have even less of an influence on the environment.

    The healthcare crisis resulting from the pandemic also contributed to a surge in the need for medical infrastructure and facilities such as temporary hospitals, medical ventilators, and other equipment, resulting in a spike in demand for welded tubes and pipes.

    It’s clear that steel pipes are a mainstay across several industries, and pipe and tube manufacturers can expect to see good demand even through economic downturns.

    But demand alone doesn’t equate to good business. An increasing number of enterprise customers of piping and tubing products – such as real estate developers, civil contractors, and engineering firms – are procuring their intermediate raw materials online. This trend is putting the spotlight on steel tubing/piping MSMEs yet to adopt digital business models.

    Technology-enabled marketplaces – The future of commerce for the steel piping industry

    The world of business has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise of the internet and digital technology. Meanwhile, companies are still looking for ways to increase efficiency and cut costs. This has created a new landscape for buyers and sellers, and a new type of marketplace has emerged – the tech-enabled, digital marketplace.

    A tech-enabled marketplace is a platform that uses the latest advances in web, mobile, and cloud technology to facilitate the smooth, frictionless, secure transfer of goods between buyers and sellers. Such platforms typically come integrated with multiple channels to connect buyers with sellers, including online e-commerce portals, mobile apps, and even social media.

    For pipe and tube manufacturers, tech-enabled marketplaces offer several advantages over conventional channels of selling, including -

    • Reducing the amount of time required to find and onboard new suppliers.

    • Minimization of manual effort in the procurement process to increase both transparency and efficiency.

    • Access to real-time intelligence about products, suppliers, and the market itself.

    • Improved inventory management via online dashboards and reduced wastage.

    • Increased efficiency through automation of key processes in the purchase cycle.

    For buyers, tech-enabled marketplaces provide a wider selection of products and services to choose from. For sellers, they offer a new way to reach customers and sell their products or services. And for businesses, it can help them to save time and money on procurement.

    Technology has always been a major force behind market evolution, and it is currently a crucial instrument for handling the spike in demand for welded tubes and pipes. As you make the transition to selling online, partnering with dependable online steel suppliers such as JSW One play a crucial role in future-proofing your business. With nearly four decades of experience in the steel industry, JSW One MSME specialises in enabling small to medium enterprises to sell profitably online. We connect manufacturers to resources by leveraging JSW One’s collective access and expertise in the field. Get in touch with us to learn more.

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