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 Technologies business.
Also, the top product group for 39th-ranked Cambridge-Lee Inc. should have been shown as copper and brass.