How is the steel pipe industry striving during extreme climate change
Updated 22:49, 11-Aug-2023
How is the steel pipe industry striving during extreme climate change

The high temperatures and downpours, which hit the Chinese mainland recently, have disrupted both inbound raw material and outbound product delivery to the steel pipe manufacturers in north China's Tianjin Municipality.

"Our supply of raw materials used to mainly come from the cities of Tangshan and Bazhou in the neighboring province Hebei, but since Bazhou was hit by the heavy rain, we turned to Tangshan for more material," Ren Jiayi, deputy general manager at Tianjin TYT Steel Pipe Co., Ltd. 

The company also adjusted their customers in time. They used to sell their products to north China, but have concentrated on central and northwest China due to the heavy rain.

"Now we are delivering more products to these regions than the first half of the year, so to minimize loss," he told CGTN.

Ren's company is located in Daqiuzhuang Town, Jinghai District in Tianjin, where a steady industrial growth with steel pipe and metal manufacturing has been maintained.

The Tianjin Ruifeng Da Metal Products Co., Ltd., a company that has shifted from the production and sales of steel pipes to the manufacturing of photovoltaic support systems, cut production by 20 percent recently.

In addition to raw material supply and transportation, some products can't be loaded due to the rain and some of the employees participated in flood fighting contributed to the production losses, Wang Juan, the company's general manager, said.

A worker works at a production line, August 10, 2023. /Tianjin Ruifeng Da Metal Products Co., Ltd.
A worker works at a production line, August 10, 2023. /Tianjin Ruifeng Da Metal Products Co., Ltd.

A worker works at a production line, August 10, 2023. /Tianjin Ruifeng Da Metal Products Co., Ltd.

Cope with hot weather conditions

Demand for steel pipes and tubes has always been low in the June to August period, with transportation disruptions and building work often disrupted due to severe weather, the interviewers told CGTN.

Apart from rainstorms, workers at iron and steel-related plants are exposed to extreme environmental heat that limits their performance.

"The exceptional heat this year was 10 to 15 days longer than before," said Wang. "When it is 38 degrees Celsius outside, it is around 50 degrees Celsius in the workshop."

She said the company works in three shifts and production was mainly arranged at night, and each worker was provided with an industrial fan.

Liu Kaisong, deputy general manager at the Tianjin Yuantai Derun Steel Pipe Manufacturing Group Co., Ltd. said that his company staggered their working hours when it was hot. For example, they may stop the lines that produce a lot of heat and open some others.

Steel pipe companies are not that big consumers of electricity, said Liu, but they've cut their electricity usage at peak times and took breaks for equipment maintenance for the last six months.          

The profit of the company this year has declined slightly, due to "the situation of the entire industry," said Liu.

"There was no explosive growth in demand, so our supply was not that high, so I have to lower the price to ensure output and increase the market share," Liu added.

Another steel pipe manufacturing company, the Youfa Group, also agreed with staggered production and said that they have paid attention to heat warnings and workers' statuses all summer.

Smart manufacturing technologies

According to the four managers, their companies have applied some smart manufacturing technologies to help improve production and management efficiency.

Ren said that they have basically realized automation in production by upgrading packaging process and warehousing equipment, transforming production scheduling and using smart logistics systems.

The photovoltaic support system manufacturing manager said that they used smart manufacturing technologies and robotic arms in some products, since many of their products are customized and manpower is still much-needed, and transformed some technical personnel to quality inspector, thus saving manpower and ensuring product quality.

[Cover: Workers produce seamless steel pipes on the production line, Huai'an City, east China's Jiangsu Province, July 13, 2023. /CGTN]

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