BKT: Driven by Bhuj Power
BKT, the global off-highway tyre giant from India, has shifted gear in its drive towards achieving the unbeatable top position in the market. The state-of-the-art Bhuj plant is to play a very important role in this endeavour. The all-inclusive ‘Game Changer’ facility remains BKT’s most ambitious undertaking yet.
When BKT called its Bhuj plant “The Game Changer,” the company had its goal strongly set for tomorrow and far into future. Firmly positioned among the top global off-highway tyre makers, BKT wanted to claim the numero uno leadership by establishing an all-inclusive infrastructre that can roll out tyres of unmatchable quality the way the market wanted. The Bhuj plant is BKT’s most ambitious undertaking yet, and has already set a benchmark for allround excellence in pre-production, production and post-production processes.
“I want BKT to become one of the top names in off-highway tyres. Not just in India, but in the world. Anything we create, must be better than the best the world has to offer, be it equipment or infrastructure,” Arvind Poddar, Chairman & Managing Director, had said. Team BKT took this as a mission statement and ensured that the final ourcome would match what the Chairman wanted. Out of the barren, scorching Bhuj desert in the Indian state of Gujarat bloomed a USD 500 million industrial powerhouse that today drives the global OTR tyre leader’s most ambitious future plans.
Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, said: “The journey from ideation to execution has been extremely challenging as far as the Bhuj plant is concerned. I want to personally thank each and everyone who was involved in this process – from the junior-most members of the team to the entire board of directors, our customers and business partners and of course, the locals of Bhuj. It is only their contribution and support that has made this dream a reality.”
BKT had already established its leading position in the global OTR market. The wide range of its agricultural and industrial tyres has rolled over some of the toughest surfaces on earth. Its Agrimaxes and Earthmaxes have been among the most sought-after tyres in the market ever since the company launched these brands. The technology that has gone into its making and the extreme care that had been given to ensure its quality made them big successes.
But for a company that was not inclined to rest on the laurels it won in plenty, there had to be a defining shift in strategy in order to go to the next level. Global tyre industry has undergone revolutionary changes in tune with the changes happening all around it, the emphasis on sustainability being the most important. BKT realised the need for a comprehensive, all-inclusive production hub that most effectively gels with all the norms of environmental and economic and technological sustainability. The result is what one sees at its Bhuj plant.
“In the game of chess, there is a unique quality that distinguishes a true champion from a mere player. It is the ability to understand that each game consists of challenges as the game proceeds. And hence, the flexibility to adapt one’s strategy till the final move…Since its inception, BKT has chosen to be a main player in this game, on the global chessboard,” Arvid Poddar told the global media who toured the site.
“We had all the odds against us,” Rajiv Poddar recalled BKT’s Mission Bhuj. “A previously desert area, lacking of access roads, lack of electricity and water supply, and even herds of wild animals – just to name a few of the reasons why the company was almost unable to find labour force willing to work at Bhuj. When finally, some manpower was found, it was likewise difficult to keep them.”
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” he said, adding: “And so did our team. We all gritted our teeth, rolled up our sleeves and did the job. Showing great commitment and dedication, everything was created out of nothing.”
Dilip Vaidya, President & Director (Technology) , said: “The aim was to have the best-of-class machinery and amenities in the world. We wanted the Bhuj plant to be a pioneer of sorts, in terms of both size and scale. So we have nearly three times more mixers than the industry standard. There is a flyover to transport raw materials thereby reducing double handling. A conveyor belt to transport coal. Most of our raw material is imported and we have fully automated machines for greater speed, accuracy and efficiency. The state-of-art plant would be manufacturing entire range of BKT products like Agricultural, industrial & construction with major focus on OTR Radial tyres, including giant OTR radial tyres.
“Our entire R&D facility is right there, on the premises. We even have a first-of-its-kind testing track, to put our tyres through their paces. And we’re already getting requests from various equipment manufacturers, who want to use it to test their products as well.”
The fully self-sufficent Bhuj plant is also in sync with the environment. Green initiatives, including plans for greenhouses, plant nurseries and gardens are already on the anvil, Vaidya said. The plant engages in a number of CSR activities for the neighbouring villages, whose initial support and cooperation made a world of difference to the plant.
Ever growing empire
The Bhuj plant is the latest and most modern addition to BKT’s ever-growing empire. The company, which has over 6 per cent of the global off-highway tyre market, has several milestones marking its growth in the OTR tyre industry. A key moment in its history was in 2004 when BKT entered the radial agriculture tyre segment, which now represents its main product line. Today BKT is the largest player in world agri radial tyres. The range of products continues to expand.
“The thirst of new products influenced us to move further towards OTR All Steel radial tyres. After establishing our footprints in the bias OTR tyre industry in the year 2008, we marked our entry into the specialised segment of OTR All-Steel radial tyres: an essential strategic move to strengthen BKT’s leadership in the Off-Highway tyre market,” Arvind Poddar had said.
BKT’s rapid and continuous development has been possible, thanks to the substantial investments made in infrastructure, he adds. “Even the most brilliant ideas need to gain a solid foundation to be brought to life – in other words: people and technology. BKT has believed in the strategic value of these two competitive advantages, ever since.”