Friday, August 14, 2009: 07:09:48 PM

Innovation

ENGINEERED WOOD

Times Journal of Construction and Design reports about Greenply Industries’ venture into medium-density fibreboards (MDF) and discusses the salient features of the MDF industry

Greenply Industries is an integrated interior infrastructure company in India that provides a wide range of products for interior infrastructure needs. Greenply is the manufacturer of plywood, high-pressure laminates and decorative veneer categories. With tremendous growth in real-estate sectors such as residential,commercial and retail, and a rise in the disposable income of the country’s middle class, there is an anticipated exponential growth in the demand for interior infrastructure products.

In view of the potential in the Indian market for engineered-panel products like medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and particle boards, Greenply plans to set up India’s largest MDF plant with a capacity of 1,80,000 cubic metres at a cost of Rs 250 crore. This will be India’s first line incorporating world leader Dieffenbacher’s state-of-the-art continuous pressing technology (CPS). The estimated demand for wood panels in India will be 54 million cubic metres by 2010, and its availability is estimated at 30 million cubic metres.

MDF Market Space
The MDF market in India is growing at a rate of 30 percent per annum. The present demand for MDF is 4,00,000 cubic metres per year, out of which, 30–40 percent comprises domestic production and 60–70 percent is imported. It will also result in doubling India’s existing production capacity and reduce the market’s dependence on imports.

Shobhan Mittal, Executive Director, Greenply Industries said, “As for the benefits that this plant proposes for the state, we are committed to provide 70 percent local employment. Currently, 395 persons are employed with GIL. By the end of September, we plan to raise this figure to 1,000 persons. The MDF plant will add another 100 people to the total. A revenue of Rs 8.75 crore will be generated for farmers per month through the supply of raw materials and bio-mass fuel for this plant. The local transportation sector will also see a substantial increase in demand as raw materials and finished goods will need to be transported.”



Unique Selling Propositions
The proposed plant is based on the utilisation of plantation wood and waste wood only. The additional demand would entail increased plantations in the state, resulting in more land being under forest cover. Fuel requirement would be met by 100 percent utilisation of bio-mass fuels and waste generated from the production, resulting in lower carbon emissions, generally associated with burning of fossil fuels. “At the same time, the energy generation plant, to be supplied by Thermax Industries, Pune, will be the first of its kind to be used in the wood-based industry and would result in 95 percent energy utilisation efficiency, against the standard industry norm of 70 percent”, Mr Mittal added.

The line will also incorporate Metso’s latest generation EVO refiner, a latest Steinemann Satos 8 head sanding line (the first in India) and the unique Lukki two-dimensional panel storage system supplied by Dieffenbacher. Due to the government’s restrictions on plywood, an increase in the demand of the panels will be met by engineered-panel products like MDF and particle boards. Since these engineered panels have very high utilisation of raw material resources as opposed to plywood and due to India’s scarce supply of raw material, the government is strongly promoting the manufacture of these products.

Product Specifications
Greenply’s MDF plant is scheduled to commence trial production by the end of December 2009. Greenply plans to manufacture MDF in the following range:

  • Plain-medium density fibre board (MDF) (thickness: from 2.5–30 mm)
  • Pre-laminated medium density fibre board (thickness: from 2.5–30 mm)
  • Sizes: 8 × 6 sq ft; 8 × 4 sq ft

Greenply’s project will also contribute socially by creating demand of agro-forestry timber and in turn helping the farming community. According to BIS Shrapnel and Robert Higham, two experts on MDF, the ‘ new growth economies’ (India and China) will decide the future of MDF. Considering that MDF was developed internationally only 40 years ago, the MDF industry worldwide has currently reached a production capacity of 54,000,000 cubic metres per year with an annual growth rate of 10 to 25 percent for the past 10 years.

An MDF is an engineered-panel made from the fibres of lignocellulosic material, which is next only to natural wood. It is a third-generation wood substitute after plywood and particle board. The properties of screw holding, bonding, edge cutting and moisture resistance are better in MDF. It provides raw material utilisation to the extent of 95 percent, against 65–70 percent as is the case with plywood, making it an eco-friendly product. Excellent machinery and application properties make MDF an economic and sustainable substitute of solid timber. Versatility comes through design creativity and homogeneous construction of MDF.

With depleting forests and increasing scarcity of wood, MDF is a product of the future. Its applications range from furniture components such as ready cabinets, panelling, etc. Gift items such as boxes, cigarette and cigar boxes, photo frames, etc, can be made using a single machine. Other uses would be for educational toys, floorings and lower thickness lamination.

Market outlook
According to the Asia Pacific Outlook study on wood-based panels, the regional demand in Asia Pacific for MDF is forecasted to increase to 14 million cubic metres by 2010. Additional production capacity equivalent to 6 million m3 will be required by 2010 at an average annual increase of 5,00,000 cubic metres per year. In India, the panel market accounts for nearly Rs 9,000 crore. Plywood commands nearly 75 percent of this market size. The furniture market industry in India is estimated at 35,000 to 40,000 crore per annum, and has a growth rate of 40 percent.

The government strongly propagates the use of MDF and particle boards, and has also initiated an anti-dumping investigation into the import of MDF from China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Thailand. These circumstances in the industry indicate a forthcoming surge in demand for engineered panels in India.

Courtesy: Greenply Industries Ltd


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