Cohesion within the refractory industry

Globalization has made it easier for industrial companies to use refractory products produced by foreign companies. However, with access to new refractory manufacturers comes the issue of different testing methods, safety and quality.


The Challenge


The refractory industry is in a constant state of change. New materials, production processes and technologies are constantly being developed and introduced.


To ensure that these materials meet the necessary safety and performance standards, they must be subjected to rigorous testing. This means that the methods used to test refractories must constantly be updated and improved.


However, different countries often have different testing methods and standards, making it difficult to compare results and ensure that products are safe and fit for purpose.


Too many different testing methods can lead to trade barriers between countries. This can make it difficult for companies to compare products and prices and ultimately limits customer choice.


This restriction of choice leads to market separation, which hampers the development of new technologies and stifles innovation, ultimately making it difficult for new companies to enter the market.


In some cases, new testing methods are created to test a hypothesis for an academic paper or sell additional devices to test specific refractory products.


Global cooperation within the refractory industry


Too many different testing methods mean that the needs of the refractory industry are not always taken into account. This can lead to problems with the quality of refractories and creates a divide between the benefits refractory products can offer and the features manufacturers are looking for.


To overcome this problem, the WRA's International Standards Task Force (ISTF) aims to facilitate the standardization of testing methods at an international level between independent refractory manufacturers’ laboratories, and standardization organisations. These tests provide a common basis for comparison, ensuring that products are safe and fit the needs of the industry regardless of where they are manufactured. The first 2 projects dealing with interlaboratory tests regarding strength and abrasion have been conducted, and the results will be published in an internationally acknowledged magazine.


The standardization of testing methods also helps to avoid and prevent unnecessary standards and simplify the purchasing decisions for manufacturers as they can be confident that the refractory products they choose to use will meet their production needs and quality standards while keeping their workforce safe.


Interlaboratory studies according to ISO 7525f are used to generate precision data for test methods and to verify and assure high test quality. This is also an essential part of these improvement efforts.


The companies should not distinguish themselves through tests carried out in different ways, but for the benefit of the customer, through innovative customer solutions.


Increased cooperation and transparency within the refractory industry will facilitate the adoption of standardised testing methods for refractory manufacturers globally, ensuring the sector can meet and overcome current and future challenges.