Yatinder Suri, Country Head - Outokumpu India
Question 1. Outokumpu is as old asstainless steel; that is more than acentury. But when was OutokumpuIndia private limited came in to being?
Indeed, if you trace the origins of stainlesssteel, you will find them in Outokumpu.In 2006,the domestic mills had plentyof capability to manufacture mostlylow-end vanilla grade products.ThereforeOutokumpu entry into India in2006 was like a fresh breath of air carryingnew products and applications that didn'texist in India.The initial challenge was to createawareness about corrosion mitigationthrough use of new age higher metallurgyproducts. We had to break the mythabout stainless steel being expensive byenlightening the end user and educatingthe consultants and the decision makerson the competitive advantages theycould derive from choosing the rightgrade of stainless steel for a givenapplication and operating environment.Our focus was very clear - to help Indianend users get updated with new gradesand applications to compete globally.
Question 2. Stainless steel as materialis 100% recyclable, corrosion-resistant,maintenance-free, durable and hygienic.But at various levels of products it facescompetition from materials rangingfrom lighter alloys to plastics. Your take?
We enjoy fair competition. Our newmaterials and innovations offer superiorperformance and higher competitiveadvantage. Educating stakeholdersthrough workshops, sharing knowledgewith Corrosion and Welding handbooks,technical specification brochures onadvantages with high performancestainless steelgives us the winning edge.Corrosion is the greatest enemy ofassets in the Oil and Gas, Chemical&Petrochemical, Distribution pipelines,Metro & Railway coaches, Road andRail bridges, Chemical tankers, Foodprocessing and Desalination sectorsto name a few. The high end stainlesssteel grades are most relevant to protectthese assets from corrosion and therebygiving near zero downtime and higherproductivity.Stainless steel rebar usage is another ideawhose time has come in India for use inconcrete structures in coastal and hillyregions. We have supported the Bureauof Indian Standards (BIS) in releasing astandard for rebars in stainless steelIS16651:2017.Outokumpu innovationsact as catalystand inspiration to the local stainlessmanufacturers as well as supportdownstream end users to participateactively in the discerning global markets.
Question 3. How in your view stainlesssteel materials can be financially viableproduct options for customers for toolsof modern life, and solutions for criticalproblems such as clean energy, cleanwater and efficient infrastructure?
Corrosion Mitigation is our NationalMission spearheaded by Ministry ofChemicals & Fertilizers as the nodalministry. CII-Corrosion Management Committee is supporting the missionto ensure our corrosion losses areminimized. According to the latestIMPACT STUDY INDIA REPORT 2019released by MOC&F, the direct costofmetallic corrosion represents 4.2%of theGross Domestic Product(GDP). The goodnews is that corrosion canbe controlled/mitigated with high end metallurgyproducts which can also ensure lowestlife cycle cost.Citizens in India do not have accessto clean drinking water from the tapsat home or in public areas. By usingcorrosion free stainless steel in tanks anddistribution pipelines, clean and hygienicdrinking water can be made possiblethrough taps everywhere. Governmentneeds to make stainless steel usagemandatory for drinking water storageand distribution to ensure the purity ofwater for citizens through taps like in alldeveloped countries.Desalination is being looked at as anothersource for clean water for industrialas well as drinking purposes. Theseplants handle seawater with high levelsof chlorides at ambient temperaturesaround 50 degrees in coastal areas. Theprocess therefore is extremely corrosiveand hence needs equipment made fromduplex/super duplex stainless steel.Stainless steel is an excellent choicefor infrastructure projects, particularlyin coastal regions, where long life, lowmaintenance, and aesthetic appeal arecritical. Smart cities and infra projectslike rail/road bridges, ports, airports andstations will need sustainable stainlesssteel products for maintenance freelong life with lowest life cycle cost. Thiseliminates frequent maintenance cost of assets and inconvenience to users dueto disruptions. Hence a boon for a cashstarved nation like ours.
Question 4. Outokumpu is a global entityhaving presence in five continents. Whatkind of stockholding arrangement it haswith its Indian subsidiary?
