The formation of Century Enka Limited in 1965, was the result of keen interest taken by Mr. B.K. Birla in collaboration with AKZO Nobel of Netherlands. Over the years, it has emerged a reputed producer of high-quality Nylon Tyre Cord Fabric (NTCF) used as reinforcement material in bias tyres and Nylon Filament Yarn (NFY) used mainly by apparel industry.

Century Enka is known for high quality, product innovation, fair business practices and customer satisfaction. Mr. Sanjay Mehrotra, Senior Vice President Marketing (Textiles), Century Enka Limited, spoke exclusively to the Textile Value Chain during the recent Surat Exhibition, Yarn Expo.

What are the new developments that you have brought into this Yarn Expo Exhibition?

We are into Nylon yarns, polyamide-6, you can say. We have brought in some new yarns in this expo. Our focus has been on the following categories mainly:

First, ethnic wear, in which we have brought in substitutes for the silk. We have introduced a new range called ‘Sutra’, its denier range is 30, 40, 60 and 80. The fall and feel for this yarn is as good as that of silk. The other new range within ethnic wear is the ‘Katan Series’, which is an air-textured yarn. This lies between 70-80 denier. you will get the same fall and feel as that of silk. Moreover, you get a satin and velvet kind of feel, without actually using satin.

Second, the other new innovation is for the dress materials. We are bringing in materials made of nylon with 110-140 denier range. But they give the same feeling as that of cotton.

Third, is for industrial yarn that is used for technical textiles. We have introduced some high tenacity yarns in the range of 50-70, 110-200 denier range as a substitute for the imported yarn. This range goes up to yarns of 2000 denier. These are GPT products that no one has been manufacturing in the country. There yarns are used for making products like army uniforms, backpacks, webbings, defence products, parachutes etc.

Fourth, this category is for sportswear. Nowadays, there is a changing trend amongst the younger generation. They are going more and more towards athleisure. Globally, nylon is being used for this. But, in India, Nylon is not that prominent in circular knitting. We have brought in a new product range for this. We have brought in air-textured yarns for these micro filaments with a denier range of 140-144, 200/144. So, you will get the comfort, flexibility of fabric, breath ability and other desirable qualities for sportswear in this range.

You are one of the pioneers in the nylon industry?
Yes, Century Enka is the largest Nylon-6 producer in India. Basically, we have two verticals, one is textiles and another is the tyre cord. We are manufacturing around 3500 tonnes of nylon per month and around 3000 tonnes of tyre cord yans monthly. Going forward, in this financial year of 2023-24, the company is on expansion mode and more than 200 crore rupees investments are coming for expansion in nylon textiles, both industrial and regular textiles.

What is the percentage of industrial textiles and other textiles?
In total around 55-60% is of nylon textiles and the remaining 40-45% is for industry.

And the new investments that you are talking about, it is for which sector?
That is more for industrial yarns and technical textiles side.

What is your market share in nylon?
Answer: In totality, as far as textiles are concerned, we are having a market share of 25-30%. Century Enka is one of the leading players in textiles and as far as industrial tyre cords are concerned, capacity-wise we are placed at number three, in India.

How are you placed globally?
Answer: When we say globally, China is very dominant. Compared to Indian capacities, the Chinese capacities are about 20 times. Compared to that we are small in size and there is still a long way to go. We are competitive against Korean, Taiwanese, Indonesians and the Thai producers, size-wise. But as of now we are far behind than China.

Are you planning any new innovative products?
Other than this, we are working on anti-microbial yarns and recycled yarns. We have very recently received the GRS certification and we are into chemical recycling of nylon, where the pre- and post-consumer waste is converted into the caprolactam, which we then use to make the recycled yarns. In the last one year, we were exporting polymers and now we are doing yarns and working in the export markets. We are getting a very encouraging response from the European markets, especially for recycled nylon yarns.

How do you see the future of these recycled yarns, as these days everyone is into recycling?

Basically, there are two types of recycled yarns: One is the mechanical recycling and the other is chemical recycling. Earlier, nylon was already being recycled mechanically, it was going in to the engineering plastic applications. Now, through chemical recycling we are able to recover the polymer which is as good as virgin. So, we are very much optimistic. The chemical recycling set-up is more expensive and the products are very extensive as well. We are more inclined for environment conservation and there is an awareness about these. In developed countries, there is already a demand for these, but in developed countries like India, the market is growing and demand is still increasing.

Nylon is a synthetic yarn, so you cannot call it sustainable…
Nylon is a synthetic fibre. The advantage with nylon is that you can recycle it 100%. You don’t need to put it in landfill; hence we can say it is sustainable. Nylon can be recycled in any form, be it fibre or fabric.

Out of the total MMF, what is the percentage of nylon? 

It is less than 3%. In total, MMF nylon share is 3%, in India and globally as well. Nylon is a niche product and per say it is expensive when compared to polyester. It is a superior product, of course, polyester has reached many markets as compared to nylon.

You have mentioned about your special range of sports textiles, how do you see the growth of sports textiles?
Indian sportswear, as per our studies, is growing more than 15% per annum. It is one of the fastest growing segments. So, nylon is the fibre for making sports wear as its abrasion resistance is high as compared to cotton or polyester. The only deterrent is the cost. Internationally, the nylon-based products are very expensive, so it finds application in the high-end market, despite being a superior product. In India there are still a few limitations in the processing when it comes to sportswear, this is
one of the challenges. But we are trying to overcome this hurdle.

There are many upcoming start-ups. What is your advice for those?
Innovation is the key. Gone are the days of mass production. Be it nylon, polyester or any other fibre, the
market demands small runs and fast changes and you have to react to customer’s need for short run, fashion trends change overnight, so, one should be flexible. Innovation and Intelligence will be the driving factors for the market.