Product Development

To the outside world, the steel industry might look like a mature sector with little to get excited about. To the uninformed outsider it might look static, mundane, dare we say boring even? But we know better. We know innovation is alive and well in steel. And our team at Big River is excited to be leading that charge.

The traditional model of product development in the steel industry certainly lends to that “old-school” reputation. Dozens of PhDs and material scientists locked in a lab, hundreds of miles away from production – and even more detached from customers. That structure worked 50 years ago when the pace of change was decidedly slower. But the world of manufacturing has changed. The pace of innovation now moves in milliseconds, not years. The steel industry has to keep up, with Big River leading the way.

So we’ve moved past the traditional model of product development into an entrepreneurial, incubator-based approach. We’re bringing together product designers, end-use manufacturers, academics, metallurgists, production team members and others. By working together, we identify opportunities faster, overcome obstacles quicker, iterate and learn together, and are a more nimble team. If this approach sounds like it’s from the tech start-up world, it is. After all, we’re a technology company. We just happen to make steel.

photo of Big River team product development| Big River Steel

The U.S. manufacturing landscape is full of opportunities that we've not seen in over a century.

Just look at the rapid growth of advanced high strength steels (AHSS) in the auto industry. What applications do those advancements have in rail car design and construction? We’re using our incubator approach to find out. How will the merging of autonomous and electrical vehicles (EV) impact what infrastructure and transportation sectors need from steel? We’re sitting at the table with OEMs, government and academia to do our part in the transformation. True innovation is indeed rebellious.