Mayank D Kamdar, Marketing Director, Lilanand Magnesites Pvt Ltd
What are some of the new trends as far as your line of business is concerned?
Over the period of last one year, manufacturers have either been changing over to alternative fuels or, in some areas, to pet coke. Since the need for better and high-performance refractory is increasing, manufacturers are now focusing on performance-based products. Another trend that has been around is in gunning application, which saves both time and is easy to install even in difficult areas. An increasing number of refractory manufacturers are concentrating on developing their range of gunning refractories for the future, as a result.
Are these trends also reflected in your own products?
We have introduced a unique range of chemically-bonded and high-performance refractories for especially inlet areas that burn AFRM. You can say that we have introduced future products in our line of manufacturing. Cement manufacturers are focusing on value-added and long-lasting products rather than their cost. In future, better and area concentrated products will be in demand by refractory manufacturers.
What in your opinion are some of the immediate challenges and opportunities in the business?
The decline in Chinese imports has been very rapid due to new pollution norms being enforced in China. Therefore, managing the cost of materials and maintaining margins would be a challenge for any refractory manufacturer. Similarly, continuous R&D to make products better is another challenge. In terms of opportunities, as many new cement plants have come up, and several more are in the pipeline, this offers a good opportunity for refractory manufacturers to introduce more efficient pro¡ducts. Since China's output has been declining internationally, it's a good time for the Indian refractory manufactures to start exporting. I feel that if a sincere effort is made, the Indian refractory manufacturers can go big globally.
Are you looking at increased automation going forward?
We are always on the lookout to improve our production mechanism. This helps in increasing productivity as well as addressing safety-related concerns. We continuously endeavour to auto¡mate our processes to a fairly comfortable extent.
Do you see India's proposed pipeline of infrastructure projects driving an increase in your business?
One cannot say that the Indian cement industry is going through a golden phase currently, but we do see an increase in demand for cement due to rail and highway projects.