S Bhattacharya

Director
Jindal Stainless Limited

S Bhattacharya, Director, Jindal Stainless shares his views with Civil Engineering and Construction Review, on the current business environment and how they maintain their leadership position in producing stainless steel.

Civil Engineering and Construction Review: As one of India’s largest stainless steel producers, how does Jindal Stainless Limited maintain its position?

S Bhattacharya: The demand for stainless steel is growing at 8-9% p.a. in India, which is directly proportional to the country’s GDP growth (about 1.5 times the GDP rate). Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Jajpur, Odisha is equipped to cater to this massive demand with its world class technology and equipment sourced from SMS Seimag, Germany and SIB Electrotherm, Russia. The plant has a melt capacity of 0.8 MTPA, which is further scalable up to 3.2 MTPA. The market size of Indian stainless steel flat products is around 25 lakh tonnes per annum, out of which we cater to nearly 70% of total stainless steel demand.

Initially limited to kitchens, stainless steel has mushroomed its presence in many other sectors such as industrial machineries, food processing, infrastructure, and defence to name a few. With government’s focus on infrastructure, stainless steel is increasingly being used in Architecture, Building & Construction (ABC) and Automobile, Railway & Transport (ART) segments, like in airports, malls, metro stations, automotives, railways, bus bodies, and additionally in the kitchenware and white goods sectors. We not only hold major market share of 60% and 70% in railway coach and wagon segments respectively, but also cater to nearly 30% demand of the kitchenware market in India. With the introduction of BS VI vehicular exhaust norms in 2020, usage of stainless steel in exhausts is expected to increase up to 40 kg/vehicle in commercial vehicles. This will further enhance our share in the automobile segment.

On the financial front, we proved our creditworthiness by acquiring ‘IND BBB’ rating by Fitch’s India Ratings and Research, one of the esteemed rating agencies of the country, in November 2018. This upgrade reflects our proficiency in operating performance, improved EBIDTA, and significant debt reduction, achieved through implementation of an efficient Asset Monetisation Plan (AMP).

Our supplies for projects like the development of the first state-of-the-art DEMU train rake for Sri Lankan Railways, the revolutionary Train 18 project, and defence and aerospace applications for Indian armed forces and ISRO, are testimonies to our unwavering product quality.

On the technological front, we achieved leadership status in the manufacturing industry by recently migrating to BW/4HANA, one of the world’s fastest data warehouse and reporting systems. This has reduced the time taken for real-time inventory reporting from 30 minutes to just a minute.

With inherent corrosion and thermal resistance, low life cycle costs, increased life, high strength to weight ratio, and ‘green’ properties as a recyclable and eco-friendly metal, stainless steel proves to be the metal of the future. The Indian market is still acquiring the skill and knowledge mandatory for handling stainless steel. The current per capita stainless steel consumption stands at a meagre 2 kg as compared to ~ 6 kg world average. To tap this immense potential, Jindal Stainless Limited acquired leadership status in training and educating stainless steel fabricators throughout the country via its monthly workshops.

CE&CR: Considering the current business environment, what is Jindal Stainless’ range of stainless steel production and customers?

S Bhattacharya: Our manufacturing range consists of all stainless steel flat products, including stainless steel slabs, hot-rolled coils, cold-rolled coils, and plates. The demand for stainless steel is coming from 4 major sectors, and we cater to all of them. These are:

ART (Automobiles, Railways & Transport)

The segment makes up ~12% of the Indian stainless steel demand.

Indian Railways is the primary customer for Jindal Stainless (coach and wagon segments).

Jindal Stainless’ proposed participation in Bhayandar railway station’s foot-over-bridge underlines Railways’ increasing faith on stainless steel for railway infrastructure.

ABC (Architecture, Buildings & Construction)

The segment constitutes ~ 20% of Indian stainless steel demand.

Process Engineering

The segment constitutes ~ 14% of Indian stainless steel demand.

Consumer Durables

The segment constitutes ~ 40-45% of Indian stainless steel demand.

The segment includes washing machines, refrigerators, microwaves, etc.

With government’s conviction to find an optimum substitute for cross-segment applications, stainless steel has proven to be safer, more cost effective, hassle-free and aesthetically pleasing as compared to carbon steel. Moreover, stainless steel is the preferred choice due to its inherent properties of better corrosion resistance, improved ductility, and better strength to weight ratio.

“Stainless steel is the preferred choice due to
 its inherent properties of better corrosion resistance,
improved ductility”

 

CE&CR: What are the demands for customization which Jindal Stainless Limited has carried out till now and is continuing to do so?

