An E-bay style internet market place has been set up to help manufacturers find the cheapest sources of steel.
The service, which has been called Steel 24-7, was unveiled at a meeting of the Confederation of British Metalforming in the Midlands yesterday.
It is aimed at helping UK manufactures cope with the massive rises in steel over the last year where prices have risen by up to 70 per cent.
Soaring demand in China, driven by its economic growth, has increased from 232 million tonnes in 2003, to an estimated 290 million tonnes this year, out of a total of production of 1,040 million tonnes in
The new site was revealed by the CBM at a half day seminar on the future of steel at the National Metalforming Centre in West Bromwich.
Speakers from the national steel supplying scene presented papers on the European view, the national perspective and the stockholders dilemma.
John Houseman, director general of the Confederation of British Metalforming, said: "The price rises of the last few years have hit many of our firms really really badly.
"One of our members has recently gone into administration and others could follow.
"We believe steel prices have peaked and some, but not all grades are dropping.
"Some of our members are still experiencing difficulties even passing on the massive 60 per cent increases from last year.
"Many firms have been able to pass on the price increases to their customers, but others have not.
"With the end of contracts coming up, they have to try and pass them on now.
"If steel continues to rise, it will leave many with no margin left.
"If they cannot pass these on they will go to the wall."
Mr Houseman said part of the answer was to find alternative sources of steel, particularly in Europe rather than China.
He said: "Firms can look to Poland and the Czech Republic where the quality standards are similar to ours, which is crucial when they are making safety critical products.
"There is internet trading as well. Firms will be able to use schemes like Steel 24-7 to buy the excess capacity from steel mills."
Follow-up services on the website provide buyers with a consolidated view of their order book from different suppliers, and the ability to drill down to a specific order along with the associated documents.
The website will provide improved visibility across the supply chain and increase order and stock visibility.
It will also provide a greater information flow to customers as well as being available outside business hours.
Mr Houseman said it would reduce costs, reduce processing errors through automation.
Created in 2001 by several of the major European steel companies, Steel 24-7, only now available in the UK, has outlived its competitors to become an independent ebusiness platform for the steel industry.
Owned by Arcelor and ThyssenKrupp Stahl, Steel 24-7 is used by more than 420 steel buying companies.
Mr Houseman said: "It may take a while to take off, but is a very good idea.
"Companies will be able to source the cheapest steel, and by matching demand to the supplies everyone will benefit."