Alok Masterbatches plans Mini-Industrial Complex at its South India site
Alok Masterbatches has an ambitious expansion plan in the pipeline in the Southern part of India, where the Delhi headquartered company operates a site in the Ranipet (Tamil Nadu). The plan involves building a ‘Mini Industrial Complex’ at its Southern Site.
Alok builds world-class manufacturing and R& D set-up operates five sites in India and one JV in S America. The company has one site each in the districts of Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Ranipet (Tamil Nadu) & Delhi, and two in Silvassa (Capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli). While the lone overseas plant operates in the South American
country of Paraguay.
Vikram Singh Bhadauria, Managing Director, Alok Masterbatches Pvt Ltd, is a polymer engineer from the University of Mysore and holds a master’s degree in Plastics Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, USA. An avid mountaineer scaled summits of Mt.Elbrus, Mt. Kiliminjaro, and Mt.Blanc, Vikram won accolades to his credit like the prestigious ‘Golden Peacock Eco-Innovation Award’ and has been twice accorded the ‘National Award’ for Innovation in the fields of agricultural and electrical applications.
Holding top positions in apex plastics bodies like Regional Chairman, for Plastics Exports Promotion Council (PLEXCONCIL) and advises the Commerce and Industry Ministry on trade and policy matters. He is also an active member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and the American Chemical Society. In an exclusive interaction with Plastic News for Asia, Vikram elaborates on Alok Masterbatches’ expansion plans in the Indian and overseas markets.
Alok Masterbatches expanded the Silvassa site couple of years ago,please elaborate
We have successfully completed a major expansion at the Silvassa sites couple of years ago in 2018. The two plants had the capacity to produce 60,000 MTPA of masterbatches annually and an additional 70,000 MTPA capacity added hiking the cumulative capacity to 130,000 MTPA at Silvassa now.
What are expansion plans down South of India, where the Ranipet site is already operational for the last seven years?
We are now planning to set up a ‘Mini-industrial Complex’ in our Vellore site based at Ranipet (in the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu). The Tamil Nadu government allotted additional land of 12 Acre in 2019. Additional 6-9 Acre land will be added to the project in the next few years. Currently, the Ranipet plant has the capacity to
produce about 25,000 MTPA of masterbatches annually.
What new product range would likely be added at Mini Industrial Complex?
We are planning to expand our Ranipet based site as a full-spectrum plant. Currently, the plant is focusing on manufacturing a complete range of masterbatches and with the planned expansion, Vellore will start producing compounds also, which are having application into the manufacturing of automotive, white goods, furniture, etc. As part of reducing carbon footprints, the site would also generate its own power.
Is there a plan to further hike the masterbatch capacity of the Vellore site?
Yes, the masterbatch capacity would be hiked by four times to 100,000 MTPA annually during the upcoming expansion at the Ranipet site. The additional capacity of 75,000 MTPA would be added to the site on the completion of the first phase of expansion.
What kind of investment is earmarked for the expansion?
The project would be completed in a phased manner and in Phase 1 around INR 120 crore would likely be invested in the project which includes acquiring additional land. The project would be developed in subsequent years as the outbreak of Covid19 holds the expansion last year. We hope to move forward once the conditions are conducive enough in near future.
The mini-industrial complex caters to which of the overseas markets?
The Vellore expansion would cater to the ASEAN economies besides the regional grouping of South Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. There is huge potential in ASEAN as well as in regional SAARC grouping, where countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are among the fastest-growing economies in the region.
Is there any plan to further hike the production capacity at your South American venture also?
We were also planning additional capacity at the JV manufacturing facility operating under the title – Carmenta, Capiatá locates in the middle of Paraguay. But pandemic forced us to take a pause and hold the expansion plan for the time being till the virus controls. The venture kicked off in 2012 has the capacity to produce 6,000 MTPA of the entire range of masterbatches.
