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Associations, societies push rubber industry progress.

Associations, societies push rubber industry progress

Rubber Division, ACS

Rubber World is now 20 years plus 101 days older than the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society.

Both the publication and the Division have come a long way. From the modest start, each has proved to be resilient, adaptable and capable of meeting the demands for change in a continuously changing climate.

Today, probably, the founders of neither the publication nor the organization would recognize their own creation in terms of size, complexity and the scope and nature of operations.

The Rubber Division was launched in Boston on December 30, 1909, as the India Rubber Section of the then 33-year old American Chemical Society.

The founders were 28 chemists, including the son of B.F Goodrich, Charles C. Goodrich, who was the Section's first chairman. Named secretary was Frederick J. Hayfield.

Others participating at the inception included William Geer, the Goodrich researcher who seven years later invented the Geer oven test; Diamond Rubber's George Oenslager; C.R. Boggs of Simplex Wire & Cable, also to serve as chairman; and Edward A. Barrier, Milton E. MacDonald, William G. Hills, Sheldon P. Thatcher, Harvey M. Eddy, H. Hughes, Harold van der Linde, M.L. Allard, C.E. Waters and G.H. Savage.

The section was formed to serve as a clearinghouse for information relating to the fledgling field of rubber chemistry. Its function, as described years later by Rubber World editor E.V. Osberg, was " bring together at occasional meetings chemists and others interested in the field of rubber so that problems of moment and interest could be solved by common effort."

Easier said than done. In those days, rubber companies neither sought nor used patent protection extensively. Secrecy was endemic. Processes, products and compounds were jealously guarded. Shop talk between chemists from competing companies, considered virtually treasonous, was to say the least, discouraged.

As a result, the struggling India Rubber Section almost died aborning. But, as technology improved and the amount of information increased, rubber chemistry gained stature as a bona fide science. The need to exchange information became apparent and the organization, as a result, got a new lease on life.

On April 7, 1919, in Buffalo, NY, the India Rubber Section became the Division of Rubber Chemistry, in charge of its own affairs, a nonprofit technically oriented organization for professional rubber chemists, scientists, engineers and technicians.

The name was changed to Rubber Division on November 27, 1972. It is now one of the largest of the 32 divisions comprising the American Chemical Society.

Today, the Division is made up of 27 Rubber Groups in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with some 5,000 members representing 1,200 companies, associated companies, and educational institutions, both domestic and foreign.

With heavy emphasis on communications, the Division is dedicated to technical education and the career advancement of its members, as well as to their accreditation. Underlying its many programs and activities is a basic idea: for professionals in rubber chemistry, learning is a lifelong process. This is significant in a discipline where, according to estimates, the half-life of the technological core upon which a career is based may be less than five years.

Technical meetings designed to give members the broadest possible exposure to the latest ideas in rubber chemistry are held twice a year. These are held each spring and fall in cities throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Each meeting runs three and one half days, and features the presentation of 80-100 technical papers. To encourage excellence in these papers, the Division gives "Best Paper Awards" for outstanding presentations.

Biennial expositions are held in conjunction with the technical meetings in the fall of odd numbered years. With 220 plus company exhibits and drawing up to 10,000 visitors, expos are among the largest such industrial shows in the world.

Rubber Expo `89 is scheduled October 17-19 in Detroit's Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center along with the 138th Technical Meeting scheduled for October 17-20.

Mini-expos are held with technical meetings in even numbered years, designed to afford companies opportunity to exhibit to the industry more frequently. Directed by well-known authorities in their respective fields, symposia on special subjects are presented at all meetings.

Division publications include Rubber Chemistry and Technology, a quarterly journal which prints major technical papers from all over the world, and Rubber Reviews, which describes significant scientific events relating to rubber and polymer chemistry.

The Division's Basic Correspondence Course began in 1963, the Intermediate in 1983, and the Advanced in 1979. Since their inception, these course have been taken by more than 15,000 people. The classes provide alternatives to formal classroom and laboratory courses at universities involved in polymer and materials sciences.

A week long classroom course, "Compounding, Processing and Testing of Elastomers," is held twice each year for more experienced people, and a two-day rubber technology workshop is held in connection with the Division's fall meetings.

The Division gives special recognition and encouragement for exceptional achievement with its awards program. Honored are scientists, chemists, engineers and teachers who use their creativity to advance rubber science and technology.

Up to five awards are presented each year at the Division's spring technical meetin. Awards are made to Division members and non-members and nominations can be made by any interested party. Honoraria accompanying the five awards total $18,000, and each recipient receives $500 for expenses to the awards dinner.

