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Cover Story | August 2016

Nonwovens in India: Problems & Prospects!

There is a paradigm shift in thinking of Indian entrepreneurs in last five years. They are more adaptive to new things and new technologies today. But, unfortunately our Textile Industry players have not realized the latest trends. They still continue to manufacture same age-old conventional textiles. They are hardly taking any efforts for innovations. Though Technical Textile is growing at CAGR of 20 per cent in India having huge growth potential, there is no much investment in this sector and the main reason is lack of awareness about the markets.

The Indian culture is in transition phase and the new generation entrepreneurs should think of these untapped market segments. As we are going towards globalization, our needs and market demands will get changed and I am sure the products like wet wipes, disposable home textiles, travel kits, air bags, high end sports textiles, disposable products like medical textiles will be the products of daily consumption in near future. New nonwoven technologies are going to bring these innovative products and moreover they may replace products of conventional technologies.

Nonwovens: A better proposition for India

By now all of us are aware that nonwoven technologies are compact technologies and give much higher production and are emerging technologies to produce complex and highly engineered products as well. As the process is very short, the utility consumption is much lower and due to huge production, the operating costs are minimal.

Moreover, there is hardly any involvement of human beings and hence quality is determined by technology and very less chance for human interference. In India, only 12 per cent of technical textiles products are manufactured by nonwoven technology as compared to 24 per cent of global consumption. So, India still has a long way to go to meet global requirements of nonwovens.

Its time to understand what Nonwovens are, what their properties are, how they are manufactured, what their applications are & most importantly what is a market potential for them?

Nonwoven technologies

Major nonwoven categories are needle-punched, spunlace & spunbond. Their consumption is growing rapidly because of their increasing industrial as well as household applications on day to day basis. Global production of Nonwovens is estimated to reach 9,032 thousand tonne at CAGR of 8 per cent by 2015.

Asian countries has a major share of around 40 per cent in total nonwoven production. India’s share of Needlepunched & Spunlace technologies contributes to around 55.3 per cent of total nonwoven production compared to 34.7 per cent in Asia. Indian market of Nonwovens is projected to reach 5,59,000 tonne at a CAGR of 13 per cent by 2015.

Nonwoven technology lifecycle

Needlepunched is nearing maturity, spunbond, meltblown and spunlace are still in growth phase, Airlaid is in nascent stage.

Needle punched nonwovens & applications

Needle punching is the oldest method of producing nonwoven fabric. They find applications in array of areas because their characteristics like high water permeability, high abrasion resistance and ability to attach layers of different type of fibre webs to form composites.

  • Automotive: Needle punched have wide range of applications and usually heavier products. They are used in around 40 parts of automotive. Considering India’s huge automotive market which is estimated to grow with CAGR of 13 per cent, nonwovens consumption is going to grow exponentially.
  • Geotextiles: Geosynthetics is another segments where there are tremendous investments opportunities considering increasing growth in infrastructure and real estate in India as well as worldwide.
  • Filtration: Nonwoven materials used in filtration applications are an important part of the worldwide nonwoven industry.
  • Industrial wipes: Industrial wipes are used for a variety of applications in industry
  • Felted carpets & floor covering: Indian export of felted carpets and textile floor coverings is around $67.31 million in 2014 which growing at the CAGR of 31 per cent. This steep increase is due to huge exports to Malaysia. In fact Global demand for flooring and carpets is expected to grow.

Spunlace nonwovens & applications

Spunlace technology facilitates highest flexibility and achieves much wider product range with most compact process. Global exports of spunlace nonwoven are increasing at a CAGR of 8 per cent. India’s exports of spunlace nonwoven are increasing rapidly in last few years. Spunlace nonwovens are used mainly for various low weight products by using natural fibres without deteriorating their physical properties. Spunlace nonwovens are also used in roofing substrates, consumer wipes, cotton pads, surgical disposables, etc. Growing population and growing markets of beauty and hygiene products will certainly increase demand of spunlace nonwovens in India.

Growth prospects for nonwoven market

Nonwoven market is expected to reach $45,363 million by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 6.7 per cent from 2013 to 2019, so nonwovens is big opportunity for Indian textile industry as it has tremendous potential to grow in India as well as in global markets in future.

The major growth prospects are:

  • Increasing population
  • Disposable income
  • Changing lifestyles Awareness of healthcare & hygiene products
  • Steady increase in infrastructure development
  • Real estate growth
  • Growth in geotextile consumption
  • Industrial growth
  • Growth in automotive sectors
  • Urbanisation
  • Stringent laws on waste management

Roadblock in Nonwovens

  • Lack of awareness
  • Unavailability of skilled workforce
  • Lack of marketing skills
  • Highly tailor made products
  • Stringent industrial norms for nonwoven products
  • Less emphasis on product development

Government initiatives

  • Make in India initiatives for start-ups
  • TMTT scheme for technical textiles
  • 15 per cent capital subsidy for technical textile sector by the Central government
  • Interest subsidy for technical textile sector by the state government

Road map to get in to nonwovens

Marketing is the biggest hurdle in front of nonwoven industry. It has to be cleared before we miss the opportunity and for that initiatives should be taken at all levels from government to textile associations, media and possibly all promotional platforms like textile exhibitions and events along with direct marketing.

First and foremost thing is that we need to do our “homework” in more professional manner. Emphasis should be given to various business opportunities available in nonwoven sector & possible markets which can be explored. We need to map our strengths with the market gaps. Choose a product basket which would be more focused yet flexible and devise our strategy with business plan and projections for 10 years.

Conclusion

We have all the resources from raw material to work force. What we lack is marketing strategy and technology awareness. Investors can take professional help from consulting firms having expertise & technical knowledge of nonwoven technologies. Investors have to be clear in their mind with a market entry strategy & the product mix of their interest and choice. With the professional help, they can even evaluate different business options & select most suitable one. It’s time to assess huge demand-supply gap in nonwoven industry & choose a right path with highly professional strategy.

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