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NEWS & NOTES       


Industrial growth 702% 

Industrial growth was 7.2 percent in March 2005, down from 8.1 percent in March 2004, mainly on account of a marginal decrease in manufacturing growth and a sharp decrease in the growth rates for electricity. 

For fiscal 2004-05, industrial growth at 8 per cent was higher than the 7 percent figure reported for 2003-04, mainly on account of a better performance by the manufacturing sector. 

During March 2005, manufacturing grew at 7.8 per cent, down from 801 per cent in March 2003-04, while the electricity sector reported 3 per cent growth as against 10.6 per cent in March 2003-04.  Mining reported 5.6 per cent growth, up from 5.1 per cent in the corresponding month in the previous fiscal. 

The manufacturing sector-which account for almost 80 per cent of the index of industrial production (IIP)- grew at a healthy 8.8 per cent in the previous fiscal, according to figures released by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO). 

The mining sector however reported drop in growth rates from 5.2 per cent in 2003-04 to 4.3 per cent in 2004-05.  While the electricity sector grew at 5.2 per cent, marginally up from 5.1 per cent in 2003-04. 

Capital goods, another sector, which is indicative of investment demand in the economy, reported 14.2 per cent growth in March 2005.  This sector had grown at 4.5 per cent in February 2005. 

Of the 17 two digit-industry groups, 14 have shown positive growth in March 2005 as compared to March 2004. 

The chemical sector continued to do badly, with growth rates falling further to 4.5 per cent. While the machinery and equipment sector reported an uptum in grow rate from 9 per cent in February to 14.2 per cent in March. 

Rubber Consumption to grow at 4.2% 

According to the projection by IRSG, World rubber consumption will grow at about the same rate of 4.2% in 2005 and 2006.  The highest growth rate, 6% will come from Latin America at least for 2005.  This will be followed closely by Asia-pacific at 5%, North America and Africa at 4.6% each and the European Union at 2.6%.  Other Europe (-0.3%) is the only region expected to show no growth in 2005. 

In 2006, growth could be anticipated in all regions with Asia Pacific at 5.5% expected to lead the way.  Other Europe (5%) will bounce back to show quite a sharp growth rate, followed by Latin America (4.2%), the EU (2.9%), North America (2.2%) and Africa (0.1%). 

The high prices of petroleum will keep synthetic rubber (SR) prices high compared with natural rubber (NR) Hence, a much sharper consumption growth of about 5.5% is expected for NR in 2005. 

Rising rubber prices 

Natural rubber prices are up to Rs. 4-4.50 kg as compared with the same a year ago, but consuming industries are hopeful that the rates would stabilise soon.  We are expecting the prices not to go beyond Rs. 65 a kg an official in the tyre industry said. 

An international rubber dealer said Rs. 65 a kg was possible in the coming days but prices may not flare up like they did last fiscal.  When the RSS4 crossed Rs. 67 for a kg.  The factors that pushed up prices last year were a nine-year low stock position (of about 66,000 tonnes), heavy monsoon that affected tapping and exports of natural rubber from India that limited the availability of rubber in the market.  However, this year, things are looking different.  The stock position as of now is sufficient for at least one-and-a –half moth’s consumption.  ‘On April 30, the stock position would be about 96,000 tonnes.’ Said Mr. N. Radhakrishnan of the Cochin Rubber Merchants Association 

The average monthly consumption of rubber in the country is about 66,000 tonnes. 

The opening stock in 2005-06 itself was higher by over 30,000 tonnes at 1.07 lakh tonnes on April 1, as against 77,295 tonnes a year ago. 

Production in April this year is estimated to be about 45,000 tonnes, and added to this, imports of 6,500 to 7,000 tonnes have come in. 

Consumption for the month is pagged at about 62,000 tonnes, thus leaving a stock of about 96,000 tonnes. 

Since international prices are ruling below the domestic rates.  Tyre companies would continue to import, taking advantage of Zero duty facility under the advance licence scheme for export production. 

A major factor that influenced prices in the past couple of years would be missing this year in all likelihood-exports. 

