Chembond over the last few years has developed such chemistries, which may be better called as challenging chemistries as the paper industry is facing tremendous challenges on fiber, environment, and water front.
Chembond Chemicals Limited manufactures a diverse range of specialty chemicals for a cross section of industries. The company specializes in paper chemicals, surface treatment chemicals, water treatment chemicals, construction chemicals, anti-corrosive coatings, biotech enzymes for animal health, distillery and textile water treatment equipment, etc. Chembond has a world-class R&D facility at its HO in MIDC Mahape, Navi Mumbai. The company has its manufacturing plants located at Tarapur, Dudhwada, Baddi, Chennai and Balasore.
Paper Mart recently interviewed Mr. Vinod Deshpande, Group Vice President – CCL and Mr. Janardan Narhare, GM (Sales & Mktg.), Finor Piplaj Chemicals Limited to know more about their offerings to paper sector. Finor Piplaj is a group company of CCL and is leading long-term player in specialty chemicals for papermaking, water treatment, construction, paints and coatings.
Share briefly your offerings in the paper sector both in Chembond Chemicals and Finor Piplaj?
Vinod Deshpande: In Finor, we deal with both the wet-end chemistries for paper chemicals and paper machine chemicals, which are two different chemistries used in two different applications. In wet-end, the majority applications are biocide, which are further classified as oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides, retention and drainage aids, AKD (alkaline based), etc.; whereas in paper machine chemicals, we have felt washing chemicals, wire cleaning chemicals, surface sizing chemicals and defoamers for machine.
In addition to this, we offer services such as monitoring and housing equipment along with technical services available 24/7 to all our customers. These are the offerings that Finor Piplaj gives to paper industry. Finor is the group company of Chembond Chemicals. We also do trading of bulk chemicals to the paper industry and to specialty chemical manufacturers who provide services to the paper industry; this happens through Chembond Distribution Ltd., which is again a company of Chembond Chemicals.
In what way do your offerings assist the paper industry in addressing crucial parameters like cost reduction, better quality and enhanced efficiency?
VD: Cost reduction is not only the demand of the paper industry, but of industries across spectrum and Chembond Chemicals is into specialty chemicals for different applications aimed at various industries. Apart from paper chemicals, we are into water treatment chemicals which are based on synergy to other chemistries that we use in paper chemicals; there is a continuous effort in developing chemistries with cost reduction patterns benefitting industries we serve. In fact, cost reduction happens in the enhancement of the chemistries and also at programming efficiencies at our end.
Additionally, we have application oriented R&D that we do at our end, like in the past, there were non-oxidizing biocides, which were being used; but, over a period of time, we found that usage of non-oxidizing biocide was little expensive and we got into the business of oxidizing biocides. Thereafter, we developed different chemistries – bromine based and chlorine dioxide based – with a complete package which includes packaging goods and services. So, we keep making such efforts that make it easier for the customer to select and reduce his cost of production.
For this application oriented R&D you were referring to, do you have some technical joint-ventures in place?
VD: Technical collaboration is not specifically for the cost reduction, but it is mainly for long-term technology advancement/ development and we have technical collaboration with Acquaflex, Italy. It is basically for three different chemistries which we also have in-house production. However, with their support, we could bring it into the market domain based oxidized chemicals. Besides, they have some multi-functional deposit-control chemistries, which are especially used for stickies. So, these are the chemistries we use from Acquaflex, Italy.
Janardhan Narhare: Particularly, we now have technical tie-up with Acquaflex to introduce their own technology known as bromine technology, which has two products – one is oxidizing biocide with Bluemate base, which is made at the paper mill site. We actually supply two chemicals and have a machine installed at the paper mill site to make the final chemical, going in to the system immediately and more effectively, which further provides cost reduction.
Another product is a multi-functional product, which works for both stickies and deposits. Now, as we know, there are two types of deposits, viz. organic and inorganic; the product is more effective on the organic deposits and less effective on the inorganic deposits and also more effective on stickies.
Now, the third technology acquired from Acquaflex is for dryer and dryer screen cleaning. Normally, in paper industry, we stop the machine to clean resulting in a downtime; but, in this case, equipment sprays the chemical directly on the running machine to clean the dryer screen and dryers. If you put chemical on the dryer, the screen will be cleaned automatically and if you put that on the equipment, then dryer will also get cleaned. So, it is one chemical with two obligations and that too without any downtime because you don’t have to stop the machine as it is done online.
Can you tell us more about what you do for the cost reduction and quality enhancement?
JN: Well, we go systematically for the cost reduction; as for the cost reduction, we have to supply effective chemicals. We need to go through comprehensive process study to find out what chemical is to be used and bio-audit of the system will let us do the chemical selection. Thereafter, we will analyze the dosage and recommendations; then, accordingly, we will supply the inputs breakdown and the complete breakdown system along with 24-hour service. This will help us to monitor the minimum chemical consumption that will give benefits in terms of cost reduction and maximum effect. In paper industry particularly, we have more than 50 customers; they know us and they also know that Finor is a fully customer-oriented company.
VD: We call this process the optimization of the chemistries and we follow it not only for paper industry, but also for all other industries we serve – whether it is water treatment chemicals, paper industry chemicals, construction chemicals, or waste water biotic chemicals, all of which comes under the umbrella of Chembond Chemical.
Being almost 3 decade old, what are your views on how pulp and paper industry has evolved?
VD: As per how we look at it, in the last 5 to 6 years, the pulp and paper industry has globally undergone a downward trend, basically because of the digitization of media and mostly in the developed countries. The concept of paperless offices has impacted the paper industry in a negative way.
