With the central government announcing its smart cities mission, cities are looking at a major overhaul in the way they function. This development is likely to have a positive effect on the pumps industry as pumps are very important for proper plumbing and water transport system in a city. As the demand for cost effective pumping solutions increase, it will only make sense for the leading pump manufacturers to invest in a manufacturing unit in India, says Saravanan Panneerselvam, Chief Sales Officer, Grundfos India. Boom in infrastructure sector and GST implementation are also driving the demand for pumping solutions significantly. In this interview, Saravanan explains impact of digitalization on pumps industry and how Grundfos is making pumps smarter.
Grundfos India is reportedly targeting to double its revenue to Rs 1,000 crore in the next four years. How do you plan to achieve it?
With the focus on Grundfos iSolution products the company is likely to tap the potential in industries, commercial building services and water utility segment much faster. The products not only help the customers save money but also save energy which in turn contributes to reduction in Carbon dioxide emissions.
What are the current priorities of Grundfos for its India business?
While our key focus is on developing sustainable digital products ready for the future smart cities, we have always put a lot of emphasis on providing a world class service to our customers. Recently, to reduce the communication gap between the end users and our engineers, we launched a mobile application called SmartServ. Just like any other app you can easily locate a service provider nearest to you, fill in the required details of the complaint/request, attach a picture of the pump/system and raise the service request. You would receive an acknowledgement of the request within four hours. A user - friendly mobile app, it is easily available on iOS, Android and Windows.
Which end-user industries are driving the demand for your pumps?
As in the past, the pharmaceutical, automobile, textile, food industries etc are contributing to the growth of Grundfos in India, apart from many other industries in which water is the lifeline, drives the demand.
Being a leader in pump technology, could you share with us the present status of pumps industry in India?
The pump industry is not only growing but also maturing well and fast enough in this country. Gone are the days where the customer was happy to receive a higher kW motor than what has been mutually agreed along with their machine or for any other application. The customer today appreciates lower kilo watt motors and equipment to save power and money in carrying out his task. This has driven the pump industry to look at innovative ways of improving the efficiency of the products. In fact, Grundfos was the trend-setter in this and raising the bar always.
Life cycle cost is one of the key parameters to selecting a pump. Why is life cycle cost of pump important for user? And what are the factors that lowers life cycle cost of pump?
Aptly said, life cycle cost is indeed crucial for the end users to consider before purchasing a pump. Studies have also shown that in the lifecycle of a pump, the initial cost is only 5 per cent while the power cost is 85 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent accounts for the maintenance costs. In such situation, it is better to invest in efficient products. Though it might be a bit higher in the initial cost, the extra cost can easily be recovered in less than three years in almost all cases and many a times within a year.
Having said that the Indian consumer is very focused on value for money and it takes quite a bit of convincing for them to change. The consumer (more so in the construction industry) is more worried about initial investment then about the life cycle costs or running costs. This has led to a proliferation of copies of our products which are many a time sold at prices lower than our material cost.
Our products not only deliver the ‘Return on Investment’ (RoI) to the customer, but also help them maximise resource conservation. The issue we have been facing till recently is the customer’s mind set up. Customers tend to look for solutions that are cheaper in price. Now slowly with access to more information, this is slowly changing. We are now seeing customers take a conscious decision about purchasing a sustainable and energy efficient solution and focus on the life cycle cost of the pump rather than focusing on its purchase cost.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0, etc are the buzz word today. Are pumps also becoming "smart"?
IIoT or digitalization is transforming the way manufacturers can capture, analyse and utilise data to improve business performance. The digital transformation of all industries has been gaining momentum in the region. This includes big data and connectivity, analytics, artificial intelligence, advanced interactions between humans and machines, and new production methods.
For us our digital journey started way back in the 1980s when we had developed the frequency controller to be controlled by a microprocessor. We became the first ever pump company to introduce electronics in pumps. Even before the boom of IIoT, one of our early technologies had made it possible for our pumps to send messages directly to the pump owners regarding all the information about the status of the pumps etc. Over the years, we have developed numerous intelligent pumping solutions that are being used world over. As today’s generation has become extremely technology savvy, we are also taking appropriate steps to make our digital interactions simpler, more integrated, and effective.
