Research & Development
Being a progressive organization, Balmer Lawrie has always focused on R&D to develop environment friendly and biodegradable products and services. However, the R&D spend is mainly in the manufacturing business. Our R&D spend in 2011-12 was 0.35% of manufacturing sales, which was around Rs. 1,000 crore. An R&D spends of over 0.7% of sales of the manufacturing business has been budgeted for the year 2013-14, and it will gradually increase to 2% by 2016-17.
While basic research is being done in Greases & Lubricants, the focus is on applied research in Industrial Packaging. Majority of the investment is being made in our greases & lubricants plant, as we are one of the largest producers of specialty greases & lubricants in India. Similarly in the area of Leather Chemicals our thrust is not only on developing import substitutes for the leather processing industry but also to develop more green and environment friendly products.
Greases & Lubricants - Applications Research Laboratory (ARL)
The R&D Centre of SBU: Greases & Lubricants, named as Applications Research Laboratory, located at Kolkata was established in 1981 with the objective of carrying out applications oriented research in greases and lubricants. The R&D centre is equipped with state-of-the-art test rigs / instruments backed by highly qualified scientists / engineers. The company spends around 1% of the turnover on R&D in the lubricants business.
The R&D Centre is recognized since 1984 by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. The R&D Centre is committed to maintain cost competitiveness and achieving technological leadership through introduction of innovative products, product up-gradation & value engineering.
The major thrust areas for R&D are high performance & specialty products for niche markets with focus on biodegradable and eco-friendly lubricants. The R&D Centre is also involved in collaborative research with leading research organizations / institutes.
The R&D Centre is engaged in development of various high performance lubricants with critical applications parameters like high temperature, extreme pressure, low temperature and long life lubrication. Presently the centre is focusing on development of synthetic, eco-friendly / biodegradable and food grade greases and lubricating oils. Focus is also towrads developmen of technology for high performance greases for industrial application and automotive wheel bearing, water soluble chlorine and boron free synthetic cutting oil for Steel Tubes and Wire Drawing Oil for Aluminium industry.
The R&D Centre is instrumental in developing various specialty lubricants and providing innovative lubrication solutions to the core sectors like Steel, Defence, Railways, Mines, and Sponge Iron.
Industrial Packaging - Technology and Product Development (T&PD) Centre
The Technology & Product Development Centre located at Industrial Packaging, Kolkata plays a pivotal role in enabling quality up gradation, product innovation & diversification keeping pace with changing technology. Automated drum manufacturing technology is being used to stabilize production. World class plant and equipment has been imported by teh SBU and is in the process of launching new products.
Leather Chemicals – Product Development Centre
For research and development on leather chemicals, the Product Development Center at Manali, Chennai has a team of qualified researchers who are constantly working on developing new age leather chemicals.
Investments in Technology
Major investments are being made in IT and technology, which will support not only the manufacturing businesses but also the service businesses. ERP (SAP) is in the process of being implemented across SBUs and support functions.
Apart from this, investments have been made in technology in the Tours & Travel business. A new back end system has been put in place and in the last one and a half years the whole system of booking tickets has been automated with the system generating the lowest fares through a customized software.
In the Logistics Infrastructure business, RFID based system has been implemented in all our Container Freight Stations (CFSs) for tracking containers in real time. Hence, the status of all our CFSs and movement of the containers, through a centralized web based system can be monitored from Kolkata. Soon, our customers will also be able to track their shipment in real time through the web interface, get invoices and make payments online.
Similar to the RFID tracking system for containers, a Freight Tracking System is in the process of being implemented for our Logistics Services business. This system allows one to track the status of any shipment from the time of shipment till the time of its arrival at the customer's warehouse.
In both Logistics Infrastructure & Logistics Services, substantial investments in technology are being made.