Mr. B L Bengani, popularly known as B L Jain has made a good comeback in the panel industry. He has successfully launched and introduced NFC : Natural Fibre Composite by the brand INDOWUD in the market and in a short time, he has trade partners in most parts of the nation. To name a few : Chennai, Hyderabad, Ernakulam, Bangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Lucknow and the list is growing.
When we interacted with Mr. Bengani, last time in 2019, he had introduced and explained the product and his journey from exiting Uniply to introducing a new generation product. We now catch up with Mr. B L Bengani (BLB) and his son, Mr. Varun Bengani (VB) to discuss more about this product that comes with the brand tag “INDOWUD”
Why did you choose to be different from others?
BLB : After exiting Uniply, we were working on a product where we could be associated with the trade. We were introduced to WPC products that were gaining importance and awareness in the market. But when learned about WPC, we understood that its PVC foam board is being manufactured with a density of around 500Kg/ CBM. I wanted to be different from others and create a superior product for the consumers and the wood panel industry. The idea of NFC – Natural Fibre Composite started from thereon.
I remember last time you had mentioned that it took almost 3 years to fine-tune NFC. What were the challenges that you faced?
BLB : The majority of people make PVC foam board. Some WPCs are made with wood content between 2 - 25PHR. But, no one could make composite boards with over 100 PHR of natural fibres. We aimed to do so. I guess being different from others is my passion. The generally available moulds, extruders do not accept natural fibres in over 100PHR. During these processes, we had to modify the moulds and extruders as per our needs and select the right additives. During the times of R&D, we ended up burning the moulds, the screws and barrels. But finally, when we were successful in making what we aimed to. This gave us a victorious feeling. After all, it is our own “proprietary” technology !
Indowud NFC is a zero wood board made using agricultural residues (110PHR) primarily. A matrix is created between agri-residues, minerals, additives and resin PVC using a fully automated high-speed heater - cooler mixer machine.
Can you tell us about the manufacturing process and about the raw material used to manufacture NFC boards?
VB : Indowud NFC is a zero wood board made using agricultural residues (110PHR) primarily. A matrix is created between agri-residues, minerals, additives and resin PVC using a fully automated high-speed heater - cooler mixer machine. This compound matrix is then extruded. Every sheet undergoes surface processing where the boards get their rough surface and gets calibrated. Our product is lead-free and free from any hazardous ingredients as well. We are among very few companies in India whose product is RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) certified. We ensure that a clean and green working environment for everyone. The complete manufacturing process can be seen on our Youtube channel.
What are the advantages of NFC and what products does NFC compete with?
VB : Indowud NFC is forever termite-proof, waterproof, fire retardant + smoke suppressant as well. It passes class 1/A fire rating as per ASTM E84.
Indowud NFC's physical/ mechanical properties like density, screw holding is much higher than peers. It also has added advantages like anti-rodent, anti-fungus, smoke suppressant features which generally may not be available in the peer products. The fibre content in our product is 110% or 110PHR. All the features and advantages of our product are mentioned on our website and brochure.
Our product also has good acoustic properties and can be thermoformed to any shape and design. I would not comment about the products that NFC competes with, but I would rather highlight its strengths and the solution it offers.
For example, not all products are termite proof or waterproof. So in such places where plywood/ wood would fail or get infested with termites, Indowud NFC would survive for life. Likewise, no wood- based panels are thermoformable, so architects and designers get the freedom to think of innovative designs where the board can be twisted or rounded or shaped as per their imagination.
For exteriors, our product is suitable for applications such as facades, elevation, terrace furniture, seaside/ poolside or garden furniture. Indowud NFC also comes with anti-fungus and anti-bacterial properties that ensure that the house is safe. Our boards are free from formaldehyde and other VOC emissions as well. After all, healthy living has now become a primary requirement post Covid19.
Can you explain more about GreenPro ecolabel?
VB : Indowud NFC is also GreenPro certified by the CII. So it becomes a perfect fit for all GREEN projects or where IGBC / LEEDS rating is required. Similarly, good architects and designers constantly look for sustainable products to work on. Unlike IGBC where membership is offered to various companies, GreenPro is certified only to a particular product. The GreenPro - CII council takes into account the smallest details like the carbon footprints burnt for sourcing the raw materials, the energy consumption, the water consumption and preservation, etc. It is a comprehensive process.
How is Indowud NFC different from your similar peer products?
BLB : We are proudly a 100% made in India product – right from developing the technology till the final board. Indowud NFC's physical/mechanical properties like density, screw holding is much higher than peers. It also has added advantages like anti-rodent, anti-fungus, smoke suppressant features which generally may not be available in the peer products. The fibre content in our product is 110% or 110PHR. All the features and advantages of our product are mentioned on our website and brochure.
How did Covid19 impact your business?
BLB : Like everyone, the covid19 has impacted our business and the future expansion plans too. But then, we have to move on. The prices of the basic raw material have doubled while the additives that we use have increased by almost 60% - 70%. This has increased the cost of the product also. We are hopeful the situation will regularise soon.
What are your future expansion plans?
BLB : We aim to increase the product portfolio and not just remain as a board manufacturing unit. We will eventually enter into door, door frame, profiles, decking and cladding manufacturing as well; inspired by the saying : I have miles to go before I sleep; by Rabindranath Tagore !