In 1970, the journey of SRF started with a nylon tyre cord plant in Manali near Chennai. Over the years, it not only expanded its product range under the Technical Textiles, but also diversified into many adjacent businesses. Besides Technical Textiles, today SRF business profile constitutes Fluorochemicals, Specialty Chemicals, Engineering Plastics and Packaging Films.
SRF prides itself in inheriting a legacy of its founders whose contributions to Indian industry are legendary. The company traces its origin to the famous DCM group of companies, which was initially founded in 1889 as north India’s first textile mill. To identify with their city, the founders decided to call it Delhi Cloth & General Mills Ltd. (DCM).
To know how SRF is planning to explore a niche for itself in the Indian flex industry besides fighting back its environmental limitations, we, at Sign & POP World, followed Kishore Naryanan, the company’s AVP – Sales & Marketing and finally caught up with him over telephone. Here is the edited excerpt of what he shared.
What all products does SRF have on offer for Indian flex industry?
SRF offers a wide range of PVC laminated polyester fabrics in different combinations of length, width and weight as per our customers from printing, advertising & signage industry require. We offer both cold and hot front lit and back lit laminated fabrics. These laminated fabrics are used as flex in hoardings, billboards and signage.
Our technical textiles are not only suitable for high quality screen printing and digital printing, but are also compatible with all solvent-based printers such as Vutek, Nur and Scitex. Under special treatment, SRF products also exhibit anti-UV and also fire-retardant properties. With a pan India network of channel partners, SRF promises to serve customers anywhere in the country.
Where the plant located and what is its capacity?
Established in 2010, SRF plant is in Kashipur, Uttarakhand with a monthly capacity to produce 75 lakh sqm of PVC laminated polyester fabrics. The facility is equipped with one PLC-based calendaring machine to produce PVC film of 4 meter width, two cold lamination & one hot lamination machines of 3.2 meter width and a state-of-the-art fabrication machine with automatic heat sealing & groumating facilities to produce tarpaulins.
What is the USP?
It’s simple! If people think of quality, they think only of SRF, which they can purchase, forget and sleep at home because there will not be any complaint against the product. We are the only company in India with no credit, but 100% advance payment. The service is excellent. Whatever we claim, we deliver without any compromise. We strictly follow the principles of quality first. We continually strive to improve, through the involvement of everyone, the value we create for our customers. We are promoting these USPs to our customers as no other manufacturer is that accurate as we are.
How many dealers do you have? And which all support do you offer?
We have more than 50 dealers across the country. We provide all the marketing support including that of BTL activities to our channel partners. Our sales team does support them in promoting the products along with their sales personals. Additionally, we do get the approval done from corporate clients and then hand over the lead to our nearest dealer in that region.
Do you export also?
No, we are not yet exporting. But soon we are going to add a few more SKUs into our portfolio after which we will surely look for the opportunities in overseas markets.
Could you please explain a little on the production process of flex?
The manufacturing process of laminated fabrics essentially involves three stages of calendaring, lamination and fabrication. In the Calendaring process, PVC films are made from the PVC chips. In the Lamination process, one layer of grey fabric sandwiched between two layers of PVC films are compressed to form a single composite unit under heat and pressure. The composite (flex) passes through the embossing stack to get the desired finish. And, last but not the least, in the fabrication process, the panels are cut to required sizes using automatic cutting machine as per customer requirement in respective tarpaulins.
How do you see the current state of Indian flex industry?
The Indian flex industry is almost stagnant without recording any visible growth as compared to the last year. As of now, there are almost 15 players in the industry and the capacity is more than the demand.
Going forward, last six months have witnessed the worst phase of the industry – all because of demonetisation followed by the implementation of GST. The months of July-August were almost stagnant, while the activities started coming back to track September onward.
How do you see the restrictions being imposed by the government owing to it (flex) being a non-biodegradable substance?
The ban on flex in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, recently, has created an atmosphere of doubt in the minds of flex manufacturers across India. However, many other states have also takes such steps during the course of last couple of years.
But when it comes to banning, there are lots of other products available in the market, which are more hazardous than flex. Basically, the authorities have taken it as plastic, while it is a technical textile.
On the above-stated grounds, do you think there could the remedy?
Yes. We can at least expect for the good to happen. For this, we as an association of flex manufacturers are planning to appeal this restriction wherein we shall try convincing the appellate authority that consider flex as
a textile, and not plastic. Once the PVC is removed, it can be used in flooring as well as in road making. Further, hoardings or billboards are not the last stage of flex, but it has been blessed with quite a large number of usages after that. We need to promote it to the end-users. Recycling of the same comes, when the cycle of usages comes to an end.
How do you see the invasion of fabric to replace flex?
Fabric is 2-3 times costlier than flex. Especially, for outdoor applications – hoardings and billboards, the sealing in fabric is quite difficult. Besides, it is not 100% waterproof. Apart from that 90% of the printing machinery used in India are from China, and based on solvent printing, which is not good for fabric. Though people have started coming up with UV machines, but it will take some more time.