Make in India’ for the global marketplace cannot be better demonstrated than Balkrishna Industries (BKT), a company with over 30 years of global presence in the ‘Off-Highway Tires’ segment. In the early 1990s when every other tire company in India was busy producing highway tires primarily for mass use, the leaders at BKT foresaw a unique opportunity in international business and started production in the ‘Off the Highway’ segment.
Today, BKT enjoys principal presence in five continents around the world covering more than 160 countries. It is the preferred supplier to International OEM’s in industrial/construction and Mining segments. Since its inception in 1988, BKT has grown into a diversified industrial major exporting its expansive range of ‘Off-Highway Solutions’ to the world.
Quality conscious users which adhere to stringent conformity standards in countries like Europe, America, LSA, Middle east and Asia prefer BKT as their supplier. The international quality of BKT tires is achieved by using the foremost quality of raw materials that are processed through the most advanced and developed technology.
The foundation of BKT has been built on the pillars of R&D, technology and best-in-class quality. This has enabled BKT to develop 150 – 160 new SKU’s (Stock keeping units) every year. This has led to an impressive portfolio of 2600 SKUs, which includes bias, radial, solid & All-Steel radial tires for a wide range of Off-Highway applications. The company has its own R&D centre which develops these tires that can encounter the toughest and the most hostile terrains faced during mining and industrial activities.
The company has products from 5” rim diameter to 54” rim diameter for vehicles ranging from trailers, forklifts, etc. to technologically advanced machines like high horsepower tractors, combines, harvesters, GPS controlled vehicles, Articulated Dump Trucks, High-Speed cranes, sophisticated port vehicles & container handlers etc. BKT is the first tire company in India to produce all-steel radial OTR tyres. OTR vehicles ranging from Rigid Dump Trucks to Snow manoeuvring vehicles use these tires. The tires under this segment range from a 20” diameter Tipper Truck size to a giant 51” Rigid Dump Truck Size in Bias make and 49” in Radial make, thus covering every requirement for Industrial use and Mining.
BKT has been selling tires to world’s leading OEMs. The Company recently launched an ultra advanced range of tires especially for High Speed Cranes. The tire 445/95 R25 enables heavy high speed cranes to journey at speeds of 80 km/hr.
“Each product passes over 450 stages of tests. The result of this rigorous practice being that BKT Products are known for their reliability and have the lowest claim ratio in the industry,” informs Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT.
Currently BKT has four functioning State of the Art manufacturing plants spread across India, the recent one being set up in Bhuj, Gujarat.
The Bhuj plant, built up with a whopping investment of $500 million, has a production capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year with having capabilities of producing a diverse range – from 5-inch lawn tyres to 51-inch giant OTR tyres. The plant is also armed with highly sophisticated an R& D house and testing tracks. The Bhuj R&D department, equipped with physical and mechanical testing, has researchers, engineers, and technicians, working on from designing a new tyre, over developing new compounds, to improving product performance as well as production processes.
The company claims to the first tyre manufacturer to build an outdoor tyre testing track in India. The outdoor testing facility has 6 different tracks, the circuit stretches over a total area of about 25 acres including tracks for tire performance tests in wet and dry conditions, an asphalt track as well as an inclined concrete track. Thanks to a large variety of tests, many relevant features such as traction, handling, comfort, noise, fuel consumption, braking, rolling resistance, soil compaction and many more can be measured by means of high-precision devices and instruments, according to the company.
Though radialisation is picking up in the OTR segment, bias tyres will always have scope for certain applications, according to Rajiv Poddar. “Radialisation will be very high in certain applications. But there will be always a scope for bias tyres in certain applications such as port and underground mining.” The company, during the Automechanika Dubai 2017, launched Portmax PT 93, engineered tyre for terminal tractors that is perfect for operations at ports and logistics hubs.
However, there has been no specific efforts are being taken by OTR manufacturers like the passenger or commercial tyres segments on sustainability. According to Rajiv Poddar, new technologies and radialisation can be termed as green sustainability efforts in the OTR segment.
BKT will also focus on the Indian market as the mining sector is also reviving on the efforts are being taken by the new government. “ The new government is looking to take positive steps for the mining sector and we are seeing bigger vehicles are being plied in the mining sector which will lead to bigger tyres in India. We have less than one percent market share in mining tyre segment so there is a huge space for us to grow,” said Poddar.
Poddar also thinks that OTR tyre industry has gone through consolidation and no major consolidation will be seen in the near future. “I think, The OTR segment has already gone through the consolidation phase in the OTR segment. However, the company does seeking any inorganic growth, added Poddar. “We are not particularly targeting at an inorganic. But we are open to evaluating if something comes on our way. We are more keen on bringing more technologies and capacity utilisation, added Poddar.
According to Rajiv Poddar, the biggest challenge on the OTR segment is that to provide after-sales service. “The OTR is a high technical segment. The requirement of service, equipment and maintenance of the equipment is critical and high costs. And to tackle this challenge, we have tied up with service providers in the key market,” said Poddar.
“We invest heavily every year into R&D, to upgrade our plant facilities and develop new products”, informed Mr Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director, BKT. “Our competition is with global tire giants, so we always have to have an edge over technology if we have to compete with them. If you look at all steel OTR radial tires for mining, we are the Pioneers from India”, he further stated.
The commitment to quality products is testified by the adherence to the strictest quality benchmarks with international certifications such as ISO 9001-2008 & ISO 14001-2004.
BKT’s strong belief towards corporate social responsibility led to huge investments for self generation of wind energy. This fulfills a substantial share of its power requirements. These efforts of BKT have been recognized through various accolades such as winning the “National Energy Conservation Award” presented by the government of India on multiple occasions.