Change or die. What is the future of the market of metal structures?


Ukraine is among the top 10 largest world producers of metal, but it does not use its potential. While declaring its desire to move from the resource-based economy to commodity exports and innovative development, the state does not do anything for this purpose. Rather, on the contrary, it preserves outdated technologies and hinders the development of modern production. Existing regulatory rules and standards reduce the market competition preventing not only from participation in many international projects, but also from the development at the domestic level.

However, the market of metal structures means more than 20 thousand jobs. Budget revenues from it amounted to 462 million hryvnas of taxes and brought the country 71 million dollars of foreign exchange earnings last year. And 830 market enterprises generated almost 3 billion hryvnas of added value. And this all was not as a result of, but in spite of.

The high-rise construction has long characterized modern cities, and its facilities – architectural landmarks in many countries

The catalyst was the extensive use of steel building structures at the beginning of the XX century. The construction market was rapidly growing, but we are talking about the world market and not the Ukrainian one. We have made first steps just in the middle of the last century and stopped halfway.

Good news. Two of the ten most prominent buildings in the world have been built using Ukrainian metal. One of them is the 828-meter Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. It was made of 60% of Ukrainian raw materials. The second building – a new object “Shelter 2” in Chernobyl, which can be seen from space even with the naked eye. There’s also our metal. But the good news ends with these facts.

The industry regulation is ineffective and contradictory. More than half of 59 regulations require to be updated and one in seven has signs of being illegal. Regulatory changes are needed in all processes: starting from vocational education and training of design engineers to putting finished objects into operation.

For example, today, Ukrainian designers can not participate in international projects at the legislative level. After all, they are certified exclusively by national standards.

However, it has been allowed to design according to both national standards and Eurocodes since 2015. But! In accordance with recently adopted amendments to the urban planning legislation, it is no allowed to design by Eurocodes for facilities of consequence class CC3! And CC3 can be any industry facility! That is, foreign investors wishing to build an agricultural complex, warehouse or industrial premises face with a direct ban to design by European standards in Ukraine. Only by domestic DBN codes of 1958, which are quite satisfactory for the old school of designers. And it does not matter that some requirements of these standards can not be met because there simply no most of materials described available. Instead, everything is familiar and time-tested. But innovations can wait.

Another remarkable example of outdated regulation is our fire standards on fire protection. They are much higher than in Europe. In fact, they do not increase the safety of facilities in any way, but significantly increase the cost of the process. What will customers choose: to build at less cost by using concrete or at a higher cost from metal? The answer is clear and it is against technological metal.

The situation with the production of metal structures is slightly better. There are 462 supporting standards for 57 Eurocodes. 200 regulatory acts have been already translated and adapted.

Thus, today there are two parallel systems on the market: Soviet and European systems. Expert-oriented producers are using European standards, others, by force of habit, – the Soviet ones (updated with renewed date).

Double regulation only complicates the market operation

Here is a simple example. The export of metal structures brought Ukraine 1.57 billion hryvnas for 46.6 thousand tons of goods last year. 21 thousand tons totaling 1.12 billion hryvnas were imported. Do you see the difference? We sell our metal structures 2 times cheaper than we buy them. The reason – international companies require certificates by international standards. And our enterprises have to adhere the national ones. As a result, just one-fifth of steel produced in Ukraine is used in construction.

At the same time, the potential of the domestic market has the ability to quickly ramp up the production of metal structures. Its development depends on the ability to introduce innovations. Therefore, now we need a government’s sole decision on transformations. There is a need in comprehensive reengineering of the system – from providing vocational education and training of design engineers to introducing a new system.

Recipes have been already prescribed, we just need to begin taking medicines.