Established In 1997, Zydex is a specialty chemicals company with the purpose of innovating to create a sustainable world through conservation of resources. With a growing workforce of 1100+ employees, Zydex has now grown into a multi-division group of companies with interest in several verticals such as Roads, Agriculture, Waterproofing and Paints and a global footprint across more than 40 countries. Having developed 200+ revolutionary and world class products and solutions across divisions, Zydex continues to innovate with its philosophy of conservation and sustainability. Dr Ranka founded Zydex industries in 1997 as a textile chemicals company.

Dr Ajay Ranka has had a long and illustrious career as a pioneer and innovator in the field of nanotechnology based solutions. His focus has always been the development of sustainable technologies for conservation and extension of life of limited resources. A PhD in Polymer Science and Engineering, USA;

Textile Value Chain Team spoken with Dr. Ajay Ranka, Chairman & Managing Director, Zydex Industries Private Limited.

What kind of product portfolio do you offer for the textile and apparel industry?

At Zydex, we offer Farm/Forest to Fashion solutions. Farmers can now grow chemical free cotton through our product line and through our agriculture protocol called Prakalp Sanjeevani. 

The same can also be used for growing forestry for pulp manufacturing, without chemical fertigation and chemical pesticides. We also produce a range of chemicals which are eco-friendly for sizing, pre-treatment, pigment printing, pigment dyeing, finishing, and speciality finishes like antimicrobial and moisture management.

How is your company contributing to sustainability in terms of your textile solutions. kindly share with us your company sustainability vision? 

Growing cotton or cellulose without chemical fertigation would eliminate all the chemical fertilizers, a huge relief in making agriculture sustainable for one of the key raw materials for textile. We have technologies to eliminate crop care chemicals by natural repellents. We can cut 40% water in cotton growing amounting to almost 8000 litre/kg of cotton grown. We also manufacture all the products which are RSL compliant. We are ZDHC level 3 certified company and we also make sure that all our processes are using the least amount of water per KG of fabric processed. We also have special focus on durability of the garments – longer the service life of the garment better is the sustainability index which one can assign to that particular textile product. Company’s sustainability vision is very simple, first focus on extending the life thereby reducing the need of constant new raw materials, next would be to replace the limiting raw materials with renewable raw materials and step number 3 will be a complete recyclability of all the inputs which we are using for the textile production. 

As a company we are committed to do innovation in all these three areas but our typical methodology and vision is step 1, step 2 and step 3 is how we will be able to proceed in future.

How does your company address the consumers growing demand for sustainable ethical fashion?

A typical contribution of the company is to reduce the carbon footprint, water footprint and pollution footprint which we are creating for the textile production. The biggest water footprint we will be able to reduce is while growing the forest and cotton. Almost 8000 to 10000 litres of water can be saved per kg of cotton produced. We also can contribute to reduction in water by now creating reactive printing equivalent effect, feel, crock and washing fastness performance through Epricon process which is a simple dry & curve print that eliminates the need of water for washing. It also leads to substantial energy saving by eliminating the steaming step. So, I feel that Zydex is continuously making an effort towards the ethical action, reducing the footprint, the humans are creating on the earth while they are visiting it. 

What are some initiatives taken by your R&D department to ensure environmental protection? 

We are constantly not only looking in-house to produce everything where we are completely environmentally compliant in terms of our waste disposal, but are also concerned with our chemicals and their impact in our customer’s facility. So, we ensure that the bio eliminability of our chemicals is at the highest level and we also reduce the water pollution by focusing on pigment printing. As a primary effects generating technology, we also develop very unique finishing processes & finishers which will extend the life of the garments ensuring that those are almost non-leachable. So, we do all these sort of developments to ensure that we are maintaining the green and environmental norms as they are developing in the present and in the future.

What kind of innovations has your company brought in the recent times?

I would say one of the key innovation is the ability to get cotton fields to move from chemical farming to bio-farming with substantially reduced water, along with improved quality and better yields. This is one of the big break through followed with the Epricon technology which is in a true sense equivalent to reactive printing in terms of feel, crock fastness, solidity and washing fastness, and at the same time it eliminates the steaming and washing step, reducing energy needs as well as washing needs during the printing process. 

