This is where you see your ideas come to life

At Tata Steel we want to maintain our position as one of the world’s leading steel companies. To do this we have to constantly explore new ways of working with others and identify the best ideas and technologies, wherever they may be.


There are two methods for you to share your ideas with us

1. Open Ideas

We want to collaborate with innovative people and organisations to help develop solutions to our current challenges and create new opportunities for the future. To do this we want to explore new ways of working with others and identify the best ideas and technologies, wherever they may be. If you have one of those ideas, submit them here.

Submit your idea

2. Technology Challenge

Every month we will announce a challenge that gives you the chance to come up with a solution to a specific challenge.

THIS MONTH’S CHALLENGE

Next Generation Insulation for Construction Products

What we are looking for

A rigid material for use in steel-faced composite panels with excellent insulation, physical and fire properties, and that can be recycled or reused at the end of its life.

Background:

The construction industry uses every year millions of square metres of steel-faced Polyurethane (PUR) and Polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam filled composite panels as wall and roof panels in a wide range of building constructions. Their primary function is to provide insulation to buildings and hence minimise heating costs and the carbon footprint of the building in-use. Excellent insulation properties are therefore key but the physical properties of the foam are also vital, to enable long panels to be produced and used, and fire properties are equally as important. Whilst other materials are currently available, these can be heavy, expensive or have potential health issues so Tata Steel Europe, as a responsible and ethical manufacturer, is looking to develop a next generation of insulation products.

Key Success Criteria:

Clear evidence that the approach taken will result in improved properties compared with current state of the art materials. Although it is not necessary that initial prototypes exceed the properties of the current systems, a path to product improvement must be evident.

Possible Approaches:

All technological approaches will be considered that meet the required key success criteria. Approaches based on completely new chemistries or materials will be considered, although a preference would be that they lend themselves to our current production technologies without major modification. Information on our current production process and typical properties of steel faced composite panels can be found here.

Out of Scope:

Concepts or ideas with no experimental support, funding requests for proof of concept

Potential Business Opportunity:

Joint development, contract research, technology acquisition, supply agreement. To be negotiated.

Respond to this challenge

We want to innovate in everything we do

  • Processes

    Processes

    Committed to reducing continuously the environmental impact of our operations through the adoption of sustainable practices.

  • Products

    Products

    Developing new products with our customers to allow then to unlock the unique properties of steel and open up new opportunities.

  • Applications

    Applications

    Identifying and developing with partners new applications for our products that exploit the full capability of steel’s properties.

  • Services

    Services

    Delivering far more than just steel by developing new services for our customers that create value for them and also their customers.

Automotive

Automotive

Tata Steel offers multiple automotive steel products ranging from strip to tube and tailor welded blanks. We support our customers’ commitments to the development of a low carbon economy through investment and innovation in sustainable steel products and services.

Reveal Back

Tata Steel supplies automotive products and services to customers across the world. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Innovative concepts for steel-based solutions that contribute to the light-weighting of car bodies. These could focus on optimisation of steel strength whilst maintaining good formability (“beat the banana”).
  • Innovative ideas for further improving the surface appearance of automotive outer panels. These could focus on: cleanliness aspects of manufacturing technology; steel chemistries that minimise imperfections during the forming of parts.
  • New technologies in steel processing to maximise steel utilisation during the forming process.

Tata Steel is a major supplier of automotive products and services to the automotive supply chain Tiers. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Steel-based solutions that optimise strength whilst maintaining good formability to maximise light-weighting potential (“beat the banana”).
  • Coatings for protection / longevity of parts in service.

Tata Steel offers a range of products and services to automotive seating and interior customers across the world. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Innovative concepts for steel-based solutions focussing on design for future vehicle concepts – e.g. autonomous vehicles.
  • Steel based designs and solutions that optimise light-weighting opportunities.

Tata Steel manufactures electrical steels for efficient electric motors, and plated steels for batteries and fuel cells. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Coatings for optimising functionality and properties in motors, batteries and fuel cells.
  • Innovative steel-based designs for battery trays, affording protection.
Construction

Construction

Deadlines for achievement of zero carbon buildings are driving a need for more sustainable solutions. We’re collaborating with our customers, supply chain and technology partners to provide sustainable products, systems and design solutions. These have applications across the construction sector - in structures, the building envelope and related infrastructure.

