Dow, aiming to be Technology Leaders in India

Dow, having broad range of technology-based products in specialty chemicals, advanced materials, agricultural sciences, and plastics businesses, is investing heavily in India, with emphasis on sustainability. On that front, Chemical Industry Digest (CID) had a valuable interaction with Adriano Alfani (Global Business Director, Polyurethanes), Herman Motmans (Sr. Product and Asset Director, Polyurethanes) and Chandrakant H Nayak (IMEA commercial Director, Polyurethanes). The interview shares how Dow India is expanding its business in the country, the details of its new System House, Dow India Technology Centre (DITC), the importance of sustainability in Dow India’s business vision and its expectations from the Indian market.

Excerpts from the interview:

Chemical Industry Digest (CID): We understand that Dow is expanding in India. Could you give us a perspective on your growth in the Indian market? And how do you view growth from the sustainability angle?
Adriano Alfani: The Indian market is gaining more momentum and our aim is to participate in this Indian market successfully. With this objective, we have completed big investments in India including in R&D. One of the major investments we have made recently is the new System House at Lote – in Ratnagiri, which is much bigger than the earlier system house we had. We have also built the new Dow India Technology Centre (DITC), as innovation is fundamental to our growth and strategy – the most important driving force – to be more competitive. Innovation for us means developing not only new and better products, but based on sustainability, waste reduction, lesser emissions and resource efficiency. All innovations and customer development projects will happen at DITC – which will also showcase our capabilities to our customers. Another key criterion for us is energy efficiency and conservation – which is our global mantra. We are in continuous development and improving processes and technologies for optimal use of chemicals while generating less waste and emissions.

Market wise, automotives is a big market for us in India. Our products also find applications in footwear, refrigerators, mattresses and many other areas.

Chandrakant H Nayak: On sustainability, I would like to add to what Adriano mentioned. One of the many aspects we also look at is recyclability. We also explore how we can make the same products, be it for footwear or automotive seats or any other applications using lesser PU material but at the same time, provide same or even better performance including durability. So, also for insulation we see how we can improve energy conservation using less material. This also helps in using thinner panels, providing more internal space. All these lead to sustainability, one way or the other. We have many solutions to offer for waste management to ensure that waste is recycled or put to better use.

Herman Motmans: Now that there is a huge demand for more and more energy efficient appliances, the use of advanced polyurethanes is a great enabler to improve energy efficiency – another example of our role in sustainability.

CID: Anything more on the new system house at Lote?
The new system house will develop newer applications for PU which are more sustainable. It will help us cater to a wider variety of applications. We have equipped the system house with new reactors to experiment and produce novel solutions.

CID: How do you ensure the safety in the production and the use of your chemicals?
Safety is paramount for all our operations at Dow India. There is never any compromise on safety standards. Our standards are stringent. We are also a signatory to the Responsible Care Charter. We have strict guidelines for safe handling of chemicals, particularly since we handle hazardous chemicals like isocyanates. We provide sound training to our staff as well as our customers. We have a robust training programme to train and educate our customers in terms of handling, storage and disposal of chemicals. Our training is comprehensive from storage of chemicals, whether at port or in warehouse to the point of use. We employ latest IT technologies in our supply chain whereby we can track and trace the chemicals in the logistics of transporting them.

CID: What types of raw materials are preferred for PU synthesis?
For the purpose of energy efficiency, we prefer to use rigid polyols, based on propylene. The other raw material is isocyanate.

CID: In terms of the Indian market, what are your expectations in coming years?
With India’s huge population, infrastructure and other requirements, we expect the use of many consumer products such as mattresses, refrigerators, etc. to increase tremendously. This industry growth is measured by the per capita consumption in kilograms, which provides a huge potential for growth in India. We expect to grow in a big way in India and hence, the reason for increasing our investments in India.

CID: What thrust areas are expected for PU in India?
We will be technology leaders in India driving the direction of the latest technologies. We will be working closely with customers towards this, to understand their needs and help them in applying Dow technologies.

CID: What are the applications of your products in the chemical and the medical industries?
PU has a range of applications in the chemical industry, for instance, for the lining of chemical tanks and vessels and also other unit equipment. PU has applications in the medical field too, like for use in wound dressing, for coating hospital floors, for waterproofing, etc.

CID: What is DOW’s USP compared with competitors?
We believe that our strength is our strong focus on innovation, our global outlook, and futuristic perspective. We position ourselves as solution providers and not just as suppliers of raw materials. We are committed and known to be reliable.
We are like the first movers, quick with new technology. The other aspect is our closeness to customers, to people whose needs we understand. New products from our global platform are implemented as quickly as possible in India with the required adaptation.

CID: What challenges do you face in the Indian market?
As much as India is a fast-growing and attractive market, it is challenging due to the complexities in business. The fast pace of growth itself is a challenge. To do business in India, strong and long-term collaborations are required with the customers. It is always rewarding to face challenges in a fast-growing market than in a sluggish market.