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STEEL INDUSTRY READY FOR UPTURN WITH BETTER PROCESSES, PRODUCTS

 STEEL INDUSTRY READY FOR UPTURN WITH BETTER PROCESSES, PRODUCTS
 DETROIT, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite $1 billion in aggregate losses in 1991, the steel industry is poised better than ever to support the automobile industry with new and improved products, processes, quality and uniformity, Carl L. Valdiserri, CEO, Rouge Steel, told media today at a briefing sponsored by American Iron and Steel Institute.
 Speaking on opening day of the 1992 SAE International Congress and Exposition at Cobo Center, Valdiserri said, "There are encouraging signs for the steel industry in the coming year and beyond. The extensive modernization programs under taken by steelmakers will begin showing returns in 1992, and because of streamlined inventory programs among manufacturers, there will be no huge inventory to work off," he said.
 Valdiserri said his optimism is based on measures the steel industry has taken to make North American steel competitive worldwide, in cost and in product. "These efforts have led to new grades of steel and have enabled steelmakers to achieve higher labor productivity gains than the average for all U.S. manufacturing," he said.
 "It is a fact that half of the steel products in today's vehicles were not available five years ago. These new steels have contributed to producing lighter vehicles to meet CAFE standards," Valdiserri said.
 The chairman cited installations of continuous casters, ladle metallurgy and vacuum degassers as "good examples of changes that enable us to compete worldwide in costs, quality and product," including the production of electrogalvanized steel as a means to corrosion resistant vehicles.
 "Steel maintains all the traditional attributes needed in automotive production and is totally compatible with installed production methodology," he said. "Consider the checklist. Steel has cost effectiveness, proven dependability, quality and uniformity, manufacturability and formability to execute the designs of today and the ideas of tomorrow," Valdiserri said.
 "And steel continues to prepare," Valdiserri said. "One example is the joint effort of the steel industry and the (U.S.) Department of Energy to bring direct steelmaking to production capability ... to reduce energy requirements in primary steelmaking. With this process, costs could be reduced 10 percent. And we are seeking to develop advanced sensor systems for on-line process control to further enhance steel property and quality," he said.
 Other citations included:
 -- High strength steels that provide for lightweight design.
 -- Bake hardenable steels to control and reduce damage in the plant and on the road.
 -- High strength, interstitial free steels that provide strengths previously unattainable in difficult-to-form parts.
 -- Laser welding of different grades for the production of a single part.
 -- Hydroforming to permit uniform deformations that capitalize on steel's inherent strengthening mechanisms.
 -- Economical hot forming steels for the production of lightweight side intrusion beams.
 -- Crash energy management, the forte of steel designs.
 -- Steel is 100 percent recyclable providing the same quality and integrity not just once, but over and over again in all applications.
 -- Price reductions -- made through steel industry cost efficiencies -- to help restrain increasing vehicle prices.
 "Without steel," Valdiserri summed up, "Can the cost to produce the automobile remain at a level that the public can afford?"
 AISI is a nonprofit association of the iron and steel industry. Its purpose is to engage in activities of common interest to its members. These pursuits include cooperative ventures that would not ordinarily be undertaken by individual members and which are of general concern to all. AISI was incorporated in 1908 and has members in the United States, Canada and Latin America.
 -0- 2/24/92
 /CONTACT: Jim O'Toole or Victor Pytko, both of PR Associates, 313-963-3396, for the AISI/ CO: American Iron and Steel Institute ST: Michigan IN: MNG AUT SU:


AL -- DE031 -- 1916 02/24/92 12:51 EST
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Date:Feb 24, 1992
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