Alkraft Cooling Systems for Construction Equipment

Basil Siddeeqi, MD, Alkraft Thermotechnologies
Basil Siddeeqi, MD, Alkraft Thermotechnologies, informs that the company’s wide range of customised cooling systems are helping construction equipment to perform efficiently across various operating conditions and environments.

What heat transfer products and technologies are being provided by your company for optimizing thermal management and for ensuring optimal powertrain and cabin temperature in heavy construction and mining equipment?
The operating conditions for heavy construction and mining equipment are typically hot and dusty, and the machines also have to resist high vibration and shock. Now, with the increasing thermal loads for BS 4 and BS 5 engines, the combination of these factors poses significant challenges for thermal management design.

At Alkraft, we have three decades of experience developing a variety of tube, fin, and core technologies to meet the increasing thermal loads. We offer compact and value-engineered designs for our automotive customers, who now operate on BS 6 engines.

We are an established supply partner of both domestic and international defence vehicle OEMs where demand from heat transfer systems is high due to the severe operating and terrain conditions, including very hot and dusty desert environments. Combining the expertise gained from various markets, Alkraft has developed unique products that offer high thermal performance, withstand heavy shock loads, and are clog-free and compact.

A growing challenge is the need to package a larger number of different heat exchangers within a limited space. To address this challenge, we use simulation software to optimise our designs and packaging.

What are the sectors and industries that you cater to and what demand is coming from OEMs and aftermarket consumption?
Commercial Vehicles, Construction Equipment, Power Generation, Compressors, Industrials, Agri-Equipment, Defence and Renewable Energy are the various segments we cater to. Within the Construction Equipment segment, we offer products and solutions for all applications ranging from forklifts to cranes; skid steer loaders to excavators and backhoe loaders; and from concrete mixers to compactors and motor graders.

We are seeing good demand across all industry sectors including OEMs, aftermarket, domestic, and exports. With the government’s supportive policies and spending for infrastructure development, we are seeing a growing number of enquires and projects from our domestic OEMs along with international enquiries and orders as OEMs are actively seeking to mitigate risks in their global supply chains.

Please highlight the technical attributes of your products, especially the ones designed for the more challenging mining sites.
Alkraft manufactures a full spectrum of thermal management products for engine and powertrain cooling. We make radiators, charge air coolers, air- and water-cooled oil coolers for a range of oil cooling applications, and cooling system modules.

Each customer and application requirement poses unique challenges for product design; so, we offer products that are designed completely from scratch to suit the particular requirements of each application. We have a wide range of fin, tube, and core configurations for designing the products to meet the specific needs of the customer.

We were the first company in India to introduce super long-life alloys that have high corrosion resistance and structural durability. Our unique proprietary fin, tube, and core geometries offer high performance while remaining clog-free. We incorporate proprietary flat top fins that are produced on special process machines built by our in-house team, to enhance heat transfer and durability.

How do Alkraft products address challenges like higher power and performance, emission and fuel efficiency standards, product weight and life?
As a supply partner to the Commercial Vehicle Industry for the last 25 years and having developed products for BS 6 compliance, Alkraft is well ahead in terms of product and process technologies to meet the higher standards. Apart from their class-leading thermal performance, our proprietary fin and tube geometries also offer customers the best performance to weight ratio in the industry. We use special long-life alloys that provide greater strength and durability. We employ CAE and CFD analysis to validate designs for durability and performance. And the products are tested extensively at our R&D lab for thermal performance, vibration, thermal shock, pressure pulsation and internal corrosion.

However, the key to our success is our people. In an environment of ever-increasing complexity and customer expectations, the key differentiator for us is the determination of our team that continues to challenge the status quo to address any tough challenge.

How does the cooling system ensure sufficient air flow while maintaining low noise emission?
The selection of the right fan is critical for the success of the cooling system’s performance since we have to create the right balance between spatial constraints, air flow requirements of the cooling system, and the impact on fuel economy, among other factors.

Alkraft engineers support our customers in fan selection at the design stage. We run CFD simulations with the complete cab design and improve the overall air flow across the cooling system module by optimising grill design, eliminating air recirculation and eddy currents, and by aligning the packaging of the cooling system. Even during equipment testing at the customer’s end, our team helps the customer in identifying opportunities to improve air flow.

A multi-fan design or a single fan: what is better for a cooling system in construction equipment?
Typically, when customers use an engine-driven fan and have sufficient space to package all the heat exchangers in one location, a single fan would suffice. We have found in some applications (due to technical and space limitations) that customers decide to place heat exchangers in multiple locations. In such cases, we will need to use multi-fan designs with the main cooling system having an engine-driven fan, and other oil coolers mated to an electrical or hydraulic fan.

As electrical fans become more efficient, we see an opportunity to introduce multi-fan electrical fan systems instead of engine-driven fans to improve fuel efficiency and provide customers flexibility in the cab space.

How are your products helping OEMs enhance machine performance with better fuel efficiency, productivity, and low maintenance?
Engine cooling system plays a key role in optimizing engine performance, fuel efficiency and life, as engines are designed to operate optimally at designed operating temperatures and conditions. From a thermal management perspective, our challenge is to design a system that operates efficiently across multiple operating conditions and working environments.

One of the ways we have addressed the fuel efficiency challenge is to use single stack designs with a multi-fan approach to reduce the fan size of engine-driven fans, thus improving the fuel efficiency and the overall sizing of the cooling system.

Please elaborate on your customized solutions developed for OEMs as per their requirement.
All Alkraft products are fully customised since each customer in the construction equipment industry has a different application requirement that requires a unique solution. We collaborate with the OEMs in the design and development of our products. We also take inputs and feedback from customers who have an in-depth understanding of how our systems work, while there are other customers who want standardised solutions.

Our manufacturing lines have the flexibility to produce low volume batches with high variety and we have assembly plants and warehouses across the country for timely supply to our customers. We are an IATF 16949 and ISO 14000/OSHAS 18000 certified company and follow TPM principles to manage operations.

What R&D is undertaken at Alkraft? Also, tell us about your order book.
We were the first company to introduce brazed aluminium heat exchangers in India. We are investing in R&D to develop unique fin, tube, core designs, and process technologies that deliver value to customers. We are targeting a topline of Rs 200 cr this financial year and aim to grow to Rs 500 crores by FY 2025. We expect 35% of our business to come from exports; 20% from the aftermarket; and 45% from domestic OEMs. Currently, we have a capacity to produce 600,000 units a year, and in keeping with our growth plans, we will enhance the capacity to 1 million units by FY 2024.

Alkraft Cooling Systems for Construction Equipment

What initiatives are being taken to increase sales and strengthen your market reach?
Alkraft was built on the principle of the ‘Spirit of Challenge’ which means that we challenge the status quo to offer customers differentiated and value for money solutions, which keeps us well ahead of competition. We are reaching out to a larger global audience through our networks, and are also showcasing our products, systems, and capabilities at premier trade shows and events, globally.

What support is the company rendering for higher product uptime and cost efficiency?
The traditional approach to higher product uptime would be to increase material content and over-engineer the product. Our approach has always been to design the product optimally, and value engineer them for operating conditions to optimise cost and performance. We believe that the post-Covid high inflation economy requires us to provide customers with sustainable solutions that are optimally designed, and built with efficiency and durability.

NBM&CW July 2022
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