Reveal Back

Tata Steel supplies products and services to companies delivering building envelope solutions. We supply more than 170,000,000m2 of organic coated strip into the sector annually. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Development of novel, high-performance pre-treatment, primer and topcoat technologies for enhanced coating durability.
  • Enhanced functionality for building envelopes. We’re particularly interested in: technologies allowing rapid changes of colour or pattern within the same steel coil; improvements in envelope energy efficiency.
  • Novel methods of rapidly identifying or predicting the properties of new metallic coating compositions.
  • New and innovative steel-based insulation products or systems that allow thinner composite panels to be produced in a continuous manufacturing process.

Tata Steel supports customers in the construction structures sector through development of differentiated products and services that generate value throughout the supply chain. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Sustainable building design from cradle to cradle. Collaboration could focus on: efficient construction methods; reduction of energy consumption in building use; simplified de-mounting and re-use of structural steels.
  • Generation of design solutions for extremes of loading (earthquakes, fire) and for highly corrosive environments.
  • Creating the residential homes and neighbourhoods of the future.

The construction industry is changing. After decades of stagnant productivity, the industry is quickly moving to adopt digital tools, interoperable data, and automation as a means to drive efficiencies. Tata Steel is at the forefront of the drive to digital construction. We see the following as key enablers for digitally capable construction product manufacturers:

  • Structured, accessible, managed, linked and interoperable data – manufacturers must be the Single Source of the Truth for their data.
  • Product marking – linking digital CAD components to physical products to enable Digital twins.
  • Interlinked databases – both internally (for product providence, pricing, etc.) and externally.
  • Digital Platform development – to enable component data to be utilised to drive wider systems.

Tata Steel have started looking at incorporating IoT (e.g. sensors) technology in to or on to our products. These “Smart” products can provide several benefits:

  • In-use performance monitoring – for example of the thermal performance of a building envelope panel over time.
  • Building and environment monitoring for construction clients – for example monitoring temperature, humidity, water ingress, people movements, etc.
  • Building security – CCTV cameras, motion, damage to the building can be monitored.

By adding this capability we are also enabling our products to be used in different ways. For example, by knowing how the product is performing over time and whether or not it has been damaged, it makes the concept of leasing our products more feasible.

Packaging

Packaging

Global manufacturers of packaging products look to Tata Steel for new ways of improving the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of their finished products. We provide a range of coated and uncoated steels that deliver efficiency in further processing and help to enhance and differentiate our customers’ products.

Reveal Back

Aerosols dispense a wide variety of products including deodorant, shaving foam, pastes, gels, paint and edible products. They perform well across a range of sectors from personal care, to paint and foods. As a leading supplier, Tata Steel would like to explore potential collaboration in the following areas:

  • Design of aerosol top and bottoms to support implementation of thinner Tata Steel materials in combination with adapted can and tooling design to reduce cost.
  • Improve can performance by improving the shelf life.
  • Explore the potential to manufacture shaped aerosols.

Steel packaging protects and preserves everything from meat, fish, soups and oils to tea, coffee and milk. The heat sterilisation process preserves food naturally in a safe, strong, and convenient pack without having to rely on additives and preservatives. The food can offers brands a reliable, safe and secure packaging format. As a leading supplier, Tata Steel would like to explore potential collaboration in the following areas:

  • Design of food can bodies to support implementation of thinner Tata Steel materials in combination with adapted can and tooling design to reduce cost.
  • Re-design of the ‘easy open end’ to improve opening convenience.
  • Explore the potential to manufacture shaped (food) cans.

The use of steel cans to package food has a number of major advantages:

  • Food packaged in steel cans can be just as nutritious (and sometimes more nutritious) than fresh and frozen varieties.
  • Steel cans are a sustainable choice, as the material is 100% recyclable.
  • Food cans can be stored for years at room temperature without losing nutrition.
  • Despite these advantages, the consumer perception of canned food is generally poor. Any initiative that helps to change the current consumer perception is welcome.

Worldwide, more than one third of food is lost between field and fork. Almost 50% of Tata Steel’s Packaging steel ends up in food cans and Tata Steel can be a major influence on increasing food efficiency.

  • In developed countries, the main challenge is to raise awareness on the impact of, and the solutions for, food loss and waste.
  • In developing countries, the main challenge is to increase collaboration and coordination in the food supply chain, to decrease food loss.

Tata Steel supplies laminated steels (Protact), enabling a significant downscaling of the canmaking line - initial internal studies show that it is possible to make a can on the back of a lorry, thereby enabling canning of food to be closer to where it is produced. Tata Steel is interested in any initiative that helps to increase food efficiency.

