Growing domestic demand in India's rotomolding market and opportunities to convert traditional products to plastic is prompting the country's processors to invest in capacity upgrades and seek out foreign partnerships, industry officials said at a recent conference in Mumbai.
India's rotomolding market is growing 15-20 percent a year, from its current demand of 120,000 metric tons (264.5 million pounds), according to estimates from the Society of Asian Rotomoulders, a New Delhi-based group that organized the conference.
Representatives of several Indian firms interviewed at Star Rotomoulding Conference, held Jan. 24-25 in Mumbai, said they are expanding factories, including one of the country's largest domestic rotomolders, Sintex Industries Ltd. Sintex is opening a plant to make tanks.
But while there is growing demand in Indian markets like agriculture, automotive, toys and furniture, one leader with the Society of Asian Rotomoulders said the country's mainly smaller rotomolding firms need help in upgrading, particularly in design, material selection and marketing.
Ravi Mehra, founding chairman of the group, said there are opportunities for foreign firms to enter India's market in partnership with local firms.
Given the opportunities from the fast-developing market, Indian firms don't want to waste two to three years in failures, said Mehra, who is also managing director of Norstar International LLC, a Cedarburg, Wis.-based maker of rotomolding tools. The challenges and opportunities are exploding now.
Indian firms appear to be boosting their capital spending.
A German-Dutch-Indian joint venture making rotomolding machines, Reinhardt Roto-Machines, for example, said the country's processors are buying more-expensive equipment, as they search for ways to boost productivity.
India's rotomolding industry for a long time focused on low-cost machines priced at around $50,000, but in the last two years firms have become willing to spend more like $350,000, said Reinhardt executive Shivinder Singh Chawla: All of the sudden the big guys are buying better machines.
Reinhardt, based in Vadodara, India, is doubling the size of its factory and expanding capacity fivefold to manufacture about 30 machines a year, he said.
One U.S. firm attending the conference, Dutchland Plastics Corp. in Oostburg, Wis., said the Indian rotomolding industry is similar to the North American industry 30 years ago, with many opportunities to convert products to rotomolded plastic.
I've been to a lot of countries and I think India has the most potential of any I've seen, said Dutchland President Carl Claerbout. One thing that is so obviously clear is how large the market is here. In the U.S., the market is not growing as fast as it did 20 or 30 years ago.
He declined to say if his company is looking at any Indian ventures. This trip was his first to India, he said.
Back in the 1980s, industrial designers would come to Dutchland's Wisconsin headquarters and be surprised at what products could be manufactured in plastics, and use that knowledge to help expand markets.
In a presentation at the conference, another Dutchland executive said the company, with factories in Wisconsin and New York state, wants to grow from $30 million in sales in 2010 to $50 million by 2014, and said that could include international growth.
An executive with the Indian rotomolding factory of plastics manufacturer Promens hf of KÃ³pavogur, Iceland one of the world's largest rotomolding firms said more foreign investment in India's industry could speed up new product development.
You see a lot of interest from companies all over the world to find business partners [in India], said Swetang Dave, managing director of Ahmedabad-based Promens (India) Pvt. Ltd. Once these alliances start happening, you will see more new products.