However, the Indian paper industry seems to have been impacted more by the cost of raw material than the digitization. The availability of raw materials in India is very limited and when you get it from outside, the freight cost adds to the cost of production. Apart from the raw material cost, the general environment also has not been very supportive to the growth of the paper industry. If you look at the paper industry’s growth in the last 5 or 6 years, it has hardly been 2 to 4 percent.
Moreover, the Indian population is not much oriented, as of now, towards the usage of paper for sanitary purposes and if you look at the per capita consumption of India, it’s hardly 10-12 kg which used to be 7 or 8 kg in the past. Though it has increased, it is scanty when compared with the average global consumption of 50-55 kg and developed countries’ consumption to the extent of 250 to 300 kg.
The gap in the consumption is huge and demand is not up to the mark. A little bit of this demand loss though is being offset by the growing packaging industry, it is still far from satisfactory. If you look at the estimated growth of the paper industry for the next 3-4 yrs, it is within the range of 6-8 percent which is normal. However, looking at the gap, it could have been 15-20 percent. It looks like the companies that have invested in past few years haven’t seen the growth going up the way they might have expected it to; so they are struggling right now to sustain themselves. You might be aware of what’s happening with big companies like BILT.
For us, from chemical point of view, we have seen a steady growth of 10-12 percent in past few years which is slightly higher than the paper industry growth because the multinational companies, which are our major competitors and big players in the paper chemical market, have certain challenges which we have overcome. For instance, the local manufacturing is one of the biggest advantages that we have over others. The lead time is very low with us because local manufacturing is there. Moreover, the DNA of Chembond Chemicals, which has percolated to all divisions/groups like Finor, is being absolutely service oriented. So, many of our customers like the services we provide and our cost of production is comparatively lower as compared to multinational companies. Hence, we are seeing the growth in our own portfolio and we think it would be in double digits in the next 3 to 5 years; so that’s our outlook for the paper industry chemicals right now.
Finor serves writing & printing (W&P) and board markets as well? Can you tell us the share of chemicals targeted at these two markets?
VD: Yes, we serve W&P market too. We haven’t looked at it area-based; instead, we have looked at it from the perspective of our chemical portfolio and when we look at our chemical portfolio, majority of our business comes from the biocides and deposit control chemicals, which are also called performance chemicals. In biocide, both oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides have seen considerable demands of late. We have also seen increasing trends in usage of oxidizing biocides and deposit control chemicals. We have developed chemistries over the last few years and these are known as challenging chemistries as the paper industry is going through a lot of challenges on fiber, environment, and water front. Water is putting a lot of stress on the paper industry and the process itself. The reuse of water is causing a lot of contamination coming back to the stream leading to high TDS load, microbiological load and that is a challenge for the industry chemical suppliers as well. We have been very effective and are still working on our chemistries for improving the deposit control efficiency that will be a continuous process at our end; these chemistries have helped us grow.
JN: We have three segments, viz. W&P, coated board and packaging paper. Earlier, in packaging or kraft paper, nobody was using biocides and deposit control chemicals because they had the luxury to use more fresh water. Today, there is no such luxury; so, either they have to zero discharge, or use 100 percent recycled water. The recycled water is more contaminated which may increase the growth tendency of biocide and when it comes in contact with deposits it gives foul smell. So, that is a new opportunity for Finor Piplaj as it is the pioneer in biocides and from the last two years, the company is providing special solutions to around 8-10 kraft units and have almost solved their problem – though not completely eliminated, but solved up to some extent that they can sell their products to the food grade industries.
There have been a lot of investments in packaging boards in the last 2-3 years with many packaging units coming up with good technology from Europe. What kind of challenges and opportunities do you see for yourself in these kinds of expansions?
JN: Normally, we go for solutions if they are facing some sort of problems. We would completely analyze their process and give them options of two or three chemicals like oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocide combination along with deposit control and dispersion chemicals. We would give the complete solution to that problem. Also, high-speed machines have less time of contact; so, we need more effective chemical for this as big machines are capacity machines.
Do you organize any training sessions on customer service side to make them know how to use a specific chemical to draw maximum benefits?
JN: Normally, we arrange regional seminars and give presentations on all chemicals wherein we provide all the details application-wise like what the use or benefit is. Normally, all our clients send their technical persons, who may interact with us on day-to-day basis and help them run the program at the mill.
VD: Basically, this is more of a knowledge-based market now; most of the companies and customers won’t use the chemical just for the sake of using it, they want to know what it is for, what the benefits are, or what the ROI of these chemicals is, etc. We can’t sell a chemical unless we actually educate them about it. After knowing the ROI and other benefits, a customer agrees to go for a certain treatment program. Apart from region-based training sessions and seminars, we hold regular training sessions with customers even at their end. We also participate at the tradeshows wherein our team is always available to talk to the customers and explain to them what chemistries, solutions and applications we have.
Tell us something about the vision and philosophy of Chembond as a group?
VD: Chembond Chemicals was started by Dr. Shah, who was the first generation entrepreneur. The very objective of this was to actually be of service to the industries and that has been the philosophy behind the company and that’s how the company has grown. The DNA of the company, as I said earlier, is being service-oriented, which means we listen to what the customer wants to say and work on what actually is the requirement of the customer across all the 10 companies of Chembond Chemicals. We believe in providing our clients the chemistries that are not only used for the application, but also for the benefit and improvement of the process.
JN: Particularly for Finor, our customers are looking for the partners, not only suppliers and by partners we mean working together to find the problem and then provide a solution. So, we have over 50 customers who are very happy with our solutions. The paper industry’s problems are increasing day-by-day due to non-availability of fresh water and recycled water is one the major challenges for the industry as it creates problems. Therefore, customers want solution to new challenges and as we are in specialty chemicals, we keep developing new chemicals as specialty chemicals need to be changed after a certain period of time.