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Trailblazers | August 2017

GWRL nets global fame in technical textiles

GWRL has always been at the forefront in the technical textiles sector. The company has been providing specialised solutions to the cordage and infrastructure industry worldwide.

“We offer value enhancing quality products and not cheap ones”: Shujaul Rehman, Chief Executive Officer, Garware-Wall Ropes Ltd (GWRL) is never tired of repeating this phrase time and again. Reiterating the importance of quality of GWRL products while talking to a select media at their factory in Pune, the company believes innovation is its main forte and works in tandem with its quality principle – First Time Right. This was clearly visible during ITJ’s visit to their state-of-the-art factories in Wai and Pune recently. GWRL is not only an unprecedented leader in the wall ropes’ business as their name suggests, but the company also provides a wide spectrum of technical textiles products under their vast portfolio.

Since 1976, GWRL has always been at the forefront in the technical textiles sector. The company has been providing specialised solutions to the cordage and infrastructure industry worldwide, and today is a multi-divisional, multi-geographical technical textile company. It manufactures and provides world-class solutions in high performance polymer ropes, fishing nets, sports nets, safety nets, aquaculture cages, coated fabrics, agricultural netting and geo synthetics.

GWRL—an ISO 9001:2015-certified company by BVC of the UK—manufactures synthetic yarns, twines, ropes, webbing, nets, net-related products, coated fabrics and geosynthetic products to a standard that completely satisfies the needs of customers. “Even our international competitors are trying to copy our products. This is a provenance of our innovation and quality,” said Sanjay Raut, President, Technical & New Businesses, during an interaction. He adds, “Our products are such that it is difficult for many international competitors to copy. All of our important products are patented. We develop our technologies in-house and the technology based products are appreciated worldwide by our customers. Our prices are not cheap but deliver enhanced value to our customers globally.”

GWRL has two plants: Pune and Wai, both in Maharashtra. The Pune plant is spread over 14 acres of land, and manufactures products like ropes, PPMF yarns/twines, SPM system, geo textiles and metal gabions. The Wai plant is spread across 29 acres, and manufactures all types of twines, nets and coated fabrics.

Market trend

“If you ask me overall, we are happy with the Government’s support towards the technical textiles segment. There are factors like demonetisation, GST, etc., which keep impacting our business. But these are generally short term,” said the company’s CEO.

Speaking on the market share of GWRL in agricultural net markets, Rehman said, “In agricultural nets, we are in two segments: shade net and insect net segments. While the majority of the market is low end, our solution-based products are far superior. In agricultural products, our market share will be around 35-40 per cent.”

SolutionsFisheries: As an innovative solution provider, GWRL caters to the global requirement of the various discerning users in the active and passive fishing with products of synthetic fishing ropes, twines, nets, fabricated products and services of international standards.

Aquaculture: Its application focus and user-centric approach has enabled the company to offer customised synthetic cages, predator nets and mooring system ropes of stringent international standards for aquaculture that are used in marine, inland and brackish water environment.

Shipping and industrial: With application-oriented approach, the synthetic ropes and nets of exacting global standards, conforming to various international specifications, meet the stringent requirement of the various users in the heavy engineering, shipping, transmission, safety and allied industries.

Yarn and thread: GWRL’s synthetic yarns and threads are used for industrial stitching purposes in diverse industries ranging from fertilizers, food grains, footwear, filter fabrics and other allied industries.

Sports: The range of customised sports nets conforming to international standards and specifications are used for different indoor and outdoor sports and games.

Coated fabrics: A strong R&D orientation, state-of-the-art technology, quality focus are hallmarks of wide range of coated fabrics used for various applications ranging from transportation to sports. Agriculture: The user-centric approach facilitated development of various types of nets, cords and ropes, used for protected cultivation, protection of horticultural crops, support for floriculture and vegetable crops, utility products for post harvest technology and sericulture.

