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FACE2FACE | July 2018

Thrust on Innovation to propel ICC to new heights

The Indian Card Clothing Co Ltd (ICC) has been an innovator in card clothing manufacturing since its inception in 1955. ICC continues to be a leader in carding solutions with path breaking solutions that helps the textile and non-woven industry in producing top-notch products. The company is entirely shifting production to its already existing state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh. In doing so, ICC has closed down its Pune plant, which was manufacturing card clothing since more than six decades.

Vinod Vazhapulli, CEO, The Indian Card Clothing company Ltd (ICC), speaks product portfolio of the new set-up, and any new products under consideration.

Excerpts...

Now that the manufacturing facilities of ICC are being shifted to Himachal, please give us details of the infrastructure there? When will everything go on stream?
The move is more of a strategic nature, since the Pune plant is 63 years old and was primarily engaged in meeting requirements of long staple processing industry. Due to global technological advancements, demand from long staple processing cards is witnessing a decline in recent times and is being replaced gradually by metallic card clothing. ICC’s Nalagarh plant is well poised to address this demand for metallic clothing of short staple and long staple market. Being a pioneer in the industry, ICC foresaw this shift in market behavior nine years back, when we started our facility in Himachal Pradesh, where we have installed the most advanced machines that cater to precision manufacturing and highly evolved production technologies. The Himachal Pradesh plant currently specialises in addressing the card clothing requirement of the latest generation of carding machines. With the strategic move of closing down the Pune facility, ICC will now be focusing production from that plant and ensure that this single plant caters to the whole range of ICC’s card clothing market.

ICC’s Nalagarh plant is fully operational from last five plus years and addressing needs of short staple processing industry. This consolidation move would further strengthen ICC’s ability to delivery products more efficiently. So the shifting per se will not cause any disruption in terms of production or On time delivery services being provided for our customers.

Please also tell us the product portfolio of the new set-up?
As mentioned earlier, ICC’s Nalagarh plant is addressing the needs of all types of cards processing various fibres from the last five years. We will continue to manufacture these state-of-the-art products from Nalagarh factory. In addition to this, the company has made in-roads in nonwoven market and come up with more than couple of dozen of new profiles catering to this market. These requirements of nonwoven market will also be addressed by ICC’s Nalagarh factory, where we are planning for dedicated lines for these niche products.

Alongside, our Nalagarh facility will also house the production line of the new product portfolio we are planning to commercially launch during the start of third quarter of this fiscal year.

Will there be any new products under consideration? Will also be any expansion of the existing portfolios?
Currently our 63-year “young” company is going through a phase of reinventing ourselves in all aspects – process/products/practices and hence coined an apt hashtag line “ #ICC RENNAISANCE”. In line with this thought process, ICC is planning to come up with an array of path-breaking products under the brand umbrella of “ProLyf”, targeting high speed carding machines, which addresses the key customer mandates and expectations from card clothing – a) consistent quality throughout its life b) less downtime of the carding machine owing to the card clothing, and c) improved life and surface finish.

In order to come up with this innovative product range, we have used technology and process, which is rather unseen in this industry specific, like a “Cross Industry Fertilization” into the card clothing. Currently as we speak, we have successfully completed the ‘ALPHA’ validation tests of these products in-house and ‘BETA’ validation tests are in process at select customer ends. Our target is to commercially launch “ProLyf” series by the start of third quarter of this fiscal year. Further to this our target is to come up with new Products every year, addressing specific customer needs with regard to the card clothing.

In addition to this, our company has also diversified into card room machines and accessories, which would act as “Productivity Enhancers” and add value to our esteemed customer.

After the shifting, what will be the nature of the marketing and sales set-up of the Indian Card Clothing?
Sales and marketing remains one of our key corporate functions and was always located at the corporate headquarters right from its inception, continuing the subject trend all our corporate functions including sales and marketing, will still operate from our Pune office and we will try to better customer delight, in terms of service and quality.

What are the benefits that are expected to accrue and the advantages expected to come due to this shifting of manufacturing facilities?
The Himachal Pradesh plant currently specialises in addressing the card clothing requirement of the latest generation of carding machines. With the strategic move of closing down the Pune facility, ICC will now be focusing production from that plant and ensure that this single plant caters to the whole range of ICC’s card clothing market. The company is also in the process of further automating the plant with more advanced technologies, probably unseen in this industry , there by ensuring that edge closer to First Time Right (FTR) Solutions being provided for our esteemed customers .

This move to consolidate production under one roof will also enable ICC to improve on time and in full delivery parameters, thereby adding value for our esteemed customers, with better delivery lead times.

How do you envisage the future growth strategies of ICC?
The company has aggressive and ambitious growth plans of increasing the turnover by multiple folds in the next three to five years. This growth would be achieved by organic and inorganic ways and means. Apart from sharp focus in developing in-house capabilities with regard to R&D aimed at coming up with products that can be termed as “Game changers”. In years to come, you would also find ICC getting into various new verticals related to textile industry by virtue of joint ventures with leading players across the globe or M&A’s. Along with this, we would be investing our time and energy in the key areas of people development and technological advancement, in order to achieve our “Audacious” yet absolutely achievable targets.

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