MPI: Tell us something about STEER, its history and operations?
Atanu Maity: STEER is a creator of material technology platforms that effectively transforms and functionalist’s materials in the field of plastics, pharmaceuticals, food & nutraceuticals, bio-materials and bio-fuels.
STEER was started in 1993 by Dr. Babu Padmanabhan with the vision to create intelligent technology for a rapidly evolving world. Today, over 500 dedicated professionals and performers are part of his vision. STEER has deployed over 400 co-rotating twin-screw extruder technology platform lines across 35 countries.
STEER designs, develops, manufactures and markets co-rotating twin screw extruder technology platform, along with all its major components including gearboxes, key peripherals such as volumetric/gravimetric feeders, side-feeders, screen changers and processing section parts such as elements, barrels and shafts for customized application solutions. STEER technology platforms helps compounders develop engineering plastics; commodity plastics; black, white and color master batches; recycle plastics; advanced plastics; commodity plastics and specialized plastics.
MPI: We would like you to shed some light on the plastics extrusion industry in India and the different segments covered by STEER?
Atanu Maity: The demand for polymer in India is expected to touch 16.2 million tonnes per annum by 2015-16 and 20 million tonnes per annum by 2020. Most of the machines in the extrusion industry are for high output lines in blown film plant, compounding extruders, nonwoven plants, pipe plants & recycling machines. In India, the demand for plastics processing machinery has been pegged at 7900 machines with injection moulding machines dominating (about 70 per cent), followed by extrusion (23 per cent). There are about 120 domestic extrusion machinery manufacturers of which 10 dominate the market and STEER is the market leader.
MPI: What are the applications covered by STEER?
Atanu Maity: For over two decades we have supported the growth of India’s plastics sector. We are committed to continuous research and material development, advancements to our twin-screw platform technology. Our focus on applications is to enhance our customers to produce perfect color master batch, engineering plastics, specialty plastics, commodity plastics, thermoplastics elastomers, recycle plastics, conductive plastics for achieving superior ROI.
STEER specializes in grades reinforced with high levels of mineral fillers, glass fiber and carbon fiber. Our technology helps processing of shear sensitive resins such as PLA and other bio-polymers which needs to operate at high torque and moderate screw speed. With regards to masterbatches the primary grades that we support includes low and high melt index base polymers like PE, PP, PET, PA, PC, ABS, PS etc are:
MPI: Give us some details about the Generation Next Co-rotating Twin-Screw Extruder?
Atanu Maity: STEER's next generation extruders include – alpha, mega and omega extruders designed to perform to the highest degree. The new generation extruders such as STEER's OMEGA series extruders operate by transferring energy equal to the total enthalpy of the process (useful work required for achieving the stated objective such as melting and mixing) and are therefore, extremely energy efficient. This energy efficiency has another desirable outcome. The output of the OMEGA extruder is enhanced considerably for the same motor.
MPI: Could you please tell us about your EPZ PRODUCTS and its details?
Atanu Maity: In the EPZ product portfolio, STEER's EPZ brand is aggressive with its patented screw elements and innovations in shafts and barrels. STEER has its own foundry to manufacture speciality tool steels. Some of the special elements include: fractional lobe kneading block (FKB)- to achieve enhanced melting; Single shovel element (SFV) – to achieve higher in-take capacity; Regular flight shovel element (RFV) – to achieve higher in-take; and fractional mixing element (FME) – to achieve efficient mixing. STEER manufactures ultra high torque (UHT) shafts of required profile and geometry to all makers of twin-screw extruders. STEER breakaway adapter with a V – notch is designed to give additional protection to the shaft. STEER's Barrel products include: intake barrels, side-feeder barrels, vented barrels, combi barrels and closed barrels.
The manufacture is based on twin-screw configuration and applications as desired by the customer. These differences in technology are aimed to achieve reduced shearing and enhanced mixing. In totality, all these special and exclusive elements have gained much popularity in the industry.
MPI: What are the Development Services you offer and could you give some details about it?
