The Indian Card Clothing has emerged as a name to reckon with in carding. Quality, production boost and innovation have been at the heart of its development over the years.Innovation has become an ongoing process at ICC, and has resulted in a wide range of wires, tops and flexible card clothing. ICC is one of the few companies in the world that manufactures card clothing to process every fibre. The R&D Cell at ICC is constantly in touch with market needs. Its developments include special alloy steel wires in the Maxus, Primus and Tenace series, a new generation of Triumph Tops and specially developed AeroDoffer Wires for better doffing. The ICC stamp of quality, recognised the world over, is further endorsed by the ISO 9001 Certification from BVQI. ICC has satisfied clients in virtually every part of the globe-the Far East. South East Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Mehul Trivedi, Managing Director, has a clear vision, and every word he speaks reflects this clarity. He spoke with Samuel Joseph, Editor of Indian Textile Journal, during ITME 2016, in an exclusive interview:
ITJ Editor: In the competitive carding segment a lot of Chinese and cheaper products are flooding the market. How is ICC safeguarding its interest?
Mehul Trivedi: As far as ICC is concerned, our main strategy is to provide value for money to the customer. This means, one must be well aware of the pain areas of the customer so that effective trouble-shooting can be done. This also needs to be done at a price point, which is significantly competitive compared to our competition. This has been our guiding principle driving us right from the beginning.
The second priority is at looking at those pain areas of the customers and coming out with new products to address the problems. For instance, we have come out with Sharprite wires and Sharprite tops, which we have shown in various exhibitions including in Europe. Now we have launched a top side measuring instrument, which no card clothing manufacturer in the world has so far got. This was the result of more and more discussions with the customers and our realisation that carding tops needed improvement. This is expected to play a key role in the maintenance of cards and in improving the quality of yarn and increasing the life of the card clothing.
ITJ Editor: Is the technology indigenous and what is the USP?
Mehul Trivedi: ICC does not have collaboration with anybody. Now the number of card clothing manufacturers are limited. The days when you go to somebody and tie up for technology are gone. Now we have to develop on our own with the skill we have. What we are doing is we are using people from Europe with specialised skills in certain areas and asking them to help us in specific areas. We have a strategy to pool resources from various areas to understand better and improve the various functions of the products we are making. Even in raw materials like steel, we study with people of proven knowledge and select materials suited to what we make. Then comes process and hardening of materials and various aspects that go into the production of final products. We pool resources from the best of talents.
ITJ Editor: How has been the ride in the market for ICC all these years?
Mehul Trivedi: All businesses go through ups and downs and obviously ICC had its own problems in-between. Card clothing is not the easiest product to manufacture. And also it is the most critical of all processes in the spinning mill.’Card well, spin well’ is a well-known slogan. The market today has places for all the players: a place for Truetzschler & Graf, a place for LCC & ICC and also for Chinese companies. The most important thing is to choose the right customers who processes and production fit our products.
ITJ Editor: Were there any opportunity for ICC to play OEM role in carding?
Mehul Trivedi: See, there are only major players in carding: Rieter, Truetzschler and LMW. They have their set-up and were also pre-existing with all the carding parts and equipment needs. LMW has its own sister concern as supplier. So, our challenge is to go to all mills and show them the products that can improve their carding performance and maintenance. We want to prove that with our wires and tops, their carding department can do better. Our sales persons are all well-equipped since they are all textile technologists. They work with the customers to get better performance out of the machines. India being the second highest manufacturer of yarns in the world need to do a lot in the carding department and hence our focus will be on to give the best of products and services and widen our role in the spinning mills.
ITJ Editor: What is your experience in the export market?
Mehul Trivedi: In export markets, we seek places where there are similarities with India so that skills and requirements can be addressed effectively by us. This is our strategy, and the example is Turkey where we have tremendous successes. We have a service Station in Turkey and we are supplying to very large Turkish mills.Service levels are not high in Turkey but we have convinced them of the importance and have been successfully servicing the mills. Some of our staff can converse well in Turkey. We have some working in the Indonesian market. We are particular that our staff understand the local languages.
ITJ Editor: How has been your experience at India-ITME?
