The 23rd Rubber Conference and International Workshops organisd by the Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association (IRMRA) concluded in Mumbai on December 15, 2018 with a call by experts to raise the quality of research and development in the rubber sector so as to enable the Indian rubber industry to achieve its full growth potential.
The two-day event also marked the conclusion of the year-long Diamond Jubilee celebrations of IRMRA. IRMRA, which stepped into its 60th year of existence on January 13, 2018, conducted a series of events, networking and promotions pan India throughout the year to mark its Diamond Jubilee.
The latest edition of the Rubber Conference with the focal theme, Emerging Trends in Rubber Material Technology, Testing and Analysis for Future Generation, was organized in collaboration with French Rubber and Plastics Research and Testing Laboratory (LRCCP), Paris. LRCCP, France is an advanced research and testing institute since past 70 years.
Inaugural function
The inaugural ceremony was conducted in the presence of D Anandan IAS, Chairman and Executive Director, Rubber Board, India, Dr Patrick HEUILLET, R & D Director of LRCCP, Dr S S Gupta, Senior Development Officer, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India, Vikram Makar, President, All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA), Vinod Simon, Chairman, Rubber Skill Development Council (RSDC), Rajendra V Gandhi, President, IRMRA, Dr. K. Rajkumar, Director, IRMRA, and a host of other industry professionals.
Speaking on the occasion, D.Anandan, who was the Chief Guest of the function, observed that the rubber industry value chain in India produces items worth Rs 900 billion annually with an annual export of Rs 210 billion. “There is vast potential for the industry to grow in terms of range of products, value additions, technology upgradations, quality enhancement and employment generations,” he said.
Hailing the services of IRMRA to the Indian rubber industry, especially MSME dominated non-tyre rubber goods sector, he said IRMRA has played an important role in the development of a range of value-added rubber products for both domestic and export markets.
“The main focus of research and development should be substituting the toxic compounding additives and fillers in rubber product manufacturing. Sustainability of natural resources is a global concern and positive environmental properties have become an important attribute of the acceptance of the product even if the price is premium. The industry also should take a note of upcoming norms and regulations,” he added.
Pat for IRMRA
R V Gandhi recalled the contributions of past Presidents of IRMRA including late L. Jamnadas, Dr. D. Banerjee, S.V.Lathia, D. Bose, W.G.Desai etc who worked with the biggest visionary K. M. Philip, the doyen of Indian rubber industry. “K. M.Philip had an association with the rubber industry for over 50 years, out of which he served IRMRA as the President for 28 years. He was instrumental in getting government support for IRMRA to set up a Tyre Testing Centre. Under the subsequent leadership of Onkar S. Kanwar and Dr. Raghupati Singhania, the organisation rose to greater heights,” he said.
Today IRMRA provides major services such as testing, evaluations, certifications, sponsored research, development of new products, third party inspections, consultancy etc to the Indian rubber industry.
Gandhi stressed the need to improve the quality of R&D in the rubber sector. “India has the potential to be a leading player in the global rubber industry. The country exports $2.4 billion worth of rubber goods, which is just 8% of the global rubber export market. Continuous innovations, R&D and skill development are key factors that will help to achieve the potential,” he added.
“IRMRA was started to promote research and scientific work for the benefit of rubber and other allied industries. And to fulfill those objectives, IRMRA regularly organizes such conferences, and this 23rd conference is one of them,” added Dr Rajkumar.
Vinod Simon shared the details of RSDC’s ambitious project to reskill over one million people in the industry.
During the inaugural ceremony, goodwill messages from dignitaries, including a video message from Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, were screened. A coffee table book depicting the 60-year journey of IRMRA was also released on the occasion along with the conference souvenir.
Eminent speakers
The conference hosted more than 40 technical papers from national and international speakers focusing on emerging trends and developments in various areas of rubber technology. The speakers were a unique blend of leading scientists, researchers, industry professionals and emerging scientists from leading institutions.
They included Prof.Anil K. Bhowmick. Professor of Eminence, Rubber Technology Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Dr. R K Jain, Expert member, UNIDO, Dr. Patrick HEUILLET, Dr.Amit Das, Prof. Chinnapan Bhaskar, Prof. Santanu Chattopadhyaya etc. To encourage upcoming researchers and scientists, IRMRA provided them a platform to present their papers.
The Best Paper Awards were given to Sujit Sharma , Rubber Technology Center, IIT Khargapur, for his paper “Simulation of extrusion dies for rubber profile”, and to A. K. Pandey, DMSRDE, Kanpur, Ministry of Defence, who presented a paper titled “Role of core shell modified conducting carbon fillers on dielectric properties of silicone elastomer.”
There were international workshops on topics such as Non Linear Finite Element Analysis of Materials, Benchmarking & Formula Reconstruction of Rubber Products, Failure Investigations of Rubber Products, Recent Trends in Global Tyre Regulations & India’s Perspective, Environmental Sustainability through Use of Bio-based Alternatives in Rubber Industry, Environmental Sustainability through Science-based Approaches etc.