In fact, the exports of 75,905 tonnes of natural rubber in 2003-04 and 45,000 in the year after had helped a great deal in bolstering the domestic prices. 

Since the Government has done away with export subsidies, the attraction to export natural rubber has diminished. Also, international prices are now ruling lower. 

But absence of exports and tyre makers plan to import about 60,000 tonnes for the year could check a price flare up. 

Waiting for Supply to bounce back 

Asian rubber prices are likely to stay in narrow range with supplies in the region fight but overseas demand thin, traders said. 

Wintering, which causes rubber trees to shed their leaves and produce about 30 per cent less latex than usual, is affecting yields in the producing countries of Indonesia and Thailand.  Flash deals were reported in the Indonesian market, but overall sentiment remained bearish. 

The maker Goodyear recently bough Indonesian tyre-grade SIR20 at 53.75 cents/Ib, or $1. 19 a kg. Free-on-board (f.o.b) Belawan, for June shipment. 

Recent losses in world prices have pushed down Indonesian and Thai rubber prices slightly despite lean supplies.  Thai RSS3 rubber sheet was offered at $1.32 a kg for June shipment.  Thai STR20 block rubber was at $1.24 a kg f.o.b basis. 

All eyes are now on the unexpectedly dry weather in Thailand. However, traders said they were still waiting for supply to bounce back.  It is still very hot in growing areas and rubber tapping cannot get back to full swing without rain, said one trader in the southern town of Hat Yai. 

Truck, bus tyre output surges 

Truck and bus tyre productions were on a roll in March going by the data released by the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers, Association (ATMA).  Production in this category registered a level of 9.89 lakh units as against 8.97 lakh units in the previous month and 9.43 lakh units in March 2004. 

The output in March was the best for this category during the fiscal 2004-05. Truck and bus tyre production during December 2004 and January 2005 stood at 9.68 lakh units and 9.47 lakh units respectively.  This category accounted for over 60 per cent of the total turnover of the tyre industry in value terms. 

The data also showed that truck and bus tyre exports during March surged to 2.59 lakh units as a against & export level of 2.19 lakh units as a against & export level of 2.19 lakh units in February.  The domestic tyres industry exported 2.23 lakh units of truck and bus tyres; during March 2004. 

Passenger car tyre production by ATMA member companies witnessed a sharp rise in March at 10.58 lakh tyres as against 8.80 lakh units in the previous month.  They had reported a production level of 9.14 lakh units of passenger car tyres during March 2004. 

Production of light commercial vehicle tyres stood at 3.84 lakh tyres during March as against 3.05 lakh tyres during February

 Dumping duty on NBR mooted 

The Designed Authority in the Commerce Ministry has recommended imposition of provisional anti-dumping duty on import of acrylonitrite butadiene rubber (NBR) from the 25 member European Union (excluding Germany).  Mexico and Brazil 

In a notification on its preliminary findings, the Authority said that acrylonitrite (CAN) and butadiene (BD) are two principal raw materials for the production of NBR and prices of both these monomers have risen worldwide.  It said that Apar industries Ltd. Filed a written petition to the authority, furnishing details of how the goods from the countries mentioned by it are inflicting material injury to the domestic producer. 

The Authority said the dumped goods from several sources competing with one another and with domestic production are affecting.  The domestic market for which cumulative injury analysis has been done.  It also highlighted that there is a healthy demand for the subject goods in the domestic market. 

After a preliminary probe to assess the extent of dumping and the injury inflicted on the domestic industry, the Authority said that landed values of the materials from the subject countries are significantly lower than the selling price of the lower than the selling price of the domestic industry, causing sever price undercutting in the Indian market.  Hence, it recommended imposition of provisional anti-dumping duty on imported subject goods NBR (excluding powder and carboxylated NBR). 

The Authority said that its examination revealed that the trend of net sales realisation of the domestic industry had declined significantly between 200-01 and 2002-03 and a marginal rise during the period of investigation (2003-04). 

This is still significantly below the cost of production indicating the inability of the domestic industry to raise its prices to recover the full cost due to price effects of the dumped imports from the subject countries. 