The awards program was expanded in 1987. Three new awards were added to the Division's Charles Goodyear Medal Award, which, accompanied by a $5,000 honorarium, has been awarded to 46 scientists since it was established in 1941.

The other awards and the company sponsors are: The Melvin Mooney Distinguished Technology Award, sponsored by Uniroyal Chemical Company; The George Stafford Whitby International Award for Distinguished Teaching and Academic Research, sponsored by Polysar, Ltd; The Sparks-Thomas Award, sponsored by Exxon Chemical; and the Fernley H. Banbury Award, sponsored by the Farrel Corporation.

The program, according to Division chairman John Messner, is designed to single out people who make worthy scientific and academic contributions to the rubber industry for the recognition they deserve.

"Our aim in honoring these individuals is to increase both professional and public awareness of them, of what they have done, and of the importance of their accomplishments," he said.

In 1988, the Division established an annual $10,000 doctoral fellowship in rubber and polymer science to honor the late Nobel Laureate, Dr. Paul J. Flory.

Dr. Flory, a Jackson-Wood Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and later, Chairman of the Division of Chemistry of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, received the Division's Charles Goodyear Medal Award in 1968. The Flory Fellowship Award supports full-time doctoral level education at recognized North American universities.

The Division is led by its elected officers, a steering committee, and a representative from each of the area rubber groups, all nonpaid.

In addition, there are 25 standing committees directed by committee chairmen, and some 300 Division members participating in various committee assignments to enable the Division to meet its objectives.

From a complex of offices in Whitby Hall (soon to move to the new Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering Building) at The University of Akron, a professional staff of eight handles day to day operations - memberships, meetings, exhibit sales, finances, mailings, printings, publications, advertising and inquiries from members and groups.

The Division's Technical Information Center and Library has a very large collection of polymer information, and via computer, has access to a host of other private and public technical libraries throughout the world. Located in the John H. Gifford Memorial Library at The University of Akron, the library is staffed full-time and has on-line computer search facilities. The center is used by chemists and researchers as well as management, marketing and engineering personnel. Many requests for polymer technical information and historical materials are processed daily. The library's resources are substantial and as close as the telephone to members and non-members. The Rubber Division, ACS today is a modern, thriving, financially viable organization unique in its operations, programs and activities. It is recognized internationally as an organization run by and with professionals for professionals.

Rubber Manufacturers Association

Many of the important developments, events and people that have shaped this great industry also have been part of the rich history of the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

The RMA traces its origins back to the turn of the century when the New England Rubber Club had formed in Boston under Henry C. Morse.

In 1909, RMA's role as industry spokesman had grown so that the name was changed to Rubber Club Of America to reflect its heightened visibility among member companies. It was around this period that club headquarters were moved to New York.

A few years later, in 1916, rubber goods output was in full gear as production of cars, trucks and buses topped the million-a-year mark for the first time. That same year, one of the industry's pioneers, Harvey S. Firestone, became the club's tenth president.

The following year, the "club" was incorporated as the Rubber Association of America. In those early days, RMA functioned more as a social organization to promote good will among business competitors for the industry's well-being.

It wasn't until 1929 - the year the stock market crashed - that the current name was adopted, reflecting a shift toward business-oriented services. From this point on, association membership, which had been open to both domestic and foreign manufacturers, was limited to domestic rubber producers.

RMA's growth coincided with the rubber industry's expansion surge that began with the automobile. Between 1910 and 1920, rubber manufacturers began gearing up for the automobile industry's increasing need for better tires, more rugged belts and tougher hose. As demand grew and trade increased, the association's pioneering role in setting product standards became more and more important.

RMA's role as an industry spokesman grew even stronger during this period as our industry coped with the Depression, the New Deal and the era leading to World War II.

One of the milestones in the annals of RMA was the development of the synthetic rubber industry during a critical time in our nation's history. When America entered World War II in 1941, the country depended mostly on Far Eastern plantations for its natural rubber supply. Those sources were lost in Japan's Pacific conquest. The U.S. and its allies were cut off from a vital material.

The years of work that the rubber industry had devoted to research and development of synthetic rubber helped save America in its hour of crisis. The government launched a crash program to produce enough synthetic rubber to keep the allied war machine running. In a matter of months blueprints of pilot plants became factories capable of producing thousands of tons of synthetic rubber a year.

RMA's leadership, coupled with the outstanding engineering and technical achievements among member companies, made a substantial contribution to the war effort.

RMA helped the government develop a stockpiling program to enlarge U.S. rubber reserves so that the nation would never be caught short of this vital commodity again. That stockpiling program remains in effect today.

