What’s the rubber industry upto?
All industries are undergoing a major churn after the covid-19 enforced global lockdowns. Business innovations & fresh strategies have kept the industries going despite the economic & production setback. The same is true for the global rubber industry also. In this brief article, we will highlight some of the recent trends in the rubber industry.
BUILDING PRODUCTS THAT HELP THE ENVIRONMENT:
People are more conscious of the environment today than ever earlier. Consumers now also factor in the environmental impact of a product before making the decision to purchase the product. Use of recycled rubber – free of hazardous chemicals – is gaining ground since it extends the life of the rubber material. One could see application of recycled rubber in flooring, synthetic turf, athletic tracks, toys, and even in road building. Likewise, making rubber products that do not harm the environment at the time of their performance are also a priority for manufacturers. For example, rubber tyres should not leave a residue during its running or should not consume more energy when they roll.
SHIFTING TO ALTERNATIVE RAW MATERIALS:
The pandemic has taught the material purchase teams to plan better. They now look at sourcing partners from different local and international geographies, fine-tuning inventory management and planning systems, multiple logistics vendors, etc. The technical teams of rubber products companies are also looking at alternate raw materials as a substitute to existing raw materials that suffered during the pandemic due to high prices, high cost of transportation, non-availability, and other lockdown-related restrictions.
FOCUSING ON PRODUCTS FOR THE EV MARKET:
Manufacturers of rubber products for the auto sector have an electric vehicles segment – an highly attractive segment requiring a set of new products – to cater to. By design, automobiles that run on internal combustion engines generate a lot of heat. Therefore, such vehicles use more of nitrile rubber (NBR) for not just its excellent heat-resistance capability but also for its oil-resistance capabilities. With EVs, NBR is of little use since heat generation is almost nil and the use of oil is totally elimanated. The focus for EVs is on the use of light-weight materials, environmental-friendly materials, weather-compatible materials, etc. EV manufacturers seem to favour materials such as EPDM and thermoplastics.
FINDING MORE USES FOR SYNTHETIC RUBBER:
Companies have found sourcing of natural rubber challenging due to lockdown-related supply chain disruptions, changing weather patterns affecting crop production, availabilty issues due to fires at the rubber plantations, supply constraints arising out of geo-political upheavals, etc. As a counter to the afore-said issues, rubber product manufacturers are preferring synthetic rubber off-late. Synthetic rubber can be manufactured locally,
We will cover more trends of the industry going forward.