Indian drip irrigation equipment maker RR Plast Extrusions Pvt. Ltd. plans to expand its facility in Thane by 25 percent, as it expands its product range into flat drip style pipe using technology from Europe.
The company said in an interview at the recent Plastivision show that the Indian market is currently dominated by round drip irrigation pipe, which is also the majority of RR Plast's production in that sector.
But it hopes some flat drip equipment manufacturing technology it has procured from Advanced Automation System Ltd in Cyprus can help shift preferences.
The company began manufacturing equipment to make flat pipes from the middle of 2013, and believes the flat designs can save farmers money, said Bhushan Sonar, marketing head for the Mumbai-based company at Plastivision, held Dec. 12-16 in Mumbai.
"The thickness of flat pipe could be reduced from 0.2mm to 0.8 mm, which reduces the weight by 10 grams per meter [which can] also save water, energy and yield," he said.
The new extruder operates at a speed up to 300 kilograms per hour, with an insertion capacity of 600 drippers per minute, RR Plast said.
"Even if the government do not give subsidy to the farmer to buy it, it is still affordable as the cost of the pipe is reduced by one-third compared to round pipe," Sonar said. Government policies and financial support have a big impact on India's drip irrigation market, he said.
RR Plast has had a technical tie-up with the U.S.-based DRTS Enterprises Ltd. from 2008 for round irrigation pipe lines.
Last year, the company sold 110 round pipe lines and three flat lines, but Sonar said they hope both types will contribute equally to sales in 2014.
The capacity expansion in Thane, near Mumbai, will help it expand the flat pipe market, he said.
"We are building a new plant at the same premises [as its existing manufacturing] and it would hike the capacity by around 25 percent," Sonar said.
RR Plast, which also makes equipment for plastic recycling and pipe extrusion, said it has installed more than 1,500 plastic extrusion machines and 500 sheet lines in India and abroad.