What is the plan of your company to expand the business in domestic and export market? 

We are hiring professionals and good quality marketing people both for Indian market and export market and we are also spending time and energy to appoint new distributors, associates across the world and trying to reach more customers on a global basis. There is a strong effort to also to influence the brand owners, the merchandising companies to make them understand the value proposition Zydex brings to the textile and apparel industry and how we are helping them to achieve sustainability as a goal. 

The textile and apparel industry is still facing the challenges due to the Covid 19 pandic, even today. How has your company tackled this and overcome this situation in the lockdown? 

In the lockdown period, we were actually almost shutdown with respect to the production of chemicals for textile and apparel because nothing was working. We focused inwards – improved our product line, innovated and trained our manpower to solve day to day problems of our customers. We supported our workers and staff members during this tough phase and made sure that they were available when the bounce back happened, with full vigour and full force. We also took care of them with respect to all their sanitisation needs, all the safety during the travel and also imparted training to deal with covid-19 and ensured that the help was given to people when they needed it during the hospitalization or any sickness.

We see the cost of colour chemicals have increased a lot in recent times due to raw material prices and higher cost of supply chain distribution, how is your company dealing with issues? 

Last 6 to 9 months were tough, we had to absorb the rising cost of raw materials and the volatility was such in the beginning that we could not pass it on very efficiently. However, finally we have passed on the cost but without increasing our margins per/kg and the customers have appreciated that we have been fair with them. So the prices keep going up and down as the raw materials are moving up and down, supply disruptions are tackled by building up inventory, particularly the imported raw materials. We have good cash flow management and so we are able to store and we have large godowns and the foresight of having larger space at the factory and at the distribution centres and the ability to bring more supplies at the right time has helped our customers to get consistent supply from us even though the supply chains have been disrupted quite a bit because of the shipping crisis as well as the disruptions due to covid lockdowns. 

In building a more sustainable and socially responsible textile apparel supply chain is also need of the hour, how is your company is managing this situation?

As a company we are ISO 9001:14001 certified, which is environmental certification and we are also SA 8000 certified company, ensuring social compliance. We made these efforts in the last 4-5 years to get the certifications and did lot of correction, lot of improvement internally to become socially responsible as well as sustainable organisation. So, as a supply chain partner to the textile and apparel industry we are basically proactive in this area. 

How do you see the textile and apparel business prospects in coming 5 years for domestic and export market?

I think until the baby is born naked, textile and apparel industry will continue to be in demand. As the wealth will increase in the world which is expected in the next 25-30 years, more money will be spent on looking smart, beautiful and attractive and the Textile in Apparel is the only way that can happen. So to a great extent this business will continue to grow and will continue to increase in terms of value, as we see in future, so in the next five years I think 4-6% growth rate would be seen for domestic and maybe export market based on our understanding and we definitely would be very keen to participate in this growth. 

What is the future of textile printing industry within the country how your company is geared up to face these challenges? 

The future of textile is in creating value through printing and finishing – these are the two major value creators for the textile fabric, both for garment printing and for flat good printing what we call as AOP (all over print). The company is geared with the best product line on a global basis. The garment industry gets inks from us which are softest with the best washing fastness, stretch, and excellent crock numbers.  We also have a range of colours, fluorescence, metallic, foils etc. and so many other effects for which we supply to the industry. For all over print particularly, we have Epricon- the new technology which is going to be a revolution in terms of ability to create performance equivalent to reactive printing. 

What is a company’s blueprint for wet processing? 

We have new technologies emerging in wet processing with micro cleaning of the fabric i.e. ability to remove sizing starches, polymers and lubricants. This is where Zydex has innovated and ensured that we have the processed pre-treated fabric which are completely clean, with improved whiteness, wettability, solidity of dyeing, solidity of printing and allowing the binders and thickners to fix with the pigments on to the soft and open structure of the fabric. This is made possible through our new technology called Epricon DS and Epricon SC, as additives to the wet processing steps. Spending 50-60 paisa / meter extra in the wet processing gives a substantially better quality of dyeing and printing with reduction in the cost in finishing, so this is our general way forward of how wet processing can actually help in improving the quality of textile fabric.