Moreover, the Authority said, the domestic industry has been compelled to benchmark its prices with the landed value from the dumped sources to retain its market share.  This meant that dumped imports from the subject countries have marked price suppression and depression effects on the prices of the domestic industry. 

Magnitude of dumping as an indicator of the extent to which the dumped imports could injure the domestic industry shows that the dumping margin determined against the countries for the period of investigation ranged from 21 per cent and 27 per cent in the case of two Brazil firms, 26 per cent in the case of exporters from the EU, and 50 per cent in the case of exports from Mexico. 

Dumping probe on EPDM 

The Designated Authority in the Commerce Ministry has initiated and anti-dumping probe on all imports of ethylene-propylene-non-conjugated diene monomer (EPDM) rubber from the European Union, the US.  China and Brazil 

EPDM is a synthetic rubber used in automobile tyres and tubes, cables and hoses and moulded items used in automobile parts.  

Informed sources said that Unimers India, Mumbai had filed the application seeking the anti-dumping investigation on EPDM imports from the EU, the US, China and Brazil. 

Anti-dumping duty on rubber chemicals 

The Designated Authority in the Commerce Ministry has recommended imposition of provisional anti-dumping duty on imported rubber chemicals such as MOR, PX 13 and TDQ, which are extensively used in treating natural rubber, synthetic rubber and synthetic rubber-based compounds for manufacture of various rubber-based products. 

The import of these chemicals from the European Union, the US, China and Chinese Taipei would be subject to anti-dumping duty once the revenue department follows this up with notification. 

Following a written petition from National Organic Chemicals Ltd., on behalf of the domestic industry which alleged that dumping of the subject goods is so extensive that two major producers. Bayer India and ICI India, had exited from manufacture of the products and turned traders by resorting to imports from some of the subject countries, the authority held a preliminary probe. 

After the probe, the authority said the subject goods have entered the Indian market from the subject countries at prices less than their normal values in the domestic markets of the exporting countries. 

Again, the dumping margin of the subject goods from the subject countries are substantial and above de minimus. 

As a result, the domestic industry suffered material injury in terms of loss of market share, low capacity utilisation and profitability.  Hence, the authority deemed it necessary and recommended provisional antidumping duty. 

Highlighting its injury analysis, the authority noted that in the case of rubber chemical MOR, there is a substantial increase is domestic demand and the sales of the domestic industry shows significant increase in absolute volume terms.  But the domestic industry has lost considerable market share to the dumped imports, which had more than doubled. 

In the case of rubber chemical PX 13, While the demand for the product has increased only 38 per cent, the dumped imports have increased almost 200 per cent and the sales of domestic industry have increased only 22 per cent.  In the case of TDQ, imports increased over the probe period in absolute terms by 150 percent, whereas the dumped imports rose by 166 per cent. 

Rubber Board identifies 5 lakh ha for plantations. 

The Rubber Board had identified five lakh hectares in the North-East region where rubber plantations can be developed to double the country’s total rubber growing area. 

We can have five lakh hectares in the North-East to plant rubber.  Since we have covered only 10 per cent of this area, there is enormous scope to increase our plantation area, said Dr. N.M. Mathew, Director of the Rubber Research Institute of India.  Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram have about 54,000 ha of plantation, which produced about 20,000 tonnes of rubber last year, according to statistics available. 

The development of rubber plantations in the region is imperative to address the issue of widening gap between demand and supply for natural rubber as Kerala. Which accounts for 92 per cent of natural rubber, production, is saturated.  In Kerala, no more area is now available for rubber plantation.  At the same time, our demand for rubber is increasing.  We anticipate more widening of the gap between demand and supply in the years to come, “Dr. Mathew said. 

India, ranked forth among rubber producing countries, expects its rubber output to grow 4 per cent to 7.80 lakh tonnes this year, as against a 5.4 per cent growth in 2004-05.  It had 5.73 lakh ha of plantation in 2003-04, of which Kerala accounts for 83 per cent. 

In order to meet the growing demand of land for plantations, the Rubber Board is trying out innovating schemes in the North-East, in spite of insurgency problems. Dr. Mathew said one of the ideas that had worked in the region is the Block Plantation Scheme.  Under this scheme, some 100 tribals who own one to two ha of land each have been brought together. 

