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Runaya: Catering to the Domestic and Global Needs through State-of-the-art FRP Plant

‘’While our current capacity is 1 million kilometres FRP rods per year, we have an expansion plan in place to take our capacity to 3 million kilometres by the end of next year, with a large part of the portfolio focusing on value-added products.’’

Mr. Naivedya Agarwal, Co-Founder, Runaya

The Runaya Group is a fast-growing manufacturing start-up that leverages best-in-class technology and relationships with international partners to create innovative solutions in the resources sector. Founded in 2017 with the vision to deploy cutting-edge technology in the manufacturing sector in India, the company aims to revolutionise the resources industry by creating innovative solutions. Runaya recently set up a plant for manufacturing fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) rods at Silvassa, aimed at leveraging the growing need for optical fibre cables in the telecom sector. Wire & Cable India got the opportunity to interact with Mr. Naivedya Agarwal, Co-Founder, Runaya and know more about the plant and his future outlook.

Wire & Cable India: Please walk us through the background of group companies and the journey of Runaya.

Naivedya Agarwal: Runaya was founded in 2017 with the vision to deploy cutting-edge technology in the manufacturing space in India. This, coupled with our passion to conserve the environment and create sustainable solutions, made us realise the importance of technology and innovation in the modern-day resources sector and through our breakthrough approach, we aim to deliver a significant positive impact on the resources industry.

Currently, Runaya has four operating businesses:

  • High technology fibre reinforced plastic rods which find applications in the telecommunication industry including fibre optic cables;
  • A sustainability and metal recovery project which is currently operational at Odisha where 100 percent of Aluminium Dross is processed;
  • A joint-venture with Minova, which is part of AUD 6 billion Orica group where we manufacture ground support solutions catering to the infrastructure (tunneling for highways/railways/metro projects) and underground mining industry;
  • Recovery of minor metals such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, cadmium, etc which are found in the mining supply chain of copper, silver and zinc.

Looking back at the last 4 years, we have pioneered most of our projects for the first time in the county and therefore playing our small role in the country’s call for an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and to ‘Make in India’. We are really proud that all our projects have been executed with strict adherence to project timelines, budgets, best-in-class project execution partners including Tata Projects, Deloitte and KMF from Austria.

WCI: Runaya has recently set up a plant for manufacturing Fibre-Reinforced Plastic (FRP) rods at Silvassa. Tell us more about the development with regards to the company’s infrastructure setup.

NA: Runaya’s FRP plant has been set up at Silvassa, which is close to most domestic customers who are in the West and within a short distance to the ports in Mumbai and Gujarat and therefore, it is strategically located to meet domestic as well as export demand.

We also have an innovation and incubation cell to drive our value-added product portfolio including Aramid Rods, Flat FRP, Rough FRP, Water Soluble FRP, etc with a vision to be a one-stop-shop solution provider to our customers.

The plant, which is focused on consistent quality products with an emphasis on automation and digitisation, is an ISO 9001: 14001: 45001 -IMS certified plant with product certification of ROHS and REACH.

WCI: What kind of capacity are you aiming to address the growing demand for optical fibre cables in the telecom sector? Could you shed some light on technology and manufacturing capabilities as well?

NA: Runaya’s FRP plant is a state-of-the-art UV technology pultrusion plant that produces both coated (EAA) and uncoated FRP rods currently with fully automated lines and advanced quality control systems. While our current capacity is 1 million kilometres FRP rods per year, we have an expansion plan in place to take our capacity to 3 million kilometres by the end of next year, with a large part of the portfolio focusing on value-added products. Apart from meeting the growing domestic demand, we are also looking to produce locally for the global market and cater to major OEMs in the export market

Apart from other initiatives to improve productivity, we have also installed a first of its kind, AI-backed vision control system to automatically monitor the quality of our finished product reducing manual intervention and ensuring 100 percent compliance to our customers’ requirements.

WCI: As FRP rods are integral components of optical fibre cables, what is your outlook on OFC for the Indian telecom sector?

NA: There are several significant growth drivers for the OFC market such as the rollout of 5G technology and government initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Smart Cities’. For instance, the announcement of 20 smart cities on priority will translate to a surge in demand in communication and telecom devices and a subsequent increase in OFC as well as it is a key requirement for fast connectivity in these sectors. Additionally, reports say that the Indian Internet of Things (IoT) market is estimated to rise by about 28 percent over the next year.

Industry reports suggest that the Indian OFC market has grown at a CAGR of 10.98 percent over 2009-2019. The OFC demand currently stands at 26.5 mn fibre kilometres and is expected to reach 36 mn fibre kilometres by 2022.

Industry reports suggest that the Indian OFC market has grown at a CAGR of 10.98 percent over FY 2009-2019. The OFC demand currently stands at 26.5 mn fibre kilometres and is expected to reach 36 mn fibre kilometres by 2022.

WCI: Share your thoughts regarding the challenges and opportunities in manufacturing FRP rods for the optical fibre segment.

NA: We are very excited about the 5G Technology rollout in India and globally, especially with the advent of Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) which results in greater usage of FRP rods. With our value-added product portfolio, we are perfectly positioned to tap into this opportunity. Also, lower penetration of fibre optic cable in India, LATAM, Europe and Asia will create more demand for FRP in the next 5 years.

One challenge that we are witnessing is the recent raw material shortage concerns and its supply chain-related issues that have put pressure on the cost of manufacturing. We see this as a short-term challenge that should be resolved soon.

One challenge that we are witnessing is the recent raw material shortage concerns and its supply chain-related issues that have put pressure on the cost of manufacturing.

WCI: What is the current market scenario of FRP rods? How much market share are you aiming for?

NA: As I mentioned earlier, the FRP market is already growing at 10-12 percent CAGR and it is expected to double in the coming years with strong demand and we expect a huge market and demand for our product. We also see immense potential in the alternative use of FRP in other sectors like energy, automotive and construction, replacing conventional materials.

Currently, about 50 percent of the FRP demand is produced captively by major Optical Fibre Cable producers. Of the balance 50 percent, we have about 20 percent market share right now and the target is to increase this to 40-50 percent within the next year.

WCI: What are your plans with regard to meeting the impending 5G demand in the coming years?

NA: We are all set to touch our rated capacity of the plant with continuous demand from the local and export market and already have plans in place to more than double the capacity of the plant to 3 mn kilometres by next year. Our future expansion will largely cater to value-added products such as ARP (Aramid-Reinforced Plastic) Rods, Flat FRP Rods, Water Soluble FRP and Rough FRP Rods.