Engineering

Engineering

Tata Steel supports customers across diverse market segments from construction equipment to steel drums to white goods and more. We want to collaborate with partners for a sustainable future in the changing landscape of Industry 4.0, Urbanisation and Digitisation through investment and innovation in sustainable steel products and services.

Across all of our sub-sectors we would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Safety: Innovative steel-related solutions to improve the safety and performance of our customers’ products – e.g. through improvements in fatigue performance or strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Sustainability: Ideas could focus on carbon performance, material yield, material circularity, product circularity and supply chain responsibility.
  • Performance: Steel chemistries to create a step change in productivity e.g. strength increases or longer lasting materials.
  • Cost efficiencies: Including product substitution or automisation to reduce customer’s processing costs and improve supply chain efficiency.
  • Digital: E.g. E-commerce ideas to improve the service offering to our customers, including Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) solutions that minimise working capital requirement and maximise delivery performance.
Reveal Back

Example segments:

  • Construction and agricultural equipment
  • Mining
  • Cranes
  • Material handling machinery
  • Trucks and trailers

Example segments:

  • Industrial packaging
  • Industrial racking and Shelving
  • Gas bottles
  • Robots
  • Renewable energy

Example segments:

  • Domestic appliances
  • Radiators
  • HVAC
  • Boilers
Primary Processes

Primary Processes

Tata Steel always strives for excellence in its iron and steel making operations. Process enhancements to improve yield, cost, quality, energy efficiency and environmental performance are key factors in improving the profitability and sustainability of our operations.

Reveal Back

The iron making process involves large quantities of chemical energy to reduce iron oxides into pure metal and thermal energy to melt the components. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Sensors and instrumentation for high temperature processes in harsh conditions – for improved process and plant integrity control.
  • Alternative sources of carbon for iron ore reduction.
  • Development of advanced refractory materials for metallurgical applications.
  • Modelling of high-temperature, multi-phase metallurgical processes.
  • Improvements in environmental control and CO2 reduction - including emissions control and technologies for carbon capture.

Iron making via the blast furnace route is a continuous process. A consistent and predictable feed of raw materials - coal, coke, sinter or pellets - is vital for reliable and stable production. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Proposals that enable increased understanding of the fundamentals of high temperature agglomeration processes such as sinter making, pellet making and coke making.
  • Microstructure, mineralogy and metallurgy of agglomerates (sinter, pellets and coke).
  • Efficient and advanced handling and controlling of bulk raw materials.
  • On-line characterisation of raw materials and bulk materials for blast furnace, coke plant and sinter plant operations.

Tata Steel produces liquid steel for cast and rolled products via the BOF steelmaking route - backed by a wide range of secondary steelmaking technologies. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Steel cleanliness improvements and state-of-the-art composition control.
  • Development of comprehensive process models including thermodynamics and process kinetics.
  • Metrology and the control and utilisation of process data for optimised process efficiency. Innovative methods of measurement and interpretation are of particular interest.
  • Improvements in environmental control and CO2 reduction - including emissions control and technologies for carbon capture.
  • Predictive maintenance and intelligent process control

Steel manufacturing is an energy-intensive industry. At Tata Steel we continuously seek opportunities for both incremental and step change energy efficiency improvements. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • New technologies for cost-effective recovery of waste heat from low grade sources.
  • Novel technologies that can convert low calorific by-product gases into a natural gas substitute.
  • Innovative technologies that can be deployed to reduce energy demand from the national grid at peak times.
  • Robust renewable energy systems that can be deployed cost-effectively at manufacturing locations.
  • Carbon capture utilisation and storage.
  • Methods of generating and using hydrogen to reduce the CO2 emissions from the combustion of gases.
Hot and Cold Transformations

Hot and Cold Transformations

Effective control of casting and hot and cold rolling processes is essential in ensuring delivery of consistent, high quality end products to our customers. Process enhancements to improve yield, cost, quality, energy efficiency and environmental performance are a major part of our technology programme.

Reveal Back

Tata Steel’s continuous cast products supply some of the world’s most specialised and demanding applications. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Process control for optimised surface and internal quality. This could include new or enhanced measurement techniques for in-line quality assessment during casting.
  • Intelligent caster condition assessment - directly linking installation data with control systems for improved product quality and safe caster operation.
  • Through-process energy and materials efficiency.
  • Development of new casting technology to enable production of a new generation of steels in a safe and environmental friendly way.

