BEKAERT INDIA LTD.: Electricity and Steel Key Drivers for Any Steel Wire Transformation Operation
Bekaert, headquartered in Belgium, is a global company with EUR 4.4 billion in annual revenue and employs almost 30 000 employees worldwide. As a world market and technology leader in steel wire transformation and coating technologies, it pursues to be the preferred supplier for our steel wire products and solutions worldwide, including India.
Bekaert is known for example as a supplier of steel cord products for tire reinforcement – 30 percent of all tires in the world are reinforced with Bekaert products, or maybe for its Dramix® steel fibers, used to reinforce over five million cubic meters of concrete every year. Bekaert also offers a very wide range of advanced steel wire products for other applications and many sectors. One can find Bekaert products in cars and trucks, in elevators and mines, in tunnels and bridges, at home and in the office, in machines and offshore. If it drives, ascends, hoists, filters, reinforces or fastens, there is a good chance Bekaert is inside.
Bekaert has a strong presence in diverse sectors. This makes Bekaert less sensitive to sector-specific trends and it also benefits our customers, because solutions we develop for customers in one sector often form the basis of innovations in others.
Bekaert’s journey in India started in 1998 with decision to set up the first and only steel tire cord manufacturing plant in India at Ranjangaon near Pune. Steel cord is used as reinforcement for the radial tires. Subsequently, it has set -up plants to manufacture different kinds of wires to be used in the automobile, construction and infra structure industry. Currently, Bekaert has three manufacturing sites in India , located at Ranjangaon and Lonand in Maharashtra and at Chennai in Tamilnadu. Dramix® steel fibers an advanced product for reinforcement of concrete is manufactured in Lonand and is an important product in the infrastructure development in India .
On the potential of Indian market for a globally recognized company like Bekaert, Mr. Roopak Karnik, MD, Bekaert India Ltd. said, “Since late 90s, Bekaert has recognized the potential of growth of the Indian market in different wire related products. Bekaert, in India has kept pace with the growing market and has supported the customers by matching their growth plans.”
Customers as Business Core
Partnering with local customers with highly customized solutions has been among Bekaert’s core business value since long. Mr. Karnik says, “In line with our base line ‘Better Together’ and our core strategy ‘To bring the Customer into the Heart of our Business’, Bekaert started up its commercial operations in India in 2001. It has been Bekaert’s focus in the developing emerging markets like India to be present with a local manufacturing platform and an innovation platform, close to the customer and the end consumer.
“Each market is diverse and has specific requirements which can be only addressed by partnering with the local customers and by being a part of the customer’s product development and innovation cycle for specific products and market segments . To address this requirement, Bekaert has set up a state-of-the-art Technology Centre at its Ranjangaon campus, in addition to the different manufacturing platforms in India.”
Currently, Bekaert has an investment of approx. 600 Cr and has a team of 1000 dedicated and committed members. As a company, it tries to leverage the local talent pool and resources in India combined with its global technology and experience to further its business goals in the country. “A young dynamic local management team is responsible for Bekaert’s business activities in India. Bekaert in India has strived to build a strong commitment externally and internally to its core values of Trust, Integrity and Resilience. Bekaert’s operations in India truly symbolizes the ethos of a multinational Belgian company operating by leveraging the local strengths of a young vibrant culturally diverse country coupled with modern state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and operating processes and systems,” emphasizes Mr. Karnik.
Industry-bolstering Govt.’s Initiatives
Bekaert anticipates, with the government’s high focus on infra structure development, the automotive, construction, energy and agriculture sectors are poised for growth. Due to its early presence in India, Bekaert is well placed to grow with the market. Taking note of the government’s various initiatives to spur the industrial growth, Mr. Karnik said, “Growth Engines like ‘Make in India’ will definitely help industries like ours going forward. Bekaert will make further significant investments in its facility at Ranjangaon over the next 3 years to address the growth potential.”
Mr. Karnik further added that electricity and steel form key drivers for any steel wire transformation operation. “It is heartening to see the progress that has been made in terms of the availability and the quality of the electricity over the years. However, on the electricity tariff front more needs to be done to ensure that the competitiveness of the industry is maintained, especially in view of the strong competition from China. Steel is the other ingredient driving the wire industry. Here the growing Indian steel sector can play an important role in helping drive innovation with steels of higher grade and specifications, with consistent high quality at competitive prices,” he informed.
Incentivizing Import of Capital Equipment
The import of the capital equipment has been an issue for quite long in India. Various industries, including steel wire, have been asking the Govt. to liberalize the import of such essential capital goods, which result into efficiency and quality for the products supplied to the domestic market. On the subject, Mr. Karnik said, “One of the area where we feel the Government should have a more closer look would be to provide incentives for the import of capital equipment that can be used to produce high quality wire based products for consumption in the domestic market.
“Some of these products are either being imported or are not being used in India. Today, the incentives on the import of capital goods are available for the imported capital equipment used to generate exports. The mechanism for providing incentives for capital goods for import substitution would help to upgrade the overall technology existing in the wire drawing sector and help the sector to bring more value to the end consumer and make the sector more attractive.”
Mr. Karnik concluded by saying that speed and agility, both from the industry and the government are going to be the key ingredients to make sure the India’s growth engine is running at high revs. Team Bekaert is geared up in India and looking forward to the interesting times ahead, he added.