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Engineered Wood

Furniture though is largely made of wood, fast catching up as a popular alternative material is the Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF). Yogesh Arora, Country Head, Engineered Panel division, GreenPly Industries Ltd, talks to Buildotech about the latest products in this segment, industry trends and GreenPly Green Panelmax MDF.

What is the scenario of plywood / MDF industry in India today?

Looking at the existing scenario in the panel industry in India today, almost 80% of the market share belongs to Plywood as opposed to the remaining 20% being for engineered panel products like MDF. However, with increasing urbanisation, India is seeing a sea change in the building and construction segment with the interiors and furniture industry being one of the fastest growing. In the furniture segment specially, the demand for ready-made furniture, made with engineered panels like MDF is rapidly growing as people increasingly find themselves short on time and inconvenient to get customized furniture made by carpenters. Also furniture made with MDF is more affordable for an upwardly-mobile middle-class, looking for smart and high quality interiors which are reasonably priced.

Fast developing urban centres are also giving an important boost to demand in this industry. Affordable housing and the culture of ready-to-move-in offices/retail outlets, with low-cost modular furniture which are comparatively new to India, are fast gaining popularity. Time constraints on projects and shorter completion schedules due to high cost of finance have also led to a preference for machine-made furniture made from engineered panels like MDF and particle boards by builders.

Eventually, an increase in the usage of engineered panel products in India is bound to happen, especially with the gap between demand and supply of plywood increasing due to the Indian Government’s hold on fresh licensing for the manufacture of plywood.

What are the different applications for pre-laminated MDF in building industry?

The introduction of Pre-laminated MDF panels has revolutionised the interiors and furniture industry as they offer high quality lamination in designs and colour of your choice, saving time and money. Manual lamination currently done on plywood is comparatively twice as expensive, time consuming and the end product is sometimes prone to de-lamination specially during monsoon season and change of weather. Prelaminated MDF can be used for any type of interior job ranging from wall cladding and panelling to furniture, modular furniture, cabinets etc.

Diversified sizes and quality products with varied thickness from 2.5mm to 35mm has encouraged the usage of MDF. Also, there are no major drawbacks in constructing furniture with pre-laminated boards, as precise and well calibrated tools ensure that the boards are not physically damaged. The main advantage which this product category offers is that since the panel is pre-laminated during the manufacturing, the user is ensured of an absolutely smooth and flawless finish with a longer life.

What are the latest design trends in the use of pre-laminated MDF?

The interiors industry is like fashion dominated by international trends which keep on changing. At present the trend has shifted from the usage of lighter shades to darker one in India. Greenply keeps on initiating these changes and it is our endeavour to keep our customers updated on the latest international trends. Recently, we have introduced our Tulip range, which has received a very warm response from the Architects and Furniture makers.

What is Green Panelmax MDF?

Green Panelmax MDF is an engineered panel product. It is an eco-friendly, easy to use and economical alternative to plywood, especially for making durable furniture and interiors as well a wide range of industrial applications. Being manufactured with state-of-the-art European technology at Greenply’s plant at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, Green Panelmax MDF is positioned as a world-class product since it is a stringently tested, superior quality MDF. It is for the first time in India that such a diverse range of sizes and thicknesses, from thinnest to thick, is being made available by a local manufacturer. Greenply also plans to get into the manufacture of HDF, pre-laminated HDF and laminated flooring categories.

Green Panelmax MDF is manufactured with unique fiber interlocking technology which leads to high bonding strength and rigidity which makes it suitable for constructing durable furniture and creating unique interiors. The homogenous structure and easy machining characteristics of the product enables it to be intricately and precisely routed, carved and molded. Additionally, the surface smoothness and 0% latex content lead to perfect painting, polishing and high-gloss end finishes. It is also extremely simple to apply laminates and veneers on these boards due to the smoothness of the panel surface.

What are the production technologies involved?

Greenply’s Green Panelmax Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) manufacturing facility at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand is the first-of-its-kind in India that incorporates the latest European technologies. This facility is also the country’s largest and most technologically advanced plant in its category, utilising a continuous press system for the very first time for this application. The annual capacity of the plant is 1,80,000 CBM.