Our offering in the smart pumps range is our Grundfos iSOLUTIONS range. These products offer intelligent solutions such as working autonomously according to actual demands, dynamically changing control modes, providing intelligent warnings and related information as well as seamless adaptation to fluctuating conditions. The Grundfos iSOLUTIONS products also boast of full system connection to send and receive all data, distributed sensors to reduce leakage and save energy, controller interlocks to prevent flooding and instant information on performance operation. It provides a system utilising increased monitoring, control and integration to achieve greater energy efficiency, reduced system complexity, low life-cycle costs. Whether the requirement is for a solution for applications such as cooling or heating, pressure boosting, boiler feed or wastewater treatment Grundfos iSOLUTIONS provides a customised solution that will fit the bill.
How is the response to Grundfos' Intelligent Pump Solutions in India? Are you seeing a rise in demand for these solutions?
With the cities becoming smarter, the challenges that come along with them is now forcing are the government bodies, water authorities, industries to look for intelligent. Our intelligent solution – Grundfos iSolutions are now being implemented across industries, may it be domestic/residential, water treatment plants, commercial building – we have solutions that can cater to all their needs and demands.
For example, one of our widely used solution from the iSolution range is the Grundfos Remote Management. It is an internet-based, secure and technologically advanced system for monitoring and managing pump installations in commercial buildings, water supply networks, wastewater plants, etc. Through this system, pumps in an entire commercial building complex, water and wastewater treatment plants can be remotely monitored from a control room with minimal human intervention.As our solutions are energy efficient, they consume 4-5 per cent lesser energy as compared to the traditional pumps available in the market. This is also one of the reasons why our pumps are being widely used across industries.
There is a growing trend towards solar pumps. How is Grundfos tapping this trend?
Grundfos is a market leader in renewable energy-driven pump solutions. A large portion of the Grundfos product line can run on solar and wind power, allowing some of the most remote areas in the world access to clean water. Now, as renewable energy use goes mainstream, pumps using solar and wind energy are being used for large and small-scale operations in farms and industries around the world.
The SQ Flex family of Grundfos’ pumps are an environmentally-friendly water supply solution. SQ Flex pumps are fitted with a permanent magnet motor which enables the efficient use of renewable energy from nature. The pump system offers the perfect water supply solution in remote areas where accessibility to water is poor and the power supply is non-existent or unreliable. The pumps can work with or without a battery. A battery backup system can store the extra energy generated and take over when the energy from nature is not available. SQ Flex is more than just a pump – it's a complete intelligent system. Thanks to its built-in electronics, the pump is compatible with both DC and AC power supply without requiring an external inverter, which means that it can run on grid power or generator power too.
Recently, Grundfos India also launched our Made in India product Smart Solarz, especially for the Indian domestic market. This solar powered, self-priming pump is extremely lightweight and easy to install. Keeping it environment friendly, the wet parts of this pump are made of food grade engineered polymers to ensure that it is corrosion free. The Smart Solarz pump also has unique and intelligent features like protection against dry run and level controls. It can be used for pumping water from sump to overhead tank as well as in greenhouses, lawns, gardens, solar powered fountains and for feeding livestock.
Grundfos also makes solar power operated ultrafiltration plants AQ Pure with dosing and disinfection for supplying clean drinking water to communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water. These are used in Africa, Thailand and India in remote villages where surface water is available but not potable.
Can India become a manufacturing hub for pumps?
It indeed looks possible in the near future. With the central government announcing its smart cities mission, these cities are looking at a major overhaul in the way they function. Pumps play a very important role as without a proper plumbing and water transport system a city will not thrive. So as the demand for cost effective pumping solutions will increase, it will only make sense for the leading pump manufacturers to invest in a manufacturing unit in India.
What is your outlook for pumps industry?
Pump industry is experiencing an upward trend. With the boom in infrastructure sector and the advent of smart cities programmes, the demand for pumping solutions has significantly gone up. Also, with GST implementation and its stabilisation, manufacturers are now able to see a positive movement and impact. In fact, businesses that were facing slowdowns in the early days of GST roll-out, are now picking up pace along with several other sectors experiencing the benefits of a single tax system.
What are your growth plans for Grundfos in India?
Grundfos will contribute to global sustainability. This means that we do business in an environmentally sustainable way and create sustainable solutions from cradle to grave. We are committed to making a significant contribution towards reducing the impact on the environment by limiting both our own and our customers’ CO2 emission levels. We aim to create cleaner technologies and solutions which limit water consumption, improve efficiency, enable consumers to reduce their water and energy consumption and increase the reuse of resources.