Re-innovating Steel to Create Smarter, Lighter, Greener Products

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Overview

Steel is basic to the world economy, and the world’s biggest steel producer ArcelorMittal is reinventing the world’s strongest metal, the material we use to build our railroads, ships, bridges, skyscrapers, and highways.

In 2014, ArcelorMittal developed their 10 sustainable development outcomes (SDs), and “committed to leading the way in which the world views steel, and championing steel’s role in creating high quality, sustainable lifestyles for people all over the world” (ArcelorMittal).

Chairman and CEO, Lakshmi Mittal has charged Marcy Twete and Beth Spurgeon, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Director, and USA Corporate Responsibility Manager, respectively, to assign measures to outcomes, and to create owners of those outcomes throughout the organization (Beth Spurgeon).

As early “owners” of the SDs, the global Research and Development arm launched 30 new products to create sustainable infrastructure products in 2016, contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 9 of building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. To make highways safer and to increase steel sales in the United States, R&D in East Chicago worked to create the TL-5 barrier and the S-in motion project.

Author

Shanelle Smith

Shanelle Smith

School

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Professor

Chris Laszlo

Chris Laszlo

Innovation

ArcelorMittal is using advanced technology to reinvent an ancient material for environmental benefits. An example of this is the TL-5, which reduces costs by making a greener and stronger highway barrier. Another example is the S-in motion project, which produces lighter cars. Both products require the use of fewer raw materials to make steel, thereby reducing AcrelorMittal’s carbon footprint. For S-in motion, there is not only a reduction in carbon production but also reduced fuel consumption by vehicles.

“The sustainable development outcomes (SDs) allow the R&D team to play to their strength of seeing a problem in the world, and realizing that steel can solve that problem,” says Marcy Twete, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Director.

The TL-5 can “safely contain and redirect a fully loaded 79,000-pound tractor trailer truck, a quad cab pickup truck, and a mid-size car.” This product is more cost-effective than concrete highway barriers, and it will help reduce motor vehicle accidents. ArcelorMittal tried this product in Europe, and it produced safer roads and increased their European sales. The high strength (lighter) steel is used for the TL-5 is similar to what’s the company is using for the S-in motion project.

Their S-in motion project’s goal is to reduce the weight of cars by 19%, thereby ensuring steel will continue to be the material of choice for car makers. “The weight reduction comes from advanced engineering techniques, such as the innovative use of advanced high strength steels, hot stamping technology, laser welded blanks and tubular products.”

Innovation like the TL-5 and S-in motion project is just a small part of ArcelorMittal's effort to create a steel company of the future, and this innovation is attracting great, young people who are ready to make change (Beth Spurgeon, USA Corporate Responsibility Manager).

Re-innovating Steel to Create Smarter, Lighter, Greener Products

Inspiration

ArcelorMittal is a large consumer of resources, and they want their consumers to know that they are consuming Earth’s resources responsibly. They also realize that in order to secure their future, and the future of the steel industry, they must be environmentally sustainable. For them, sustainability has offered them a way to be a good steward but also presents opportunities to reduce their cost, and grow their profits while being innovative. They are also inspired to meet the standards and regulations set forth by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Overall impact

The materials used in S-in motion reduce an estimated 15% in CO2 equivalent emissions during production, and by creating lighter steel the industry overall has reduced the weight of steel by 25 to 40%.

Business benefit

By reducing the number of materials used in making their products, ArcelorMittal is creating value for their customers. The S-in motion project alone will assist car makers to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse standards that require doubled fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) for the 2025 vehicle. Powertrains alone won’t meet this requirement. Making lighter steel enables ArcelorMittal to reduce the weight of cars and secures their dominant market share as steel provider to the world’s automotive market.

Social and environmental benefit

Steel is used to build our transportation systems, infrastructure, and housing. Our society depends on steel for its manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production. By making a smarter, lighter, and greener product that is a permanent part of our economy, ArcelorMittal is creating benefit to us all.

Interview

Marcy Twete, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Director

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ArcelorMittal USA

ArcelorMittal USA

United States

Business Website: http://corporate.arcelormittal.com/sustainability

Year Founded: 2017

Number of Employees: 10000+

ArcelorMittal is re-innovating a 100+ year old product, steel, to create sustainable value and to achieve their 10 sustainable development (SDs) outcomes. Big steel builds resilient infrastructure, satisfies customers and generates revenue by going lighter and greener.