BKT, India’s fastest growing global Off-Highway tyre major, kicked off celebrations on nearing the glorious landmark of 25 years in business. BKT has announced a host of ambitious plans to achieve a turnover of $1.36 billion by 2014 and touch sales figures of $2 billion by 2020. The strategy is based on continuous product innovation and introduction of customized solutions designed for the needs of each market.
Balkrishna Industries Limited (BKT) is on the verge of turning 25. Looking back on this momentous occasion, India’s global Off-the-Highway tyre major can genuinely take pride in having successfully crossed several challenging milestones in business. And, its march ahead on the silver track in the coming days will see BKT scaling further heights as envisaged by the company in its Jubilee roadmap.
BKT has successfully competed in a global market offering innovative quality products, albeit conforming to the highest standards of social and corporate responsibility. Constantly raising the benchmark has become a part of the company DNA. It’s strategies are poised to make BKT write new chapters in the annals of the industry’s history.
“We are very proud to mention that we have many ‘firsts’ to our credit. We are the first company to foray into Agricultural Implement segment from India with global marketing focus and successfully made inroads into the quality conscious European market. We are the first company to offer Radial Agricultural application tyres and only company from India to offer All Steel Radial OTR tyres” says Mr. Arvind Poddar, the dynamic Chairman and Managing Director of BKT. The company also has the proud distinction of offering the widest possible range of tyres in industrial, construction, earthmoving, port and agricultural applications with more than 2000 SKUs.
Celebrating the future
In a global tyre market for Off-the-Road applications, BKT’s current share is 5 per cent. In view of the steady annual growth rate, the company forecasts the same to touch 10% by 2014. “As far as short-term objectives are concerned, the first goal is reaching a turnover of $ 1.36 billion by 2014; for the long-term, the expected sales figure will be 2 billion in 2020,” announced Mr. Poddar while cutting the silver ribbon at the classy Schloss Eller Castle in the city of Dusseldorf, near Essen, Germany. In 2011, the company’s production stood at 133,000 tonnes, while sales revenues were to the tune of $611 million.
Incidentally, BKT leadership was at Essen in full strength as the Silver Jubilee celebrations coincided with Reifen Essen 2012 tyre show where BKT products were most elegantly showcased.
Sharing the historic moment with the BKT leadership were the company’s trusted dealers, distributors, suppliers, special dignitaries, the media and other invited guests, very much in tune with the company’s motto of “Growing Together”. While welcoming the guests, Lucia Salmaso, Managing Director, BKT Europe, stressed the company’s commitment to quality excellence. She attributed the company’s success to the support and co-operation of BKT’s colleagues and trade partners.
In his address on the occasion Mr. Poddar said “The set targets will be achieved by means of continuous product innovation and by introducing new versions, specially designed for the needs of each market -- for instance, the giant radial tyres (from 49 inches up to 51 inches) for earthmovers, port handling, mining and military usage.”
BKT is also going to establish an even closer cooperation with producers of agricultural, industrial and earthmoving machines; Mr. Poddar said adding, “From this perspective, our latest plant at Bhuj, in Western India will play a crucial role in our future strategies with the implementation of its cutting edge production technology.
Bhuj, the jewel in the crown
In its committed march towards achieving greater milestones, BKT dedicated its new Bhuj plant to its customers, associates and employees. The Bhuj facility is effectively backing BKT to accomplish their future objectives, says Rajiv Poddar, Executive Director. “Bhuj is a real jewel in terms of productivity, quality and a new model of a social factory bringing prosperity to the whole area”, he added
The close proximity of Bhuj to three important ports, including Mundra, favours both product exports and raw materials imports. The production is scheduled to start from the third quarter of 2012.
The first complete batch of products leaving the Bhuj plant to the market will be cross ply agricultural tyres. For a few months, however, the production lines for tube and solid tyres have already been active. Those for radial agricultural tyres, cross ply and earthmoving radial tyres will follow soon. The Bhuj site in the first stage will reach 120,000 tonnes per annum at full operation. This is in addition to the 180,000 tonnes planned on the three present sites. Bhuj’s production output will be 25% of the installed capacity during the first 12 months, 75% within 24 months and pass to full power by March 2015. At a later stage, a further expansion of 80,000 tonnes per year is planned.
A total of $365 million have been invested in the new plant which is partially self-financed. The machinery purchased for the site is the best available in the market today, mainly manufactured in the US, Europe and Japan. In an area spread across approximately 300 acres (in addition to the production plant taking up about 80 acres), the new industrial site will house a large warehouse and, above all, a special area dedicated to R&D.
The centre also has a large indoor and outdoor tyre testing area, including a test track for the complete testing of both agricultural and industrial tyres. Once fully operational, more than 4000 can work in the new Bhuj plant. According to Dilip Vaidya, President & Director Technology, the R&D facility of the Bhuj plant is spread across a dedicated area of 15 acres with a brand new testing facility for new polymers in addition to the laboratories.
The facility will have state-of-the-art provisions for both indoor and outdoor testing including a 5-metre test wheel machine for endurance. Indoor testing equipment will also have a Radial Run-Out testing machine for both Agri and OTR tyres, X-Ray machine and Shearography machine. A major highlight of the facility is its own testing ground for instrumental and subjective testing of tractors and industrial vehicles for fast product validation, Mr. Vaidya said.
