As a succession of continuous research and development Huntsman could bring a real break through technology in the reactive dyeing technology and they have launched it in Dhaka on 27th November at a corporate program. On that occasion Mr. Rohit Aggarwal, the Global Vice President, (Apparel and Home Textiles) of Huntsman Textile Effects was present. Before the launching program BTT took a comprehensive interview of Mr. Aggarwal to present more details of the new technology they are talking about. Mr. Aggarwal has been working in Textile Effects division since 2008. This is a division of Huntsman Inc. providing dyes and chemicals to the global textile industry. As a member of the Textile Effects Leadership Team, his responsibility includes supporting the TELT to define the vision, values and strategy for the division and to ensure the full implementation of it. Prior to Huntsman Textile Effects, he was Director, Global Strategy and Marketing with Huntsman Advanced Materials.
Huntsman is one of the leading chemical companies of the world involved in business for last 40 years. But how old is its Textile Effects department?
Well the Textile Effects division was an acquisition of Ciba’s textile division and in Huntsman our Textile Effects division has been strengthened by continual acquisition and partnership. Firstly, I must give a short introduction of Huntsman and its businesses. Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. Its operating businesses manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.
Originally known for pioneering innovations in packaging and, later, for rapid and integrated growth in petrochemicals, Huntsman today has more than 11,000 employees and operates from multiple locations worldwide. The Company had 2009 revenues of approximately $8 billion.
Now Huntsman has five divisions namely Polyurethanes ( MDI, Polyols, PO/MTBE, TPU), Performance products (Performance Specialties), Advanced materials (Base Resins, Formulated Systems, Specialty Components), Pigments (Titanium Dioxide) and Textile Effects The textile chemicals industry maybe a new area for Huntsman but by acquiring Ciba’s textile division, we also acquired its in depth experience and at the same time have the benefit of Huntsman’s people skills and its innovative approach which has ensured tremendous growth in this area.
We can see that Huntsman is acquiring businesses like Ciba, Metrochem and many other big Companies. What is the strategy and reason behind this?
If you look at Huntsman as a company that is forty years old, its growth is very successfully based on acquisition. Through a series of strategic acquisitions, joint ventures and carefully planned internal expansions, our operating companies today produce 33 billion pounds of products for a variety of global businesses
Why did Huntsman choose to acquire Ciba to start in this area rather than starting a brand new establishment?
Companies like Ciba could not figure out the way to restructure the business for e.g. moving the business to where it belongs to specifically in Asia. As always Huntsman is a clear and confident about the future of the textile business. We believe that it’s a great business, a business of great strengths and we believe that the business is driven by very strong capability on innovation and strength of its people. We have about 3,000 man years of research. This is great history behind this business which has tremendous amount of knowledge in this area. In last six years this business has proven to be a fruitful one and we are moving towards further growth. We are going to put more investment in innovation.
So when innovation comes into play, what is your new offer?
As I was saying, innovation is the way to enrich industries and the society. It is likely that Huntsman Textile Effects is the only company within Dyes and Chemicals industry that is spending as much as 5% of its revenue on research and development. We have research bases in different countries and their tremendous efforts have changed the game with revolutionary products like AVITERA™ dyes. Today we are going to launch a new system for Bangladesh market. I am very excited as we are bringing such path breaking technology to this market as I don’t think that we have seen such major development in this industry for years. So, we believe that these are kind of things that you will continue to see more and more. AVITERA™ SE series of reactive dyes is going to break all best possible efficiency records in respect to time and utility savings. New technology will reduce the water consumption to 15-20 litres per kg fabric processing. The AVITERA™ system will run all through at 60°C temperature. Using the complete system you will be able dye a batch within 4 hours.
Definitely as whole world is worried about environment pollution and climate change caused by carbon emission and as you are telling that AVITERA™ will reduce the water consumption like anything else. As in Bangladesh people are using 90-100 litre water for dyeing one kg of fabric. You are telling that it is possible to do in 15-20 litre. I don’t know if you can reduce it up to 50% that is also going to be a significant improvement. So, is AVITERA™ only a range of dyes or it’s a system?
