Vedanta rolls out billets to checkmate imports

Breaking new ground in innovation, Vedanta Ltd has become the first primary aluminium producer in the country to roll out a special category of billets. These can be used in air conditioning heat exchangers, an automotive application.

Until now, such billets were predominantly imported by downstream producers to manufacture end products, which in turn were supplied to auto manufacturers.

Traditionally, micro tubes used in automotive radiators were made of copper. But keeping in tune with changing customer preferences, these tubes are now to be manufactured of special alloys where aluminium is the base metal. It needed a technology overhaul to ensure that the end-product to be extruded was of a very thin and hollow profile used in automotive air conditioning heat exchangers and had to be leak-proof.  Vedanta said the special alloy became a reality after a development cycle of over a year.

“Our innovation has not only substituted copper with aluminium but also given the domestic downstream industry an opportunity to Make in India at substantially lower costs, while providing better quality to end users,” said Harsha Shetty, head (marketing), Vedanta Ltd.

This niche segment right now is worth Rs 250 crore and Vedanta hopes to cater to six per cent of this demand in this financial year. Gradually, this breakthrough product is expected to completely stop India's dependence on imports.

In the long term, Vedanta plans to conduct R&D (research & development) in the heat exchanger market to produce new alloys that will improve the performance of the end products.

The massive growth in exports of downstream aluminium products by China was impacting aluminium producers across the world, particularly India. Chinese imports account for almost 60 per cent of the country's aluminium consumption where primary producers are forced to idle nearly 50 per cent of their installed aluminium smelting capacities. China has huge capacity surplus in extrusions and rolled products and is currently has the second largest market share in Indian rolled products.

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