It’s in Bhuj, the BKT’s site inaugurated in 2015 in which work 4,776 people, that the company’s journey towards the future continues. Here BKT has been able to map out its future years, thanks to uniquely solid income and infrastructure in the global Off-Highway tires sector. Now, thanks the enhancement at Bhuj and through a well-designed and very significant growth plan, BKT aims at annual tire production of 600,000 metric tons (MT) and which envisages the achievement of 2 billion dollars in turnover in three years.
Hence the next three years, which are so clear in BKT's vision, are nothing but the continuation of a path built with foresight and commitment, by listening closely to the market, but also thanks to limitless courage and passion.
When the first tire rolled off the Bhuj production line in 2012, the plant was located on an area of 123 hectares. Then it was a $500 million investment. Before starting the works, the desert landscape was completely arid, there was neither water nor electricity. But after the laying of many kilometers of drinking water pipes and power lines, the site grew exponentially, up to 258 hectares in 2022. By the end of 2023, the forecast is to reach a total surface area of 323 hectares.
More space thus means more possibility to install new machines, to accommodate more test areas, to increase volumes and all that goes with it. A forecast for growth which does not stop and which, on the contrary, is the basis to meet the increase in demand. Just to mention the most recent trends, BKT's business has increased by 49% compared to the pre-pandemic period, a remarkable peak that bears witness to how the Indian multinational is always ready for new opportunities and challenges.
And again in concrete terms, from the distant 92 MT production per day in 2015, Bhuj ended 2022 with its best result ever, 436 MT daily.
The expansion of the plant means an increase in production capacity and always a great attention to the wellbeing of the employees, but also to the environment through a good and responsible use of the resources. Since 2019, the Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) principle has been adopted, which means that no liquid waste is released outside the plant. All water used in the plant is treated, purified and reused.
Not to mention that Bhuj today sees more efficient machinery installed, with features that make it possible to work faster and more precisely, increasing the quantity of production and the quality of the finished product.
A further strategic choice by BKT to enhance the Bhuj site was to invest in its own Carbon Black plant. The plant came into operation in 2017, when the first 65,000 MT/PA of Hard grade carbon black was produced, the type of carbon black used specifically in the tire tread. In the following year, production increased from 65,000 to 110,000 MT and saw the addition of production of Soft grade carbon black, which is used in the casing compound to improve its strength and durability, generating less heat. In 2021, total production of the two types of carbon black reached 138,000 MT per annum, while last year it rose to 165,600 MT per annum.
The goal for 2023 is 198,600 MT, in addition to this, the Research and Development department plans to add a third type of carbon black, the “Specialty carbon black”. It is a type of carbon black with unique properties compared to that used in rubber compounds, such as high resistance to coloring, a high level of purity, a low ash level and very low level of PAHs, which make it suitable for use in specific applications such as paints, plastics and inks.
This is just a taste of BKT's growth plan!