To maintain its stringent quality norms, Greenply has invested in the most up to date technologies and machines; Front end wood processing and chipping from Bruks Klockner (Sweden), chips storage and conveying from Trasmec (Italy), fibre refining from Metso (Finland) and fibre drying from Sunds MDF Technologies (Sweden).

Greenply has also purchased the latest machinery for forming, press and raw board handling from market leader Dieffenbacher of Germany, an 8-head sanding machine from Steinemann of Switzerland, panel sizing from Giben (Italy) and a multi fuel hybrid energy generation plant from Thermax (India). To ensure optimal emission levels, the company has installed a latest generation dust extraction/fume absorption system supplied by Scheuch (Austria).

Infact, Greenply is the only manufacturer in India today to possess the Through-Panel Density testing technology which is carried out by state-of-the-art European testing machines at its plant, utilizing X-Ray technology. This crucial testing facility verifies the true strength and durability of the product with assured optimum density profile.

The growth story of Greenply Industries Ltd…

Greenply’s was started by S P Mittal (Chairman) and Rajesh Mittal (Managing Director) in the early 80’s, initially in Nagaland by setting up of a very small saw-mill, at a meagre investment of 5 lakhs. Later, a Veneer mill was added, which was subsequently upgraded to plywood manufacturing, for adding value within the business.

The growth of the company started in the North-East region where the timber business was at its peak during 1980’s & 1990’s and was extremely lucrative. It was a supplier driven market with the demand surpassing supply, where the manufacturers could command profitable pricing, as well as attractive terms and conditions. Green Timber Industries Private limited, as the company was then known, became Greenply industries Ltd, on January 17, 1996.

Over the last twenty five years, the company has expanded to become India’s largest interiors infrastructure company with a complete range of interiors infrastructure products which meets the ever growing demands of discerning customers who consciously look for quality, style and competitive pricing for each category of products. Greenply markets the most comprehensive portfolio of residential and commercial panel products available – plywood & block boards, decorative laminates, decorative veneers, flush doors and MDF, under some leading brand names like Greenply Plywood, Green Club Premium Ply, Greenlam Laminates, Green Decowood, Ecotec and Green Panelmax MDF to name a few.

Greenply accounts for the largest market share in the interior infrastructure industry in India. The wide range of Greenply brands is supported by a strong and rich distribution network of over 38 sales representative offices and 11,500 dealers/distributors/sub-dealers/retailers across India. The sales and distribution network is strategically supported by seven state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, located near raw material sources and key markets, spread across India.

Company Green initiatives…

The Pantnagar facility, where Green Panelmax is being manufactured has been duly awarded the Forest Stewardship Council™ Chain-of-Custody (COC). This certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value. An FSC™ logo on a company’s product or communication spells a guarantee that it comes from responsible sources – environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable.

Greenply has acquired environment related certifications like the prestigious FSC, CE, COC certifications for several of its other manufacturing operations as well.

What is the present market share of pre-laminated MDF and is its use growing?

Prior to launch of our product, the market for pre-laminated boards was majorly dominated by pre-laminated Particle Board, as the major users in the organized segment needed diversified sizes to manufacture work stations etc which were only available in pre-laminated particle boards. An absence of big manufacturers of pre-laminated MDF contributed to more usage of particle boards. Also no manufacturer in India could provide larger sizes like 8’x6’ in MDF, which was the convenient and preferred size by architects. With the introduction of a better range of sizes and designs & shades by Greenply, this market will slowly expand and shift to MDF as it is a more homogenous and sturdy product.

What are the future trends that you see emerging in MDF industry?

MDF is a very versatile product and is already being used in nearly 100 different applications in India, ranging from examination clip boards to shoe heels and handicrafts, besides furniture and interior applications. However, Indian carpenters have yet to adopt the usage of this product as they are traditionally used to working with plywood and are unaware on how to utilize MDF. The challenge now is to popularize the use of this product in this important segment and to make MDF a house hold name like plywood. With Greenply entering into the picture with such a huge capacity there would be a paradigm shift in the usage of MDF. Greenply has recruited and trained carpenters from ITI’s and plans to expand the applications of MDF by further training the carpenters across the country. We have also been successful in expanding the market by replacing local/unorganized plywood in furniture applications with MDF.

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