Rise of Downstream Aluminium - Boost to Ancillary Industries

By Mr. A. S. Ganesan, Associate Vice President - Domestic Marketing & Sales at Jindal Aluminium

Aluminium cannot be overlooked in discussions of metals that play a pivotal role in our sector by spawning the creation of tertiary factories and, by extension, jobs. When it comes to efficiency, safety, and longevity, aluminium is the most adaptable metal. This makes it a great choice for today's applications with stringent engineering standards.

Aluminium's widespread applicability across industries has contributed to the downstream segment meeting a variety of needs. As the industry recovers from COVID, downstream aluminium products continue to be in high demand. Construction, automotive manufacturing, power transmission lines, aircraft, transportation, defense, and packaging, are leading this demand owing to the metal's eco-friendliness, mobility, and low energy consumption.

In India, these products are made by a wide range of businesses, from the large to the small, totalling approximately 2,500 companies, all contributing to the sector in numerous but significant ways. A flurry of auxiliary businesses has emerged over the years in India as a result of this absorption of downstream aluminium products. To meet rising demand these medium and small-scale enterprises are investing in state-of-the-art machinery and increasing production capacity to meet requirements.

Sector-agnostic raw material

Downstream aluminium is used for about 3,000 different things around the world, but India only needs 300 of them right now. One way to make more use of aluminium would be for supporting industries to grow, which would increase the number of ways it could be used. India's downstream aluminium industry is only going to help the country grow with its products, which will increase demand for a wide range of supporting industries. In the next five to eight years, the need for aluminium is likely to grow as demand for products further down the line grows. The growth of the industries that buy from the market is what is driving its growth. Along with this, the need for recyclable and long-lasting aluminium has increased, which has led to the use of downstream aluminium products in many industries, such as:

Automotives

There is no doubt that the automotive auxiliary industry propels the Indian economy. It accounts for around 2.3% of India's GDP. Aluminium is used in the auto industry for the frame and body of cars, the electrical wiring, the wheels, the lights, the paint, the transmission, the air conditioner condenser and pipes, engine parts like pistons, radiator, cylinder heads, and magnets for speedometers, tachometers and even the airbags. Automobile manufacturing relies on a wide variety of auxiliary industries, such as those that produce and sell the machinery, tools, and components that go into making cars. It plays a significant role in the Indian auto market. The Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are the customers of the organized sector, which trades in expensive instruments. Tools and parts with little value are supplied by the unorganized sector to the aftermarket. The world's focus is shifting to manufacturing accessories for electric vehicles and by 2025, the car auxiliary industry in India is projected to rise to the third largest position worldwide.

Construction

Aluminium is utilized for everything from office buildings to private homes, making it the second most specified metal in construction, behind only steel. It is widely used for fenestration and wall curtain works, in window and door manufacturing, roofing and cladding, cladding and curtain walling, structural glazing, prefabricated buildings, architectural hardware, heating and ventilation systems, shop fitting and partitions, and structural glazing. Aluminium is also employed in the fa├žade, and framework industries. The extensive use of downstream aluminium in the construction industry today has also given business to the ancillary industry involved in making window panes, glasswork, window hinges, door knobs, door stoppers, rubber insulation, etc.

Transportation

The government of India is making investments into transportation infrastructure for India's expanding metropolises. Aluminium is being employed in a wide variety of transportation applications, from high-speed trainsets to aluminium rakes and metro coaches. This has resulted in the development of a plethora of tertiary supporting establishments that provide things like forgings, castings, and furnishings (including chairs and berths). As such, component manufacturers should expect strong demand from the metro rail projects. As domestic demand increases, it is being pursued to bring the production of couplers and other components like air conditioners back to the country. This will not just provide a consistent supply of spare parts but also simplify maintenance procedures going forward.

Power Lines (T&D)

Aluminum and its alloys are essential to the electrical industry because of its great structural strength, low weight, excellent conductivity, high ductility, and lack of magnetic characteristics. A few examples of common places to find include cables, busbars, overhead transmission lines, motors, foil windings, electrolytic capacitors, heating elements, heat sinks, and many more. Aluminium wires and cables have their largest market in India. Whereas the global average is roughly 1.3 kgs, per capita usage of aluminium in India's electrical sector is about 0.9 kgs. Aluminium wire rods are used for transmission lines because they are two times lighter than steel and are not susceptible to corrosion from the elements. Because of their low mass, aluminium wire rods are well suited to preventing the drooping of transmission lines, which is crucial for keeping electricity flowing reliably over great distances.

Finally, as a result of government projects like Make in India, the Smart Cities Project, Housing for All, Rural Electrification, Dedicated Freight Corridors, High-Speed Railway Networks, and more, India has the potential to increase its aluminium consumption. It is therefore not surprising that as the downstream aluminium segment is growing, it provides a ready-made market for the growth of the ancillary industry.