What does an idealistic young lawyer selling kerosene out of a push cart have to do with India going digital? If your name was Bhavarlal Jain, the answer is: “Plenty.” A visionary entrepreneur and founder of Jain Irrigation Systems, Limited (JISL), based in Maharashtra, India, Jain grew a billion-dollar business from the ground up based on a simple personal philosophy: “Leave this world a better place than you found it.”1
When Jain died in 2016, he left behind the world’s second largest drip irrigation company that is responsible for bringing water to some three million Indian farmers. JISL’s 11,000-plus employees now operate 30 manufacturing facilities over four continents and sell the company’s growing list of polymer and related products to 126 countries – including the United States. Through the years, JISL has earned a global reputation as a pioneer and leader in the science and production of polymer piping that is used in everything from irrigation and gas systems to fiber optic cable.2
It All Starts With Cabling
That last-mentioned item is where digital India comes into play. In 2015, Bharat Broad Band Network Ltd. (BBNL), which oversees the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) was created. That entity is currently tunneling its way through and across India to lay fiber optic cable in a massive undertaking to bring high-speed internet connectivity to 600 million rural citizens. Targeted for completion in the near future, NOFN is expected to bridge the gap between rural and urban India with a series of telecommunications, commercial, educational, medical, and government-based services that will be carried over the new national broadband network.3
While NOFN is among the world’s largest fiber optic projects—expected to use some 500,000 plus kilometers of cable—it is also heavily reliant on JISL’s expertise in manufacturing sensitive yet rugged HDPE ducts to house and protect the fiber optic cable against a variety of extremes. These include extreme cold, heat, monsoons, and even teething rodents that tend to nibble on cables buried 10 feet below ground. To ward them off, JISL engineers have developed a special duct that includes a “bitterent” that dissuades rodent gnawing.4
Remarkable as that sounds, it is only one of many “firsts” from a company that annually manufactures over 87,000 metric tons of HDPE ducts that meet strict international performance standards for the likes of BSNL, Reliance, Airtel, Tata Tele, Nokia/Alcatel Lucent, and Vodafone, to name just a few of the global telecom giants using JISL products around the world. In business since 1963, it should come as no surprise to learn that JISL knows a thing or two about polymer ducting and its manufacture. Since 1993, high-speed air blowing of OFC through ducts could be accomplished only by developing a co-extruding process that incorporates a lubricant into the polymer to reduce sliding friction inside the duct. Another more recent innovation is its flame-retardant duct developed by JISL scientists at the company’s state-of-art testing facility.5
The OIT Test And PerkinElmer’s DSC 4000
No matter what its application, all of JISL’s polymer piping undergoes OIT testing. OIT is short for oxidative induction time. This test provides information about the oxidative stability of polymers. The information is important because polyolefins age throughout their lifetime due to exposure to heat, oxygen, light, and radiation. Aging causes the degradation of the physical properties of polymers and will lead to their eventual failure. To forestall this aging process, JISL scientists normally add antioxidants into their plastics’ formulation. Because the reaction between polymers and oxygen (O2) is exothermic (meaning a chemical reaction is accompanied by the release of heat), JISL scientists use a PerkinElmer® DSC (Differential Scanning Calorimetry) 4000 System to determine the OIT for each of its products. The instrument utilizes a precisely-machined disc of hardened nickel chromium and a low-mass aluminum coated furnace to provide the DSC with high resistance against contamination or aggressive gases while preserving its ability to provide highly accurate, reproducible results to determine each polymer’s OIT.6
For example, the OIT specified by the Indian government for the NOFN project is a minimum of 30 minutes. Using the PerkinElmer DSC 4000, JISL is able to show the onset of oxidization in its HDPE duct sample is about 95 minutes, more than three times the required protective standard for its pipe sheathing of fiber optic cable,7 which in turn indicates the superior quality feature of JISL’s HDPE duct.
Living Up To A Promise
What does this all mean for India? "This makes it possible for a remote farmer to get on an e-commerce platform and reach a much wider market,” Aruna Sundararajan, who heads Bharat Broadband Network Limited, told Deutsche Welt. “Similarly, it makes it possible for children living in a village to get much better access to teachers and quality healthcare."8 Equally important to JISL, it continues to live up to its founder’s vision of “leaving this world a better place than you found it.”
- Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd., “Founder: Bhavarlal Jain,” JISL Website, accessed April 25, 2017.
- Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd., “About Us,” JISL Website, accessed April 25, 2017.
- Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, “NOFN,” April 21, 2016, accessed April 25, 2017.
- Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd., “Jain Micro Duct Pipes,” JISL Website, accessed April 25, 2017.
- PerkinElmer, “Optical Fiber OIT Test,” PerkinElmer Case Study, 2016.
- Kerala Murali Krishnan, “India's ambitious optical fiber broadband network to bridge digital divide in rural areas,” DW, January 30, 2015.