Postwar function

The RMA's major post-war function was helping to plan material requirements for civilian production. Working through RMA, the rubber industry prepared comprehensive estimates of civilian requirements for tires as well as a list of materials necessary to produce them using scarce supplies of natural rubber.

Later, RMA representatives served as consultants to the National Security Resources Board which, among other things, projected both natural and synthetic rubber requirements in the event of another national emergency.

The government-owned synthetic plants were eventually sold back to private operators at a profit of about $22-million to U.S. taxpayers.

By the 1960s the rubber industry had grown by leaps and bounds. To keep pace, RMA's statistical, standardization and legislative activities were expanded to include a broad range of new services. As trade with foreign countries picked up, RMA also began to represent the U.S. rubber industry in international forums for the quest of equitable policies.

Under the early safety programs, manufacturers certified that their products met or exceeded RMA's voluntary standards on tire strength, endurance and high-speed performance.

RMA presidents

During its early years, RMA presidents were elected from among executives and founders of member companies. Distinguished men like Harvey S. Firestone, F.A. Seiberling and P.W. Litchfield were among the association's presidents who also headed rubber companies.

As RMA's members and product mix grew, the board of directors decided to elect a full-time president who had no company ties.

In the mid-1930s, A.L. Viles became the first president elected from outside the rubber company ranks. In 1955, he was succeeded by Ross Ormsby, who served as president until his retirement in 1973, when Malcolm R. Lovell, Jr. was appointed president. In 1981 Mr. Lovell accepted an appointment from President Reagan to become undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Later that year, Donald G. Brotzman was elected president. Brotzman was elected president. Brotzman retired in June 1989. The RMA board appointed Thomas E. Cole, former vice president of the RMA's Tire Division, as his successor.

In 1964, the rubber industry made a major contribution to highway safety when it adopted minimum dimensional and test performance standards for new passenger car tires. Today, that voluntary program serves as the basis for federal tire safety regulations.

Allied organizations

Because of the growing interest in tire safety during the consumer movement in the late 1960s, the RMA board established the Tire Industry Safety Council in 1969. The council distributes facts about tire care and safety to consumers through a wide variety of public information programs, including news releases for print and broadcast media, distribution of tire safety kits, tire air pressure gauges and publications, and video material for driver education students. As the tire industry's communications arm, TISC also acts as a truth squad in responding to unfair attacks by critics.

Another organization, the Natural Rubber Shippers Association, got its start in the early 1970s. NRSA arranges prompt, efficient, economical ocean transportation of natural rubber cargo for member companies through contracts with steamship lines. Since its creation, NRSA's competitive influence on shipping rates has saved the industry millions in transportation costs to North America.

Organization and membership

One of the RMA's major assets throughout its history has been its ability to change with the times. When it was organized, membership was comprised of manufacturers of ponchos, boots, coated fabrics, gloves and medical stoppers. Today, RMA has about 230 member and affiliate member companies that make over 40,000 rubber or rubber-related products vital to modern society.

To handle this diverse product mix, RMA's organizational structure has evolved over time to meet the industry's ever-changing needs.

RMA's 19-member board of directors is comprised of chief executive officers of member companies representing various segments of the rubber and plastics product industry.

The association's president, appointed by the board, directs the activities of RMA's 35-member professional staff, who administer and coordinate the various programs of RMA product divisions and industry-wide service committees.

Working through these divisions and service committees, RMA has been a major force in shaping federal and state legislation and regulations as well as setting product standards and specifications, domestically and internationally.

RMA's seven product divisions represent various industry segments: industrial Products, Molded & Extruded Products, Roll Coverings, Roofing Products, Sealing Products, Sundries and Tires.

These divisions prescribe product specifications and standards; develop statistics on product shipments; organize meetings to discuss and resolve common industry problems; serve as an information clearinghouse; and develop views and policies on matters affecting member company interests.

RMA's industry-wide committees operate in service areas of general concern to all members. These include committees on: economics, education, electronic data processing, energy policy, environment, government relations, industrial relations, natural rubber, occupational safety and health, rubber statistics, public relations and transportation.

One of the oldest and most well-known activities of the association is in the statistical area. RMA's Management Information Services department prepares approximately 100 statistical reports annually on different aspects of the rubber industry, including the federal excise tax schedule, monthly industry reports, wage surveys and trade name journals.

In 1973, RMA moved its headquarters from New York to Washington to reflect the increasing emphasis on regulatory and legislative issues.

Current program

In recent years, RMA has been active on a number of fronts including trade reform, scrap tire disposal, voluntary product standards, international statistical gathering, service manuals on tires, and new handbooks in the areas of hose, conveyor belts, roll covering and sheet rubber. In the trade area, RMA represented the industry during the "Tokyo Round" and "Uruguay Round" of multi-national trade negotiations. The association also actively worked toward passage of an Omnibus Trade Reform Bill, that increases market access for U.S. products abroad.

