Powder & Bulk Solids Indian Powder and Bulk Solid Handling Suppliers See Sunny Days Ahead

Author / Editor: MARCEL DROETTBOOM / Dominik Stephan

Huge measures have been undertaken in the past few years to push India’s economic development, and this is unlikely to change in the future. Although a lot has been achieved by the world’s largest democracy, there is still enough left to do. This creates a huge business potential for foreign investors and industrial enterprises alike. Increasing growth momentum in several user industries is opening up a new vista for the Indian powder and bulk solid handling equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

Today’s investors and users critically examine merits of different powder and bulk solid handling technologies to pick the best one. (Picture: PROCESS India)
Today’s investors and users critically examine merits of different powder and bulk solid handling technologies to pick the best one. (Picture: PROCESS India)

For Edward Bland, Head of Investment Research at Duncan Lawrie Private Bank, India is the economy to watch in 2012. Even though the Indian economy has been affected by the continuing crisis in the Eurozone to some extent, it still ranges among the fastest growing economies in the world and offers the best prospects for long-term investments.

This is also the view expressed in the report of the United Nations, titled “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2012”. According to this report, South Asia, and thus India, is expected to remain fairly resilient to

the global economic downturn and sustain its growth momentum.

One of the most important factors for the continuing economic development of India can be found in the country’s extremely positive demographics with its large number of young, well educated people and a free-spending, growing middle class, who, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, is expected to reach a number of 580 million people in 2025 from 50 million people in 2005. The large number of people living in India forms the basis for a continuing growth of the full range of industries, including food processing, plastics and rubber, or power generation and distribution

High Potential in Food Processing

Due to India’s high population – approximately 1.2 billion people – the country’s market potential for food processing is particularly great. Per year the country produces 230 million tonnes of grains, 110 million tonnes of milk and 150 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables. Food processing of the worldwide second largest producer of agricultural products is still at an early stage of development.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, spending for processed food in India currently amounts to approximately US$ 40 billion and could increase to US$ 300 to 350 billion in 2020. This development will be pushed by the repeatedly delayed opening of the so called multi-brand- retail industry. To achieve this goal, significant amounts of money will have to be invested over the coming years in infrastructure as well as in food processing and packaging machines.

The Indian government has started a number of initiatives to rush the development of the food industry. This includes the construction of so-called Mega Food Parks and accompanying infrastructure for packaging, transport and cooling with support from the private sector. According to the ‘Vision 2015’ programme, more than US$ 25 billion will be allocated to the food sector and necessary infrastructure.

Increasing Demand for Rubber

The prospects for growth of the Indian market for synthetics are positive. Until 2015, production of polymers is expected to double. Following a moderate development as a result of the worldwide financial crisis, important consumer sectors are growing again, which should result in increasing demand. The demand for rubber has also started to grow again, to a large extend driven by the requirements of the tire industry. Michelin, for example, is investing US$ 735 million in a new tire production plant near Chennai with a final capacity of two million pieces per year. The first tires are expected to leave the assembly line in November 2012.

India is one of the ten largest consumers of plastics and rubber and the demand is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. While the growth potential of the important consumer branches is high, the per capita consumption is still quite low at six kilogram per person, compared to the worldwide average of 27 kilogram per person, leaving room for a significant growth.

The inland demand is expected to increase by 13 per cent per year until 2015, and the production of polymers is expected to almost double in the same period to approximately 13 million tonnes per year. As the production capacity will not be sufficient to meet the expected demand, it needs to be expanded by 7.3 million tonnes, according to the Indian Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology (CIPET).

A Push for the Chemical Industry

While the Indian pharmaceutical industry has already conquered rank three of the world top producers, the chemical industry is still on rank twelve. One of the major companies in the area, Reliance Industries estimates that the total production during the years 2008/2009 reached some US$ 40 billion. To push the development of the chemical industry, the Indian government established a national programme, which, among other objectives, aims to remove one of the most severe obstacles for the Indian chemical industry, the insufficient infrastructure and interconnection between the existing production sites.

At the heart of the ambitious plan to bring the third largest producer of chemicals on eye level with China is the creation of six petrochemical production sites with a total area of 250 square kilometres. According to the GTAI, the Indian Government plans to invest some US$ 280 billion to establish the six integrated clusters with refineries and crackers at the centre – to deliver the base chemicals. Based on these activities, the Indian Chemical Council hopes that the total sales volume of the Indian chemical and petrochemical industry will increase from currently US$ 65 billion to more than US$ 2000 billion in 2020.

Energy is the Basis for Industrial Growth

All the growth estimated for the different industries, however, cannot be achieved without sufficient energy supply. Consequently, the developments of power generation capacity and distribution infrastructure have a top priority in India. Currently, Indian generation capacity amounts to approximately 175 gigawatts. According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the country’s power planning body, in the fiscal year 2011-12, the government will actually be able to add only approximately 18,600 MW.

However, during the 12th five-year-plan, starting in 2012, the Indian Planning Commission has taken up an ambitious target of creating an additional 1,00,000 MW of generating capacity, of which 50 per cent would be delivered by the private sector, against 33 per cent currently generated by the independent power producers.

According to CEA, shortage of power-grade coal in the country is the reason behind failure to assure coal linkages to power plants proposed by private sector investors in the current fiscal. Thus, according to its forecast the thermal coal imports will grow by 85 per cent to 85 million ton by the end of this fiscal. As a major step in this direction, already Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, has directed Coal India Ltd (CIL) to import coal to ensure supplies for 20 years to 50,000 MW power plants that are proposed to be commissioned by March 2015.

Technological Excellence and Expert's Exchange at Powder & Bulk Solids India 2012

Obviously, the scenario ensures a huge demand for powder and bulk solid handling devices and equipment in the days ahead. Thus, investors and users are now interested in critically investigating the merits of different available and emerging technologies to pick the best one to suit their powder and bulk solid handling requirements. Only recently the 'Powder & Bulk Solids India 2012', at Gujarat University Exhibition Hall in Ahmedabad, from 13 to 15th March gathered professionals from all kinds of industries, giving them a great opportunity to physically witness and evaluate different technologies. Manufacturers and suppliers of the powder and bulk material handling devices were given a platform to display their technological excellence.

* The author is the Managing Editor of Bulk Solids Handling magazine