We had plans to add 3 lines for color and one line for black masterbatches. Now we are waiting for this tumultuous phase to over and let the conditions stabilize and conducive for further expansion. Carmenta is the first masterbatch venture in the land-locked South American country, manufacturing and marketing color masterbatches, additives, and fillers. The site also houses a center for color development and testing for different applications to offer customized solutions to our clients in S America.
What are the export targets in 2021 considering ongoing challenges posed by pandemics globally?
We are exporting about 20,000 tons in 2020 despite challenges posed by Covid19 spread and targeting to double the exports to 40,000 tons in the ongoing fiscal. We primarily export to N America, Africa, and Europe.
Europe is going to be a focused market in 2021, but it’s a tough market to get into as regulatory norms are extremely stringent and product safety standards are high in terms of toxicity and REACH compliance. Only a few Indian companies could meet those tough & high standards.
But we have in-house knowledge-based product development systems in place to meet specific market requirements in order to navigate through Europe’s stringent regulatory norms. Today, Alok is considered India’s leading masterbatch producer with a client-base spread across 40 countries.
AITC opened in 2015 in New Delhi, and is engaged in collaborative projects, what new projects are in pipeline?
We have launched an innovation hub for the plastics industry to bring customers, suppliers, and academia on a common platform at Alok Technology Incubation Centre (AITC), which is focusing on developing and co-creating solutions that are safe, affordable, and sustainable.
AITC based at the corporate headquarter in New Delhi, was set up with a seed investment of INR 50 million with an objective to combine the power of chemistry with technology to make plastics. The state-of-the-art facility is installed with a wide array of testing equipment to create customized and need-based specialty solutions.
Does Alok forge foreign alliances for introducing new products & technology or innovating in-house also?
Innovation is a continuous process at Alok Masterbatches as the objective of launching ATIC is to mentor young engineers and provide a platform to academia involved with plastics education to interact and work with the industry. We engage young researchers from the country’s premier technology institutes like the Indian Institute
of Technology (IIT) to commercialize technologies that will help provide affordable and bio-degradable sanitary health products to millions of women in rural India.
While we also form key tech alliances to bring new technology to the country. In order to co-creating innovative future-ready solutions, we have forged strategic alliances with ExxonMobil, Microban & OCSiAl. We are developing a series of high-performance mineral reinforced enhancer masterbatches for the raffia industry in
collaboration with ExxonMobile, USA. In partnership with Microban, ATIC developed antimicrobial masterbatches, which make day-to-day use products such as water tanks and food packaging materials, safer and microbial degradation proof.
Developing Carbon Nanotube solutions for the Indian plastics industry with OCSiAl, a leading Russian Nanotechnology company. The solutions being worked at the ATIC range from property enhancement for structural plastics as well as barrier properties for packaging films.
What new products are in pipeline for the domestic market?
During the K Show 2019, we have announced forming a strategic alliance with Microban of the USA, the global leader in antimicrobial and odor control technologies, for developing antimicrobial solutions for the Indian plastics industry. We are now keen to introduce masterbatches with antimicrobial properties in the Indian market. The range finds wide application in water tanks, food packaging material, toys to hospital flooring, public transport, etc. We termed it as ‘sanitizer of plastic products.’
What are the future growth prospects of India’s Masterbatch industry?
Future is good for companies that operate on fundamentals like transparency, product integrity, and fiscal prudence. The industry is linked with the polymer sector, which is projected to grow with the government investment in areas like transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, water storage, etc. Masterbatch industry is growing at 8% annually and projected to grow 10% in the ongoing fiscal depending on how the virus spread tamed considering launching of the vaccination in India.
What are the ongoing challenges for the masterbatch industry in India?
One of the biggest challenges staring at the industry is the continuing shortage of basic raw materials like polymer, titanium dioxide, carbon black, etc. The situation worsens due to the supply chain disruption and the market would likely take another quarter or even more to stabilize. Prices of some specific raw materials are almost tripled. The raw material shortage is not India-specific but a global phenomenon. Even after surging in prices, their availability is not guaranteed.