Well, we are positioning it as a system. We have chemicals and dyes combinations to bring the full benefit to the processing. And it works in combination as a system. If you want to use it in isolation, the product may not give desired result. Therefore we are talking about starting pretreatment with Gentle Power Bleach™ and then we are talking about AVITERA™ SE dyes and talking about soaping agent Eriopon® Lt. This is a combination all operating in 60°C temperature and any of these is not taking it to a boiling point as the industries are currently doing. So this is a whole system to provide the best results.
We also need the help of the industry, because we believe that this is only possible if the industry don’t only look at the price of the dyes but look at the overall impact it has in the total cost savings. That is something that we believe is going to be the key for people to understand the impact it has in terms of bringing a total cost cut.
We have very strong technical service capability and our people can work with industry to help them realize the value. So it is a system approach and we have conducted some selling to several customers and some of the trials that have been done proved to be extremely successful. So, we are very excited about it for Bangladesh.
Yes for sure everybody is looking for reducing cost. So if you can really give good result than I think people will go for that. So, what will be the average cost gain of AVITERA™ dye system? Is it very costly in compared to regular dyes?
If you look at the conventional dyes and if you look at the amount of water energy is being used and you calculate the cost of per kg cotton processing and if you compare the same with AVITERA™ system, we have seen that customer will get benefit about 30-40%. That is a significant cost improvement. Reason it is possible because of its significant impact on lower energy and water usage. We have the challenge of fibre cost which is escalating and the industry really cannot manage that except to fight and hopefully lock at the right price. And you really cannot negotiate cotton prices. The industry is also faced with rising labour cost we know it will only increase going forward. The third biggest cost for mills for processing is utilities cost – water, effluent management and energy . Interestingly the smallest cost in the pie is the dyes and chemicals. Dyes and chemicals do not represent more that 5-8% depending on the material and the process but have a significant impact on the usage levels of utilities. Low quality dyes appear cheap on a per kg basis but result in increase use of water, energy, more effluent leading to a much higher overall cost. . And we believe that’s the area of biggest potential cost reduction and biggest efficiency for the mills. AVITERA™ is all about helping and focusing on that 15-20% utility cost. And that can be reduced by half which is a significant cost benefit to the industry. And we are really excited that in the last few months we have seen that cost reduction being achieved by our customers who have done pre launched trials with this new technology.
Yes as per your statements it is really a significant development for the industry and we are waiting to see the future results. Can you just give some about the real technology behind this. As it is reactive dye and you know that reactive dye has inheritical problem that it has very poor exhaustion which is as much as 65-70%. Is AVITERA™ going to increase that or it is totally a new chemistry?
The new molecule and the chemical composition is improving the exhaustion and diffusion rates by upto 90%. While today you do 8-9 baths depending on the efficiency of the mill and the process with conventional dyes. Avitera will reduce that to just 3 baths operating at 60 C constant tempertaure..
You have acquired the research oriented company for example Ciba, they were doing the researches and very interestingly they were disseminating those things very clearly. In fact they were mentioning the C.I. Number and they were giving the chemical formula and everything for the researchers and for the university students. So, what is the focus of Huntsman research? Is Huntsman going in that way?
Well I think we work positively and we do believe that technology and game changing technology should be understood and the benefit of technology will come to industry overall by working with all stake holders. It’s not just about selling more dyes but it’s also about helping industry to get more efficient and much more sustainable. We work closely with universities for joint projects on new developments.. For example we are working with Mumbai University in India where continued development and exchanges are taking place. On the other hand we spend a lot in providing training to the industry. We work with our customers to exchange knowledge and provide training. Such efforts will continue but one of the challenges is protection of our IP. We would like to open information as much as possible but again the challenge we face is infringement. Huntsman is very clear about that we will fight hard to protect our patents. ,So while we continue to provide information to all of our stake holders, on the other hand we are also very careful about protecting our intellectual right. So that strategy will continue.
So, at the end I just would like to know the contribution of your textile effects department in the total Huntsman revenue?
Textile effects contribute (revenue $0.8b) closely about 10% of total revenue. It is one of the five divisions that have been showing continual growth and we hope to see the same in coming days.