The Indian steel industry is growing fast, at a rate second only to China. With production of crude steel reaching 101.4 MT in the year 2017, India is on the path to emerge as the second largest producer in the world, replacing Japan. In spite of the current challenges, Indian steel industry has significant potential for growth, underscored by the fact that the per capita steel consumption is only 67 Kg, way below the global average of 208 Kg. The “Make in India” initiative is expected to witness significant investments in infrastructure development, expansion of railway network, ship building industry, defense sector, anticipated growth in automobile and capital goods industry and construction in urban and rural areas. The need for a futuristic, robust policy was felt and led to the formulation of National Steel Policy (NSP-2017) , whose key features are:
R&D efforts in the steel sector is mainly by a few steel companies, namely, Tata Steel, SAIL, RINL, JSW, ESSAR and JSPL. In addition, national research laboratories such as, NML, IMMT along with academic institutes such as IITs, NITs, IIEST and Jadavpur University are also engaged in carrying out sponsored research work in the area of iron & steel. The major focus of R&D activities in India relates to incremental technology development to address the present and short term needs of various production units. No noteworthy work has been carried out towards innovation of new disruptive technologies and products. Further, in spite of steel industries more than 100 years old, we are entirely dependent on manufacturing technologies imported from other countries. Although, in the last few years there has been some synergy among the industry, R&D laboratories and academia through cooperative working and collaborative research programs, there has not been any national level platform towards spearheading R&D programs of national importance and augmenting our manufacturing capability of equipments and systems indigenously.
Taking in to cognizance the current technological scenario of Indian steel industry and the future growth potential, a national level platform has been created by the major steel industries under the aegis of Ministry of Steel, GOI. The platform, “Steel Research & Technology Mission of India” (SRTMI) will facilitate R&D programs of national importance, create state of art facilities to conduct cutting edge research, develop expertise and skill development, manage human resources and bolster a tripartite synergy among industry, national R&D laboratories and academic institutes. SRTMI will work in close coordination with MoS and will provide necessary inputs to fulfill the objective of NSP – 2017.
"To develop an industry – institution interface for making iron & steel industry globally competitive by utilizing expertise available in various academic and research institutes of national repute as well as by collaborating with international organizations in the field to meet NSP-2017 objective through cost effective, environment friendly, state of art technologies for optimum utilization of natural resources and strengthening design and equipment manufacturing capability in the country".
To make the steel industry sustainable and globally competitive, SRTMI shall actively support the following programs of national importance.
Project selection of national relevance will be prepared and submitted by participating industries/ Organizations in line with "Roadmap of SRTMI". The proposal shall include developmental plan, participating organizations assessment and identification of resources, time- frame, stage wise fund requirement, implementation plan, design and manufacturing plan etc., as per the need of the project. The proposing organization shall play the lead role and shall take the help of experts from member industries, academia and research institutions within India and abroad.
The proposal shall be submitted to Director, SRTMI, who will get it examined by an "Expert Committee", before placing it to the Governing Board for approval. All the developments, be it in the form of high impact process innovations, product development or creation of new technologies shall be shared by member industries. SRTMI will evolve a suitable mechanism for taking care of IPR issues and modality for sharing of developments by its members.
Most of the national projects shall require fundamental understanding of the subject before it is carried forward for prototype/ pilot scale development and finally up-scaling for industrial scale commercial applications. Thus, a three stage approach involving fundamental research and concept development, followed by prototype development for proof of concept in the second stage, and finally up-scaling for commercial scale operation in the final stage may be contemplated.
SRTMI shall function under the guidance and leadership of Governing Board. The Governing Board shall provide guidance in all matters of selection and execution of projects. All proposals for funding of R&D projects will be placed before the Governing Board for approval. The Governing Board shall also decide on strengthening of existing R&D infrastructure in the country and also creation of new facilities and institutes as per need. In addition, the Governing Board shall review the progress of SRTMI, suggest course corrections and give policy decisions. The Board shall also approve Annual Report and half yearly/ yearly accounts of SRTMI.
The day-to-day coordination, monitoring and review of projects shall be done by Director, SRTMI with the help of a dedicated team of experts and consultants under regular employment/ contract with SRTMI. For this, Director SRTMI with the approval of Governing Board will recruit a team of experts and professionals to manage projects, finance, administration and purchase. The Director, as per need is free to set up Technical Committees to advise him in discharging his responsibilities. Presently, the Director has appointed three consultants to assist him in areas of Process Innovation, Product Development and Information, Education & Communication (IEC).