“We plant rubber for then in the plantation, using their labour.  We also pay them wages,” Dr. Mathew said.  The Rubber Board supervises the plantation activities and when the trees are ready for tapping locals are trained how to tap. 

A co-operative society is formed to deal with the trading.  Dr Mathew said about 1,000 ha of plantations have been created through the scheme.  Most of such plantations have come up in Tripura. 

The Tripura Government and the Rubber Board contributed 50 per cent each towards the cost of the scheme.  “Now the tribals don’t know how to spend the money they have earned from rubber”, he said, underscoring the economic prosperity that has come to the locals from the plantations. 

Dr. Mathew said although land is available in the region, the cold climatic conditions of the North-East is not really conducive to rubber.  Latex gets very thin and often overflows due to this weather.  You cannot tap continuously under these circumstances and hence total tapping days are about 80 per cent of that in Kerala, because of this issue, yield is relatively lower in North –East, he pointed out. 

However, labour cost is significantly cheaper in the region compared to that in Kerala, thereby making the overall economics viable. 

Kyoto Protocol funding 

It may not be the latex alone that the rubber growers are selling in future.  They could well be trading in the amount of carbon dioxide their trees have absorbed. 

The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has started a project to assess the carbon absorption capabilities of rubber plants, which can be encashed as per the provisions of the Kyoto-Protocol. 

The RRII is now trying to work out how much carbon can be sequestrated by one hectare of rubber plantation, said Dr. N.M. Mathew, Director of the Institute, in an interview. 

“Rubber plants have very high carbon assimilation capacity. We have found that in the growing phase, this is more,” Dr. Mathew said. 

Once the carbon sequestration per hectare is quantified, and necessary approvals are obtained. Rubber plantations can pitch for funding from developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

This in a way would help farmers raise funds to develop plantations till the trees are ready for tapping.  It takes 6-7 years for a rubber tree to start yielding latex. 

The Protocol mandates developed countries to bring down green house gas emissions to five per cent below the levels prevailed in 1992.  One of the three mechanisms the Protocol has put in place is called the clean development mechanism (CDM). 

Under the CDM, developed countries can contribute to environment friendly projects in developing and least-developed countries.  One tone of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent of other gases such as methane) thus reduced from the atmosphere through a CDM project is called certified emission reduction (CER). 

Third plant in Coimbatore by Miracle 

The Kerala-based Miracle Group with interests in the manufacture of reclaimed rubber proposes to set up a new plant, its third, in Coimbatore to meet raising demand from tyre manufacturers. Announcing this, Mr. P. P. Ahmed Kutty, Chairman and Managing Director, said that the group has set up a new company, Miracle Polymers India Ltd, to oversee operations in Coimbatore, it has been floated with a paid-up capitali of Rs 2.1 crore, but efforts are on to raise additional funds to the tune of Rs 1.6 crore from the NRI community 

Commercial production from the new facility will start from January 2006.  According to Mr. Kutty, the existing production capacity of 380 tonnes per month has been found to be far below the demand from the user industry.  This is what led the group to think in terms of setting up a third facility with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes per month. 

Coimbatore was chosen as the new base taking in view the availability in adequate quantities of crumb rubber in the neighbourhood.  Other factors that swung the decision in its favour were the emerging opportunities in rubber-based industries, uninterrupted electricity, cheap labour and backward linkages to parent units. 

According to Mr. V. K. Hassan, Managing Director, Miracle Polymers, the company, will employ 160 employees to start with 60 per cent being women.  The indigenously developed technology has helped reduce the capital expenditure for the new facility by as much as 50 per cent. 

Output and exports booming 

Natural rubber (NR) production and export from Vietnam are increasing faster than any other country in Southeast Asia.  Vietnam currently ships to nearly 50 countries and rubber producers plan to ship some 400,000 tonnes – worth an estimated US $600 million-all over the world, says the Vietnam Rubber Association. Orders worth about 150,000 tonners have already been received. 

This represents a huge increase over the reported average Vietnamese output of 250,000 tonnes.  The San Francisco-based commodity trader, Cornell Bros.  Co., Ltd., estimates the Vietnam rubber industry’s annual growth rate at 15%. 

