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What are the opportunities and challenges for your business?
Opportunities are immense in the business. At present, we are catering only to about 3 per cent of world output which is a meagre share for a vast country like India. There are very few companies in India currently who have the manufacturing facilities and willingness to exploit these markets. The government has been supportive in promoting TT manufacturing and has provided subsidies for capital investment. With the Make in India initiative, there have been a lot of foreign companies willing to invest in India and we can see India as a new manufacturing destination for the western countries. The major challenge in the TT industry in India in particular is the exposure of the industry to the latest innovations. Also, we still lack skilled labour and infrastructure. We also have very a poor record for protection of patents and intellectual property rights which needs to be improved.
What is the latest innovation in the state-of-the-art machinery?
There have been a lot of developments in machineries in recent times, whether we talk about spinning, weaving, finishing or fabrication. Today, looms are available with speed as high as 1500 rpm which are fully automated and PLC-controlled. There are systems available for defect detection on the machine itself, helping reduce the downtimes and improve the overall quality. Even in supply chain and warehousing, robotic systems are coming which will eliminate the human dependency. Our industry has remained labour-intensive and human-dependent but with changing times now, we are moving towards automated systems.
The global technical textiles production is expected to reach 35.47 million tonnes by 2022. Is it achievable? What is India's contribution in it?
I am not very good with numbers, but as I mentioned the future is bright and India will be the major contributor at the global stage. I don't see India emerging as an innovation and R&D centre in the next five years, but we surely will be the manufacturing hub contributing to over 20 per cent of TT global market.
In terms of financial performance and profitability, how is Kusumgar doing? Are there any expansion plans to increase capacity?
Our performance has been satisfactory and is better than industry average. Over the last three years, we have grown at a pace of 20 per cent per annum and are expecting to continue to grow at the same pace in the coming years also. We have recently three-folded our capacities for weaving, finishing and coating. We have also joined hands with Japanese giant Toray for the manufacturing of airbag fabrics in India.
Please tell us about your R&D facilities.
We have a state-of-the-art testing laboratory where most of the physical, chemical and functional parameters can be tested in accordance to most of the international standards. The research DNA of the company has helped to develop all kinds of samples from bit loom size to a couple of hundred metres with desired finishing/coating, etc, as per customer requirements.
How do you rate the pace of growth in the Indian technical textiles market?
The TT industry in terms of value has already crossed Rs100,000 crore, and is growing at 15 per cent per annum. Statistics may appear encouraging but at the same time in reality the growth is mainly confined to pack-tech. The growth of other segments has been slow. India is one of the fastest growing economies, but when compared to the West, we have been slow in terms of TT as a whole. There are still very few big organised players; you can count them on your fingertips. There has been a major shift in the last 2-3 years and I hope the gears will shift now and we will grow at a much higher rate.
Is the competition in your line of business getting more fierce?
I consider competition to be a very important aspect in the development of an individual or of a company. Competition was there in the past also, and it will only increase with time, but it helps to keep ourselves on our toes and do our best without becoming lethargic. In fact, it is the competition which acts as a catalyst for continual improvement. It is important to keep a check on the competition, but our focus remains more on being persistent in our efforts.
What about application of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) in technical textiles? Kindly elaborate.
Artificial intelligence and Internet of Things will find huge application in the textiles industry as a whole and the TT segment in particular. The textiles industry globally is the largest labour-intensive industry after agriculture, and AI will certainly reduce human dependency on manufacturing as well as in the supply chain management. On the application front, e-textiles are already in the market and there will be significant growth of this segment in the coming years. TT has got huge potential in animation and acoustics industry which is unexplored till now.
How was your company's performance in the fiscal 2017-18 and also tell us about your future plans.
Business has been good, and we are performing quite well. We have recently increased our capacities and are targeting a CAGR of 20 per cent for next three years. We are also exploring the opportunities in aerospace, automotive and composite industries. (HO)
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