Established in the year 1984 at Lalkua by Shree B.K. Birla, a township near the foothills of Himalayas in the state of Uttrakhand, the company after expansion and modernization will have a unique distinction of using varied raw materials and producing variety of finished products ranging from (dissolving) pulp, writing & printing papers, tissue to high end packaging boards, at single location. The company has established a strong brand image in the domestic and overseas markets with excellent quality of its products and services , the current installed capacity of different grades is Writing & Printing wood based 37250 TPA, Writing & Printing grades based on Baggasse with FSC certification 84600 TPA, Writing & Printing based on post consumer waste with FSC certification 75960 TPA, Dissolving Grade Pulp 31320 TPA, Soft Tissue 36000 TPA, and soon to be commissioned board plant has rated capacity of 180,000 TPA backed by a 450 TPD pulp mill. To get more idea about what century is up to we had an interaction with century’s management. Excerpts
Century’s Growth and Recent Developments
Though Century started as writing & printing paper company, new investment decisions consistent with market requirements are taken by Shree B.K. Birla with great futuristic vision; today Century is capable of manufacturing high end, fast growing product mix backed by cutting edge technology.
The new generation products in paper space would be surface sized printing papers, superior writing papers, mill packed cut size papers converted on rotary cutting machines, FSC certified recycled papers with post consumer waste. The mill is looking to produce high end uncoated products for digital printing which are currently being imported. This great transformation was driven by timely decisions of, expanding baggasse digester capacity, film press on PM4 and augmenting cut size capacity.
Consumerism and economic growth are the two main drivers which are taking the packaging demand up. Particularly in northern India there is acute shortage of high quality packaging board and there is a clear demand in the market. So to venture into a packaging segment was a logical decision and further adds wings to our growth prospects. Today Century can boast of a latest Metso ECF fiber line which means state of art technology resulting in superior quality, cost effective and environment friendly operations, manpower optimization, efficient uses of resources and of course the products will have all important – ECF branding. The latest board machine from Voith embodies great manufacturing features like dilution control head box, shoe press, MG cylinder, film size press and soft nip calendar. This machine is designed to manufacture boards ranging from 170 gsm to 500 gsm.
With the time and the growing market demand we ventured in to tissue, as per capita tissue consumption in India was very low and the machines available here are of sub optimal standards in both context – technology and size. So the idea of a tissue plant was conceived and we ventured in to this segment.
- Century faced severe shortage of baggasse a year ago and this challenge has been successfully handled by the management resulting in surplus procurement this year.
- There are challenges on the wood procurement side as well. Developing plantations with the farming groups, understanding the land holdings, patterns, identifying the institutional infrastructure to really tap the land for pulp wood growth is the biggest challenge. Again to recommend the right species, understanding the local commercial dynamics is also time consuming process. The challenge is more daunting as we compete with other industries like ply and MDF for wood unlike other parts of the country where the competition is mainly among the paper mills.
- One major challenge is our distance from the port and thus logistically importing waste paper & other inputs becomes quite expensive. Century is now working on innovative solutions by employing multi modal system to control costs.
- Another challenge is the local infrastructure. Lalkua being a small town, the management is working on supply chain strategies to cope with the sudden rise in inbound and outbound tons.
- Manpower is a major concern and thus for the first time we have started campus recruitment of engineers on big scale. Century has maximum pulp & paper engineers and most of them are on retiring stages so getting the fresh talent is the need of the hour. We have also started structured training programs to groom the fresh talent.
Farm Forestry at Century
We are in process of setting up farm forestry on a large scale for which we have already identified the areas where we can have the land available for us. We won’t be targeting the prime land but will tap the marginal, fellow, degraded and waste lands, where we will be providing best genetically planting materials to the farmers through the R&D tie ups in India and abroad to get the best possible yield. With better genetic planting materials the farmers can even achieve multifold increase in the yield, they otherwise get from conventional seeds. Besides we will ensure technology penetration to all the farmers. We’ll provide them the best agro forestry models for inter cropping depending on the micro climatic conditions and land holding pattern. It will improve the eco balance of the area apart from creation of large carbon sinks. We intend to grow twice the trees required for our wood pulp. Our requirement would be approx 5,000 hectares but we will cover 10,000 hectares within two years. Roughly 2500 trees per hectare will be planted.
What lies ahead?
The game in paper industry is more dependent on site dynamics and competitiveness. The future plans ahead are:-
- We are going for a captive calcium carbonate plant which will improve our cost competitiveness and quality of paper and surface.
- We will invest in poly extrusion for our packaging board machine in order to produce cup stock, frozen packaging and liquid packaging boards etc.
- After the stabilization of the current expansion, we shall make appropriate investment decisions to take the Lalkua site to its optimum size and shall also explore Gujarat, UP as new destinations for our production set up.