The Vietnamese Government has projected that total area rubber will nearly double by the end of 2005 to 1.73 million acres from the current 900,000 million acres. 

China is the major buyer of Vietnamese rubber, accounting for over 40% of total exports. 

Industrial policy not Conducive 

Ficci President Onkar S. Kanwar said the industrial policy was not conducive to the manufacturing sector when compared to other South Asian countries.  Talking to reporters on the sidelines of Ficci’s national executive, kanwar said the Indian products are more expensive compared to the imported ones due to high taxation, power tariff and interest rate. 

There was need to introduce proactive policy  measures and timely action to provide enough strength to manufacturing competitiveness of industries in view of the WTO regime, he said 

New marketing head 

After a long hiatus. JK Tyre has finally got a marketing head.  Kalyan K. Paul formally took over as marketing director of one of India’s largest tyre makers.  Prior to this Mr. Paul headed marketing at Ceat India’s number-four tyre maker by revenue.  A master in business administration.  (MBA) by training.  Mr. Paul brings with him 27 years of experience in sales and marketing. 

188% increase in net profit of IPCL 

Aided by a sharp reduction in raw material costs. Indian Petrochemical Corporation (IPCL) has reported a 240% increase in net profit to Rs. 336 crore for fourth quarter ended 31st March 2005.  Net turnover for the quarter rose marginally to Rs. 2.643 crore from Rs. 2,620 crore in the same period last year. Total expenditure on the consumption of raw materials came down by 261% to Rs. 993 crore during the quarter. Interest costs meanwhile, declined to Rs. 10 crore from Rs. 31 crore in the same period last years. 

The company reported a 188% increase in net profit at Rs. 786 crore for the year ended 31st March 2005, compared to Rs. 273 crore last year.  An overall improvement in the demand for petrochemical products and a sharp uptum in prices of polymer products have contributed to the surge in net profit.  Net profit for the year has been arrived at after recognising impairment loss of Rs. 20 crore and extraordinary expenditure of Rs. 62 crore on account of the voluntary refinement scheme.  The annual profit is the highest ever achieved by IPCL. Company sources said. 

Net turnover for the year ended 31st March 2005 rose by 38% to Rs. 8,131 crore.  Operating profit for the year rose by 40% to Rs. 1.756 crore.  Other income was at Rs. 132 crore as compared to 101 crore last year. 

MRF to hike prices 

MRF is likely to further hike its tyre prices after an around 8 per cent increase last July. 

“Raw material prices have never skyrocketed so much.  All tyre companies are reeling under its pressure.  In a competitive environment we cannot pass on price increases to the customer,” said Philip Eapen, executive director marketing MRF.  He did not get into specifics as to whether the price increase will be in the replacement market or in the replacement market or in the original equipment manufacturer category or both. 

MRF expects the continued rising input costs to put a squeeze on its profits this year as well, even as it continues to face stiff competition to maintain top line margins. 

The company’s net profit had plummeted by 75.46 per cents to Rs. 28.80 crore for the year ended September 2004 compared with Rs. 117.38 crore recorded in the same period last year. 

Costs of inputs such as natural rubber and oil based by products, which constitute up to 70 per of manufacturing costs, saw a steady increase last year. 

MRF has unlocked a slew of initiatives aimed at controlling spiralling input costs, we have continuously looked at containing costs that’s why we did not increase prices to the fullest extent.  These initiatives are mostly process driven and a few are R&D related, added Eapen. 

Commenting on growth for the overall domestic tyre industry. Eapen remarked that truck tyres are expected to have a flat growth trajectory or even witness a slightly negative growth, motorcycle tyres to grow at 8-10 per cent and the passenger car industry to grow at 5 – 6 per cent. 

MRF plans to increase exports, which stood at Rs. 351.18 crore last fiscat, by 10 per cent this year.  The company currently exports to about 65 countries. 

VAT panel not to introduce new rate 

The Empowered Committee of State Finance ministers on valueadded tax (VAT) does not favour, for now, the introduction of a new VAT rate between 4 and 12.5 per cent.  This position of the VAT panel has been conveyed to the Delhi Government, which had been pitching for an 8 per cent VAT rate. 

