Mr. Shohab Rais Talking on Chemical Sector from TATA Chemicals with Industrial Outlook

Mr. Shohab Rais | COO – Indian Chemical Business | TATA Chemicals Ltd.

Mr. Shohab Rais oversees the efficient operation, development and growth of the Indian Chemical Business in India. With over 33 years of industry experience, Mr. Rais led sales and marketing of Tata Chemicals for India and Africa, prior to taking over as COO – Indian Chemical Business. He has successfully created brands in the competitive commodity chemicals business, pioneering the development of franchised service model, branding of customer service, customer call centre and unique supply chain solutions.

Q. How does “TATA Chemicals” deliver quality value to the Chemical industry?

A. For over 80 years, Tata Chemicals has operated with a sense of purpose and has played an active role in doing business in a way that strives to exceed expectations of all the stakeholders, including customers, employees, society, environment, biodiversity etc. to contribute towards shaping a better world. We are advancing science to create value. Being an Innovative, Science-Led Sustainable Chemistry Company, we are using our expertise and R&D capabilities to develop innovative solutions to drive value for customers.

Using cutting-edge technologies, our focus areas continue to be driving value for customers across our businesses, while fostering a responsible manufacturing ecosystem. We are working on many fronts and on customer segments to grow our business through application development and development of new products, sustainable solutions and development of Intellectual Properties.

Leveraging this knowledge and expertise has enabled us to develop innovative products. To deliver value to this evolving industry, we leverage our mission of ‘Serving Society through Science’. Our focus on growing business across Performance Materials, Nutritional Solutions and Agri Sciences helps us make an impact on economic, social and environmental parameters. We, at Tata Chemicals, through technology adoption and responsible business practices, have been actively working on our philosophy of zero harm to the environment, promotion of circular economy, reduction in carbon emission in absolute terms and development of green products and green processes.

Q. India presents a growing opportunity for specialty chemicals, so how is Tata Chemicals leveraging this opportunity?

A. The Indian specialty chemicals industry currently at USD 32 bn and driven by global supply chain dynamics, macro tailwinds and government as well as industry thrust, is expected to grow at about 12% CAGR over the next five years, to reach about USD 64 bn by 2025.

To capitalise on this opportunity, Tata Chemicals is developing many new products while working on new application development and has filed for more than 160 patents and has been granted about 50 patents. We have also developed many new products such as HDS (High Dispersible Silica), a great example of our sustainable approach, as tyres made from HDS not just improve their performance but also facilitates low rolling resistance, thereby reducing the fuel consumption as it provides less friction when the tyre rolls the road surface and Nano Zinc Oxide, a component with excellent antiviral and antimicrobial properties. The versatile product finds application across industries, from textiles to paints and protective skin creams, adhesives, and baby care items etc.

Q. How is digital transformation accel-erating productivity and efficiency in manufacturing?

A. Use of information technology is increasingly helping the productivity quality, cost optimisation and efficiency improvement through use of Artificial Intelligence, IIoT, digital imaging, predictive maintenance and data analytics etc.

Indian manufacturers are progressively adopting technology and digital solutions as growth drivers since they not only promote the safety of people, assets, and communities, but also drive growth, catalyse innovation, and increase cost efficiencies. Sustainability is being driven by digital transformation, which is reducing our environmental footprint. Technology can have a knock-on impact in enhancing industrial activities.

Q. What are the core steps required in the Chemical industry in India to reduce the imports from another country?

A. Indian Chemical Industry is working on reducing its reliance on imported chemicals, especially from China, and producing these within the country. The Indian government has taken several policy measures to boost domestic production as part of its policy called Atmanirbhar Bharat through introduction of various policies including introduction of schemes like PLI. There has been a ramping up of in-house facilities for numerous feedstock materials and chemicals to support the domestic chemicals industry.

This move away from import dependence got further boost because of two specific global disruptions like COVID-19 which disrupted global supply chains and risks of excess dependence on longer supply chains and imports. Secondly, global companies are increasingly exploring to develop alternate vendor bases to have China plus one supply chain to reduce their dependence on a single country. This supports creation of additional production base in India for global markets and for export demand.

Q. What’s the Chemical industry growth potential in India for next 5 years?

A. The Indian chemicals industry stood at US$ 178 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$ 304 billion by 2025 registering a CAGR of 9.3%. The demand for chemicals is expected to expand by 9% per annum by 2025. The chemical industry is expected to contribute US$ 300 billion to India’s GDP by 2025.

Indian Chemical industry has the potential to grow significantly provided some of the key growth imperatives are taken care of. Securing Feedstock, Right Product Mix, M&A opportunities are currently the key imperatives for the chemical industry in India. Few investment opportunities can be highlighted as:

● Chemical companies in India can either explore alternate feedstock or invest in setting up plants  in resource rich nations to secure feedstock

● Companies need to invest in exploring the right  product mix to be competitive and profitable  using the available feedstock in India i.e.  Naphtha and its derivatives

● Indian companies can explore possible Merger, JV opportunities for technology, capital or  access to international market by taking advantage of increasing expansion of MNCs in India

● Chemical companies can invest in exploring strategic energy management to cut down their energy costs and availability concerns

● Companies can invest in upcoming PCPIRs in  India and overcome challenges related to  infrastructure, power and water availability

● There are good opportunities in segments such as Speciality Chemicals, Speciality Polymers, for catering to huge emerging domestic demand

Q. What do you think, the current phase of COVID will affect the Indian chemical market?

A. Chemicals manufacturers faced a tough time operating units in the current situation. Some of the companies faced temporary shutdowns while some struggled to continue their operations. Many chemical companies witnessed a sharp growth in demand for disinfectant chemicals, due to which they increased capacities to be able to capitalise on this. Demand for protective fabrics also witnessed good growth among protective clothing manufacturers to meet increasing needs for doctors, nurses and other front line workers.

During the pandemic situation, the Indian chemical industry also had numerous growth opportunities, particularly due to disruption in the supply chain from China and global players’ changing plans to develop alternate supply chains. China’s increasing focus on pollution control and its impact on operations on the Chinese companies also provided opportunities for the Indian chemical industry.