S Bhattacharya: Jindal Stainless’ product quality and customization is well recognized in the global market. We quickly adapt to the ever-changing industry requirements in order to ease the overall trade process and provide a better customer experience. We have been producing customized stainless steel products, including special finishes, for various application sectors like nuclear, automobile, and water. To achieve this, segment leads have been appointed by the company who coordinate with Internal Product & Application Development teams to develop products and ensure approvals as per customer requirements.

We are the preferred partner for Indian Railways and Metro coach manufacturers in India. All stainless steel grades and finishes supplied by Jindal Stainless are as per the standard requirement in this segment through indigenous production. The fact that we’ve supplied to ITER, Queensland metro, Sri Lankan railways, Integral Coach Factory, Gillette blades, etc., are a proof of our world-class quality.

We have been manufacturing special grades of stainless steel like Duplex & Super Austenitic.  We also supply to the European market, to countries like Germany, which abide by the highest quality standards in the world. The excellence of our N4/Special Finish products (Stripe, Chequered, Hair line, 2J) has been recognized by all our customers. We even serve the elevator segment with our products being procured by major manufacturers like OTIS, KONE, Schindler, and ThyssenKrupp.

CE&CR: What are the different quality control procedures which your products go through before they are distributed in the market?

S Bhattacharya: We maintain the highest standard of control measures, right from the choice of raw materials, to the final product stage. In order to enhance the processes and products, we exercise systematic quality plans, process control plans, and inspection and testing plans in respective work stations. Well-documented SOPs and QMS documents are made available for ready reference while processing materials. A highly structured feedback mechanism is put in place, which helps in controlling time deviations during processing. Product sampling and testing are done at our NABL-accredited Lab. The visual inspections at Steel Melting Shops/Mills/Lines are done by VT Level II certified personnel. NDT (UT, LPT) is done by Level II and Level III certified personnel.

Additionally, a feasibility study is being carried out in coordination with the marketing, planning, and quality departments to opt for new products. After studying product and process capabilities, trial plans will be issued in an effective and controlled manner. Based on a positive feedback from customers, the trial plans will then be converted into regular quality plans.

CE&CR: Are there any CSR activities, which Jindal Stainless Ltd takes part in? How are these responsibilities helping your organization’s growth? 

S Bhattacharya: We take up several CSR activities with an aim to improve the standard of living across communities. Our dedicated CSR efforts help us connect and improve our relations with communities around us. This enables a sound business environment for all stakeholders. The natural by-product of these efforts is the sense of pride and belongingness that our employees feel towards the company.

Promotion of Education and Skill Training: We undertake several initiatives to promote learning and development among students across 10 schools via the Digital Equaliser Programme. We help students prepare for different entrance tests, and some of our students have also qualified for Model school. Several children studying at our 5 child-friendly education centres are mainstreamed now. Our ‘Buddy for Study’ campaign focuses on facilitating scholarships for meritorious students. We recently distributed 500 Deskit school bags, which are convertible into study tables. Apart from this, we run skill training programs in IT, ITES, beauty and wellness, sewing, and advance electrical.

Women Empowerment and Gender Equality: Our Sanjivanee Programme federated 11 women SHGs (Self Help Groups) to form Sanjivanee Cooperative Society (ongoing) to supply grocery items to plant canteens. Livelihood promotion activities, such as food processing, boutique and production centres under project Asmita, and making of sanitary napkins under project Sahaja also witness substantial women participation. Our Asmita production centre supplied 3,500 safety jackets to our production facilities recently. Additionally, farm income generating activities such as dairy, poultry, mushroom cultivation etc., are promoted by the company on a regular basis. We have helped set up ZMQ Mira Channel to create awareness on women’s health. We also take up projects to promote traditional art and craft.

Community Health Care: Our static and mobile health and dental camps treat patients and dispense free medicines in 16 villages. Malaria control programmes are organised in villages, under which Deltamethrin treated mosquito nets are distributed during monsoons. Awareness campaigns on several other health issues are conducted regularly by the company.

Rural Development Projects: We train farmers on the best practices in agriculture and organise market linkage activities in 14 villages. A farmer incubation centre has been setup at Bengapatia village. Several cattle health camps are organized to address the farmers’ requirements. Some recent activities include the distribution of 100 bio-fuel efficient stoves to underprivileged women, and provision of steel benches and water purifiers at the Sukinda-road railway station. Solar photovoltaic irrigation systems and water supply systems have been set up at Manoharpur and Manatira villages. Water purification plants have also been set up in 5 schools for making safe drinking water available to children.

 

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