“It was decided that at least for the next three months, the Empowered Committee would not consider introduction of any new rate”, Mr. Ramesh Chandra, Member Secretary of the Empowered Committee said. 

Under the current VAT system, covering about 550 goods, there are only two basic VAT rates of 4 per cent and 12.5 per cent.  There is also a specific category of tax-exempted goods and a special VAT rate of 1 per cent only for gold and silver ornaments. 

Admitting that prices of certain items that had moved from, say, the earlier 8 per cent could go up, Mr. Chandra said that the Empowered committee hoped the effect of the additional 4.5 per cent would get largely mitigated through the set of that would be available under the new tax system. 

Mr. Chandra also said the Empowered Committee was hoping that Haryana would conform to the uniform floor rate of 20 per cent on diesel that was agreed upon by all States.  Diesel may be out of VAT. But we have not given up the principle of uniform floor rates.  This is very much there, he said. 

While Delhi had from April 1 pagged the tax rate on diesel at 20 per cent, neighbouring Haryana and Punjab were adopting a rate much lower than the 20 per cent, thereby leading to loss of trade for Delhi. 

Meanwhile, Assam is understood to have recently made a case for pegging the VAT rate on rice at 2 per cent (foodgrain). The Expowered Committee had given States the option of exempting foodgrains from VAT or imposing a 4 per cent VAT rate.  This option was, however available only during the first year of VAT implementation. Assam is said to have contended that the move towards a 4 per cent VAT next year would be easier if the VAT rate is pegged at 2 per cent in the first year.  Before VAT, the sales tax on rice in Assam was 2 per cent. 

J K Inds. & Dunlop in red 

Dunlop India Ltd., whose operation have been suspended, has reported a loss of Rs. 4.78 crore during 2004-05 as compared with a net profit of Rs. 32.67 crore in the corresponding period of previous fiscal, according to company sources.  The company’s loss at the end of fourth quarter declined to Rs. 16.40 from Rs. 20.75 crore previous financial year.  As operations of Dunlop was suspended, there was no revenue from sales.  However, other income during 2004-05 stood at Rs. 37.02 crore, higher from Rs. 9.19 crore in the previous year. 

J K Industries reported a net loss of Rs. 1.99 crore for the second quarter ending March 31. 2005 Compared with a net profit of Rs. 6.40 crore in the comparable quarter of the previous year.  Turnover rose six per cent to Rs. 566 crore (Rs. 532.50 crore).  Increasing raw material cost and lack of commensurate price increase input led to the net loss, said a JK Industries official.  The company officials however said that the second half of the year is likely to be better than the first half.  Tumover for the first half was Rs. 1071 crore, up 4% from Rs. 1033 crore in the corresponding half of the previous year “price of crude based inputs and natural rubber showing signs of stability.  With our expansion plans in the pipeline along with scope to increase the price of output, we are confident of posting better results in the second half of this year,” said A.K. Kinra, finance director, J K Industries. 

Profitable year Since 2001 for Goodyear 

Goodyear reported its first profitable year since 2001, recording net income of US $ 114.8 million in 2004, Compared with a loss of US $ 807.4 million a year earlier. The company set a record with net sales for the year at US $ 18.4 billion, 21.9%  higher than in 2003, Global Tire News reports 

Goodyear’s North American Tire division also was profitable, recording operating earnings of $31.5 million in 2004 compared with a loss of $130.9 million in 2003.  Sales rose to $ 7.85 billion for the year, up 16.4% from 2003. 

For the fourth quarter, Goodyear posted record sales of $4.83 billion up 23.5% and a net income of $124.6 million vs. a loss of $427 million in 2003 after income takes.  According to Akron-based Goodyear, the improvement in its overall annual results were boosted by a Q4 after tax gain of $156.6 million from an insurance settlement.  Among other positive benefits. 

