Taking advantage of that potential, however, will require paying close attention to manufacturing standards and not repeating problems seen in past attempts to expand into new markets without adequate controls, some observers said.
“There was a problem encountered by the industry when they tried to go into underground tanks,” Zaman said, in an interview at the event. “The main reason is we don't have very definite standards in these areas.
“We are just hoping that in this particular time the standards, the processes are structured, the methods are correct and there are proper methods,” he said, adding that in the underground tank market, competitors in other industries like concrete tanks were quick to point out perceived problems with plastics.
Satish Gokhale, an Indian industrial designer who does a lot of work with plastics, made a similar point.
“We have to follow things that are mandatory and not take shortcuts,” said Gokhale, who is head of product design for Pune, India-based Design Directions Pvt. Ltd. “I think in our industry the biggest curse is taking shortcuts, and copying, or both.”
Still, he also noted the potential of Clean India.
“This Swachh Bharat is everywhere,” Gokhale said. “I just hope it really takes off.”
Foreign rotomolding firms say they're getting a lot of interest from India's sanitation market and the spending associated with Clean India.
Johannesburg, South Africa-based Enviro Options Holdings Ltd. came to the conference looking for local partners and said India could be its biggest foreign market.
“We are here for the Clean India campaign,” Rowan Snyman, international sales consultant, said in a speech. “The government is taking great steps to pursue a sanitation agenda.
“India is seen as the biggest market for us, just because my inbox gets filled up every day with inquires about our toilets from India,” he said in an interview.
Similarly, a Turkish rotomolding company at the conference said it saw opportunities as India increased spending on infrastructure.
But Celal Beysel, founder of the Bursa, Turkey-based Floteks A.Ş., said infrastructure products like toilets can be difficult to make and face intense competition from other materials like concrete and other plastics processes, like injection molding.
“You should understand the challenge of infrastructure products, they are not easy,” he said. “You need standards, you need design.”
Floteks has set up a technical collaboration with Indian plastics processor Vectus Industries Ltd. to make PE sewer system equipment using rotational molding. A Vectus executive told the conference that it was a good decision for his firm to work with Flotek, which has 30 years of experience making the products.
“They are all engineered products, they look simple to make but they are not,” said Ashish Baheti, managing director of the Noida, India-based firm. “When we started talking to Floteks, we thought we could do it ourselves, but over a period of time, I realized it was a good decision [to collaborate].”
He said the market requires knowledge of regulatory requirements, product design, an understanding of how sewer pipes work and good decisions about material selection: “If you miss even one of the chains, you will not have a good product.”
India's rotational molding industry is overwhelmingly focused on above-ground water tanks, which speakers said are relatively simple to manufacture, at least compared to toilets and sewer products. Several presentations said above-ground tanks account for more than 80 percent of India's rotational molding production.
One topic of the conference was diversifying into other markets, like automotive parts or leisure products, similar to rotomolding in Europe. While noting that's important, a conference organizer said demand will still be strong in infrastructure markets.
“If you look at the country, and where it's real needs are, you look at the infrastructure, which is many things, health, sanitation, Clean India, solid waste management and underground storage tanks,” said Ravi Mehra, founding chairman of Indian group and managing director of Norstar International LLC in Cedarburg, Wis.