‘Social factory’ in the making
“Bhuj is not only a magnificent specimen of high-quality production technology, but also a new concept of ‘social factory’, says Rajiv Poddar, adding that, within its boundaries, 20 acres have been used for constructing a housing colony, for the employees. Besides, the project includes a hospital for first aid, a fire brigade to serve the site and also the surrounding community, a large recreation centre with free sports facilities dedicated to the employees and their families. In agreement with the local and the State educational institutions, the children of the staff living within the housing colony of Bhuj shall have access to a school, specially constructed for the purpose.
The entire area is completely self-contained as far as energy is concerned. Likewise, particular solutions have been adopted for the use of water in order to avoid any wastage: a modern water collection and treatment system, indeed, enables a remarkable recycling process. The rainwater is actually collected, cleaned and employed in all production units.
In the Rajasthan State, near the production sites of Bhiwadi and Chopanki, BKT set up a school in 1969 for 800 female students. This school is completely financed by BKT and provides complimentary education to the students.
In 2011, BKT fostered their corporate image by launching a new refreshing logo in tune with the changing design trends. The tagline “Growing Together” actually embraces the allegory of BKT’s corporate philosophy, which inspires this Indian multinational in each and every process and operation.
In the course of their success story, BKT has always been able to count on strong relationships with their customers. These relations are firmly rooted in mutual respect, in listening with a desire to always find the best solutions
Day by day, BKT puts their strengths into the field in order to offer high-quality products and cutting-edge technology. About 150 new sizes are developed every year at an interval that ranges from 8 to 10 weeks from the beginning of the planning and development stage up to the final tested product in full respect of the international standards.
This Indian MNC is well equipped to manufacture tyres with technical features of utmost quality and the drive for continuous investments into research and development for new products that can provide suitable solutions for any type of terrain, under any circumstances and changing seasons.
The Maglift solid tyre, a new entry to the BKT product range, is the first-born tyre from the brand new production site in Bhuj. This technologically innovative product gives a highly superior performance according to the technical team at BKT. Meanwhile, “Agrimax Force” tyre marked “IF”, which refers to the innovative technology with the same name, is the number one solution for those requiring outstanding performance with heavy loads at low pressure and Earthmax, the show-piece for earthmoving applications, is the ideal tyre for articulated dumpers and wheel loaders.
Ridemax, efficient and sturdy, basically designed for a mainly on-the-road usage, are also well-known for their excellent flotation features. Last but not the least, the MultiMax series with its striking design guarantees excellent maneuverability under any working conditions. Most of these were showcased at Reifen 2012 were a hit with the visitors and delegates.
According to Dilip Vaidya, as part of the product range extension at the Bhuj plant, it is planned to bring out bullet proof tyres for military application, flotation radial tyres, for both off-road and on-road applications and row crop tyres
BKT has an excellent Quality Control System, well-evolved to manage the multitude of products and processes. There are as many as 450 quality control checks from raw materials intake to warehoused finished product, he says.
Milestones of Excellence
In 1987, this new-born Indian company decided to take their crucial steps towards a big dream by setting up the first site in Aurangabad, Western India. In the very next year, a facility for production of cross ply tyres for two- and three-wheelers was added. At the beginning of the nineties the production for motor cars, jeeps and light trucks for the national market commenced.
Since 1995, BKT has been committed to climbing up positions in the global Off-Highway tyre segment by supplying first to the United States and then Europe, which, over the years, has become its main market. In Bhiwadi in North India, a second site started production in 2002.
The year 2004 saw the company opening a tyre mould manufacturing facility in Dombivali, north of Mumbai, for ensuring more autonomy, production control and final product quality. A new tyre mould plant was opened in 2011, which saw the installed capacity of the Dombivali plant rise from 100 moulds to 270 per year to fulfil additional requirement of existing and future sizes.
In the same year, BKT launched “Agrimax”, a distinctive range of radial tyres for tractors in addition to the already manufactured cross ply tyres.
In order to ensure constant power supply for its plants, BKT focussed on the generation of “Green Energy”. Thus, in 2004, the first windmills were set up which today are generating as much as 40% of the energy needed by the plants in Northern India.
2006 was yet another landmark year for the company. It was during this year that the Chopanki site as well as the European subsidiary commenced operation. The Agrimax Force tyres designed with IF technology were launched in 2007 after prolonged heavy investments in R&D of the product.
The footprints further got enlarged when the American branch was opened in 2008. The following year, BKT launched 6 new tyre families, namely Multimax, Agrimax, Teris, Agrimax Fortis, Ridemax, Forestech and Earthmax. At the same time it became the first Indian manufacturer of all steel radial tyres for earthmoving equipment under the sub-brand Earthmax. To provide additional emphasis on the quality of the products, an exclusive area was demarcated for the same at the Chopanki site.
The same year also witnessed BKT receiving their first award from the Indian Government -- the National Energy Conservation Award. In the course of time, BKT has been able to increase its market share by aiming at superior technological quality and production capacity in line with the set objectives. However, social responsibility always remains at the core of all activities at BKT.