Grundfos Sustainable Solutions for India’s Water Woes

Saravanan Panneer Selvam, General Manager, Grundfos India
Saravanan Panneer Selvam, General Manager, Grundfos India, emphasises the need for energy-efficient products and solutions to address India’s water problems and believes that automation can help streamline the water processes, minimize redundancies, and reduce human intervention.

What were the company’s key growth drivers following its inception in India 22 years ago?
Our journey in India started 22 years ago with a handful of employees, which have now grown to a team of more than 400 employees. The endeavour has been to actively help the country combat its water and energy challenges through innovative, sustainable and highly efficient solutions.

Our facility cum head office in Chennai, which was built in 2005, is India’s first commercial building to be certified by LEED as a gold rated green building; it recently received LEED’s Platinum certification due to its continuous focus on maintaining sustainable features and standards. Our second facility in Dantali, near Ahmedabad, was set up in 2017 to serve the western and northern regions of the country.

Over the past decades, we have augmented our R&D to improve our product performance, energy efficiency, and overall sustainability. We were one of the first companies to manufacture IoT integrated pumps, globally. Today, Grundfos India has over 250 distributors and dealers, 8 offices and many home offices across the country, that are addressing the country’s energy and water challenges, and catering to the requirements of the Indian market.

What is Grundfos market share in India’s pump business and which industries is the company catering to?
India has a strong growth potential and is currently one of our top 10 priority markets globally. While 18% of the world’s population lives in the country, we have access to only 4% of fresh water. We have leveraged this unique opportunity to deploy our innovative solutions and have been witnessing double digit growth, barring a few years. Our compound average growth rate over this period has been about 21%. The size of the centrifugal pump industry is about 10,000 – 11,000 crores, and we currently hold approx. 5% of the served market share.i

Grundfos India provides energy efficient pumps and smart pumping solutions for various applications – heating and hot water service systems, cooling and air-conditioning systems, industrial applications, pressure boosting and liquid transfer, groundwater supply, domestic water supply, sewage and wastewater in buildings, dosing, chlorination systems, disinfection systems, pumps running on renewable energy and meant for municipal water supply and wastewater.

iSolutions product range

Our energy efficient products have been well accepted by every industry in the country, including the construction industry. In fact, a process or application that needs longer running hours for the pump will be an opportunity for such energy efficient solutions. Be it integrated IoT solutions, or the external ones, customers are looking for solutions that can bring down the operational cost and improve the overall efficiency. As a leader in such a technology, Grundfos products are providing the required solutions across various industries.

What are the challenges?
A key challenge is changing the mindset of the consumers by helping them understand the concept of ‘life cycle cost’ of the product they buy. For this, they must focus on the energy efficiency and reliability of the product over the duration of its life, rather than just considering its initial cost.

Another challenge is dealing with the influx of ‘copycats’ in the market. This is due to the highly fragmented nature of the Indian pump industry, and a large section of this industry is also unorganized. This is leading to low quality/inefficient pumps flooding the market. While these products are considerably cheaper, they do not match the reliability and operational efficiency of the originals.

It is critical to have energy efficiency ratings in place for pumps in India. For example, IE5 motors are the standard in Europe, while in India we largely use IE2 and IE3 motors. We have been promoting the adoption of energy efficiency pumps, and we urge our customers to understand the overall economics involved in water solutions, so that they make the right purchase decision for their water solutions.

What recent innovations has the company brought to its products and solutions?
Grundfos is owned by Poul Due Jensen Foundation; for 75 years, our relentless pursuit of bringing to the market superior quality products has been driven by our R&D. Since our businesses are operated with a sustainable mindset, the endeavour is to consistently innovate and manufacture pumps that give increased energy efficiency and reliability. Our products have helped our customers reduce their impact on the environment by optimally consuming water and energy, while our people-centric policies add value (that go beyond business transactions) to our customers, distributors, and other stakeholders in the value chain.

We had planned a couple of launches this year, but due to the current situation we will take a call towards the end of the year or early next year.

To what extent has Grundfos localized its global solutions for the Indian market?
To address the Indian market and increase our competitiveness we have localized our global solutions to some extent. This has enabled us to reduce the lead times such that our solutions reach our customers and dealers quickly. On an average, our localization is currently a little less than 30% and we plan to increase it to about 80%. However, our Chennai facility has a higher level of localization than the rest of our operations.ii

The challenge in achieving this goal is primarily the availability of consistent quality for various components in the country. However, we have developed quite a few suppliers who have the same mindset of setting higher standards of quality for their offerings. We are in the process of developing many more vendors to create a sustainable supply chain in the coming years.

What do you think should be the water priorities, post Covid-19?
Covid-19 has had a negative impact on the ongoing water crisis. The extensive focus on hand washing to ‘flatten the curve’ could have serious implications, especially in rural areas with limited access to water. Currently, nearly 163 million people in India lack access to clean wateriii. In the new normal, people who lack access to basic clean water and sanitation are at a higher risk of contracting the virus or associated diseases. It is important to prioritize the demand-supply gap in the post-Covid world and address it with the right solutions.

With the pandemic triggering rapid digital transformation, we are confident that automation and industry 4.0 technologies are going to become the key business drivers. Adoption of automation will streamline water processes, minimize redundancies, and reduce the need for frequent human intervention.

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