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KREATIZE & Metalshub Market Report September 2022

General market report

While the war in Ukraine and China´s Covid-related lockdown in Shanghai caused the biggest challenges in our last market reports with major influence on prices for materials and ferroalloys, we have to shift focus to energy prices now. Although the war in Ukraine continues and China maintains its zero-Covid-strategy, many material prices have normalized to pre-war levels. The political aggression between China and the USA that revolves around Taiwan increases tension globally, but does not show a huge impact on material prices or supply-chains yet..

Meanwhile, the increasing cost of energy is driving inflation across Europe. One major cause is the gas price which has reached all time highs. In addition the summer heat worsens the situation, forcing nuclear power plants to reduce production, thus adding to the ever-rising energy prices.

Materials

Material prices for Aluminum, Nickel and steel as well as most base metals have reached price levels last seen before the Ukrainian war had started or even lower (as of CW 34). Overall, material prices have retreated for the fourth month in a row and for some materials are even below pre-Ukraine war levels.

Between June and the end of August, Aluminum prices have decreased by 14%. Steel prices also decreased by 16% to 785€/t for EU-hot rolled coil during that time frame while the price of Nickel decreased by 37%

The seasonal decline in business activity in the European and U.S. markets and continued macroeconomic uncertainties are putting pressure on the nickel market. During the summer months, the weighted average premium to the exchange price of nickel briquettes halved again, as evidenced by the relevant Metalshub index. Thus, nickel prices have returned to pre-war levels. The question remains open as to whether the absence of the Russian metal at the European market will be a sufficient reason for the quotations to go up in autumn amid intensified business activity. 

Ferroalloys

The decline in demand for ferroalloys in the summer months was caused by a reduction in carbon steel output. Thus, according to worldsteel, global steel production totaled 149.3 million tonnes in July, down almost 7% year-on-year. EU steel production fell 6.7 percent year-on-year to 11.7 million tonnes, including a 2%  decline in Germany to 3 million tonnes. 

The dynamics of ferroalloys price indices from Metalshub during summer months shows the prevalence of the downward price trend in most segments of the market. Thus, the cost of ferrosilicon decreased by more than 25% from May to August, and high-carbon ferromanganese – by 20%. By late summer, ferroalloys producers, especially in Eastern Europe, began to be pressured by rising production costs, which was provoked by the unprecedented rise in electricity prices in the EU. Some plants, for example in Slovakia, were even forced to stop production. In this connection, some reduction of supply on the market is expected, which will support prices in autumn on the background of growing demand. 

Quotations in the market of noble and chrome ferroalloys also declined. Since May, the ferromolybdenum price index sagged 10%, while ferrovanadium and ferrochrome dropped almost 20%. In addition to seasonally weak demand, prices fell due to a sharp strengthening of the dollar against the euro, and noble alloys are traditionally quoted in US dollars in Europe. More data on transaction based price indices and live market insights can be accessed by subscribing to Metalshub price indices.

Energy prices

Europe is facing an enormous energy-price shock. Based on the country-specific energy mix, not all countries are affected the same way. The higher the share of gas in the country’s energy mix, the higher the price increase for consumers, companies and manufacturers in that country. Energy prices are heavily influenced by the gas price, which has quadrupled in the last year.

Energy prices in Europe continue to remain on a very high level. On average, European benchmark gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub increased 37% during the last three months. One reason is that EU´s gas imports from Russia fell 70% in the last year (July 2021 to July 2022).

German baseload power for delivery next year, the benchmark European price, was at €455 per megawatt hour in CW 33. This is five times higher than the price at the same time last year. The long-lasting European heatwave has increased the problem in the past month, driving up energy demand while also energy generating capacity was disrupted, e.g. for wind energy due to low wind speeds because of high temperatures or low river levels for nuclear power plants..

Governments are scrambling to secure enough gas for the winter. Regarding energy prices in Germany, the German government announced the gas levy of 2.419 ct/kWh on gas consumption for companies and private households. According to VDMA (German Engineering Federation), this measure is only a first step. They expect to see at least a threefold increase compared with pre-crisis levels. Meanwhile, the fill level of German gas storage facilities exceeded 75% in mid August. Leading German industrial companies like Covestro fear that the natural gas crisis could lead to the total collapse of both supply chains and production chains. Gas storage facilities compensate for fluctuations in gas consumption and thus form a kind of buffer system for the gas market. 

Supply-chain 

As we have seen many positive trends and new supply routes being established over the last months, the summer heat brings new problems to inner German logistics. The railway system struggles to take-on extra capacity, seaports face workforce strikes and a container handling backlog while shallow waters in rivers like the Rhine limit inland shipping supply routes. In addition, 40 container ships were waiting for a place in a port in the German Bight (as of CW 33).

Demand for shipping capacities for ocean freight from China to Europe is slowing down, although supply capacities are still limited. Port congestion in Europe, mainly Hamburg with strike actions of port employees and Rotterdam, can lead to problems as they currently operate on critical levels. 

Demand for air cargo planes en route from China to Europe remains on a low level. This slow market demand leads to slight decreases in air freight rates, although rates are still on an elevated level due to high high fuel prices and many cancellations.. Occasionally Covid-related delays occur, which prolong transit times by 2-3 days on average.