Michelin’s profitable run continues 

In spite of significant price increases in several areas.  Group Michelin proved its lasting profitability in 2004.  During the year, Groupe Michelin achieved a tumbler of 15.6 billion euros ($21.07 billion) and an operating income of 1.299 billion euros, 8.3% of the company’s total turnover.  At the same time, net income rose to 527 million euros ($705 million), reports Tuyres $ Accessories. 

At the end of 2004 Michelin had net debts of 3.2 billion euros.  The largest proportion of the operating income came from the passenger car/SUV tyre division, which brought in 731 million euors.  The truck division’s operating income totalled a significant 548 million euors.  For the first time, the group’s other activities, division, found its way into the black, reporting 20 million euros of operating income. 

ATL Perambra unit completes 30 years 

The foundation stone for the first Apollo Tyres plant was laid on 13th April 1975 at Perambra in Kerala by C. Achuta Menon, the then Chief Minister of the State and the progress of work was quick.  The Rs. 300 million factory started operation on 8 March 1977 with a targeted output of 50 tonnes a day. 

The unit first started rolling out scooter tyres. This was followed by passenger car tyres under the brand name ‘Ace’ With the launch of India’s first truck tyre named ‘Bahadur’ and tyres specially designes for vehicles of greater tonnage called ‘Hercules’.  Apollo had established its preeminence as a major manufacturer of tyre for commercial vehicles. 

According to Mr. Onkar. S. Kanwar, the Chairman and Managing Director, over the years, Apollo unit has grown into one of India’s leading tyre plants with capacity to roll out tyres worth Rs. 9,000 million a year. 

It was the far-sighted and timely approach adopted by Apollo’s founder Chairman Raunaq Singh and Mr. Onkar Kanwar that has made Apollo tyre what it is today, says Mr. Neeraj R. S. Kanwar, the Chief Operating Officer. 

The Perambra factory, with a workforce of about 2,500 currently produces truck/passenger car/LCV tyres besides tractor tyres of international quality. Production has been raised from 50 tonnes a day to 250 tonnes, points out Mr. N. Sreekumar who heads Apollo’s Kerala operations. 

This Apollo unit has the rare distinction of being the first tyre unit in India that has won QS 9000 quality certification.  The factory has also won the environment Maintenance Award of the State’s Pollution Control Board, besides Productivity Award instituted by the Kerala State Productivity Council. 

Viton achieves ISO/TS 16949 Quality and Technical Certification 

Dupont Dow Elastomers has achieved another rigorous quality standard-ISO/TS 16949:2002 for viton fluoroelastomers-to serve the world’s largest automotive manufacturers.  ISO/TS 16949: 2002 certification is the new technical standard for automotive production and OEMs. 

By earning the ISO/TS 16949:2002 Certification, Dupont Dow is assuring its global customers that Viton is backed by an internationally recognised quality system. At the same time, automakers will know that viton with has long been an industry standard for sealling.  Will meet their specific individual needs.” Said Bob Bernacki, global business director Viton. 

Dupont Dow Viton received certification for its manufacturing sites, laboratories, customer service and supply chain in the U.S. and Europe. ISO/TS 16949:2002 replaces ISO 9000 and QS 9000 to which Dupont Dow Viton was previously certified. 

The ISO/TS 16949:2002 technical specification uses the ISO 9000:2000 standard to meet the specific needs of the automotive and OEM industries.  Together they8 specify the quality system requirements of automotive related products.  The new standard specifies the companies have to monitor customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.  The new technical standard aligns existing U.S., German, French and Italian automotive quality standards within the global automotive quality standards within the global automotive industry.  ISO/TS 16949:2002 was written by the International Automotive Task Force, which consists of an international group of vehicle manufacturers, all of the major automotive companies, as well as national trade associations. 

Lanxess improves sales and earnings 

German chemical company Lanxess AG, a spinoff of Bayer AG. Increased its sales and earnings in 2004, benefiting from a general uptum in the industry, reports Neue Reifenzeitung, quoting preliminary reports.  The company significantly improved on its operating results, achieving 59 million euros EBIT, recovering from a 1.3-billion euro loss in 2004. 

According to the unaudited figures, sales were up over 7% to 6.733 billion euros in 2004.  Earnings rose 44% to 447 million euros.  At the same time, net debt was reduced to around 1.1 billion euros.  In the final quarter of 2004, the company posted an operating loss of 17 million euros. Following a loss of 1.2 billion euros in the same period of 2003. 

