There is a Huge Potential In India’s Wood Panel & Furniture Sector, If Govt. Policy Supports say experts during a seminar organized by IWST and ICFRE

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As a part of Govt. of India’s initiative Aajadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, an educational seminar on WOOD COMPOSITES was organized on 11th June 2021 by Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST), Bangalore and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) in association with Surfaces Reporter Magazine and Ply Reporter as Knowledge & Media Partners. The program was live broadcast on Ply Reporter Facebook page which was supported by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoF&CC), Govt. of India. The Mahotsav is being celebrated on the occasion of 75 years of India Independence which will be continuing up to 15 August 2022 for over 75 weeks having a beginning from 12 March 2021. The representatives from Wood and Panel sector presented some interesting reports related to their industry. The edited excerpt of some presentations and speeches as follow…

Mr. Sajjan Bhajanka, President, Federation of Indian Plywood & Panel Industry (FIPPI)

The present scenario in the wood based industry in India in comparison to the international situation and particularly with reference to China is that in last five years the shape of industry and its modes operandy is fast changing. Five years back, out of 3300 units 2500 were fully exempted, 700 were partially exempted and only 100 were duty paying. After the introduction of GST 100 percent industry is full duty paying sector. So, for one hand it has created a level playing field for small and big the other hand it has created some disadvantage for small units. Now they have lost their incentives which had been given because of their SSI status. But, now facing the initial turmoil the trumps has come to the small scale also and it is again on the path of growth.

The synopsis of China is that Particle Board production is around 35 mn cbm against India’s 1.25 mn cbm. MDF is 50 mn cbm against our 1.5mn cbm and Plywood is around 200 mn cbm against our 10 mn cbm. We have long distance to cover, but I am very optimistic that in another 10 years we shall be on the rapid path of growth. I am so optimistic because in early 1990s China embark on housing development and the pace of housing was so fast that from world over like America, Europe, Australia, etc panel products were moving to China. That time China’s own production was very small. After that they concentrated on plantation growth on their own industry and now China is leader in the world which accounts around 60%, MDF is 50% and in Particle Board China share is around 25%. So, we are at the right situation because the Indian’s income is increasing. People are improving from lower income to middle income and they are potential customers also. Their next dream is to own their own house and that definitely need furniture.

I am very optimistic for the furniture industry to acquire rapid growth. There are so many reasons, why India furniture would be so competitive because of our own market, very cheap labor availability (in China and India the cost of difference is six to seven times) so China will have some disadvantages at this point. Now due to pandemic the international shipping industry is in turmoil, the containers are not available, sea freights are skyrocketing, and this is giving another competitive advantage to the Indian furniture industry. The furniture and panel industry are integrated because the backbone of furniture is panel whether it is pre laminated particle board, pre laminated MDF or plywood. The people who do not go for factory made furniture but they go for teller-made furniture and we have plenty of carpenters available in India so plywood also have its future and continue to grow.

The growth of agro forestry is not only good for our industry but for the entire country. We know that we are having surplus cash crop, FCI go-downs are full, and sometimes they spell the food grains because of paucity and storage arrangement. Due to oversupply the prices of agricultural commodity are not picking up. If only 5% of agriculture land is diverted to agro forestry (total agriculture land in India is around 15 mn hc) we will get 750 mn cbm of timber that would be more than China total production of agro forestry. If 1% is diverted in addition to the present land dedicated to agro forestry that will be sufficient for our requirement. So, along with furniture we are ready to make our requirement of the country. It will also provide the employment in wood panel industry as well as agro forestry.

We know that we are having surplus cash crop, FCI go-downs are full, and sometimes they spell the food grains because of paucity and storage arrangement. Due to oversupply the prices of agricultural commodity are not picking up. If only 5% of agriculture land is diverted to agro forestry (total agriculture land in India is around 15 mn hc) we will get 750 mn cbm of timber that would be more than China total production of agro forestry.

Mr. Rudra Chatterjee, Chairman, Furniture Committee, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI): On ‘Furniture Industry: India’s opportunity for growth’

It is shocking that Furniture is not a big industry in India because whether it is wood, labor, or demand there is nothing that India does not have! There are specific reasons that’s why India is not a major furniture exporter country and all these reasons are artificial. Furniture industry was regulated as small scale industry till 2014, so nobody could make investments. And unfortunately to sell to a large company you need a large furniture factory. It is not just a carpenter job, but a highly design intensive, samples intensive and significant number of machinery involvement is required. So, the skill set has not developed in our country. While catching up you have to have trained workers that I am sure we will have, secondly we have relevant woods and plywood, MDF, Particle Boards. For that we have to ensure that we have certified wood. In Indian domestic market we used to buy furniture from carpenter shop, we never saw the wood was coming from. So, we have to have very good traceability of wood, trained workers, large modern factories to build furniture.

Furniture demand growth will continue because as the lockdown ends people will shift to bigger houses to accommodate their children and family members comfortably in separate rooms to work. Because for all the work now you need work from home capacity, study from home capacity, home office, home furnishing are tremendously raising sector. We cannot lose this to Vietnam or Bangladesh. We must make sure that 2021-22 we do all the regulatory things required, so that India can capture the market. We do the infrastructural things require so that India can become a furniture hub. Good policies have been helping good companies. So it will be good for the farmers, economy as well as the environment other than employment generation if we grow wood.