Tata Steel’s highly automated strip rolling processes already produce steel within tight mechanical property, dimensional and surface quality tolerances. We are striving to deliver precision products with ever tighter target specifications and would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Next generation measurement technologies to enable closed loop control of parameters that influence final product quality.
  • New measurement technologies and control strategies to reduce variation in through-process surface quality and mechanical properties.
  • New measurement technologies and control strategies to reduce variation in through-process shape and gauge across the width.
  • Developments in plant condition monitoring to ensure reliability of processes that run 24/7.
  • Ideas for reducing the cost of utilities and consumables such as rolls and oils.
Finishing

Finishing

Tata Steel produces hundreds of millions of square metres of coated steel strip annually. Coatings are applied using technologies including hot dip galvanising, roller coating and electroplating. We are always looking for new technologies to improve the processes and products we already have and to enable the development of new and innovative products.

Reveal Back

Tata Steel supplies galvanised steel products to customers operating in global automotive, construction and appliance markets. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • Technologies that reduce energy consumption in our continuous hot dip galvanising process – particularly in annealing furnaces.
  • New characterisation techniques for the study of thin (from single atomic layers to micrometres) metallic or oxidic coatings on steel.
  • Proposals that enable further improvements in manufacturing products with excellent surface appearance and well-controlled texture. These could include new designs for air knives.
  • Reduction or elimination of common surface defects (such as scratches from conducting rolls and dross) occurring in galvanising lines.
  • Technology that enables high speed (˃˃200 m/min) production of continuous hot dip galvanised strip at a range of coating weights.

Tata Steel has a number of organic coated strip lines. These apply a range of multi-layered organic coating types and use various curing techniques. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • New curing technologies or significant advances in convection, NIR, UV and electron beam technology. We are particularly interested in technologies that deliver environmental benefits or enable development of improved product properties.
  • New roller coating technologies that can maintain production speeds and qualities - especially if they open up new resin chemistries and new functionality.
  • Technologies that could allow multiple colours to be applied on the same coil whilst maintaining production speed.
  • New methods of in-line wet measurement of applied coating thickness.

Tata Steel operates electroplating lines that deposit coatings of chromium, tin, nickel, cobalt and copper. We would like to explore potential collaboration in these areas:

  • New plating technologies – primarily for use with carbon steel substrates, although other metal substrates are not excluded. These could include radical departures from our current methods which employ water-based liquids.
  • Alternative ways of dissolving (as an ion in a liquid) and depositing the coating metal on the substrate in a continuous coil coating line.
  • New methods of producing thinner, uniform coatings whilst maintaining line speeds (currently, electroplated coatings are typically 1 or 2 um).
  • In-line methods of continuously measuring coating thickness and uniformity.

From submission to market, we nurture your ideas

1 Submit

Tell us about yourself and your idea. We’ll acknowledge immediately via email.
Submit your idea

3 Conversation

If we’re interested in your proposal, we’ll get in touch to discuss your idea and next steps (including whether it may be more suited to a different part of Tata Group).
Meet the innovation portal sponsor

Pete Longdon
Manager, New Technology and Innovation

Pete worked in Tata Steel's R&D Department for 20 years, before becoming Manager of New Technology and Innovation. His remit is to identify technologies and organisations for Tata Steel to partner with.
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4 Development

We’ll work together to understand how best to take your suggestion forward and put in place a plan to deliver it.

5 Implementation

See your proposal come to life and reap the benefits.
See examples in the market

Have any questions?
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We've been change makers for over 100 years.

Tata Steel and its predecessor companies have been leading innovation in all aspects of the steel industry for well over 100 years. Our commitment to innovation in everything we do remains unchanged.

View examples of our innovations over the years

1895

The world's first electroplated steel strip

A world first. Hille & Müller, Tata Steel's electroplating Company in Düsseldorf, Germany, was founded in 1905 and was the first company in the world to produce electroplated steel strip. After 100 years’ experience and a longstanding commitment to innovation, Hille & Müller are still the world's leading expert in nickel-plated cold rolled stripüller.

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1944

Pipeline under the ocean

We've always been leaders in pipeline innovation - In the 1940's our predecessor Stewart and Lloyds was the first to develop the method of installing sub-sea pipelines using "reel-lay". Called PLUTO (PipeLine Under The Ocean), steel pipe was coiled onto large drums onshore and then reeled off-ship onto the sea-bed. PLUTO required developments in pipe manufacture, joining and laying that were years ahead of their time. We are still leaders in pipeline technology now.

