Steel Products

SMU Steel Summit: Rühl Sees Digital Transformation in Steel's Future

Written by Tim Triplett

Imagine a steel industry where terabytes are more important than tons, where information rather than inventory is the most prized asset. Steel seems about as far removed from the realm of Silicon Valley as an industry could be, yet Gisbert Rühl, CEO of German metals company Klöckner, is convinced that steel companies must embrace digital technology today if they are to be successful tomorrow.

Rühl will share his philosophy on the need for “digital transformation” as a speaker at Steel Market Update’s 2018 Steel Summit Conference, set for Aug. 27-29 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.

Kloeckner, the company’s U.S. subsidiary, is in the process of implementing its “Kloeckner & Co. 2022” strategy aimed at disrupting the industry through an aggressive and innovative digitalization initiative. By 2019, the company hopes to handle 50 percent of all its transactions through a new digital platform.

“Today, the steel industry is more asset-driven. Our resources are assets. Our know-how is steel know-how. Five years from now, our assets will be more the platform. It will be more intellectual property. Our people will be different to a certain extent. We will have much, much more digital people,” Rühl said.

The digitization of steel distribution calls for a change in the basic business model making the organization more efficient and steel pricing more transparent to consumers. No longer will it be about making margins by speculating on steel. “In the future, all transactions will go through the platform. We will come to a point where we probably do business only online. We will make profits by being a real service business, not a margin-arbitrage business,” he predicts.

Gisbert Ruhl Steel Summit 2018 Promo

To learn more and to register, visit

Latest in Steel Products