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Balaji Fiber Reinforce Pvt. Ltd. has been the manufacturer of various types of FRP/GRP components for more than four decades. Flexibility and a capacity to adapt the changing market scenario rapidly are defining characteristics of this small Indian business. One more recent adaptation has been its move into the pipe sector.
GRP pipes first started to be used industrially in the early 1950s. Not only does a composite pipe has a life span of at least 50 years, but it weighs 75% less than a steel pipe, and 90% less than a concrete one.
GRP pipes are also corrosion resistant, and their use considerably reduces the number of joints that are necessary for an installation, as each length of pipe is longer than a competing one. For these reasons, GRP pipe has become essential in a large number of application sectors, prompting Balaji Fiber Reinforce Pvt. Ltd. to invest in this area.
Broad field of expertise
Balaji Fiber Reinforce Pvt. Ltd. (BFRPL) specializes in design, detailed survey, engineering, procurement, construction, manufacturing, commissioning, installation and annual maintenance contract for environmental based infrastructure and piping projects (metallic and non-metallic) on Turnkey basis.
BFRPL is currently concentrating on GRP pipes and fittings, which are now being accepted all over the world as an ideal material for pipes used in chemical, petroleum, gas, water transportation, seawater and sewerage applications.
GRP pipes are competitive with conventional materials like ductile iron, epoxy-coated MS, PVC or HDPE, due to their corrosion resistance and long life (insofar as appropriate resins are selected).
Balaji pipes range from 200 mm to 2,600 mm in diameter and are capable of withstanding pressures up to 30 bar.
A long history
Balaji Fiber Reinforce Pvt. Ltd. was founded in 1968 by Chairman Shri Shantilal Patel to manufacture FRP components for electrical industries. In 2003, the company shifted direction and started to produce pipes.
The current head of the family-run company, Managing Director Nilesh Patel, says that he has no regrets about the decision.
BFRPL growth over time has kept pace with industrial development, and the company now has about 10,00,000 sq. ft of manufacturing facilities located at Poicha, 20 km from Vadodara (Gujarat). It also has a full range of industrial facilities, including recently acquired filament-winding machines, an in-house testing laboratory and an R&D centre for new product development.
This process can be used to manufacture pressure pipes, drainage and sewer pipes, seawater pipes, irrigation pipes, power plant pipes, water tube-well pipes and industrial pipes. The basic manufacturing set-up includes a liner application station, a winding machine, a curing station, a demoulding machine, an end finishing station, a testing station and a dispatch station. On average, it takes three hours to produce a pipe.
JEC Composites Magazine: The pipe sector is very large in India and abroad. Is it sufficient to ensure the development of the company?
NILESH PATEL: Yes. We are now certified ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007. Our company has recorded significant growth over the past 5 years and is now one of the biggest players in the field of GRP/FRP products, with further development down the line ensured.
JCM: You are very active in the water sector. Do you plan to specialize even more?
N. P.: We are currently working on these activities, with a focus on the sewagetreatment- plant, railway and defence sectors.
JCM: Are you considering diversification?
N. P.: In fact, we have already started manufacturing Terafil water tanks and SMC, pullwinding and GRE (Glass Reinforced Epoxy) products. We are putting a lot of planned, focused efforts into growing and capturing a good market share in this business.
JCM: Are you planning new investments?
N. P.: Yes. We are going to set up a large production plant for SMC and epoxy products.
JCM: What are the main challenges facing the company today?
N. P.: Many new companies are emerging these days as a result of which there is a price rise. In these competitive conditions, getting good business is a big challenge.
BFRPL has sales of about US$2.5 million, with 80% of production going to the domestic market and 20% for export. The export share is growing steadily, however. The company’s over 500 employees work in 8-hour shifts, seven days a week. More than 260 people work at outside locations installing the products, and about 150 for the railway business unit.
Water, a buoyant yet fragile market
In addition to railway and industrial applications for pipes, the water sector is another major target for the company, which provides solutions for sewage treatment, water treatment, effluent treatment and seawater desalination plants.Fresh water is an essential natural resource for the survival of mankind. As the Earth’s fresh water supply Earth dwindles day by day, there is little man can do other than using advanced technology to recycle it. And this is a seemingly inexhaustible sector of activity. The number of people without access to water is so huge that the situation is quite catastrophic in many respects.
BFRPL proposes a low-cost solution for sustainable drinking water in the form of a very simple water purification system that requires no specific equipment and is well adapted for the most isolated geographical regions. The Terafil filtration disc (under licence and training from Minerals and Material Technology) uses the gravity flow principle, so that no electrical or mechanical energy is needed to start the process. The composite tank can be installed in remote villages where no power connections are available.
desired shape and sintered in a furnace. The Terafil blocks are then fitted in a filtration tank. BFRPL’s tank is a seamless sandwich construction with a polyurethane core material, an inner layer of food-grade resin and an outer layer of isophthalic resin. The Terafil disc’s filtration capacity is 500-10,000 litres, with a filtration flow rate of 90 litres per hour. Filtration efficiency depends on the turbidity and head of water. This is a composite application that is simple but useful, and invaluable for those who are already using it.