CEAT Kelani rolls out Rs. 2.5 b upgrade, modern radial plant

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A milestone was achieved yesterday in the manufacture of tyres in Sri Lanka with the official inauguration of a new high-tech production facility for radial tyres for passenger cars and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) at CEAT Kelani Holdings, the country’s leading tyre maker. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa led a team of Government ministers to this milestone event. Since 2009, the CEAT Kelani joint venture has invested Rs. 2.5 billion in enhancing capacity, modernising its factory and setting up this new radial plant. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa inspecting the new high-tech production facility for radial tyres for passenger cars and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) at CEAT Kelani Holdings. Transport Minister Kumara Welgama (R), CEAT Kelani Holdings Chairman Chanaka de Silva, CEAT Kelani Holdings MD/CEO N.C. Venugopal, CEAT Kelani Holdings Executive Director Rohan Fernando and other officials are also present – Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera Seamlessly integrated with the existing CEAT Kelani manufacturing complex at Kelaniya, the new radial tyre production facility enables the company to augment its radial tyre building and curing capacity by 70% to 450,000 tyres a year, thereby substituting more than 60% of the country’s imports in this category. Besides contributing to a substantial saving of foreign exchange, the new plant would also cater to CEAT Kelani’s exports of radial tyres from Sri Lanka. More than a third of current radial tyre production from the company’s production facility is exported. The formal opening of the new plant saw Minister Basil Rajapaksa, accompanied by Minister of Transport Kumara Welgama, Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando, Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs Dr. Mervyn Silva and other dignitaries cut the traditional ribbon, unveil a commemorative plaque, start up a tyre building machine and witness a tyre coming out of a curing press. Speaking at the event, CEAT Kelani Chairman Chanaka De Silva said the post-conflict resurgence of Sri Lanka has provided companies with a fresh incentive to grow, and CEAT Kelani has supported this process very tangibly, by investing in capacity expansion, and enhancing the range and quality of its products. “The new radial tyre production facility that has just been declared open is only part of this commitment,” he said. Elaborating, CEAT Kelani Holdings Managing Director/CEO N.C. Venugopal added that the new technology acquisitions for the radial plant include the latest bead apexing machine, cap ply and cap strip machine and improved tyre building machines and curing presses that will enable the company to produce a new grade of high performance radials in all sizes for high-end cars. Additionally, the use of segmented moulds instead of two-piece moulds gives the new radial plant the capability to manufacture high quality block-pattern radial tyres for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and off-road vehicles as well as key high-end sizes such as the 235/70 R 16, the 195/65 R 15 and the 185/65 R 15. All products that come out of the new radial plant are engineered to provide all-round performance and meet the expectations of the discerning segment of radial tyre users who drive expensive Japanese and European vehicles. The market leader in Sri Lanka in both the radial and commercial tyre segments, CEAT has accounted for nearly 50% of the country’s tyre requirements since the second quarter of 2013-14, contributing to a massive saving of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka through import substitution. The brand currently has market shares of 55% for tyres in the Truck/Light Truck category, 31% in radials, 44% in three-wheeler, 19% in motorcycle and 73% in the agricultural segments. Of CEAT Kelani’s total monthly production of 1,450 tons, about 500 tons or a third is exported to markets in South Asia, the Middle East, the African continent and many other countries, and is finding international acceptance. A global tyre brand present in 110 countries and now headquartered in India, CEAT is an acronym that stands for Cavi Electrici Affini Torino, or Electrical Cables and Allied Products of Turin, with origins that date back to 1924 in Italy. A National Business Excellence Award winner in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and a National Quality Award winner in the ‘Manufacturing – Large’ category in 2013, CEAT – Kelani Holdings is a successful Indo-Sri Lanka joint venture between the RPG Group of India and Kelani Tyre – Sri Lanka. The company operates three manufacturing units in Sri Lanka and employs a workforce of 1,000 people.