Mr. Edward Carey, CEO, Manor and Mews

30 years back India was probably at the same level with China and their furniture factory were also very small. Today they have different level in terms of efficiency and competition. They are very serious about this and have the supply chain across the globe. They invested in best machinery, best system so they are so far ahead. India has huge potential let us focus on supply chain and raw materials like chemicals, foam etc we can beat them. Lots of Vietnamese companies have their high efficiency in factories and MDF facility and they use raw wood, foam manufacturing etc. For furniture industry we need the reliable quality supply from the panel industry. FSC rated wood composites. India does not really exist in the list 

Studies have been taken up with 3 BIS standards on plywood: IS 303, IS 710, IS 4990 with respect to R&D, consumers' need and 10 years sample test data analysis results on plywood. A draft amendment on these standards has been prepared and submitted to BIS for revision of standards.

of composite wood users across the globe. India has to have best value and best policy and leader sustainability on composites as the whole world is now moving to sustainability and lot of customers now demanding FSC material and this trend in US is getting back support from Paris agreement on climate change and more pressure is going on towards it. So we have to have own plantations and more control over these resources.

Dr. S.K. Nath, Joint Director (Rtd), (IPIRTI) On ‘Panel products from plantation timber and amending BIS standards.’

There are numerous standards for plywood manufacturers as it guides them to produce the product with definite and uniform quality and satisfaction to customers. The amendment is required in standard with product improvement due to scientific development, change in uses and requirement, increase/decrease in multiplicity of uses and change in resource material. Timber is an anisotropic natural material obtained from trees.

Today consumer does not know what they are buying. Today there is necessity to buy a product made with available timber with standard technology, standard adhesive and fix the face value of BIS as with change in value we need to dilution of the standard. If the standard is fix and the product is not upto the mark still there is BIS mark the consumer will be the looser because they don’t know what they are buying what is said in the standard. So there is need to change the standard. Studies have been taken up with 3 BIS standards on plywood: IS 303, IS 710, IS 4990 with respect to R&D, consumers' need and 10 years sample test data analysis results on plywood. A draft amendment on these standards has been prepared and submitted to BIS for revision of standards.

Test parameters for amendment is need that include: Preservative Treatment for IS 710 plywood the retention of 12 kg/cbm preservative must be there and for that only method is successful when the plywood made with Glue Line Preservative (GLP) is treated by dipping into preservative solution as per BIS formulation. But hardly any plywood manufacturers go for that. Plywood industry is with the opinion that when sincerely done market complain on bio-degradation of plywood is rare.

The Test Parameters need amendment are Static Bending Strength, Tensile Strength and Load Bearing Capacity, Glue Shear Strength in IS 710 and IS 4990 etc because of the use of plantation timber, which are immature and are of poor strength compared to medium/high density mature timber from natural forest timber, plywood cannot attain MOE and MOR values as prescribed in BIS specification. MOE and MOR values needed to be reviewed in the light of test values obtained with plywood from plantation timber and shows best performance. Face Veneer thickness is also one of the parameters which need to be change. As per BIS Face Veneer should be half or more than the thickness of the adjacent glue core. Due to higher cost of face veneer quality logs, face veneer thickness now used is 0.3mm in all grades of plywood. This leads to lower values of MOE and MOR along the face grain than across which is against the norms fixed by BIS

Most of the veneer made from plantation log cannot be dried flat; on drying veneer become corrugated. Plywood made from them show tendency to warp which creates problem to end users. It is necessary to include test on flatness of panel product in BIS standards. Some low density timber is soft and spongy. If bonding is not adequate, such timbers, while come in contact with water, absorbs moisture and swell and show tendency to disintegrate the panel. A test on swelling of plywood needed to be included in BIS specification.

The amendment on Formaldehyde Emission is much important. Veneer in plywood is bonded with formaldehyde based adhesive and these adhesive slowly emits formaldehyde throughout its life due to slow disintegration especially under high temperature and humidity. Continuous inhalation of formaldehyde is hazard for human health and causes serious pulmonary diseases. While the whole world has built up standards and put limit on formaldehyde emission from wood based panel products bonded with formaldehyde based adhesive, BIS in India is yet to fix limit of formaldehyde emission from plywood.

Besides, as per IS 2202, flush door may be of different types like Hollow core type, Solid core and Mixed type, A solid core having filler like Wooden Strips, Particle Boards, MDF, etc. The above guidelines are good for the manufacturers for making uniformly standard products but the standards are not for the manufacturer only. It should cover the use or guidelines or meet the end use requirement of users also. A user needs door to the serve purpose as: - Partition door - Kitchen door - Bathroom door - Front door of house -Backside door - Escape door - Fire door -Terrace door - Storage room door - Rooftop door –Etc.

Veneer in plywood is bonded with formaldehyde based adhesive and these adhesive slowly emits formaldehyde throughout its life due to slow disintegration especially under high temperature and humidity. Continuous inhalation of formaldehyde is hazard for human health and causes serious pulmonary diseases.

Dr. M.P. Singh, IFS, Director, IWST Bengaluru

India looks forward that we will have market with the mass timber. We are very enthusiastic for that. If we all promote our species for the CLT and the GLUELAM, that is why we are planning to have a structural CLT and GLUELAM testing facility at IWST so that we can have our own experimentation and more structured wood also in future. These are the new area which we try to showcase in wood composite. I am even talking about the constraint of the panel industry and furniture industry.

We are looking forward that government of India build an ecosystem then we can have real growth of panel industry in composite field. They are trying to modify the guidelines for wood based industry so that there is accepted category of the farm wood. The certification need to be modified in India else we cannot have FSC certification to India. We can see the growth of 20% in this area. We will surely work for the industry and the government is trying hard to make such kind of eco system also for more of agro forestry and, panel products, wood composites and wood in use in the country. We are also trying to replace plastic from carbon neutral material.

 

 

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