RMA also served on the steering committee of the coalition that spear-headed Congressional ratification of the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which is designed to bolster the country's trade position with its northern neighbor. RMA and industry allies have been successful at preventing passage of a series of labor bills, with mandated benefits that would be burdensome to the rubber industry.

Research programs in the last few-years have also played a big part in the RMA's success in modifying proposed OSHA, EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration action to the benefit of the industry.

As more states consider solutions on how to handle scrap tire disposal, the association has maintained an active public education campaign to promote "model" legislation which has fair and reasonable options on how to deal with this problem responsibly.

It is unlikely that these achievements would have been accomplished by companies working alone. But together, under RMA, the industry's coordinated strength has made a positive difference.

International Institute of Synthetic

Rubber Producers

The International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers is a worldwide, not-for-profit association established to promote the manufacture and use of synthetic rubber (SR), further the goals of its membership, and exchange information consistent with the interests of the industry, government and the public. In pursuit of this mission, the institute has placed increasing emphasis in recent years on promoting research and the development of scientific data to protect the health of its employees and the public.

History and organization

The institute was founded in 1960 by 14 charter members. Due to new member growth during the past few years, its membership now represents the interests of members with both traditional and newly diversified SR interests. The institute was incorporated under the State of New York's Not-for Profit Corporation Law and now maintains its worldwide headquarters in Houston, Texas.

The institute is divided into four geographic sections - the European, Far Eastern, Latin American and North American sections. A director from each of the member companies is represented on the institute's board of directors. This provides the opportunity for participation in important executive and director-officer functions in addition to the routine directorship responsibilities assumed by the director representatives.

Since its founding, the institute has gained international recognition and stature on behalf of the synthetic rubber industry and serves as a communication vehicle for the industry.


Worldwide institute membership includes approximately 50 major synthetic rubber companies located in 20 countries. These member companies represent more than 95 percent of SR produced globally in the non-centrally planned economies.

Today, membership represents almost every significant producer of SR. This includes multinational companies with diverse product interests and national companies producing only SR.

Any company engaged in the commercial manufacture of a synthetic rubber polymer included within the product scope of the institute is eligible for membership in the institute.

Application for membership is made in writing to IISRP headquarters. Based upon the managing director's recommendation, the executive committee determines and approves the applications for qualified member applicants.

The principal thrust in pursuit of institute goals is generated by its worldwide committee activities. The institute staff coordinates the individual committee programs. The staff represents the interest of the committees and members to the international community of governments, scientific bodies, related trade organizations and the public at large. Management of institute affairs is under the guidance of the executive committee. Routine operations are handled by the managing director, the administration director and a small headquarter's staff.

Its purposes

The institute fulfills its mission by gathering, receiving, preparing and disseminating statistics on the worldwide synthetic rubber industry; promoting the standardization of synthetic rubber polymers; cooperating with governments and their agencies worldwide regarding matters affecting the industry such as environmental health and safety; encouraging the development of international trade in synthetic rubber polymers; promoting research, development and support for scientific studies in rubber related fields; developing and exchanging information to foster the protection of the environment and the health of its workers and the public; and doing everything reasonable, proper and advisable in conformity with applicable laws for the attainment of the above goals.

A general evaluation

Members and followers of the institute from the business, economic, scientific and government communities who have traditionally supported institute activities are well aware of the benefits to be derived from this unique international organization. Due to the diversity of its participants reflecting a myriad of geographical interests and cultures, membership represents different things to different companies in different societies.

To a large extent, membership benefits are directly related to the degree of participation by the individual member company representatives. The most important function offered by the institute is to provide a vehicle for communication and discussion of the challenges and the opportunities confronting the industry.

The institute also serves its members by efficiently identifying and addressing common industry problems with potential solutions which may otherwise prove to be too expensive or time-consuming if undertaken by an individual company. Not only has the institute made the public aware of the important role of the synthetic rubber industry, but it has also gained increasing recognition for the numerous industry contribution to society.

In addition to representing the needs envisioned by the founding companies, the institute will continue its efforts to support important traditional activities while expanding its role to serve the needs of new and expanding SR interests globally.

International Rubber Study Group

The Group celebrates its 45th anniversary in 1989. It is an intergovernmental organization with the status of a recognized international body in London, formally established by a headquarters agreement with the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The present membership consists of 26 countries. Collectively, the member countries accounted for approximately 73% of all synthetic and natural rubber consumed throughout the world in 1988. The natural rubber producing members account for 89% of world production of natural rubber and the synthetic rubber producing members for 86% of world production of synthetic rubber.