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1963

It's a rectangular world

In 1963, our predecessor British Steel developed the Rectangular Hollow Section (RHS), an alternative to the wide-flange column. RHS provided a more lightweight solution that was also aesthetically-pleasing and easily decorated. The material was ideal for use in multi-story buildings, load-bearing equipment and barriers and quickly became a construction product of choice. Tata Steel continues to innovate the use of the RHS and many other steel-based products.

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1964

Pre-finished steel

Tata Steel has been a market leader in pre-finished steel for 50 years and through the Colorcoat® brand has a rich history of innovation and industry firsts, supplying products for the building envelope and demanding internal environments. In 1964 we launched Europe's first 200micron plastisol product and steadily extended the colour range and product capabilities such that in 1992 we became the first steel company to offer a product guarantee, Confidex®. Further enhancements mean that in 2014 Colorcoat HPS200 Ultra® is available with a 40 year Confidex® Guarantee. 

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1992

Launch of Protact® for Packaging Applications

Continuous lamination of low gauge packaging steels using externally purchased polymer films. Short chain length polyesters ideal for end-can applications.

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2000

Silent rail track

In 2000 Tata Steel developed SilentTrack®, a proven noise damping system for railways, reducing noise levels by 3-6dB and providing a wide frequency response. The innovation was achieved in partnership with acoustic experts at the world-renowned Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton.

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2007

Ruling the waves

In 2007 Tata Steel develop two new grades of steel to solve design challenges with the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Through regular discussion over the whole design period our metallurgists designed three grades of steel which allowed the design team to balance performance in use with manufacturability, co-ordinating with Lloyd's Register to ensure that their Rules were rewritten to allow the new steels to be included in the ship. 

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2008

Thinking under pressure

Energy companies are exploring increasingly hostile environments to satisfy global energy needs and Oil and Gas production is now possible in water depths in excess of 2,000 metres.  Tata Steel have developed oil and gas pipelines that can withstand the enormous hydrostatic pressures at these depths (>200 atmospheres) and in 2008 supplied the pipeline for the Shell Perdido project in the Gulf of Mexico which, at its deepest,  is over 2500m.

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2009

Keeping trains on track

In 2009, Tata Steel developed High Performance rail HP335 (HPrail) to address the industry need to combat the degradation mechanisms of wear and rolling contact fatigue. After extensive in-track trials with Network Rail, HP335 was given full product approval in summer 2012 and it is now installed in over 350km of rail in track across the UK, delivering significant life cycle cost savings through reduced maintenance.

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2011

Ballistic protection

In 2011, Tata Steel developed Superbainite, now known as PAVISE®, an innovative defence product that enhances the ballistic protection of armoured vehicles. The concept was invented by Cambridge University and the UK Ministry of Defence with Tata Steel undertaking a multi-year research programme to develop the original concept into a practical product and process route.

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2012

Grooved Rail

Replacing embedded rails in roadways is extremely expensive and inconvenient for network operators. To address this, Tata Steel developed Multi-Life grooved rail ML330, a more wear-resistant rail which can also be weld-restored in track to deliver cost savings and improved route availability. ML330 was launched to market in 2012 and helped us win the Global Light Rail Awards 'Supplier of the Year award' that year.

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2014

TCO Scan MagiZinc

In 2014 Tata Steel launched Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) scan MagiZinc - a new advanced engineering service for the automotive industry, to help our customers find the right balance between performance, light weight and cost. TCO scans identify and quantify the TCO benefit for production lines when replacing a conventional zinc-coating by Tata Steel's MagiZinc Auto. To date, our TCO Scans have shown  that MagiZinc Auto reduces TCO by 10%-25% vs conventional zinc coatings, depending on the specific part and tool conditions.

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2015

Low Waviness Finish

Tata Steel launched its new Serica™ product for exposed automotive panels, including hoods, doors, fenders and body sides. With a guaranteed low waviness after forming Serica enables thinner or fewer paint layers to be used and, combined with the cost-effective process of hot-dip coating, offers significant total cost of ownership benefits to its customers.

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2017

Launch of 3rd Generation Protact®

High speed continuous lamination with tailored formulation polymer films internally produced. Flexible formulations, both long and short-chain polymers, suitable, for example, for three piece can making.

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2017

Launch of next-generation Colorcoat®

New generation Colorcoat Prisma® utilises revolutionary three-layer technology to push the boundaries of pre-finished steel. The latest product evolution offers superior ultraviolet (UV) resistance and durability, and is now available with an extended Confidex® Guarantee of up to 40 years.

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Ready to work with us? Submit your idea

Do you have an idea that you think could innovate the future of steel? We want to hear from you.

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