Jumbo to exit India 

After Shaw Wallance and Hindustan Dorr-Oliver, another Jambo group company is up for grabs.  Falcon Tyres, which manufactures tyres under the brand name Dunlop, is on the block.  A number of domestic tyre majors are said to be in the race for the company.  According to industry sources JK Tyres and Apollo Tyres are among the major players that have evinced interest in the Rs. 225 crore tyre company.  It is learned that talks with JK Tyres and Apollo Tyres have already entered a serious phase.  The Jumbo group has given a mandate to Ambit Finance for the sale of the company. 

A Shaw Wallance source however confirmed that the company is on sale as the Dubai-based Jumbo group, the parent body of Shaw Wallance, has decided to exit all its India ventures as and when it gets the right price.  He said, ‘If the price is right, we are ready to sell. However, he said that although talks are continuing with probable buyers no final decision has been taken. 

The Shaw Wallace group has been exiting its Indian interests ever since the demise of MR. Chhabria, Chairman of the Dubai-based parent company Jumbo Group.  In Falcon Tyres, the promoter group holds 81.86% stake.  Another 16.04% is held by the public and non-promoter corporate holding is above 2% Falcon is an established player in the Indian two-wheeler tyre market. 

It sells its products under the name ‘Dunlop’.  Which has a significant brand equity in the tyre industry.  The company has a plant in Mysore and it has a capacity of 4.6m tubes and 5.2m tyres.  The company sells tyres under the Dunlop brand in the domestic market and Falcon in the global market. 

It has a large presence in two-wheeler and three wheeler vehicle tyres.  It supplies tyres to large players like Hero Honda, Bajaj Auto and L.M.L. 

Innovation is the Central issue in economic prosperity 

2005 Taipei International invention show & Technomart, one of the world’s most advanced exhibition on inno8vation and invention, is a unique opportunity for inventors, investors and invention companies to gain international exposure.  This event, from September 29 to October 2, 2005 will let inventors plug their concepts into a rich frontier of global marketing and manufacturing networks. 

Inventors from across the world with more than 1,000 invention to license, manufacture and market, will use this venue to show their latest and most exciting breakthroughs and each and every entry is issued massive review whatever the area, from nano-technology, to transportation, and home-use products.  More than 40,000 International visitors around the world are expected to visit this venue.  Many of them will be the key gatekeepers of leading corporations. 

National Technology Day Celebration 

IRMRA celebrated National Technology Day on 13th May 2005 with great enthusiasm.  IRMRA’s scientists and all the technical staff members were present on this occasion.  Dr. M.K. Bharadan, Director, SASMIRA (Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India) Mumbai was the Chief Guest on this occasion. 

Dr. Benerji, Director of IRMRA in his inaugural speech narrated the importance of NTD from the Country’s point of view and also briefed the participants about the various technological development made by IRMRA in the recent past such as development of various critical rubber parts/compounds & processes indigenously, important projects successfully completed by IRMRA and the new Projects under discussions.  Patents applications submitted and the prestigious Projects from multinational companies from abroad such as GE Plastic, USA, Indo Thai Project etc.  he assured the IRMRA will be always in the forefront on the technological developments for rubber and allied industries. 

A detailed power point presentation on the R&D activities carried out in their sections, important projects completed/underway, their achievements, patents Applications etc., were made by Dr. S. K. Chakraborty, P. Roy Choundhury. P.K. Das, Rajesh Chowdhury & Yogesh J. Ner-the IRMRA Scientists. 

The chief Guest, Dr. Bhardan in his speech commended the efforts made by IRMRA in technological development and its other achievements.  Which ultimately benefit the rubber allied industries.  He also made a mention about the possible tie up to SASMIRA and IRMRA for mutual benefits. He opined that IRMRA has he necessary capability to be prominent R&D Institute of International reputation. 

At the end Mr. D. R. Haibat Administrative Officer thanked the Chief Guest, all the scientists and other staff members for their efforts in making this National Technology Day Celebration successful.

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