2013 Lightweighting Special: Owens Corning India gets future-ready

Now in its 15th year in India, Owens Corning India utilises its two India facilities almost wholly for Indian clients.It is also working on areas such as composite CNG cylinders, leaf springs and long glass fibre-based applications. Gokul Venkataraman, market manager, automotive spoke to Autocar Professional on Owens Corning India’s journey in lightweighting.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 13 May 2013 Views icon4250 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
2013 Lightweighting Special: Owens Corning  India gets future-ready
The company is focussing almost entirely on the domestic market, even as it creates more awareness for the spread of composite applications in the automotive field.

Now in its 15th year in India, Owens Corning India utilises its two India facilities almost wholly for Indian clients.It is also working on areas such as composite CNG cylinders, leaf springs and long glass fibre-based applications. Gokul Venkataraman, market manager, automotive spoke to Autocar Professional on Owens Corning India’s journey in lightweighting.



What are the key focus areas in lightweighting that Owens Corning is currently working on?
A major potential area for composites (thermoset and thermoplastic) contributing to lightweighting are in ‘the structural arena’ of an automobile. Our major focus areas include- ??Semi-structural applications – front ends, door modules, body panels and tailgates. ??Structural applications – trunk floor, bumper beams and door structures. ??Highly structural applications – rear seat floor, front pillar, B-pillar and cross-members. Beyond this, we are focusing on emerging lightweighting applications like composite CNG cylinders, leaf springs and also long glass fibre-based applications by bridging technology support as appropriate. composite CNG cylinders and composite leaf spring applications exist in the West and have immense potential for India.

What is Owens Corning's market share in the Indian auto sector?
The penetration of composites is still at a nascent stage in India. Owens Corning’s automotive solutions through the value chain participants go into passenger cars, two-wheelers, and commercial vehicles, including tractors. We are a leading glass fibre reinforcement solution provider to the Indian automotive industry. We have a specialised glass fibre-based solution which goes into mufflers /silencers of different vehicles. Our clients are Indian passenger cars, commercial vehicles and two-wheeler manufacturers through their approved respective assemblers. We also provide non-woven product solutions for batteries as well.

As a manufacturer of glass fibre in India, what is the capacity of Owens’ facilities?
We have facilities at Taloja in Maharashtra and Thimmapur near Hyderabad, both equipped to produce varied product lines. Examples include texturised rovings for clutch facings, phenolic compatible chopped strands for brake linings of commercial vehicles, nylon compatible long glass fibre rovings, varied polymer compatible rovings that go into sheet moulding compound process (for automotive body panel and body parts manufacturing). We also have the capability and infrastructure to make the compatible roving products for composite cylinders. Another noticeable aspect is that both our manufacturing plants produce Owens Corning’s AdvantexR Glass Fiber, a product that contributes superior corrosion resistance properties, so very crucial to an application like CNG cylinders.

How much as Owens Corning’s India-specific business gone up since its India innings started?
Our 15-year journey in India has been satisfying. In the initial years, over 80 percent were exports of the manufactured products in India. At present, we are near 100 percent serving the needs of the domestic India market as a result of pioneering growth in applications for telecom, wind energy and infrastructure markets. In the auto industry, we have supported local growth in processes like sheet and bulk moulding compounds, and moving forward on thermoplastics and long fibre thermoplastic-based applications. In addition, we also have a strong import base from our varied global plants, for product lines we don’t manufacture in India currently but contribute to new application development. A key differentiator for us in India is our marketing and technical service support, backed up by global technology and localised supplies. We have technical and marketing resources here who work with varied value chain players. For example, we are creating awareness to potentially move from metal to composite application for the door module. With a composite door module, a big potential in functional integration, weight savings and design freedom can be achieved. We are also working with select compounding customers for our specialised and high performance thermoplastic compatible glass fibres. We have been a strong technology driven organisation. We understand glass fibre made from various glasses (E-glass, E-CR glass, S-glass, H-glass) in its many forms and how it works with different sizing and resins, besides knowing glass fibre-based fabric construction and processing.

What are the trends in automotive composites?
In automotive composites, the focus will be on driving lightweighting and improvements in mechanical performance. Further, cars with alternative fuels will also drive increased usage of composite glass fibre-based products. Globally, as we look to the future, we see great opportunity in automotive lightweighting over the next decade, being driven by in large part, by regulations in Europe (Euro 5, 6), in North America (CAFÉ) to meet CO2 and mpg requirements. Auto applications account for about 25 percent of global glass fibre demand. In 1980, composite penetration globally in automotive was 1.9 percent (106kt). In 2010, it was 6 percent (1,286 KT) and is projected to be 9 percent (3,172 KT) in 2020 (Source: JEC Automotive Strategic Survey 2011). OEMs’ use of composites has also increased over the past five years.

Owens Corning opened a composites centre in China. How will this facility work with the Indian arm?
The China Center has innovation modeling capabilities, composites prototyping, materials testing and designing with composites. Our India customers have specific application and materials needs and can leverage the capabilities stated above. The China Composites Center has a mimic process capability around filament winding process. This process is used in production of composite cylinders. Further, the Center has a materials characterisations lab that can help provide support on materials, chemical and mechanical analysis so we can appropriately leverage this kind of setup.
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