BKT recently organised an event, ´BKT-Bhuj: The Game Changer´, which included a tour to its largest production plant at Bhuj. CW explores the details of this plant and the company´s journey.
The history of any company reflects its identity. The present includes both the awareness of its past and the promise of its future. Headquartered in Mumbai, India, Balkrishna Industries Ltd (BKT) is a leading manufacturer in the off-highway tire market. Since its establishment in 1987, BKT has successfully focused on specialist segments such as agricultural, construction, and industrial vehicles as well as earthmoving, port and mining, ATV, and gardening applications. It has developed into a global player in the off-highway tire industry with a global market share of approximately 6 per cent. With its products sold in more than 130 countries worldwide through a network of partner distributors, the company has five state-of-the-art production sites in Aurangabad, Bhiwadi, Chopanki, Dombivali and Bhuj that employs more than 7,000 people.
Arvind Poddar, Chairman & Managing Director, BKT, says, ´The name BKT stands for a unique asset representing the rich heritage of values passed down through traditions. We are committed to institutionalise these key assets ensuring that they are not compromised by short-term gains. We seek to create an environment where these values are brought to life.´
Committed to growth has been the company´s timeless corporate philosophy. Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT, avers, ´BKT has established solid roots over the years, bringing in radical changes, which steered our company ahead towards fast prospering growth. Getting deeper insights into all corporate processes from manufacturing to finance, from sales to marketing, has been fundamental by leaving no stone unturned.´
This philosophy significantly contributed to the realisation of the greenfield project at Bhuj, which is the company´s largest production plant. What´s more, this is going to almost double the capacity and will help in pushing the growth momentum at BKT.
The Bhuj Experience
While BKT opened its new industrial site at Bhuj, the company recently organised an event, ´BKT-Bhuj: The game Changer´. ´Changing the game again and again means changing the baseline scenario. Bhuj, another example of this at BKT, marks a further milestone in our history,´ Rajiv Poddar said during the event.
So, what were the strategic reasons for setting up a new plant? Rajiv Poddar went on to explain, ´At the beginning of this decade, BKT defined its vision, whereby it set the overall strategic objective: To achieve the leadership in the Off-Highway tire market worldwide. To support the new ambitious vision, we had to make some radical changes in our production set-up. After carefully analysing different factors, it emerged that Aurangabad, Chopanki and Bhiwadi production plants were already working at full capacity. Taking into account all factors, clarity emerged that we needed a new plant. With this, we started working on the macro requirement of a new project.´
And then, as one has never seen before, the Bhuj plant has been developed. The new site stretches over a total surface area of 312 acre, or 126 hectare. An area of 25 acre, almost 10 hectare, is dedicated to a modern outdoor track. Tractors and industrial vehicles equipped with BKT tires are tested there. Together with the R&D area, it constitutes a true masterwork. The R&D Centre which will be completed by early 2016, contains an innovative structure, where research on new polymers is done and new tread compounds are developed. Further, the central area in the plant hosts the production house that extends over 72 acre (29 hectare). The ´township area´, extending over 15 acre (6 hectare), comprises 406 flats for the employees´ families. In addition, there are 90 rooms for university students who have opted to work with BKT, within the scope of an industry-university co-operation project. The Bhuj plant also has its own fire station with seven firefighting trucks, two ambulances and a smooth firefighting system covering the entire complex, extending over 37 km. Commenting on how the plant is going to ensure quality, productivity and safety, Dilip M Vaidya, President and Director-Technology, BKT, says, ´The entire plant is automated. For instance, for weighing of the polymers - if the weight is more, the conveyor belt will not move. Also, in the mixing operation, a completely advanced technology is used; it is all pre-programmed and each step is monitored. Similarly, the tire building machines are automated as well. All of this eradicates manual error and the automation improves the quality.
While efficiency has gone up in our tire building machines by 40-50 per cent, safety in all the machines has been upgraded.´
All for environment
With sites operating in full compliance with environmental standards, to control the impacts deriving from its production processes, BKT is certified according to the ISO 14001:2004 standard for environment management systems. Besides, all its tires are manufactured in compliance with the European Directive REACH regulating and controlling the use of harmful chemicals.
Near the company´s sites of Bhiwadi and Chopanki, BKT has set up mills for the production of wind energy, meeting 40 per cent of the need of its plants in North India. Not least, at the new Bhuj site, systems of reduced environmental impact have been installed including a combined heat and power plant (CHP) for regenerating renewable energy as well as a water recycling plant.
R&D across plants
The company´s central R&D department has modern workstations for design and advanced software simulations. The R&D centre in Chopanki hosts several laboratories co-operating closely together at every stage: An analysis laboratory, a chemical laboratory, a physical laboratory as well as an area for rigorous tire testing including a special facility for all steel radial tire prototypes.
Also, the company´s new and modern R&D centre at the Bhuj production site hosts a special team for developing top-of-the-range solutions. In addition, there is a modern testing ground for in-depth tire performance tests simulating real application conditions. The new facility enables the company to rely on timely and precise data and analyses to ensure best tire performance.
As a result of its extensive R&D activities, in which the company invests about 3-4 per cent of its annual sales, BKT designs, develops and produces about 60-80 new BKT tires every year.
Speaking about the GCC market, Rajiv Poddar shares on a concluding note, ´We are exporting close to about 90 per cent of our products across the world. Of this, about 6 per cent is exported to the gulf countries. In terms of demand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are doing well and UAE is growing.