DSM Engineering Plastics recently opened its new research and technology centre in Ranjangaon, Pune. The new facility will support new product and application development, and deliver rapid, specific test data for its products, allowing for close collaboration with DSM's customers. Shortly after the launch of the new centre, we caught up with Roeland Polet, President, DSM Engineering Plastics, who gave us an insight into the difference this centre will bring to the product and business capabilities of the company.
LOCAL PRESENCE FOR GLOBAL SUCCESS
DSM today is one of the five largest engineering plastics company in the world. While this makes them a strong global player, in many cases, such companies are expected to enter local markets with global solutions, which often don't work. Polet explained that DSM's focus is on being a strong global player with strong local presence, testified by the presence of a large team and a development centre in India. That said, he added that products don't need to be reinvented and hence global solutions need to be taken and customised for local requirements, which is important for any successful product.
The new technology centre will play an important role for the company, as apart from local development it'll also support global business in future. Given the wide pool of skilled people in India, Polet foresees a time when instead of just customising a global product for Indian needs, the Indian technology centre could develop products for global needs. Responding to the size of this centre in comparison with the global ones of DSM, Polet said this isn't one of the largest but it's surely an important one.
In the new centre, DSM will be able to work with customers in supporting new product development using a wide variety of equipment for material and application testing, including injection moulding, polymer characterisation, physical property testing, and thermal analysis. The centre is capable of providing test data for DSM's wide portfolio of engineering plastics. Additional services include a laboratory scale twin screw extruder for new product development and trial runs.
The facility has further scope to grow and add new testing equipment and capabilities, as required. Adding to the scalability of the centre, Sanjay Jain, Business Director, DSM Engineering Plastics India said, "This is our next phase in India, moving from Make in India to Develop in India. Starting with 5,000 sq ft, we have the capacity to expand to 20,000 sq ft."
Responding to our question on the key technical areas the centre will focus on, Polet said that the Indian centre is well-connected to the global technical centre. Hence, if a customer needs a particular type of plastic to house a sensor that has to live in a given type of environment within a vehicle, the Indian centre will have access to all information pertaining to that topic from the global centre.
Combining this technical knowledge with local requirements will create products that will prove the centre's advantage, Polet added. He also talked about the role this centre will play in helping the company stay ahead of global standards becoming tougher and helping their customers speed up the product development cycle significantly.
Speaking of future growth areas, Polet made it clear that autonomous driving is not viable for India in present circumstances but collision-avoidance technology could have great potential. DSM has been in this area for more than a decade and their knowledge can help their customers come up with better solutions quickly, Polet added.
Talking of challenges, Jain stated the goal of implementing BS VI norms by 2020 was an opportunity for technology providers, but the challenge lies in the gap between the government's intent and the orientation of some Tier I suppliers towards the same. These suppliers will need to go through a sharp learning curve if the goals for 2020 are to be met and all stakeholders, including OEMs, will have to push for it, he concluded.
Text: Arpit Mahendra