Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association (IRMRA) has commenced its Diamond Jubilee celebration on completing 60 years on January 13,2018 in Mumbai. The celebration will continue for the next 15 months with a series of events, networking and promotions pan India. The Diamond Jubilee celebration was attended by the rubber and tyres industry professionals, former senior members and current staff of IRMRA at the Hotel Lalit, Mumbai. The event hosted technical papers, facilitation of retired senior members of the IRMRA, and industry professionals.

Padma Vibhusan Prof Man Mohan Sharma, FRS, former Director, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, was the chief guest, while Cmde Dr Jawahar Mal Jangir, Indian Navy (Rtd) Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, was the guest of honour of the Diamond Jubilee celebration day. On the Diamond Jubilee celebration, IRMRA honoured past Directors, Dr Madhusudhan Banerjee, Dr William Millns, and IRMRA governing council member Dr Ranjit K Matthan for their contribution.

In his welcoming address Rajendra Gandhi, President of IRMRA took the audience through the initial struggle of the association to be established and recognized. “As we are conducting the Diamond Celebration of IRMRA, it is appropriate to look back the humble beginning and recognize the foresight of our founding fathers who had the vision to see the need for supporting infrastructure such as IRMRA for the Indian Rubber industry,” he said

He highlighted efforts of late K M Philip, Dr Madhusudhan Banerjee and others in establishing IRMRA. “It is our wish that a K M Philip centre for excellence will come up at one of the centres and the government will give its approval at the appropriate juncture. Under the tenure of subsequent presidents, the IRMRA expanded its position to other services in the rubber industry,” Gandhi said.

The IRMRA was established in 1958, to provide scientific and technological support by way of testing, training, consultancy, research and product development services to the rubber and allied industries.
“IRMRA had acquired many accreditations/recognitions and certifications from many national and international agencies such as NABL, BIS, ISO 9001, CEMILAC, DGMS,” added Gandhi.

Kamal Chaudhari, President of All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) said that 2018 is going to be a landmark year for the IRMRA. “IRMRA is going to play a key role improve quality of rubber products in India,” said Kamal Chaudhari. According to IRSG data, India was the sixth largest producer of natural rubber in 2016 with a share of five percent and ranked second in natural rubber productivity and consumption globally in the same year. The president AIRIA said that major challenges belong to small-scale firms to survive in the hyper competition and eco-friendly practices.

In his presentation, titled Automotive Rubber in Future Mobility Landscape, P K Banerjee, deputy executive director, Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (SIAM) said the Indian auto industry is on the horizon of disruptions due to the current and near future trends.
“Considering the increasing thrust on electric vehicles, connected mobility, autonomous vehicles, eco-friendliness and safety will disrupt our lives,” said Banerjee. Banerjee also raised concerns over the future of conventional auto parts amid growing emphasize on electric mobility.
“ Electric vehicles are going to be reality in India soon and, once it happens, over 50% of conventional auto components will vanish. Whereas autonomous vehicles will stop crashes of vehicles, so we will not need high strength steel to build vehicles. So even vehicles building is also going to change. All these trends will bring new revolutions in the rubber and elastomer industry ,” explained the SIAM executive. Environment, sustainability, regulations, cost and affordability, performance enhancement, and durability and recyclability will define the future mobility landscape in the country, added Banrjee.

Speaking on global tyre regulations, Dr Stephan Koehne from Testing Service GmbH said global tyre regulations will be driven on three parameters: End-Of- Life Tyres (ELTs) management, Tyre labelling and tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). “A couple of decades ago, used tyres and ELTs were a huge problem. However, tightening regulations and more consciousness have boosted the ELT management programmers, mainly in developed markets,” said Dr Koehne. According to Dr Koehne, in 1996, out of total ELTs, around 50% ELTs were disposed through landfill in Europe and which have been reduced to 8% in 2015. While energy recovery has raised to 28% in 2015 from 20% in 1996. Material recovery from the ELTs have surged to 46% in 2015 from 11% in 1996 Europe. Exports of ELTs have also increased. On tyre regulations, Dr Koehne said that that different countries have different parameters to formulate their norms of labelling.

“China has formulated their draft for the tyre labelling in 2016 and now the labelling, which is mostly copy of the EU labelling, is going to be mandatory in China from this year. In China, labelling for passenger vehicles will comes first then for commercial vehicles,” said Dr Koehne. Dr Koehne also glanced at the existing status for TPMS in different markets.
Ravi Mohan Dabral of OcSiAI presented his paper on the potential of single walled nanotubes in rubber industry.
Dr K Rajkumar, Director, IRMRA attributed the successful completion of 60 years of IRMRA to past directors, presidents, and the current president R Gandhi.
Detailing the series of events that will take place during the Diamond Celebration ,Dr K Rajkumar, “ We will have one international rubber conference in December, 14 and 15, 2018. Then we will open the south and east centres this year. Along with these, National technology day celebration, regional workshops to penetrate its presence in every market and marketing expansion will be taken place.”

Dr K Rajkumar aims at enhancing the brand of the IRMRA in various ways. “We want to strengthen our brand through web interactions, regional workshops, inviting people from the industry for seminars, through college students to carry our message outside,” said Dr K Rajkumar. Apart from the two centres, on a high demand from the northern part of the India , IRMRA may open one more centre in the region. “Once we open our centres in four regions, we will may have liaisoning and sample collections centres in second level cities . If we get good volume of business, we may have small laboratories in such cities,” added the director of IRMRA.

Tyre companies and rubber goods companies are opening R&D and testing centres but Dr K Rajkumar does not find any impact on the association. “Though it’s a challenge but IRMRA’s USPs are different . Our range of services Testing, Training, Consultancy, Research and Product development services, which other small laboratories can’t give. Corporate level centres restrict their activities to themselves. Our team comprises highly qualified technologists,” said Dr K Rajkumar.
The Indian rubber industry mainly consists of small and medium size firms. In India there are more than 6500 small and medium firms and the IRMRA association members are only 200-250. Dr K Rajkumar has aggressive plans to increase the members of the association. “It is a big challenge. Because small and medium firms do not know the benefit of IRMRA. Through the diamond Jubilee , I want to create a marketing team to reach maximum number of customers to aware about the association and its services,” said he.
On January 12, the IRMRA celebrated the IRMRA Rubber Day. The IRMRA Rubber Day was inaugurated by Padmashri Prof G D Yadav, Vice Chancellor, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. The IRMRA Rubber Day also included visiting of stalls and an event exposure to rubber science and technology, explore the career opportunities in the Indian rubber industry. Prof M M V Ramana, HOD-Chemistry (Autonomous) Mumbai University, was guest of honour of the IRMRA Rubber Day.