BKT´s vast and fully automated manufacturing plant in Bhuj, Gujarat, with workers from across the country and amenities aplenty, has set the stage for the company´s future plans.
It has set the pace in the league of off-highway tire manufacturers in the world. From a single tire manufacturing unit in Aurangabad, BKT has gone on to establish a global footprint across 130 countries, with over 7,000 employees. Indeed, growth is in the company´s DNA, from the first 15 acre, where its first production plant was established, to the recently inaugurated Bhuj plant, an industrial site of over 312 acre, in addition to existing plants in Aurangabad, Bhiwadi, Chopanki and Dombivali.
The company set for itself a clear vision, as Arvind Poddar, Chairman & Managing Director, BKT, says,´To be a leader in the off-highway segment not just in India, but across the world.´
To achieve this, a radical change in its production setup was required as the Aurangabad, Chopanki and Bhiwadi production plants were already working at full capacity. This led to the company´s off-highway tire plant - the largest in the country and perhaps the world - right in the centre of Bhuj in Gujarat.
Commenting on why Gujarat was the obvious choice, Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT, shares,´We needed a place close to the seaport, a government with business-friendly policies, and 300 acre of continuous land.´
Challenges in building
Still, setting up the plant had its own set of challenges. The area was previously a desert, devoid of access roads, electricity and water supply, populated by herds of wild animals. Permissions had to be sought from several government agencies and local bodies including the villagers to get water and electricity to the plant. Further, with taxing working conditions, it became difficult to convince people to come on board, followed by challenges in retaining and replacing them as well.
However, as the saying goes,´When a man dreams alone, the dream remains just a dream. But if many people dream the same thing together, the dream is transformed into reality.´ And, the Bhuj plan has been no less than a dream come true for BKT. Today, the facility not only attracts talent and workers from across the state and country but offers them a variety of well-planned amenities. The township area, extending over 15 acre, comprises 406 flats for employees´ families.
In addition, there are 90 rooms for university students who opt to work with the company, within the scope of an industry-university cooperation project. Facilities include a large green area with jogging trails, a large recreation centre for indoor and outdoor activities, a medical centre and a mall.
Further, there are resources to match - two huge water reservoirs and an independent 8-km pipeline ensure abundant water supply. A custom-built power plant and a power generator safeguard against power cuts. The plant also has its own fire station with seven firefighting trucks, two ambulances and a smooth firefighting system covering the entire complex, extending over 37 km. As Bhuj is in a seismic zone, the buildings are earthquake-resistant.
That´s not all. The Bhuj plant aims to have the best-in-class machinery and amenities in the world. DM Vaidya, President & Director (Technology), BKT, affirms,´We have three times more mixtures than industry standards. There is a flyover to transport raw materials, conveyor belt to transport coal; most of our raw material is imported and we have fully automated machines for greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.´ He adds that the plant is equipped to manufacture the entire range of BKT products - agricultural, industrial and construction - with a major focus on OTR radial tires, including giant OTR radial tires. Moreover, with the R&D facility in the premises, an area of 25 acre is dedicated to a modern outdoor track, where tractors and industrial vehicles equipped with BKT tires are tested.
The company sees the completion of the Bhuj plant as a game-changer. As Rajiv Poddar puts it,´The journey from ideation to execution has been an extremely challenging one.´ But looking at figures and dimensions, Bhuj is more than just an entity for production, research and testing. It is a small town offering manifold social and leisure facilities for those who work with the company and their families. While, at present, about 175 MT is rolling off the production lines in Bhuj every day, the plant has a capacity of 350 mt per day, which the company intends to leverage as it gives shape to its expansion plans in future.