Magic Metals and Advanced Alloys
or ancient solutions to modern problems
The shock of the new
Life is full of surprises and 2020 has certainly brought its fair share of those in the form of multiple and formidable challenges. Even putting Brexit aside, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic not only took many countries by surprise, but it has had global impacts on supply and demand with which we’ll be dealing with for many years to come.
It is hard to imagine an individual, business or industry that has not staggered under the weight of these changes. Many businesses have collapsed and those that continue to trade are doing so in markets that have experienced radical change.
The metals industry is no exception. In 2020 The World Steel Association forecasts that steel demand will have dropped by 6.4%, with an expected recovery in 2021 of demand of only 3.8 % over 2020. Relatively small percentages perhaps, but in terms of the tonnage of steel produced and sold, of huge consequence.
Not all metals are equal
Copper has also faced an initial drop (major producer Rio Tinto reported that its copper production for the first quarter of 2020 was 8% below 2019 levels) but overall global production for the year has fallen by only 2.1%. And the longer term outlook for copper is much stronger. According to analysts S&P Global Market Intelligence, worldwide production is expected to rise by 4.3% year on year after 2021.
The reasons for this are complex but lie with the fact that copper is remarkably versatile
Copper - civilisation’s jump start
Without copper, there would have been no bronze age; bronze is an alloy of tin and copper, first developed about 3500 years ago. Without copper to make bronze, on the dusty plains outside Troy the Greeks and Trojans would still have been fighting with sticks and stones.
Through the ages, copper has proved itself invaluable, and in practical terms more useful than gold. It withstands heat well, it’s malleable and its a recognised anti-microbial; beneficial properties include a short life for bacteria and viruses with which it’s in contact.
Copper is supremely recyclable. It conducts heat and electricity very efficiently and the phrase ‘copper-bottomed’ now stands for anything genuine, trustworthy and reliable. In the mid eighteenth century it was discovered that barnacles did not grow on copper, so sailing ships with copper sheeted bottoms were faster through the water and needed less maintenance – everything about them was better.
Today copper and hi-tech copper alloys are used in myriad industries, from construction (those beautiful green roofs as well as piping) to wiring, electric motors, healthcare and the most delicate of electronics.
Approaching the New Normal
All this means that the basic outlook for copper and copper alloy products is good. However, such has been the economic shock of the pandemic that if you need copper or sell it, it’s not just a case of turning on the tap.
The needs of individual businesses are changing. Business recovery can be complex. Some are working to get back on track. Some are changing direction or diversifying well out of their comfort zone. Copper production may struggle to keep up with demand, so established wholesalers will probably be the people to go to for a reliable – copper bottomed – supply.
In such challenging times it is easy to lose track of some fundamentals. So, be cautious of consultants offering miracle cures, and it good to remember that commercial flexibility is a means to an end, not a purpose on its own right.
In the same way that the uses of copper have changed over time, so too do our approaches to problem solving. Finding new markets or serving existing ones, supporting old clients or providing incentives to new ones, this is a time to take stock and take positive action. Be open to new ideas and, like the bronze-age masters of their new technology, do whatever you do, really well.
Advanced Alloys Ltd is a specialist supplier of products made from the highest quality alloys of copper, brass, bronze and zinc. They have an exhaustive range of products suitable for all industries. Alloys can be delivered in wire, tube, sheet or bar form, and cut, bent or manipulated as required. An experienced logistics team makes sure that products reach their destination in perfect condition and on time every time.
Telephone: 023 8061 8891 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org