Atanu Maity: The primary aim of every compounder is to produce plastics, which is lighter, stronger, and eco-friendly. STEER’s application development center in Bangalore works closely with compounders, resin makers for creation of new compounds with specific properties, characterstics and for a purpose. We welcome companies to collabrate with us and usher a new era of development of sustainable plastics for human use. We have development centers in India, USA and Japan.
MPI: Would you please tell us the geographies’ covered by STEER today?
Atanu Maity: STEER covers all continents with our offices in India, USA, Japan, and China. We have respentative offices in Germany, Italy, Turkey, Poland, France, Ukraine, Israel, Brazil, Dubai, Thailand, and Korea.
MPI: Give some details about Co-Rotating Twin Screw Extruders and its advantages?
Atanu Maity: The co-rotating twin-screw extruder is a versatile device for compounding of materials. The earliest generation extruder built in the 1950s had mean residence time of several minutes. During the last 50 years, the residence time has been reduced to half its original value every ten years or so with steady increase in shear capacity. By the end of the 20th century, extruders had the capability to reduce the time to less than 10 seconds. The inability to control peak shear rates (that could exceed 5000 sec) and the lack of a good understanding of the forces experienced by the materials inside the extruder restricted from exploitation of full potential of co-rotating twin-screw extruder. The co-rotating twin-screw extruder is a horizontal mixer, in fact a continuously stirred vessel, in which the speed of extruder screw controls the energy transfer capability of the vessel. To fully optimize the working of the mixer, we need to be able to
MPI: How has STEER changed the compounding industry?
Dr. Babu Padmanabhan: It has brought in a lot of change, with the expectation to create newer materials. It has built technology platforms which is a clear way to change the industry. It has brought in levels of mixing and it has created newer materials in the plastics industry such as natural fibre; long fibre, halogen-free materials etc.
There has been substantial progress in the last 50 to 60 years in the plastics sector in different parts of the world and STEER since its inception has helped in the transformation of the plastics industry, taking into account environmental impact too. STEER has been a technology provider to the plastics industry in India. STEER is where it needs to be, where the action is happening.
MPI: As you are the only Indian company to start office in Japan, what are your future plans?
Dr. Babu Padmanabhan: There are many reasons for us to be in the Japanese market. When we opened office in 2007, we had the largest customer base in Japan with about 115 customers. Now we have over 215 customers. It is a challenging market and we find it meaningful to serve the Japanese market. One thing about the Japanese is that they show enormous willingness to share the method that works for them.
We have grown this relationship and now we have 10 per cent market share of equipment business which no other global company (non-Japanese) has. To be in Japan as a ‘sought-after supplier’ is a very satisfying feeling. It is almost like a domino effect. We are committed to building our presence in Japan by extending our offering to existing and new customers. This has been possible because of the top-notch talent; the development centre and the methodical dissemination of technical excellence in the company. STEER Japan has been an agent of change and will continue to be one.
MPI: What are the latest offerings from STEER?
Dr. Babu Padmanabhan: We are working on pelletization. We believe shaping of the pellets is an area STEER will make a difference. In 2015, we will be contributing meaningfully to enhancing process capabilities of the machines. As regards Fractional Lobe design we are improving mixing. We are also attempting to define how melting occurs.
MPI: You strongly believe that usage of plastics directly coorelates to the country’s GDP, please explain?
Dr. Babu Padmanabhan: Plastics consumption is a highly correlated product to a country’s GDP. It is not steel, coal, food grains, wood... but plastics which are into almost any product. The per capita plastics consumption determines the health of the economy. The per capita plastics consumption in India is one third of the world average of plastics (around 15 kgs). India’s domestic consumption has to increase. Plastics are very important to India and we need to have enough to live better and the extrusion machinery segment will play a decisive role in accelerating the pace of plastics usage.
MPI: What message do you want to give to the Indian Plastics Industry?
Dr. Babu Padmanabhan: Plastics across the globe will have a minimum growth of 5 per cent while in India and other emerging nations, there is potential to grow between 10 and 20 per cent. Indian plastics industry has realised the importance of its position and is building itself to satisfying the needs of the country. The focus has to be on investing for the future, investing in high quality infrastructure, technology platforms.
For more details: www.steerworld.com
Source: Modern Plastics India
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