Potential for the Industrial Internet of Wisdom to boost stainless steel sales and margins

Stainless steel manufacturers are often handicapped by the fact that they typically sell products to an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and not to the end-user. This limits access to critical information, which helps determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The equipment manufacturer has generally been more interested in first cost than TCO. By Robert Mcilvaine, President, The Mcilvaine Company
Potential for more knowledge 
The result has been a smaller market for stainless steel than would have been created had the end-user been better informed. The stainless steel industry has partially overcome this handicap with extensive research and publication of papers dealing with specific end-use applications. Nevertheless, there is a much bigger potential if total knowledge about the TCO for each application was available and utilized. 

In fact, there is a sea change underway which promises to provide this knowledge and increase the potential use of stainless (1). This sea change is a direct result of the Industrial Internet of Wisdom (IIoW), which will empower the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT). Valves in combined cycle gas turbine plants subject to flow accelerated corrosion or scrubbers in coal fired boilers subject to crevice corrosion caused by failure to bleed enough chlorides from the recirculating systems will all be remotely monitored, subjected to data analytics and will generate actionable data relative to solutions. 

Sharing information 
Corporate experts increasingly will be making stainless steel decisions for all their plants. BASF, ArcelorMittal, and Duke Energy are all examples of stainless users who are embracing IIoT. The potential for stainless suppliers will be further improved by the adoption of IIoW to empower IIoT. Data analytics and subject matter experts need to be interconnected in an organized manner to not only solve problems with existing solutions but to create new ones. This interconnection of knowledge and people is the essence of IIoW. 

Decision systems will need to be created for every unique process in every industry using stainless. These systems provide the four knowledge needs: Alerts, Answers, Analysis, and Advancement. Those Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) using and contributing to the systems will become Subject Matter Ultra-Experts (SMUEs). Those stainless steel suppliers who are developing better products and who have the SMUEs will maximize the potential from the sea change. 

Applying IIoW 
The application of IIoW is presently focused on what is called the combust, flow, and treat (CFT) market. This includes all the vessels, piping, and components involved with liquids, gases, and free owing solids. These components generate a multibillion-dollar stainless opportunity in power refining, oil & gas, chemicals, metal production, food, mining, water, wastewater, desalination, and many other industries. 

This sea change will influence the business strategy and approaches to the market for stainless suppliers. The old approaches will soon be replaced by new ones. 

Major changes to the stainless sup- plier business strategy and selection, use, and training of personnel will be necessary to maximize this opportunity. However, the rewards will be not only increased sales, but also increased mar- gins for those suppliers with products, which create a lower TCO. 

(1) IIoT & Remote O&M published by the Mcilvaine Company 

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