Since December 1997, when Gold Seal-SaarGummi India, a joint venture between Gold Seal Engineering Products of Mumbai and Colt-Saargummi of Germany, opened the doors of its first manufacturing facility in India, it has come a long way.
On March 12, the company inaugurated its third greenfield plant at Jakhwada, near Ahmedabad, for servicing the requirements of sealing systems in EPDM rubber for a key customer – Ford India – located in the vicinity. Gold Seal-SaarGummi India, which currently supplies various sealing systems for the EcoSport SUV at Ford India’s Chennai plant, will supply trunk tailgate seals and inner door seals for Ford’s first new model – the next-generation Figo hatchback – which will roll out from the OEM’s upcoming Sanand plant later this year.
Ford India currently accounts for 34 percent of the company’s supplies and Gold Seal-SaarGummi India has already commenced supplies for the prototypes for Ford India’s new Figo.
“We are currently in discussions with other vehicle manufacturers as well, like Honda Cars India and Maruti Suzuki India which are establishing their manufacturing base in Gujarat,” Darius C Aga, director, Gold Seal-SaarGummi India, told Autocar Professional in an exclusive interaction at the plant inauguration.
In addition, talks are underway with existing customers like Mahindra & Mahindra, General Motors India and Volkswagen India among others for bagging new orders which will be catered to from the Gujarat plant. Some of the production from the company’s Daman plant for Mahindra will also be shifted to this new facility to optimise production here. The Ahmedabad plant has kicked off operations with one co-extruder line. The second co-extruder line will be set up in mid-April with the third coming up in July this year. With five extruder lines, the output from this plant will total 20,000,000m/year within three years. The company has invested Rs 51 crore in the new facility.
A mixing unit has also been installed at the plant with an installed capacity of 25 tonnes per day. Plans are also underway to establish a technical and design centre at the new plant within three months. Gold Seal-SaarGummi India, at present, undertakes design and development work in Germany, but with the setting up of the new tech centre, “we plan to design locally and make India a sourcing hub for design and development work for SaarGummi globally,” adds Aga.
Plans for diversifying the product portfolio with the addition of thermoplastic products will commence early in the third quarter of 2015. The Ahmedabad plant has an area of 8,500 square metres and houses both extrusion and mixing capabilities, leaving a lot of space for further expansion.
The plant currently has a manpower of 70 and Aga says most are ITI graduates with about 20-25 women workers. Women comprise 50 percent of the workforce in its Mumbai and Daman plants and the same equation will be maintained at the Ahmedabad plant as well.