Mehul Trivedi: The number of visitors is okay, but I feel that it could have been better. Industry has been going through a tough time, and the market is a little flat. Demonetisation has also dealt a blow. Mills who are unable to give daily wages have been hit. Many mills who came to our stalls are worried about this cash and payment problems and this has diluted their interest in ordering new parts and accessories. In my view, there are too many exhibitions. First was ITMA Milano, then ITM followed and then just a month ago, it was ITMA Asia. In future, we plan to focus on major European event and the Indian edition and apart from that we will go to country-specific fairs where we have export interest.
ITJ Editor: What are the new products ICC that was launched this year at ITME 2016?
Mehul Trivedi: Continuous innovation is in core of ICC’s value. ICC with its unceasing product innovation creates value to customer. We always look at the need of the industry and focus on developing products which will improve the working accuracy, give values to spinning mills like improved life and consistency in quality.
This year, we focussed in expanding our new range of card clothing in micro alloy steel for cylinder and tops. In our Primus and Maxus plus series, we have developed cylinder wires for extended durability. In tops, we have developed tops using steel with special chemistry for Triumph Progressive series to process fine cotton in latest generation of wider width cards. This compliments our earlier developed wires in Maxus plus, Aero doffer and Nextra Tops, which are very successful, are already working in various spinning mills.
To achieve a consistent carding quality over the whole life of card clothing it is very essential that right from card clothing installation to regular maintenance, proper devices and proper procedures are used. ICC had developed various patented unique card room servicing machines, which takes care of this need. At ITMA Milan, ICC had launched a new concept patented device, the digital tops height measuring device for both ONCARD and OFF CARD application. The device has now further been automated so that accuracy in maintenance of tops can be achieved even with least operator expertise. Assurance of longer life with consistent quality of tops can be achieved by using this device.
ITJ Editor: How’s the card clothing market faring in India? What are the advantages ICC has over its competitors in its offers?
Mehul Trivedi: Card clothing demand depends on the installed capacity of carding machines. The installed base of carding machines in India is 26,679 cards of which 903 are very slow speed cards, 6,928 are slow speed cards, 13,179 are high production cards and 5,669 are super production cards. This generates an annual demand of 8,319 sets of card clothing. The bulk of the carding machines in India fall within the high production category. The slower speed cards have become uneconomic to operate due to power and manpower cost. The annual increase in the demand for card clothing is approximately 2 per cent, which is mainly in the category of super production cards. This year, market sentiment is subdued due to mainly increase of cotton price by around 30 per cent. This has resulted heavy reduction of margin for the cotton spinning mills.
ICC has always been recognised as a “value for money” brand in the market. As a solution provider for last 60 years to the spinning industry, ICC had focused on creating a strong service base. Apart from service station in locations like Coimbatore, Madurai, Guntur in India, we also have service stations in Turkey. Our latest innovation of card room accessories has enabled us to provide an option to mills to properly maintain card clothing and achieve a consistent quality over a longer life.
ITJ Editor: After take-over of Garnett Wire of the UK, what benefits ICC has got over the years?
Mehul Trivedi: UK-based Garnett Wire Ltd provides a comprehensive range of card clothing and services. Many leading nonwoven manufacturer worldwide use Garnett wires. Garnett also provides card clothing for recycling process. As nonwoven and other technical textile has started flourishing in India, ICC has now started to develop the products required for this industry. Synergy between Garnett and ICC to develop specific product required for this market have been of immense help to achieve quality products in nonwoven sector.
ITJ Editor: Please share with us some of the details of the production and other facilities of ICC including the branches and export outlets.
Mehul Trivedi: Presently, we have two manufacturing facility at Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh) and at Pimpri (Pune). We have increased our manufacturing capacity to meet future growth in the market including various emerging segments like nonwoven. We have our branch offices at all major spinning locations like Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Delhi, Madurai, Guntur, Ludhiana, and Mumbai with service station facility at Coimbatore, Madurai and Guntur. We had also set up branch office and service station in Turkey to cater needs of spinning mills in surrounding countries. We have our channel partners in countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan to meet the needs of card clothing and also to provide the technical support in active consultation with us.
ITJ Editor: What is ICC vision for the future?
Mehul Trivedi: Our vision is to become the one-window solution provider for all carding needs. We want all the spinning mills to come to us not only for the card clothing needs but also for the proper maintenance of those equipment and accessories that go into carding, so that they get optimal results out of the carding machine in their entire lifetime.