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Invitation to attend market toward the non-metallic minerals industry segment and high-cost, high-performance refractories. How does this impact material suppliers? Interestingly enough, we don’t see this in our market. The reality is that steel remains the predominant consumer of refractory materials around the world. The unpredictable, cyclical nature of this market, especially in recent years, however, has pushed our customers to diversify their offerings and look at alternative revenue streams, new application segments, and new end users. So, in that sense, you could say there is a shift, but definitely not in volume consumed. One interesting effect of this is that manufacturers who traditionally tailored refractories for specific steel segments are now bringing this “tailoring” to other segments such as hydrocarbon processing, power generation or cement, rather than just offering generic materials engineered for steel. This, combined with increased competition, has created a real sense of urgency in refractory product development, leading to “solutions” and “innovation” being the new normal for a refractory producer. So, I would not say that the trend is toward highcost refractories necessarily but, more so, toward serving multiple markets and a more diversified portfolio. Are you noticing a shift in demand for specific materials? Because so many refractory raw materials are transformed clay or refined ore, we believe that some minerals are more compromised than others. As our customers continue to seek new avenues of cost savings, and suppliers look to optimize their mines, we see an increase in the use of materials with more open specifications and in the amount of recycled materials being integrated into monolithic refractories. These events introduced many complexities on the formulation side and were a driving force in the launch of our Active Compounds range. One of these products, REFPAC 100, for example, is a multicomponent dispersing compound that simplifies production processes and, ultimately, allows users to reach a lower overall formulation cost by being able to safely push the envelope on the compromise. Can you elaborate on what types of demands are now put on refractory materials, how this differs from the past, and how this change is anticipated by material suppliers? The trend in the refractory industry since the beginning always has appeared to be toward higherperformance, longer-lasting refractory materials that are easier and faster to install. However, the one issue is that for many years the measurement criteria were wrong. The Japanese were famous for beginning to measure refractory efficiency by calculating the kilograms of refractories that were required for every ton of steel production. For years this was the benchmark standard. However, today, end users are more prone to measure the dollars spent on refractories per ton of steel produced, not the kilograms consumed. It’s a slightly nuanced difference but another manifestation of efficiency versus effectiveness. It’s the total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) mentality that modern-day refractory users have come to embrace. Josh Pelletier will be speaking at Conference @ Ceramics Expo 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Session: Track One - Examining Next-Generation Refractory Materials Date: Wednesday April 27, 2016 Time: 11:45 a.m. – 12.45 p.m. Price: Complimentary www.ceramicsexpousa.com Founding Partner Founding Partner


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