August 2016 | Nithin Rao

Innovation attention

Tata Chemicals is engaging actively with the Make in India programme through its variety of businesses, and by breaking new ground through innovation

Make in India is getting traction in the chemicals industry because the Indian government is encouraging companies to set up research and development centres and establish new businesses in India.

The Tata Chemicals complex in Mithapur in Gujarat accounts for 34 percent of the country's soda ash capacity

“For the chemical industry, a key initiative is the development of the country’s petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment regions, and the most vibrant one is Dahej in Gujarat,” says R Mukundan, the managing director of Tata Chemicals (TCL), which has a presence in Dahej through its subsidiary, Rallis.

Innovation is vital for TCL — which has its innovation centre in Pune — as it focuses on biotechnology, nanotechnology and nutrition sciences to expand its business canvas. According to Mr Mukundan, the innovation centre supports the company’s existing businesses while also working to develop innovative solutions that benefit TCL’s customers.

“By providing innovative solutions to tackle challenges in agriculture, industry and also the daily lives of Indians, Tata Chemicals has garnered a strong position in the nutrition and chemistry solutions domain,” says Mr Mukundan. “This is how we are engaging actively with the Make in India story.”

TCL’s own making-in-India story extends back more than 75 years. Its chemicals complex in Mithapur in Gujarat accounts for 34 percent of the country’s soda ash capacity, placing it among the world’s leading integrated inorganic chemicals facilities. The Mithapur story continues to be vibrant, with the company examining various growth options at this site.

In Babrala, Uttar Pradesh, TCL operates India’s most energy-efficient fertiliser plant, which puts it in the top 10 percent globally on this front. “We are continuing to drive energy-efficiency through further innovation in this plant,” says Mr Mukundan. TCL’s most recent investment is a state-of-the-art nutraceuticals plant near Chennai.

To push the chemicals envelope, the company works closely with institutions such as the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune and the Central Salt and Marine Research Institute in Bhavnagar. Additionally, it has partnerships with various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. The company’s Centre for Agri-Solutions and Technology in Aligarh provides advice on farming solutions and crop nutrition practices.

“Tata Chemicals is committed to develop path-breaking innovations in the chemicals, agribusiness and consumer sectors,” says Mr Mukundan. The company’s diversified portfolio has led to a number of manufacturing and product innovations, such as Tata Salt, the first branded iodised salt; Tata Swach, the low-cost, nanotechnology-based water purifier; a range of customised fertilisers; the ‘grow more pulses’ programme and many more.

“Through our products and solutions, we have impacted the lives of millions of Indians,” points out Mr Mukundan.

From Mithapur to the world
The world’s second-largest soda ash company, with manufacturing facilities across four countries, Tata Chemicals (TCL) epitomises the Make in India story.

The company began operations in Mithapur in Gujarat in 1939, by tapping the wealth of marine chemicals. Today, TCL is a global company with interests in businesses that focus on LIFE: living, industry and farm essentials.

TCL spread its wings through its living essentials portfolio. It is a pioneer and leader in the branded and iodised salt segment and, with the introduction of an innovative, low-cost, nanotechnology-based water purifier, it is providing affordable, safe drinking water to the masses.

The company’s industry essentials product range provides key ingredients to some of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass, detergents and other industrial products.

And in the farm essentials portfolio, it is a leading manufacturer of phosphatic fertilisers and, through its subsidiary, Rallis, has a strong position in the crop-protection business.

This article is part of the special report on the evolution and future of the concept of 'Make in India' in Tata companies, featured in the April 2016 issue of Tata Review:
Overview: Transforming India
India on the march
Tata Motors: Pathway pioneer
Titan Company: Time to watch this space
Tata Elxsi: Design rules
TAL Manufacturing Solutions: Source code
Tata Advanced Systems: World stage beckons