The Group is served by a secretariat of which the secretary-general, who is responsible to the Group and the executive committee, is the executive head. The Group's activities are financed by member governments' contributions.


The Group exists to provide a forum for the discussion of matters affecting the supply and demand of synthetic and natural rubber. It concerns itself with all aspects of the world rubber industry, including manufacture of products, trade in rubber raw materials and products, as well as shipping, marketing and distribution of rubber.

It collects and disseminates statistical data on the industry. It engages in studies of an economic and statistical nature of specific aspects of the industry.


The Group meets annually in a plenary session, usually for five days. Since 1945 there have been 31 assemblies held in 18 different member countries. In years when no assembly is held, the annual meeting takes place in London.

The secretariat publishes each month the Rubber Statistical Bulletin and the International Rubber Digest, copies of which are sent to all member governments. In addition, several hundred private bodies throughout the world are paying subscribers.

The secretariat also publishes the proceedings of the annual meeting and the papers presented in the annual discussion forum. Additionally, other publications on particular subjects are prepared from time to time.

Advisory bodies

In order to maintain regular contact with experts from all sides of the industry two advisory bodies have been established.

Committee of rubber statisticians

This body, set up 16 years ago, assists the professional staff and is responsible for preparing a report to the annual meeting on statistics of supply and demand for natural and synthetic rubber. There are 20 members from 13 countries drawn from all sides of the industry.

Industry advisory panel

This body was established in 1983 to advise the Group in choosing subjects for study and to assist the professional staff in carrying out the work program. At present the membership numbers 25. The committee and the panel meet formally immediately prior to the Group annual meeting. Informal contacts are maintained throughout the year.

Obligations of members

Membership is confined to governments. Members undertake, as far as this is possible, to provide the secretariat with statistics of production and consumption of, and trade in rubber in their respective territories, as well as other information needed to prepare current estimates and forecast future trends. The annual budget is approved by the Group in plenary session. Members agree to contribute their share according to an agreed formula which relates to their annual production or consumption of new rubber.

RAPRA Technology Limited

Yesterday and today

Fifty years ago the rubber industry was one of the first to take up the invitation to found a research association partnership with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. In reality, one or two men promoted and pushed through the creation of the Research Association of the British Rubber and Tire Manufacturers in 1919. These included Col. J. Sealy Clarke and Alexander Johnston.

B.D. Porritt, M.Sc., FIC, FRSE, was appointed director of research on March 31, 1920. Born in Canada, Porritt had been educated at Whitgift School, Croydon, and University College, London. From 1908 to 1920, he was employed by North British Rubber as one of the few scientists then in the industry.

It was pre-eminently the faith and ability of Porritt which carried the association forward through many tribulations to the successful position it had attained by the time of his death in 1940. Its premises correlate with Porritt's background. Temporary accommodation was found for the first two years in the Chemistry Department of University College. The staff then included the director and two others.

Two adjoining mid-Victorian houses in Lansdowne Road, Croydon, were purchased on June 1, 1921. A mill-room was constructed, connecting these buildings.

The first Board of Management adopted the flexible view of "Research" in the title of the association which is still adopted today. A program of original research was initiated as early as 1920. Subjects of the first investigations include some which still deeply concern polymer scientists - for example, surface deterioration on aging, effect of oxygen on polymer breakdown (although "polymer" as we know it today was not though of), and resistance to organic liquids. Comparison between our present program and the studies of ebonite and the drying of rubber discussed in the first reports issued indicate how far we have moved forward.

It was soon recognized that no technical group has a monopoly on generating useful information, and therefore it was decided in September, 1920 to build up a library of technical information. Like other successful activities, the importance of this information service was by no means as obvious then as it is today, and indeed the need for such a service was not recognized as quickly by the other new research associations.

By the end of the pre-war period, the association had built up to 175 members and a total income of 13,000 [Pounds] p.a. Although the association had carried out eminent scientific work, it was not easy to sell even such a reputation to those controlling the limited resources in potential member companies.

Three other activities, however, gave many companies an immediate justification of membership: a liaison visiting service started in 1934 for person-to-person discussions in members' factories; an expansion of consultancy services; and the information services which had been in operation since 1920. The post-war activity was to find a new home. The north-west Midlands was the preferred area because of its proximity to the main concentrations of manufacturing industry around Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and North London. Word eventually came of a former casual ward in Shawbury, Shropshire.

Plastics materials became increasingly investigated during the 1950s. Such a study was the one carried out on the frictional properties of PVC belting arising from its adoption by the National Coal Board in place of the rubber which was traditionally within the scope of the association. Things came together in 1958 to accelerate the official widening of the RA to encompass plastics and the council endorsed an expansion into plastics as desirable.

