Technology is vital to all metal sectors, but its not
just breakthroughs in production and processes that are
important to the bottom line. Information technology has become
just as significant, and an array of hardware, software,
systems analysis mechanisms and data-analysis tools are
available to help metal companies make better decisions.
However, not all companiesor even sectors of the
industryhave been quick to embrace such new tools. While
its true that immediate and short-term priorities need
attention, especially in todays nearly unprecedented
economic climate, ignoring IT developments is a long-term
strategic error. The companies that will not only survive but
thrive will find ways to include IT investments in their
planning and budgeting.
Crowe Horwath LLP, in collaboration with AMM,
undertook a survey to examine the role of enterprise resource
planning (ERP) systems, which integrate information across
entire organizations, in the metals industry. The companies
participating in the survey included producers, processors,
service centers and recyclers, and ranged in size from those
with annual revenue of less than $50 million to those raking in
more than $1 billion. The report that came out of the survey is
based on 94 online responses from senior executives at U.S.
companies as well as interviews with senior executives at a
dozen companies. An overview of the survey starts on page 24.
The data present a snapshot of the state of ERP systems,
including the strengths and weaknesses executives perceive in
their current systems. Tony Barnes, senior staff consultant in
the metals practice of Crowe Horwath, says the time is ripe for
the metals industry to invest in technology. This is an
observation the industry should heed.
In the list of top service centers by revenue in the
August/September issue, the top product group for ninth-ranked
Steel Technologies LLC should have been shown as carbon
flat-rolled. Stainless steel was correctly shown as the
companys secondary sales line. The bar/tubing/structurals
category was incorrectly listed as a component of Steel
Also, the top product group for 39th-ranked Cambridge-Lee
Inc. should have been shown as copper and brass.