Outokumpu India is a 100% ownedsubsidiary of Outokumpu Group. We arelocated in four stainless steel intensivecities across India namely New Delhi,Mumbai, Chennai, and Vadodara. Wehave a warehouse in Mumbai to offer justin time delivery of stainless steel productsin small quantities to SMEswho arealsovendors for big corporates. We offer themproducts conforming to Internationaland Indian standards with traceability toits manufacturing process which if fromchrome ore to finished goods.
Question 5. Have you experienced "easeof doing business" in the last two years ofthe Modi government in India?
The domestic stainlesssteel manufacturing industry faces problems due tocompetition from low price importscoming from FTA countries like Korea,Malaysia and Indonesia.Ad-hoc protectionist measures aboundand are hurting the downstream industryto become non-competitive globally.While the stainless steel imports go downbut gives rise to imports of downstreamproducts which can kill the downstreamindustry and reduce local demand forstainless steel products. The recent Stainless Steel QualityControl Order is yet another technicalprotectionist measure not drafted wellto eliminate imports and domestic saleof non-standard gradesand defectivesin all stainless grades.Quite a paradoxthat government is putting barriers toimports of industrial products conformingto international standards but there isflooding of defective and non-standardstainlesssteel materials for consumerproducts in India. For some strange reasons, over 60%of stainless steel used in India is nonstandard which the steel ministry is notable to curb despite the Stainless SteelQuality Control Order as well as thezero-defect policy announced by PrimeMinister. Why should the consumers beforced to use inferior products which areunsafe? This needs to be corrected by thegovernment to protect domestic industryand consumer welfare.
Question 6. Do you see Outokumpuplaying a greater role than before incritical areas of clean energy and efficientinfrastructure initiatives of the Modigovernment?
Clean Energy, Clean water, Sustainableinfrastructure are possible through use ofstainless steel sustainable solutions.There is no R&D capability in domesticstainless industry. Government shouldencourage co-operation between theglobal majors and local mills to upgradedomestic manufacturing capabilitiesandto upgrade our domestic downstreamqualitative standards to access globalmarket demand. This will support theMake in India for the world as well as ZeroDefect policy of current NDA government.
Question 7. Innovation is critical instainless steel industry to createadvanced materials that are efficient,long lasting and recyclable. What is levelof the company's focus on R & D?
Outokumpu is synonymous withinnovation in stainless steel productsand applications. We are supported byourbiggest R&D centers in Europe whichensure process improvements to offerprice advantage to customers and fornew products and innovative applicationsto corrosion prone processes andenvironments.Our sales team members are trainedon technical aspects and backed upby product specialists for allcustomersegments to help the customers andproject owners in choosing the rightgrade of material forindoor or outdoorapplication, coastal or hinterland climate as well as the hostilechemical processes,We help the customers through sharingof our stainlessexperience and knowledgegained in past 105 years.
Question 8. Any expansion plan in Indiain future?
As a part of our localization efforts,we are here to support and partnerwith downstream manufacturing andprocessing companies to make worldclass downstream products available fordomestic and global demand.New modern manufacturing capacitieshave come on stream in India butunfortunately the same is not aligned withthe demand from new application areasseeking wider and thicker products. Thismeans India will continue to be dependenton imports for many grades and sizes.For the emerging sectors like Energy,Oil & Gas, Desalination, Ports, Transportand Roads and Coastal bridges, there is adefinite gap on supply side for high endgrades from the local producers.We are a responsible player in the stainlesssteel arena and our brand representsproduct innovation, quality and reliability.We need open access to Indian marketto grow bigger andcontinue to activelysupport and serve the ZERO-DEFECTpolicyand the vision of MAKE IN INDIA for theworld.With the first baby steps in New Delhi in2006, we have grown and expanded tofour locations i.e. Mumbai, Baroda, Delhiand Chennai - all stainless steel intensiveregions. Our long presence of twelveyears gives us immense sense of pride torealize that we have played a vital role inimproving the product range of domesticmanufacturers and strengtheningqualitative aspirations of the downstreamend users in their quest to access globalmarkets with commitment towards Makein India for the world. We support all localendeavors to build corrosion-free India inline with our vision of Creating a worldthat lasts forever.