Manufacturing lead times

China´s zero-Covid-strategy continues. This poses a constant threat to manufacturing lead times – not only from China but globally. Shortages of workers for rail, port and trucking in China and the US remain a constant challenge to solve. Congestion of the global major ports are still delaying ships which causes many container ships to wait for weeks to berth at ports in Asia, Europe and the US. 

The summer heat also affected factories in the Shanghai area and 19 other Chinese cities because of government planned power cuts. 

These factors increase the complexity of managing global supply chains while posing a threat to manufacturing lead times. At KREATIZE, manufacturing lead times remain stable since the beginning of the year. This can be achieved thanks to KREATIZE´s global network of manufacturing partners.

Contact our sales teams by email for detailed advice and assistance on product, supply-chain and/or material issues.

Why KREATIZE? – Interview with Carlo Schmid

Our former working student Carlo Schmid was kind enough to stop by our Berlin HQ to give us an interview about his time with KREATIZE. Find out what he learned while working for KREATIZE and how this benefited him in regards to future projects, such as Second Ride, in our video, and short article. 

Back in the summer of 2018, Carlo Schmid was looking for a job in mechanical engineering and wanted to experience the startup environment, which is why he applied for the open position as a working student here at KREATIZE. Back when he worked  in our operations team, KREATIZE only had around 20 employees and was stationed at a smaller office. 

“It was quite fascinating to see this development”, explains Schmid. “It was a very cool and agile work environment to be in.  By being in a company that grows this quickly you can learn alot by jumping around different tasks. I was really impressed with how fast I gained responsibility, even as a student, and this is not something you see at many companies.”

Schmid learned many valuable experiences during his time at KREATIZE, and was particularly impressed by our vision of fully digitizing the procurement process.  He was fascinated by how our IT department made all the processes, and cost calculations extremely efficient. Further explaining  that due to looking at multiple technical drawings and calculating the prices of custom parts, he now has a good grasp of determining manufacturing costs. 

“By far my biggest learning was to get a sense of how much a custom part will cost. Because that’s really not trivial. To see a part that has never been manufactured before and tell whether it will cost 500 euros or 50 euros,” confessed Schmidt. 

As mentioned earlier, Schmid doesn’t work any more for us, but he has a pretty cool project in which we had a hand in helping him realize it. After his job at KREATIZE Schmid thought a lot about traffic transitions and the problems of manufacturing electric vehicles.  This is why in early 2020 he started a second-hand mobility project at TUB, which investigated the feasibility of turning regular vehicles into electric ones at a high scale. For 3 semesters he worked together with 15 students on a toolkit, which allows any customer to easily convert their Simson motorcycle into an electric one. 

“It’s easier than assembling an Ikea shelf”, said Schmid. 

 How did we at KREATIZE help with this project?

“We needed custom manufacturing parts for the development of these toolkits. I approached KREATIZE  and was really impressed by the amount of support they offered us. We got a sponsorship which financed our prototype. I am really thankful for all the support i received after my KREATIZE career as an alum,” explained Schmid

While the university project is currently over, Schmid is now in the position to fund his own company, which sells the aforementioned conversion kits. In fact the project recently won the CESAR Competition Best Idea 2021 with a prize of 20,000€. 

We are happy to have Schmidt as our alum and wish him and his project the best for the future!

Are you someone with a desire to work to start their career in a place where entrepreneurial skills are learned?  Perhaps you’re an experienced professional looking to strengthen your overall business, product, tech, strategy or engineering acumen? We are hiring for lots of roles, so please check out our careers section today if you are looking for a one of a kind opportunity that will allow you to grow professionally by stretching your overall professional toolkit. 

To find out more about Second-Ride, check out their website here.

Launchpad—the future of bringing (hardware) products to market

Product innovation is the #1 driver of future growth and defendable margins.

Europe is full of amazing companies producing some of the best products in their markets, but many of these companies are struggling with product innovation and development. It either takes too long, is too expensive, or it fails to meet market requirements.   

We think it’s time for this to change. We’re bringing together Kreators (hardware development innovators) and product designers to discuss the challenges and the successes of hardware product development. Introducing KREATIZE Launchpad – a platform for leaders and innovators to exchange knowledge, insight, and ideas. 

This quarterly event series will host thought leaders from across all industries with one common theme: we are passionate about hardware product development. 

Hear from renowned leaders on product innovation

We’ll be joined by founders of startups, CEOs of leading product companies, designers, developers, and engineers from around the world who will be talking with us about product development.

At this month’s event, we’ll hear from leaders at Klöckner & Co, HEDD, Emm! solutions, and Aveo (founder of the Future of Manufacturing community) about how they see the future of bringing products to market.

And, of course, you can expect to hear from KREATIZE CEO, Simon Tüchelman, and CSO, Zod Mehr, who will join the conversation. 

Connect with the product community

We hope to build a community of like-minded people who are changing the world by designing better products. And we hope you’ll join us!

While we may not be in person just yet, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to network and connect with your peers in this community.  

Register now for free for Launchpad on 25 February @ 2:00pm CET 

Calling all creators! If you’d like to share your story at an upcoming Launchpad event, please get in touch with us.