With the slowdown in the Indian domestic market, tread makers are increasingly looking towards expanding into new markets beyond India.
Indian Tread Producers Looking to Export Opportunities
Indian tread producers have formidable presence in the Middle East and Africa, but over the years the Middle East has become a tough market to get into as retreaders are finding it difficult to operate due to various restrictions imposed on retreaded tyres. UAE is one of the key markets for Indian tread makers in the Gulf region, where retreaders are finding it increasingly difficult to operate.
Kerala based Crescent International Tyre Tread produces tread under the CRC brand and started exporting shipments to the Middle East in 2015 but withdrew from the market in the very next year. “There were payment issues in the UAE market forcing us to withdraw from that market. We have also supplied to a few companies in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Both UAE and Saudi Arabia are important markets in the Gulf but have become highly competitive price wise,” said Abdusamad, Managing Partner, Crescent International Tyre Tread.
Established in 1989, Crescent International Tyre Tread operates at the Industrial Development Area at Aluva in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, producing conventional and precure tread rubber, solutions, bonding gum, black vulcanising cement, rope rubber, flaps for tyres and curing chambers.
Africa still retains its interest for Indian tread rubber suppliers. Although becoming highly competitive like the Middle East market, retreading has never been an issue with the authorities. Although Chinese tyres have huge acceptance in the market, retreaders continue to survive in the African market. Most of the countries have developing or under-developed economies, and retreaded casings are still preferred over new tyres. Indian tread and equipment makers have a considerable presence in the African market.
Crescent International shifted its focus to the African market in 2018, specifically to the East African market, and it has started supplies to countries like Tanzania and Ethiopia. Crescent International exports both tread rubber and bonding gum to the region.
“Since the volume of bonding gum increased, shipments are exported in refrigerated containers to increase the shelf life to one year,” explained Abdusamad. Earlier it was supplied in dry containers as the quantity was small and the shelf life was half what it is now. Crescent has bonding gum capacity of 90 tons each month and exports about 15 tons per month to the African market.
Overall, Crescent has manufacturing capacity of 120 tons per month to produce conventional as well as precure treads, but with the market slowdown, the site currently produces only 60 tons each month. “We are the sole supplier of conventional treads to major Indian companies like Sundaram Industries, Elgi, Balakrishna & Bro from the year 2000 onwards,” he said.
Besides East Africa, Crescent is also making efforts to enter the Central and South American market and has already sent product samples to customers in Colombia and Ecuador. “These are good markets for OTR patterns, and there is an opportunity to market precure as well as conventional rubber in these countries.” The company is also pondering over exhibiting in the Latin American and Caribbean Tyre Expo in November.
Interestingly, Crescent is also in the process of finalising tread shipments to a new OTR site in the Syrian port city of Latakia. The plant will operate on new Italmatic equipment already installed. The shipment of OTR sizes 29.5 R25 & 29.5 R29 was delayed due to lockdown enforced to curb Covid-19 in India and Syria. Latakia is principal port city and known as manufacturing centre for surrounding agricultural towns and villages.
“We are supplying the Syrian site with hot rubber in cutting and chipping resistant tread in higher tensile and tear strength for usage in the mines and construction areas,” Abdusamad informed.
Now Crescent is also focusing on utilising the whole plant capacity of 400 tons. “Ideally, the target is to export 150-200 tons tread rubber with the remaining 200 tons supplied in the domestic market.”
Meanwhile, Crescent has also ordered a new precure customised press, the cylinder of the press being made from a single shaft (with no joints) to generate higher pressure and heat during tread production, in order to produce lighter treads with higher mileage. The new press will be installed by the end of 2020.