Working Under Palm Trees - Wacker Chemie AG


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Working Under Palm Trees

Amit Kumar Paul has been researching silicones for nearly 30 years. He was already working in the labs at Metroark when WACKER entered into a joint venture with the Indian company in 1998. “Back then there were three of us,” recalls the chemist. Now his team numbers ten people – and the regional center of excellence is undergoing further development.

Amit Kumar Paul (3rd from right) and his team develop customized silicone products for the Indian market.

Mid-January WACKER inaugurated the expanded technical center in Amtala near Kolkata, with 1,800 square meters housing state-of-the-art application technology. Amit Kumar Paul is proud of the first-class testing equipment with which his team develops new silicone products for the region.

Traditionally, Indian developers have specialized in silicones for the textile industry. But Paul and his team have lately also made a name for themselves with the manufacturers of shampoos, skin creams and detergents, and with automotive suppliers.

The clocks tick faster in India than elsewhere. “Our customers don’t usually have time to wait for the hundred percent solution,” says Amit Kumar Paul. “Above all, it’s a question of speed and price.” He can still remember the first job they did for a consumer goods multinational. “We developed a silicone emulsion for a shampoo within seven days.” The pace was worth it: today, WACKER does business with this customer worldwide.

There are four women and five men in Amit Kumar Paul’s team. What makes his team special? Paul does not have to think long. “They are all young and very dynamic,” he says. Just like Kolkata, where most of them live. “The poorhouse that was India has changed drastically in the last ten years,” says the 53-year-old. Slums do still exist, even in the center. But a lot of building is going on, new companies are being created, and the middle class of this vast city is growing.

By contrast, Amtala, seat of Metroark Wacker Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. is only a small village. If you travel south from Kolkata in the direction of the Ganges delta, the surroundings become increasingly greener. After an hour’s drive, you reach the production site. Coconut palms and rice grow nearby, and agriculture dominates the region.

People here work from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. “That’s great,” says Amit Kumar Paul and laughs. Until 1998, he had a six-day week, meaning there was hardly any time for the family.

The Technical Center developers are collected in the morning by company cars or minibuses. Together with their colleagues from production, they are also driven back home in the evening. “Besides, Amtala is so small that there are no restaurants here,” says Paul. Lunch is provided for everyone in the canteen, which strengthens the feeling of community among the workforce.