Las Vegas – Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) is investing between $500 million (€450 million) and $550 million in a series of expansions in India, according to Arvind Poddar, the company's chairman and co-managing director.
The investments include a carbon black production unit at its Bhuj factory complex in northwest India as well as a new plant in Waluj, Maharashtra State, to replace a 30-year-old tire manufacturing plant nearby, said Poddar at the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
In addition, the Indian supplier of heavy-duty tires will modernise plants in Bhiwadi and Chopanki, located in India's northern Rajasthan State.
BKT produces agricultural, industrial and OTR tires at four manufacturing facilities in India for the global market.
Phase 1 of the carbon black plant project at the Bhuj factory is complete, according to Poddar, and Phase 2 to expand capacity will be completed by March.
Once that happens, the company official said, BKT will look to expand again.
Rated at 140 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) at full capacity, the plant currently supplies 60ktpa of BKT's demand, which will increase to 80ktpa once Phase 2 is completed.
"We wanted to see how we can get a good quality, constantly," Poddar said. "Carbon black is a very crucial ingredient for producing the tire. What we have seen is, by using our carbon black, the quality of the tire has improved."
According to Minoo Mehta, president of BKT USA Inc., flue gas from the carbon black plant provides fuel for the adjacent tire plant.
"It makes us more green, more sustainable," said Doug Kershaw, vice president of BKT USA.
In Waluj, in west-central India, BKT is building a new facility on a 40-acre greenfield site, about 2.2 miles from the older plant, Poddar said. The new factory will have 80% new equipment.
Poddar said both plants will operate concurrently for a time to maintain current production levels, but once the new plant is completely onstream – the target is the third quarter of 2020 – the older plant will be shut.
As for modernisation plans for the company’s other facilities, Poddar said the decision was made following “results of the Bhuj plant”, which opened in 2013.
"The main focus is always not quantity but quality. We always are looking to improve the quality, continuously,” he said.
The plant in Bhiwadi produces radial tires for agriculture and bias-ply tires for agriculture and earthmoving applications as well as for the industrial sector.
The nearby Chopanki facility specialises in the production of steel radial tires for the industrial and OTR sectors.
The target date for completion of those projects is June 2020, Poddar said.
According to Poddar, the Bhuj plant, which is currently being expanded to 400 acres, will soon enter the rubber track market and produce 57-inch OTR tires.
The first rubber track products are expected to be released in March or April, Poddar said, "but the complete range will take some time," perhaps not before year-end 2020.