Geosynthetics: The company offers turnkey solutions in diverse applications such as rockfall protection, coastal and river protection, erosion control, landfill and lining systems, earth retention systems and ground improvement techniques. The systems replace conventional designs with flexible or soft alternatives, which are environment friendly and cost effective.

On the differentiating factor of their products as compared to competitors, Raut provided an example of their aquaculture business. He said, “Nylon nets were used before to make cages. Based on our R&D, we understood that nylon absorbs water and affected extensively by algae, which was a major problem. That is why we changed from nylon to HDPE. Our move of offering HDPE where algae sticking can be cleaned easily. Nylon cannot be easily cleaned and gets damaged quickly and we got good success with the introduction of HDPE. We have patented these products, and have met with lots of success in the market. Many customers are shifting from nylon cages to our type of cages. We are continuously innovating and ensure that we understand the needs of our customers and offer differentiated solutions. This is how we are always ahead of competition and this aids us in enhancing our market shares.”

Raut adds, “We have recently developed a green polymer, which is completely environment friendly. It is from sugarcane and not from petrochemicals. This is now slowly gaining traction and in the coming years, we should see many customers moving to our green cages..”

Fierce competition

Rehman attributed the GWRL successes to Mr Raut’s R&D driven approach for always working on new, better and differentiated products through innovation. He said, “We always strive to provide something unique for the customers. We don’t compete with Chinese companies, in fact, we compete with the European players. We carve our own niche and create our own markets.” Raut added: “Our mission is all about application-focused products. We study the requirement of customers and then come up with a product that are more suitable for the application with added USPs, which delivers value to the customers as well as us. It’s a win-win situation for both”

Export markets

Rehman said that in aquaculture, the company has a strong foothold in Norway. “We also have strong markets shares in the USA, Canada and the UK. In Chile, we have recently made an entry and are augmenting our presence. One of our core focus areas is geographic expansion. We are [already] present in over 75 countries. We keep expanding and plan to enter newer markets.”

Deployment of Lean principles

As a solution provider, a thorough understanding of users’ requirements through the Advanced Product Quality Planning concept is implemented at the beginning of every product development cycle, leading to finalisation of the product. The products are then manufactured in state-of-the-art machinery, which undergoes total preventive maintenance measures and single minute exchange of dye method ensuring overall equipment efficiency. To achieve consistency of quality the Jishu Hozen concept is implemented.

The continuous flow of material is ensured by adopting Water Spider principles and Quality Gates are in place at every stage of the process. Customer requirement is serviced on time and in full and is well supported by the Kanban system.

After execution of the orders all customer feedback is thoroughly analysed using the 8D process and corrective measures, if necessary are implemented. As a result, GWRL was rated in the Global Top Quartile by Mckinsey in their world wide lean assessment study.

Impact of GST and expansion plans

Rehman says that the impact of GST depends on the sector that you are in. He adds, “If you take fisheries into account, there will be an impact to the customer. Earlier our customers were paying no tax. However, in agriculture, I think the impact is positive. Overall if you look at it, GST is a step in the right direction. It will help businesses in the long run.” Says Rehman: “We keep expanding on a regular basis. Our capacities are modular. We have enough space in Wai. As far as third location is concerned, we are not planning that currently. We have sufficient capacities to grow for the next two-three years.”

“Each year, we keep investing around Rs 30 crore towards capital investment. We have enough cash in our balance sheet, and are financially sound,” says Rehman while speaking on their investment plans for 5-10 years. “In terms of R&D investment, it would be around 2 per cent every year.”

Speaking on the future of technical textiles market in India, Rehman says: “There has been growth of about 4-5 per cent globally, which is a very good sign for the segment we are in. The growth in the Indian market is around 7-8 per cent, and we expect that this market growth of 7-8 per cent to sustain in future too. If this happens, the Indian market will become huge in terms of scale and quite attractive.”

The CEO concludes by saying, “As a sector, the technical textiles segment has got a bright future.”

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