Steelscreen, the only independently run e-marketplace for the European metals industry, launched earlier this year. Members of Steelscreen include buyers and suppliers of various metals including aluminium, carbon steel and stainless steel (this market is worth 150 billion Euros at present!). Over 600 members have signed up to the site already, hoping to achieve significant benefits.
The e-marketplace is designed to facilitate lower costs for its members, plus simplified sales, procurement and transaction routines. The site also gives members a better overall view of the market, and matches buyers with sellers throughout Europe, giving some companies the opportunity to reach completely new markets.
Steelscreen has already attracted a great deal of industry attention, and its membership includes many of the largest metal industry leaders in countries like Germany, Sweden, France and the U.K. That is why the site is accessible in 10 different languages, including English, Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
UK Director of Steelscreen, Patrick Flockhart, has been involved in the company since the launch in February this year. “Steelscreen’s workforce is based in London, Paris, Barcelona and Stockholm, and has grown very rapidly from the early days of launch. We originally had only about 10 to 15 employees, whereas today we are fast approaching 100. These people are needed to cope with the growing number of members we have and the sheer volume of business that the Steelscreen e-marketplace is generating. Over 28,000 specifications of metals can be purchased through the Steelscreen site, and there has been 2 million Euros of trade to-date.”
Flockhart is very confident of the future benefits to members. “The site will not only bring together buyers and sellers of metal, improving their purchasing efficiency and reducing administration costs, but will also provide services to members such as logistics, shipping, banking, insurance, surveying and news. We have partnered with various financial organisations already including Deutsche Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN Amro and SGS.”
Flockhart continues. “We have also helped our members reduce costs simply because the procurement and product sales functions within the metals industry are both very labour intensive.”
The idea for Steelscreen came from two of its founder members who worked for Avesta Steels of Sheffield. They worked on an Internet project which brought together steel mills and buyers. Another founder member worked as a sales director for a mobile phone company. Another major source of inspiration for Steelscreen came from a report written earlier this year by an independent company for the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) entitled “E-business in the UK Steel Sector”.
Hatch Beddows, the company responsible for the report, state that, “e-business offers the UK steel sector great potential to create new value.”
The report identifies various business opportunities which e-marketplaces will bring to members. “E-business improves the flow of scheduling information along the supply chain to help reduce inventories…reduces transaction costs and eliminates errors/duplication of effort…reduces procurement costs…and extends market research opportunities and builds deeper customer relationships.”
To prove Steelscreen’s commitment to the European Metals Industry and the benefits it will bring to members within the metals supply chain, the company has pioneered a new open industry trading standard called Metal-XML. This standard basically consists of a set of documents designed for the exchange of electronic business information. Purchase orders, inquiries, offers, order acknowledgements, stock information, order status, and product certification are all documented as part of the standard.
Metal-XML has already received great support from over 250 companies interested in adopting this type of standard. E-commerce leaders such as Microsoft, SAP AG, Oracle and Ariba have expressed their support, as well as large industry players like BOC and Shell.
Author: Dean Palmer