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    The digitisation of steel - changing the industry for the better

    Customer tastes are rapidly changing and this is not the case in just retail. Of course, retail customers tend to be more vocal about their feelings regarding their interaction with a brand. Conversely, the way consumer brands scramble to deliver more positive experiences has become obvious to even casual industry observers. The process of tailoring more engaging user experiences may be less noticeable in other sectors.

    This doesn’t mean meeting customer expectations in B2B relationships is less of a challenge for marketers. Take the steel industry for instance. This is not a commodity any more in customers’ minds.

    Rising expectations of steel users

    Online steel buyers look for steel treated at different temperatures and with a wide range of surface finishes. There is demand for steel slit into various lengths and widths as well as with different tensile strengths. More than ever before, MSMEs want the flexibility to order steel in small quantities and need a trusted steel supplier to work with. This also means that fair, transparent pricing is vital for online steel buyers since it takes much of the worry out of business deals. Plus, a lot of customers expect their orders to be fulfilled quickly.

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    The way ahead is digitisation

    For all of the above to happen efficiently and at scale, online steel sellers must evolve into something akin to a one-stop steel marketplace - an all encompassing e-commerce portal that meets buyers’ expectations. To boost customer satisfaction, these online steel sellers must start digitising now, if they haven’t already.

    In the past, different steel works have typically operated in silos, isolated from the rest of the organisation. Sharing of data across such entities wasn’t considered a priority. Today, data is the new oil fueling the information society we inhabit. Accurate information picked out of raw enterprise data can potentially help a steel marketer make a difference in a highly competitive marketplace.

    The key differentials that CXOs in the steel economy hold close to their hearts are improved customer satisfaction, lowered operating costs, waste reduction, and, of course, more encouraging margins. The “Smart steel factory” is the solution.

    The smart steel factory – It’s about time

    There is no universally agreed definition of a smart factory and no two of these factories are going to look the same. However, the common denominator is that smart steel factory environments can help steel makers derive more meaning from their streams of enterprise data. This insight will, in turn, help them lower the time spent in producing an item, reduce operational costs and minimise defects.

    Smart steel factories are backed by a massive network of IoTs (e.g., sensors) and applications, which generate a constant stream of data. Shop floor sensors will continuously monitor machines to measure their current state of health and anticipate breakdowns before they can occur. This will improve productivity, product quality as well as the safety of employees. Machine-learning algorithms are applied to massive volumes of such IoT data to discover hidden patterns and project future trends for the company.

    What’s in it for MSMEs

    A smart steel factory is a digitised manufacturing facility and smart factories across locations come together into an integrated infrastructure. Steel producers can leverage this connected infrastructure to drive efficiency across all business functions, from raw material procurement to warehousing operations. Drawing on the e-commerce playbook, steel stock yards will operate like an e-commerce giant’s automated warehouse. This will reduce the lead time for customers, including MSMEs.

    The smart infrastructure will provide MSMEs with a single touchpoint for “all things steel.” With this, they can login to a portal, search for a type of steel, and buy steel online. Like any e-commerce user, they can order steel online, choose their preferred payment mode and track their shipments in real time.

    You can get started today with all your customisable steel requirements along with an e-commerce experience at JSW One MSME. Look up our steel categories at JSW One MSME.

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