The name of the association was changed to the Rubber and Plastics Research Association of Great Britain at an extraordinary meeting on November 15, 1960.

Today Rapra Technology Ltd. has completely shed its former `industry research association' image in favor of a more contemporary role, in line with current industrial needs, as the UK's leading technology transfer research and consultancy organization specializing in rubbers and plastics.

The change has been particularly rapid in the last three years since the change of name and organizational structure in 1985, and with the arrival of Dr. Malcolm Copley as chief executive and managing director in 1986.

Copley is the first managing director of Rapra with an industrial rather than academic background. The company itself now employs some 170 staff, and serves a market of over 2,000 clients annually, and generates around 25% of its income from overseas.

"We see ourselves at the interface of the various component parts of the polymer industry," says Dr. Copley. "Our skills are of value to materials producers, to companies involved in the processing of rubbers and plastics, and to industries where the use of polymer materials is developing across an ever-widening variety of end uses; industries such as electronics, office equipment, automotive, aerospace and many more."

So while companies continue to come to Rapra for a wide range of chemical, analytical and physical testing services (many of which are being increasingly applied outside the polymer field), they will also find Rapra able to assist in many new areas.

Areas such as sophisticated computer software systems for plastics materials selection or for predicting material flow to aid mold or die design. Or consulting with companies to help them install recognized quality management systems. Or developing novel polymer materials with specialized properties. Or providing an environmental monitoring service to eliminate potential toxic fume hazards. Or developing specialized test procedures and measurement standards in areas such as fire testing or playground safety surfacing.

In addition to this broadening range of technical activities, Rapra is of course the leading information center specializing in polymers. The online databases produced at Rapra are famous worldwide, supported by specialized searching and document delivery services.

Rapra publishes a range of regular journals and organizes a program of seminars in areas of key market interest or technical development.

The Business Consultancy Group utilizing where appropriate the resources of their technical and information-based colleagues, project manage the more complex commercial and business planning problems posed by clients involving market investigation, feasibility or diversification studies.

Dr. Copley emphasizes the theme underpinning all these developments. "We are going for growth," he says.

"Our 1989 multiclient research program is more ambitious than ever before. We are expanding our technology base as well as reinforcing areas ofexisting expertise," he continues.

"In this way we can truly fulfill our role of developing the application and awareness of polymers in current and in potentially new areas. And our business base is broadening too with new ventures in this country and overseas."

Certainly, Rapra's next four decades in Shropshire look like being no less challenging than its first four.

The Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board

Since October 1, 1936, a research tax has been levied on all of the natural rubber exported from Malaysia. Originally this money constituted the Malayan Rubber Fund, from which the Government of the Federated Malay States financed the activities of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaya (RRIM), the British (now Malaysian) Rubber Producers' Research Association (MRPRA) and the British rubber Development Board (BRDB). The function of BRDB, registered in London in 1946, was to publicize the development and use of natural rubber through exhibitions, films, advertising and publications.

In 1956, as Malaya approached independence, the Rubber Producers' Council of Malaysia arranged for a thorough review of the research and development work financed from Malaya by a committee headed by Professor Blackman, Professor of Rural Economy at Oxford University, UK. As a result of the Blackman Committee's Report, the Malayan Rubber Fund Board (MRFB) was established as the final authority under the Minister of Commerce and Industry for the definition of policy, programming and finance of the various bodies financed from Malaysia. The Board's inaugural meeting was on February 4, 1959 under the chairmanship of Sir Geoffrey Clay, who had been appointed to the newly-created post of Malaysia's Controller of Rubber Research.

MRFB was charged with administering a fund for the purpose of financing research, development and publicity for increasing or stimulating the production and consumption of natural rubber It decided the scope and balance of the varied and widespread activities, and allocated the funds accordingly. The activities of RIM and MRPRA were, and still are, controlled through annual reviews of their research by a Coordinating Advisory Committee (CAC). This comprises internationally recognized rubber scientists and technologists, together with representatives of the rubber producers and the rubber trade, who make recommendations to the board concerning the direction and content of the research programs.

Under MRFB, the publicity and promotional work to consumers continued. The BRDB was renamed the Natural Rubber Bureau, sharing the name with a promotional office already established in the United States. Over the next ten years the number of Natural Rubber Bureaus steadily increased, and by 1968 there were offices in Australia, Austria, German Federal Republic, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, UK and USA. In that year, 1,400 visits were made to rubber manufacturers and consumers; these visits were augmented by extensive advertising campaigns, by the production of films and by publications in eight languages.

