Expanding UV oligomer, monomer, and ketonic resin product range: Suresh Kalra, Managing Director - India & President Asia, hubergroup

  • June 09, 2023

hubergroup is investing in research and development to develop new products and technologies that are more energy-efficient and sustainable. The company is also reducing energy consumption through energy-efficient technologies and process at our sites in India.  

Key achievements in FY 2022-23 by hubergroup Asia/India? 

FY2022-23 was a challenging year. It started with challenges of higher demand, supply chain disruptions, raw material cost upsurge while it ended with a sluggish demand, pipeline correction, management of operational and business cost. Nevertheless, hubergroup developed innovative products with unique properties with efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes to meet customer needs. We met sustainability goals by reducing environmental impact, improved safety, expanded into new markets, and collaborated with many new business partners. 

We started our Global IT Centre of Excellence in India where services like network, security, data centre of hubergroup worldwide are now delivered from one single location. Our innovative products MGA CONTACT and Oxygen Barrier Coating won awards for sustainability. The launch of our eco-friendly new water-based ink portfolio HYDRO-i, developed jointly by the R&D teams of India and Germany, has been accepted and appreciated by the packaging industry.   

hubergroup is one of the leading international specialists for solutions and technologies relating to printing inks, printing aid, and raw materials. What's your Asia/India strategy for FY 2023-24?  

hubergroup is a German-based company with a strong presence in India serving as a manufacturing hub for our global operations. We follow some of the best European business practices and yet produce products in cost-effective ways by leveraging our manufacturing footprints in India. Our Asia/India strategy in the current scenario is to focus on sustainability, energy efficiency, and collaboration with stakeholders to drive innovation and growth in a rapidly changing market. We are investing in research and development to develop new products and technologies that are more energy-efficient and sustainable.  

We are also expanding into new markets to explore with a broader focus. We have separated our Chemicals business from our Print Solutions business in 2020 to be more focused and provide solutions tailored to our customers. We also continue to remain focused on our employees’ well being and bringing in more diversity to the existing workforce. 

How has the chemicals division performed in Asia/India in FY 2022-23? Bouquet of products planned to be launched in this fiscal?  

Our global Chemicals Division performed well in FY 2022-23. However, we have higher expectations from Asia/India due to the region's economic growth, and rapid industrialization, and urbanization. The industry also faces challenges such as rising raw material costs, environmental regulations, and increasing competition from other regions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the industry, causing disruptions in the supply chain, and reducing demand from certain sectors. Overall, the chemicals business in Asia/India is expected to grow significantly higher than GDP growth. Going forward our focus is to enhance business for radiation curing systems which includes UV oligomers (polyester acrylate, poly urethane acrylates, and epoxy acrylates) and monomers. 

Recently, we participated in the European Coating Show (ECS 2023) to showcase our product portfolio in the Chemicals Division and received overwhelming responses. 

hubergroup develops innovative solutions and technologies for the printing and packaging, the paint and coating, and chemical industries. New technologies/products that you are developing in R&D labs and its implication for the hubergroup?  

We are working on developing new products with an increased use of bio-based raw materials to fulfill our commitment towards sustainability and offer eco-friendly products to our customers while ensuring compliance in changing regulatory requirements. Drawing on our knowledge of resin design, our focus is to provide resin products like UV oligomers, modified Rosin resin, polyurethane resin or polyester resin that meet various requirements of the printing, packaging, and coating industries. These efforts will enable us to expand our chemical business portfolio and cater to a larger market size. 

New projects implemented in FY 2022-23? Expansion plans for FY 2023-24? 

We are excited to expand our UV oligomer, monomer, and ketonic resin product range. At the same time, we are also exploring the possibility of collaborating with some of the leading companies for custom manufacturing. We are seeking synergies that can complement our assets and strong operational know-how to achieve greater business efficiencies and customer satisfaction. We will continue to provide updates on this through our official communication channels. 

The company is offering a wide range of products for use in radiation-curing systems. Potential use cases and key customers for products for use in radio-curing systems? 

Radiation-curing systems have a wide range of potential uses and customers in various industries. The printing industry is the biggest: Radiation-curing systems are used in the printing industry to cure inks and coatings on various substrates such as paper, plastic or metal. Additionally, they are often used in the coatings industry for automobiles.  

hubergroup is also currently placing a special focus on wood coatings. What's your overview of the Indian market and when are you planning to launch this product in India?  

The wood coating market in India has been growing steadily over the years, driven by increasing demand from various end-use industries such as furniture, construction, and automotive. The market is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the coming years, thanks to rising disposable incomes, urbanization, and increasing construction activities in the country. 

At hubergroup, we have some unique solutions like UV oligomers (polyester acrylate, urethane acrylate, and epoxy acrylate), functional resins, monomers (TPGDA, DPGDA, PETIA, GPTA, EOTMPTA, PPTTA, and DPHA), conventional resins (modified Rosin and polyurethane) specially designed for the wood industry to enhance coating performance.  

hubergroup is also focusing on providing chemical substances such as PU resins and UV oligomers in their purest form and driving forward product innovations. How are you moving in this direction? 

The progress for PU resins and UV oligomers is good with several products launched in 2022-23 that are technologically well accepted. We are now adding capacities to scale-up our production and optimize cost. We also have products for the wood coating segment now. 

The company is taking a holistic view of sustainability and is also driving a circular economy. Steps taken by hubergroup India on sustainability and circular economy front? 

At hubergroup, we have placed a great emphasis on sustainability for many years. We have been a pioneer for eco-friendly printing solutions such as cobalt-free inks and we will continue this approach for our Chemicals Division as well. We have taken several key steps to improve sustainability and adopt circular economy principles like measure and track environmental impact, adopt circular economy principles to design products for longevity, set sustainability targets, engage with suppliers, invest in renewable energy, promote sustainable products, and partnerships with stakeholders.

At our largest production site in Vapi, India, we have, for example, implemented photovoltaic systems and a?Multi Effect Evaporator (MEE)?into operation, a state-of-the-art technology which ensures efficient processing of the site’s effluents.  

What are the steps you are undertaking to achieve Net Carbon Zero? 

We continue to build strategies and find innovative ways to minimize our carbon footprints. At our sites in India, we are reducing energy consumption through energy-efficient technologies and process improvements. We have also implemented photovoltaic systems in our plants. We are also fostering use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. 

In FY 2022-23, hubergroup India launched a healthcare initiative for rural areas in the Indian state of Gujarat, collaborating with Rotary Vapi Riverside. CSR activities undertaken by the company in FY 2022-23 and plans for FY 2023-24? 

hubergroup has production sites in Daman, Vapi, and Silvassa – So many of our employees live in these regions. We believe in contributing and giving back to the people in our neighbourhood. Our endeavour is to provide quality healthcare services at the doorsteps of rural residents complementing the government promoted health programmes. Our services through two mobile medical vans were well accepted by villagers. This prompted us to add two more vans, one for dental and one for eye care in March 2023. Moreover, we donated a high-end digital mammography system to the newly inaugurated Mammography Department at Shreyas Medicare Janseva Hospital Vapi, India. Going forward, this year our CSR activities will once again be committed to service in the health and education sector.