Tata Steel - one of the world's largest producers - recently held a Supplier Connection Day at the Heritage Motor Centre museum and conference centre in Gaydon, UK. The mini-conference featured presentations from Tata Steel experts covering each of the major automotive disciplines. Tata Steel Europe chief commercial officer Henrik Adam talked to just-auto about how the company is evolving as the day outlined how the effective deployment of steel technologies can lower the total cost of ownership of steel throughout the supply chain.

j-a: How is Tata Steel changing to adapt to customer needs?

HA: "We have seen very positive customer feedback [on] how we are changing our company and what we are achieving. We are one of the biggest players in Europe and in the world.

"We are changing Tata Steel's position in the market to be much more focused on our customers, how we can unlock a huge potential. The more passion we have to unlock this potential to give our customers a better idea what [they] can do with our metal is an opportunity."

j-a: How does that translate to automakers?

HA: "We have a fundamental knowledge of metal - we accept our customers know much better than we do how to build cars to market. We are talking the same language, the language of engineers. There is a value of the supply chain, but also a change of the development process and we intend to do that on a much more co-operative way."

j-a: How will that approach work concretely?

HA: "We have core competencies but we have to get interest from our customers. We need to intensify what we are doing. It should be in the future a much more enhanced relationship, it should be discussions on how we can agree [a] value-added service area, supply area and [an] R&D area. We have changed our operational model and have sectorised teams."

j-a: What will Tata Steel do in terms of volume ambition?

HA: "We want to be a number two player, market volume wise - to be number two we have some work to do. For me, it is not only volume, it is providing a product in the right place."

j-a: What are the key attributes of your body-in-white offer?

HA: "[There] are two attributes we have to fulfil - high strength [and] to have the car lighter and even more safe. We are one of the few suppliers which offers a full range of metals. In Europe, which is one of the most advanced markets for steel, there are very few players who have long and flat products."

j-a: What innovations does Tata Steel have?

HA: "We have a task force that is working on 50 new products which we push through our R&D and launching phase. For a new product there is a lead time of 18 months. [We have] new products - I can't discuss which - [that] will be on the road by 2013. That is a complex steel grade where we have this success. It is quite ambitious, it is a high-strength steel with a quite complex metallurgy.

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