Balkrishna Industries, or rather BKT, as we fondly prefer to call it! Well, the name evokes grandeur, quality, innovation, success, and above all, a long lasting legacy! However, when we delve into the script of this success story, the famous saying ‘Successful People Don't Do Different Things, They Do Things Differently' gets reaffirmed.
Around a quarter century back, the late 80s to be more precise, a majority of tire manufacturers in India were channelizing their expertise on Highway tires for mass use. But BKT had other ideas. The company directed its focus towards Off-Highway Tyres (OHTs) and soon embarked on a journey that made it a pioneer in this segment. BKT's OHT tires, manufactured with state-of-the-art technology, were qualitative, tough, and durable; attributes that made them an instant hit in overseas markets.
Today, 25 years later, BKT is undoubtedly a force to reckon with, having established its presence across five continents and 130 countries in the industrial, construction, and agricultural tire segments. What bears testimony to this fact is the acceptance that BKT's tires have found amongst high-quality conscious European and American users, who are keen on product performance. BKT is a vendor and collaborator with companies such as Coal India Ltd, which is among the world's largest OTR customers.
As a part of its strategy to ensure last mile connect with the OEMs, BKT is working extensively to cater to the emerging needs of its clients, and has the shortest response period amongst its competitors when it comes to delivering a new product. What's more, the products are delivered while keeping the costs low, are highly efficient and strictly adhere to the most stringent international standards.
Talking of infrastructure and production capacities, BKT has three functioning state of the art manufacturing plants spread across India; Bhiwadi and Chopanki in Rajasthan, Waluj in Maharashtra, and a fourth plant at Bhuj, Gujarat, which is of gigantic proportions in terms of area and production capacities, and is expected to start full production by the end of the year 2014.
The plant has been designed in such a manner that a considerable 25 acres is dedicated solely to R&D. The testing facility at the plant is equipped with indoor and outdoor testing areas and there is a special testing track constructed to provide for test runs and on field tests for the tires. Introducing the plant Mr. Rajiv Poddar, says, "We have invested over USD 375 million in this plant. This is a huge plant spread across 300 acres and with the most modern machinery ever used in production in India. The plant will enhance our total capacity by 75%."
Once operational, the Bhuj plant will add about 120,000 tonnes per year in addition to its 180,000 tonnes obtained from the other three plants. "There are plans to modify the Bhuj plant and extend its production capacity to the level of 280,000 metric tones."
Talking of BKT's plans to achieve a 10% market share in the near future, he says "Today, our share in the global market is 5% and we are targeting 10% by 2015. We are confident of cementing a share of 7.5% by next year. Our current market share in the country is negligible but we are targeting 10% in the near future. Overall we believe that India is the future for BKT," says Mr. Rajiv Poddar.
It's anticipated that the decline in Rupee is giving BKT an advantage as it's an export oriented company. "Well, the constant decline in Rupee is a cause for concern for every business house as everyone wants certainty. The sentiment at BKT is no different as we also expect certainty and stability in the Forex market. There was a period in our lives when the Rupee maintained a constant rate, but that has surely become a thing of the past now. A higher dollar rate might give us some marginal advantage in the exports market but it is difficult to do business in this uneven scenario, as we rely quite considerably on import of raw materials."
"It's a Green Field project and will focus on developing a wide range of BKT's Radial and Bias tires. "This facility will also produce Ultra large and Giant OTR tires upto 51" rim diameter", says Mr. Dilip Vaidya, President & Director - Technology.
Top Products for Mining and Industry Needs
The company has tires that range from 5" rim – 54" rim diameter for vehicles ranging from trailers and forklifts, to technologically advanced machines like high horsepower tractors, combines, harvesters, GPS controlled vehicles, articulated dump trucks, high-speed cranes, sophisticated port vehicles and container handlers.
Well, BKT is the first tire company in India to produce the all-steel radial OTR tires. An All Steel Radial Plant at Chopanki, Rajasthan, India is now functioning on full throttle producing top of the line radial tires for OTR vehicles ranging from Rigid Dump Trucks to Snow maneuvering vehicles. This is a result of years of research and innovation by the company's R&D Department, which has developed tires that can encounter the toughest and the most hostile terrains faced during mining and industrial activities.
Notably, these tires have been highly appreciated in BKT's chain of suppliers all over the world. The tires under this segment range from a 20" diameter Tipper Truck size to a giant 51" Rigid Dump Truck Size, in both Bias & Radial versions, thus covering even the most demanding requirements in industrial use and mining. And very soon, the company will be augmenting its prowess by adding an enviable and capable range of sizes of OTR solutions to its repertoire. To aid these ambitions, BKT has recently opened up another state of the art, production plant in Bhuj, Gujarat, that will focus on producing top of the line OTR tires with special focus on the Radial segment.
Port and Agricultural Tires
"Matching to the requirements of its customers in regard to demanding deadlines and strict time lines, BKT has also recently launched an ultra-advanced range of tires especially for High Speed cranes. The tire 445/95R25 enables heavy high speed cranes to journey at a very high speed, which the cranes need to operate of 80km/hr," claims Rajiv Poddar.
Robust R&D is a Way of Life Here!
Well, the dedicated R&D facility equipped with state of the art technology which can develop various types of rubber compounds required for manufacturing tires for various applications. The testing labs are one of the most advanced in the country and match up to the ones abroad. And yet, to ensure maximum assessment before its products are rolled out to the markets, BKT is also associated with various testing facilities across Europe.
As if all these leadership qualities were not enough, BKT has gone a mile ahead in cementing its position as a long distance runner by fulfilling its role towards the society. "At BKT, we strongly believe that society and environment, both are vital to our existence. Various green and social measures have been adopted, to take care of these aspects. We keep our plants pollution free, for instance, for mixing of Carbon Black (powder), we have highly sophisticated Auto Carbon Charging unit, which eliminated manual loading. Hence, minimizing air-pollution," says Mr. Arvind Poddar. This truly sums up the sentiment!