In 1967, a central scholarship scheme was introduced to provide young Malaysians with undergraduate scholarships and postgraduate scholarships in Malaysia and other countries. In the first two years alone, 49 awards were made under the scheme, which has provided first class technical and scientific education for several hundred students.

In 1972 a government reorganization led to the establishment of a Ministry of Primary Industries. MRFB was renamed the Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board (MRRDB) and given wider responsibilities in relation to the overall development of the Malaysian natural rubber industry. In particular, a special techno-economic unit, the Rubber Economics and Planning Unit, was developed to undertake techno- and agro-economic studies and gather market intelligence. It provides a major input to the Ministry to allow formulation of plans for the development of the natural rubber industry. With the increasing emphasis on downstream industrialization, MRRDB has moved to ensure that the policies of support and encouragement of rubber manufacturing in Malaysia are fully recognized in the operational programs of all its units.

One factor contributing to the good progress made by MRRDB in its endeavours to further the aims of the Malaysian natural rubber industry has undoubtedly been the calibre of its leadership. In 1962, Sir Geoffrey Clay, a distinguished agriculturalist, was succeeded as controller and Chairman by Tan Sri Dr. L.C. Bateman, previously BRPRA's director of research. Dr. Bateman was chairman at a time of great change for the Malaysian rubber industry. The need for modernization of the industry was paramount and Dr. Bateman was the principal architect of one aspect of this modernization - the development of a system for technically classifying natural rubber into a range of grades, the Standard Malaysian Rubber scheme. Tan Sri Dr. B.C. Sekhar, the first Malaysian director of the RRIM, took over from Dr. Bateman in 1974. At the RRIM, Tan Sri Sekhar had made major contributions to the science and technology of natural rubber, including the development of viscosity stabilized grades and of a new process for the preparation of block rubber - the `Heveacrumb' process. At MRRDB he continued to be an effective force in the natural rubber industry, arguing Malaysia's cause with great vigour on the international rubber scene.

The present MRRDB chairman and controller, Datuk Ahmad Farouk bin Haji S.M. Ishak, took over from Dr. Sekhar in 1984. Earlier, in the Ministry of Primary Industries, he had played a major role in drafting legislation to strengthen and modernize the Malaysian natural rubber industry.

Since 1981 he has been closely involved with the International Natural Rubber Organization, most recently as leader of the Malaysian delegation and spokesman for natural rubber exporting countries in the recent negotiation for the latest International Rubber Agreement, operational since early 1989. This price-stabilization pact, designed to protect both producers and consumers from dramatic and sudden fluctuations in the price of natural rubber, is widely agreed to be the most successful commodity agreement in operation, and was been seen to be particularly effective during the recent period of rising prices, when most of the INRA buffer stock was sold off to keep prices below the ceiling.

It is undoubtedly true that Malaysia natural rubber enjoys the most up-to-date technical and scientific support. The resources of the MRRDB are committed to maintaining this leading position, and to supporting the Malaysian smallholders, estate workers and rubber manufacturers who depend on Malaysian natural rubber for their livelihood.

All India Rubber Industries Association

To associate is to share; to share is to feel one with all those connected with the same industry or trade. Out of unity emerges a unified voice and strength for the articulation of problems for solution and better prospects. For an industry, progress emanates from better understanding and mutual cooperation among its members, and meaningful services through a common forum.

Aims and emblem

AIRIA - All India Rubber Industries Association - provides such a common platform to the rubber goods manufacturers in India. It is a non-profit-making body, serving the rubber industry and trade with the objectives of safeguarding and promoting its interests. Representing large, medium and small units, it expresses in unison and with authenticity views on matters concerning the industry. The emblem of the Association - the wheel - stands for movement with purpose, for dynamism, for onward progress. It symbolizes the importance of each member, who is a significant cog in the wheel that generates momentum for progress and prosperity.

An all India body

The AIRIA was formed 44 years ago on April 14, 1945, as the Indian Rubber Industries Association, primarily to represent the medium and small scale rubber goods units, and subsequently in 1951 was registered as a non-share-holding limited company. After 27 years, in 1972, according to the yardstick of rubber consumption, when it attained all India status - representing 85% of the country's rubber goods manufacturing industry - the name was changed to All India Rubber Industries Association - better known as AIRIA - to reflect its true stature, nature and contribution.

Status of the industry AIRIA serves

In India, the rubber goods manufacturing activities started in 1921 and since then it has made phenomenal progress particularly after the independence in 1947. At present, the annual turnover of the industry is around Rs. 35,000 million: Rs 20,000 million for tire sector and Rs. 15,000 million for the non-tire sector. There are over 4,500 units manufacturing almost all types of rubber goods, employing over 250,000 people, contributing about Rs. 12,500 million as various levies to the government exchequer and exporting rubber goods worth Rs. 1,100 million to over 100 countries.

