Shri R.M Sankar, Principal Scientific Officer, ATIRA

Origin

The genesis of ATIRA was to work as an extension centre to the industry.  The context decides the content. As the context changes, the content must change. ATIRA was established over six decades ago. The context then and the context now are radically different

Change in the Focus

With rapid change in the industrial scenario, the textile industry is reorienting towards more value addition and alternative product mix. ATIRA needed adequate transformation in its methodology and structure to fulfill the requirement of the textile sector.  With time, scope of textiles has enlarged to suit the needs of the end users both in textile and outside the textile industry which required paradigm shift in our approach apart from huge investment both in capital as well as in human resources.  ATIRA has taken up this challenge and has come out with successful results. Undertaking path breaking projects both in the traditional and technical textiles, introduction of innovative areas of work, increasing customer base year after year to the extent of 10 percent, revenue growth of 15 percent are the salient indicators of our success story, besides judicious utilisation of public funds on State and Central government sponsored projects.

There is lot more to be done. ATIRA has pursued to work on alternative technologies in the light weight concept of mobility sector especially in the mass transportation by using composites that enable aesthetics, energy conservation, easy replaceability of parts and cost reduction. House for the masses uniquely designed using composite panels, to provide affordable, quality, modular and eco-friendly accomodation for the ever increasing populace of India is another area of work in the pursuit. Other innovative areas that are in the agenda are composite pipes, gas cylinders that touch lives of the masses with better alternative material to provide, safety, quality, cost reduction. ATIRA intends to set up an Incubation Centre for Composites to undertake R&D on these areas to develop implementable prototypes on the lines of successful operation of Incubation centre at ATIRA for the development of various types of technical textiles.

Technical Textiles

To promote production and usage of technical textiles in the country, it is necessary to develop specialty yarns that are mainly made up of polymers and blended with other fibres like cotton to make newer varieties of fabrics. We propose that the local polymer manufacturers should produce cost effective polymers and should work in tandem with R&D institutions like ATIRA to make fibres and do yarn engineering to develop fabrics which are cost effective solutions under Indian climatic condition. Alternatively, speciality fibres can be supplied by MNCs/PSUs from countries like Russia, China, USA, Korea, France, Taiwan etc. through suitable MOUs for supply of polymer/fibres which ultimately should result in establishment of joint ventures in India.

Enzyme – based wet processing

Wet processing sector is known for the heavy water consumption and thus creating issues of water pollution. This perennial problem can be addressed by encouraging adoption of newer technologies such as enzyme based wet processing of cotton cloth as well as low material to liquor ratio dyeing for environment friendly processing. Adoption of waterless chemical processing technologies as well as washing technologies would also address the same and remain ATIRA’s priority areas.

ATIRA strives to achieve success in innovative areas of research in textile that has path breaking results for the textile industry and textile applications in other sectors such as construction, mobility, housing that should have significant impact effect on the population at large. ATIRA wishes to set up infrastructure with funding support and deliver results to fulfill the dreams of those who incorporated ATIRA.

Innovation centre of global repute

The vision is to transform ATIRA from being an extension centre to industry to innovation centre of global repute. ATIRA has taken several initiatives in R&D and has established four COEs:  Nano-web technology, geo-synthetics, composites and protective textiles. Frankly speaking, ATIRA has come to negotiating a full circle – now is in the process of creating a common state-of-the-art  technology facility for the industry like the one that was created in 1947- to work  in the area of futuristic textiles – Nano web based technologies, Geo-textiles application to prevent environmental catastrophes like road erosion, soil erosion, land slide etc., development of materials- a textile based preforms and composites that are stronger and lighter than metals with many added aspects conducive for technical applications in construction, auto parts, wind energy, satellite and aero industry needs. ATIRA is collaborating with institutions and industries across the world in above areas to bring in the best –in- class technologies in order to carry out India centric proto type developments. ATIRA has proposed huge investments in composite manufacturing technologies not affordable by single industry and needs funding support.

Rein venting ATIRA

Reinventing ATIRA to make it a world class institution will require huge rejuvenation of our physical and intellectual infrastructure. This will require significant resources. It is necessary to think of novel ways of generating these resources, not only through significantly enhanced support from the state and the centre, but also other innovative means. Some of them may be like –

  • ATIRA’s scientists/technologists work on proprietary technology and patent the outcome and share it with the industry on royalty basis. Like in Nano-web technology, ATIRA has developed filtration media. Industry should come forward to adopt developments.
  • Industry can utilize new facilities created at ATIRA on charge basis as no single industrial unit can afford to invest so much on CAPEX. Hence at ATIRA such large CAPEX should be invested for industry usage.
  • The industry and ATIRA work on common projects and work out a revenue sharing mechanism. The industry should take initiative and make such common facilities more relevant.
  • Incubation centre for Technical textiles at ATIRA with the state-of-the-art machineries. Industrial units, entrepreneurs, researchers, academia and the like should take advantage of the infrastructure on charge basis
  • In the area of legislative changes, if industry can help R&D institution to get the type of legislation that works in developing countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand etc. in areas such as Geo-textiles, Composites and infrastructure, then the institution  can approach the government to convince them to come out with appropriate legislations.  There should be common forum of industry-R&D institution and these forums should act as a platform for liasioning with government for necessary policy changes that will be beneficial to R&D, industry, and public at large.

f) In the case of Geo-Textiles, there should have a forum with academia as members like leading technical institutions so that Post Graduate and Ph.D. students could take projects and utilize ATIRA’s infrastructure for research activities.

RM. Sankar

Principal Scientific Officer, Head, CL Centre for Management

ATIRA