A difference of opinion5 June 2008
This month Sam Setter writes in his Limeblast in support of European technology which he believes is the best in the world. However, he goes as far as to say that products manufactured by overseas subsidiaries of the European makers are not as good as those produced by them at home.I know of a number of European organisations who would strongly take issue with this contention and I feel compelled to speak on their behalf.
I know of a number of European organisations who would strongly take issue with this contention and I feel compelled to speak on their behalf.
While I am sure he is right in his view that product A produced in Europe is often better than product A made elsewhere, companies such as BASF and TFL go to great lengths to ensure that European standards apply in all their offshore bases.
I have recently returned from a visit to BASF India and during my trip there was also a benchmarking team from Germany checking on the company’s safety measures. Everything I saw in Mumbai and Thane (their chief manufacturing plant for the leather sector) led me to believe that the management have made a firm commitment to applying world class standards to their activities.
BASF India are firmly grounded on the need for sustainable development initiatives which are based on economic stability, environmental concern and social responsibility.
There is a full-time member of staff whose job it is to check on all raw materials entering the manufacturing plants. Any that are sub-standard simply will not go into production.
Both organisations have strong research and development functions and part of their task is to make sure that the differing environmental conditions and other regional difference are taken into account when producing process chemicals for use within the south Asia region.
In fact, both companies have actually developed new products which are suited to the local manufacturing conditions. Recently, BASF India held an innovations competition and the first and third winning entries were both from the leather division. First prize went to a project entitled Waste to Wealth which produced attractive and exotic looking tanned fish skins which were then converted into footwear, belts and bags.
Young minds from the Government College of Engineering & Leather Technology, Kolkata, approached the BASF technical lab, Kolkata, to help with their project work with fish skins. This has opened up an opportunity in the exotic market because the killing of snakes and crocodiles for leather is now prohibited in India.
Two final year students from the college worked in the BASF lab while standardising the tanning process. This is the first commercially viable project in India which utilises fish skin
processing. The third prize went for a new retanning concept and product and BASF India are currently filing their first patent application.
The company are very keen on working with colleges and are willing to take on graduating students. Under their policy of social responsibility, BASF India encourage
education in any way they can. Currently they are involved in an India wide project as partners in the Science Express.
The original idea was mooted by the Department of Science and Technology, India, and taken up by BASF, the government of Germany and the Max Planck Society. The Science Express is currently travelling across 57 destinations in India over a period of eight months.
The trip will reach its conclusion in June and was initially expected to attract over one million visitors. By mid April there had already been 1.5 million. One of the features of the train is the interactive Kids’ Lab which was provided by BASF.
BASF say: ‘Our actions today can create a better tomorrow. And BASF is proud to do so in more ways than one.’