AIRIA and its offices

With the expansion of the industry throughout the length and breadth of the country, during the last three and one half decades, the AIRIA changed its set-up into a federal structure in 1982 to encompass the manufacturers in different states of the country. As a result, at present the AIRIA has four regional offices: the Western Region in Bombay, the Northern Region in Delhi, the Southern Region in Madras and the Eastern Region in Calcutta, operating under the Regional Committees to better serve the members in the regions. The registered and head office of the AIRIA is in Bombay and its affairs are looked after by the Managing Committee, consisting of 42 members out of which 31 members are elected and co-opted from different regions to formulate and follow-up the common national policy on behalf of the industry.

Membership of AIRIA

There are six classes of membership, which include: ordinary members (manufacturers of rubber goods), associate members (manufacturers/deal-ers of raw materials/machinery), technical members (rubber chemists and technologists), individual members (the non-technical personnel working with member-firms), association members and honorary members (it is conferred on the persons who have rendered distinguished services to the rubber industry).

AIRIA - recognized body

The AIRIA represents almost all government, semi-government and other bodies/organizations/councils/institutions connected with the rubber industry in India to have better coordination and rapport. It has representation on the Rubber Board, the statutory body looking after the development of natural rubber under the Commerce Ministry, the Development Panel, constituted by the Industry Ministry; the Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association under the Industry Ministry; the Bureau of Indian Standards; the Chemical and Allied Products Export Promotion Council under the Commerce Ministry and the newly formed Indian Rubber Institute, etc.

Publications of AIRIA

With a view to disseminate information to the growing number of members/manufacturers in the industry, the AIRIA started the publication of its monthly official organ, Rubber India, 40 years ago, in January 1949. It also releases at regular intervals, Information Bulletin covering information on excise, customs, trade enquiries, etc., for the benefit of the members. To keep the industry abreast of the latest technology and developments, the association brings out often useful publications. Some of the publications brought out by the AIRIA include: Testing in Rubber Industry, Indian Rubber Directory, Handbook of Rubber Statistics, The Indian Rubber Industry by 2000 AD, special reports by independent economic resource institute on Ten Year Perspective Plan for Natural Rubber and the Conveyor Belt Industry in India, as well as proceedings of the seminars held each year on different subjects. At present, a monograph on Safety in Rubber Industry is in press which will be followed by the Third Edition of the Indian Rubber Directory. In 1988, AIRIA published a study, Natural Rubber Supply in India, by Tan Sri Dr. B.C. Sekhar.

AIRIA - other activities

This apart, the central office as well as regional offices, organize seminars, several technical talks, joint discussions, factory visits, exhibitions, etc., which are useful and meaningful to the members.


In order to tackle the specific requirements of the members in different fields, the AIRIA every year constitutes several sub-committees under the convenership of experts to guide the group to handle the specific problems and advise on different useful programs.

AIRIA education trust

The AIRIA is giving serious thought toward expanding education facilities in rubber technology through various universities so that in coming decades there will be enough availability of trained manpower to absorb new technology and man the industry. Toward this objective, the AIRIA is forming an education trust with a view to sending financial support to the universities/institutions to introduce rubber technology courses.

AIRIA awards

With a view to recognizing and encouraging efforts of the individuals/firms, the AIRIA has instituted three awards for exports, research and quality improvement. These awards are given every year.

Challenges faced by the AIRIA

At present the per-capita consumption of rubber in India is only 0.5 kg., and the annual average growth rate is 8%. As such, India holds tremendous prospects for higher consumption and higher growth rate in coming years and the AIRIA is gearing up hard to support the industry to reach the estimated growth rate of 10% by 2000. The following estimates of requirements of some major raw materials amply clear the challenges faced by the industry as well as by the AIRIA.

Future growth

During its existence of over 44 years, the association has made its impact on the rubber industry and has contributed toward all around development and progress of the industry, which is poised with tremendous growth potential to enter the 21st century. The factors responsible for the phenomenal expansion in the past and expected growth in the future are: vast internal market, rapid industrialization, growing standards of living of the people, availability of almost all the raw materials from within the country on an increasing scale, and the shift in consumption of rubbers taking place from the Western countries to the Asia Pacific region. In the next decade, the focal point for developments will be India. The AIRIA has geared itself to meet the challenges of the future based on sharing of information, contacts and consultation within the industry, through AIRIA - an effective and result-oriented forum for the industry.
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Title Annotation:Rubber World 100th anniversary
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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