Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, Balkrishna Industries Ltd (BKT), shares his perspective on the tyres industry and the company´s offerings.
With over 25 years of global presence in the off-highway tyres segment, introduce us to your recent innovations.
BKT pioneered the agriculture radial programme in India, which was received with excellent feedback worldwide. Over the years, BKT has already established a strong lineage in the agriculture segment. In 2008, BKT pioneered the launch of the all-steel OTR radial tyre programme in India. Going forward, BKT plans to establish itself as one of the leading global player in the giant OTR segment. BKT has developed all products with its in-house R&D team and there has been excellent progress on various fronts last year. We have already started witnessing the results in 2015. BKT will roll out many new products in radial construction for the OTR and industrial segments in coming months that will include 27.00R49, 35/65R33, 45/65R45, 33.00R51, 18.00R25 (port application), etc.
Please highlight the company´s presence in Qatar and all the GCC countries. Which product range witnesses maximum demand?
BKT has been able to establish itself as one of the leaders in the off-highway segment across GCC countries. The strong brand image has been owing to the successful introduction of various sizes suitable for the GCC market. Qatar has been one of the fastest growing markets in the GCC with major demand from the industrial and OTR segments. With deadlines for project completion getting near, major growth is expected from the radial OTR segment.
How do you ensure quality and performance in your products? What is the R&D involved?
BKT has invested heavily to create world-class facilities. The new Bhuj plant will take manufacturing scale and level of process controls to a new height. A new testing track is being developed in house to ensure physical testing of each product in highly demanding conditions. BKT relies on a team of over 300 highly trained quality engineers who meticulously check different parameters at every stage, round the clock. On an average, each tyre goes through numerous quality checks before it is released.
Also, BKT has recently launched an ultra-advanced range of tyres, especially for high-speed cranes. Highlight the features of these tyres.
The high-speed tyres are specially designed for all-terrain mobile cranes. They provide excellent stability, traction and fuel-efficiency to suit different operations of versatile mobile cranes. BKT offers two different patterns for this application, depending upon ´on-road´ or ´off-road´ usage.
Considering project opportunities in the Gulf, do you have any special tyres to cater to the market there? Or do you customise as per market needs?
The BKT R&D team is actively involved in providing customised solutions for the specific requirements of the Gulf region. Owing to the high ambient temperatures, BKT offers different compound options for its OTR radial range. BKT tyres are designed to withstand temperatures ranging from -30¦C to +45¦C.
Please introduce us to your manufacturing plants and capacities. What is the annual investment in these? Also, do you have any expansion plans in the near future?
BKT is currently running the most modern off-highway tyre manufacturing plants. All four plants are equipped with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. The new plant in Bhuj will take our manufacturing prowess to greater heights. It is expected to approximately double capacity from 160,000 mtpa to 280,000 mtpa in 2015.
Please highlight the key elements of the company´s model of environment-friendly business.
The tyre manufacturing process has an intrinsic problem of higher waste emission levels. BKT has been working continuously on the environment front. Some of the efforts include 100 per cent Reach regulation compliance, plant certification by ISO 14001 - 2008, the national energy conservation awards in 2013 and 2014, etc.
How would you comment on the company´s current growth rate? How have the GCC countries been contributing to this growth?
BKT continues to beat the average industry growth rate, which is a good sign for the business. The contribution from GCC has been mainly in industrial and OTR tyres. The launch of new sizes in the OTR radial segment is opening up newer opportunities for BKT. As product performance is consistently monitored to beat benchmarking levels, we are confident of good market penetration in the coming years.