Sri Lanka's first radial tyre plant, put up in collaboration with Ceat Ltd was inaugurated today by Sri Lanka's prime minister Ratnasiri Wickrarnanayae. The fully automated, temperature and humidity controlled plant is located at Kelaniya near the capital Colombo.
Setup with an initial capital of SLR 350 million, the high productivity plant will have an initial installed capacity of 26,000 tyres per month and will cater both to the domestic and export market. The plant will initially focus on two ranges of radials - for cars and vans - which are currently the most sought after sizes in the local market.
The technology imported for the new plant comprises state-of-the-art equipment for increased accuracy and productivity. Each electro-pneumatic machine requires just one operator to input a sequence of commands and then motor process. The fully air conditioned radial plant has also been designed with a focus on safety.
Built alongside the existing plant in Kelaniya, the radial plant will produce T-rated steel-belted radial tyres with high durability polyester carcasses and unique tread patterns designed for Sri Lankan roads. The Company will initially manufacture nine different sizes of steel belted radials for cars and vans, branded 'Formula 1 Steel" and 'Rhino', respectively including the popular 175/70 R13 & 185/70 R14 sizes for cars, & 185 R14 and 195 R15 sizes for vans.
CEAT Sri Lankan venture already has a market share in excess of 50 per cent in the segments in which it operates. It also plans to export light commercial vehicle (LCV) and passenger car radials from the plant to the Indian market, taking advantage of the FTA between India and Sri Lanka.
The unique features of the products to be rolled out of the new plant include a centre rib that provides improved steering and handling capabilities, while the parallel 'see through' channels aid water removal. Parabolic grooves in the tread pattern provide increased traction and better grip to prevent spinning and enhance braking to carry extra heavy loads, a requirement in keeping with local practice in Sri Lanka.
"At first glance, the locally produced CEAT radial tyres would look like any other high-end imported tyres. However to an expert eye, the new tyre would reveal many features that represent quality and performance attributes. In this fast growing market, our strategic thrust will be to cater to the new discerning Sri Lankan customer who seeks style, safety & performance," says Oscar Braganza MD and CEO, CEAT Sri Lanka.
The company plans to increase its production capacity to 100,000 passenger car radials per month within six months of achieving an enhanced production capacity of 65.000 tyres. This increase in production coupled with free import norms from Sri Lanka will enable the company to gradually cater to the growing passing car tyre segment across South Asia.