Rubber industry in transition – rubber asia gas leak


The global rubber industry is on the threshold of a take off into more innovative products, applications and processing. While the upstream rubber industry, mainly that of natural rubber (NR), is going through a challenging phase on account of severe price volatility, labour shortage, influx of alternatives and threats posed by climatic vagaries, the downstream rubber industry is all set to have a major facelift with the adoption of new processing technologies and development of new raw material compounds and a host of innovative products

With the good old Hevea rubber, otherwise known as natural rubber, which was ruling the roost for long as a vital industrial raw material, is of late struggling to survive amid growing researches on the commercial possibilities of other varieties of natural rubber, innovative synthetic rubber compounds and prospects of new technologies like nano technology in rubber goods production, the global rubber industry is not going to be the same again. New industrial applications of rubber compounds sans NR component, increasing substitution of NR with SR in tyre production and the growing preference for nitrile latex in medical glove production are going to decide the changing face of the global rubber industry of tomorrow.

In the Industrial rubber products, different segments comprising various downstream industries, including manufacturing, construction, automotive, aerospace and others, rapid changes are taking place in respect of processing technology, product development and innovative applications. Because of the flexibility, elasticity, toughness, resilience and insulation that rubber products provide, rubber – both natural and synthetic – are widely used in transportation, industrial, consumer, hygienic and medical applications.

The global industrial rubber products market is poised to expand at progressive rate, driven by the increasing demand from automotive, construction, and manufacturing industries. But the raw material combinations of the rubber products are fast changing with an imminent threat of NR being replaced by other alternatives – both natural and synthetic. Changing times for industrial rubber products

The demand for industrial rubber products market is hugely driven by the motor vehicle output, and auto component manufacturers. Burgeoning demand from the automotive industry and rise in the application of rubber products in the end use industry are the key drivers of the industrial rubber product market. Growth of autonomous and battery vehicles is apparently anticipated to propel the demand for industrial rubber products in the future. Growth of the infrastructure and construction activities in the emerging economies is also anticipated to drive the demand for industrial rubber products.

But the catch is that natural rubber components in the new generation battery vehicles are likely come down just because these vehicles driven on battery will have less vibration warranting that much of rubber components now being used in petrol and diesel-driven vehicles. Moreover the absence of fuel in the engine, rubber seals and gaskets can also be dispensed with.

Volatility in raw material supply and fluctuating prices of rubber is the main restraint for the industrial rubber products market in the present market scenario. As such, increasing use of synthetic rubber products in the construction & infrastructure industry and innovation in the products manufactured from synthetic rubber are the key opportunities in the industrial rubber products market. The road ahead for Industrial rubber products

On the basis of rubber type, industrial rubber products market can be classified as: Natural rubber, Styrene Butadiene Rubber, Polybutadiene, Ethylene-propylene, Nitrile Butadiene Rubber and others. The industrial rubber products market over the years has witnessed strong emergence of synthetic rubbers such as Polybutadiene (BR), Ethylene-Propylene (EPDM), Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR), and others.

In terms of product, mechanical goods which encompasses products such as body seals, vibration control devices, and wiper blades was the dominant segment accounting for close to fifty per cent of the market share in the recent past. On the basis of manufacturing process type, the industrial rubber products market has been classified as: Moulded product manufacturing, extruded/calendered product manufacturing, fabricated product manufacturing, latex-based product manufacturing and others.

Market for industrial rubber products market was promising in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa over the recent years and, owing to increase in the construction and infrastructure activities in the region, these regions have promising outlook in the coming years too.

In terms of region, Asia Pacific lured most of the demand for industrial rubber products in 2016, accounting for over one-third of the market share in 2016. This is attributable to the flourishing automotive and construction sector, favourable government policies for auto manufacturers and the shifting of the production facilities by major players due to the low labour and operating costs. The industrial rubber product market in Europe is likely to contract marginally in the coming years.

North America is expected to witness moderate growth in the near future, according to latest market researches. The significant contribution from the U.S., which is considered as the biggest market for mechanical rubber goods and increasing use of rubber products such as blow-out preventers, packers and seals in the oilfield application in the region, is expected to drive the demand for industrial rubber products in North America in near future. Indian rubber industry scenario

The present status of the industry may be evaluated fundamentally in terms of consumption of natural rubber (NR) and synthetic rubber (SR), being the key raw materials, density of the manufacturing units and market consolidation in world-wide point of view. Contrasted with the previous year, Indian consumption of NR and SR in 2016-17 increased by 5 per cent and 8.2 per cent to 1.04 and 0.6 million tonnes respectively, he said in a recent interview.

According to AIRIA statistics, the export of rubber and articles thereof as a whole increased by 7.85 per cent to Rs. 167,182 million in 2016-17 compared to the export a year ago. Like-wise the export of rubber-canvas footwear also increased to Rs. 22,684 million in 2016-17 with a growth of about 13 per cent.

The large units segregated, the constituents of the Indian rubber industry are in a general sense MSMEs. A part of them, particularly the micro units, are yet to be in the perfect technique of preparing in the fast-changing scene of business. Against this backdrop, the challenges are chiefly operational challenges, innovation needs, technology priorities, investing for the future, new product development, marketing challenges, talent management, material costs – mastering the volatility, price reduction pressure, rising labour costs, inventory management, order fulfilment strategies, stiff competition, transportation / logistic costs, becoming environmentally viable, and so forth.