George Rajkumar, Country President, Grundfos India
WATER & WASTE

George Rajkumar, Country President, Grundfos India

To this company, sustainability is a mindset, a way to do business. And it pushes the boundaries of possibility in energy-efficiency and water conservation. In the water business since the 1940s, Grundfos has been introducing several ground-breaking innovations to the industry along the way. Improving water and energy-efficiency for the greater good, Grundfos believes in making a difference locally and globally. At the global level, the company has implemented a change in its organisational structure to strengthen its position as one of the world’s leading water technology companies. George Rajkumar, Country President, Grundfos India, shares more on the company’s sustainability goals, effective solutions for saving energy and water, and more, in conversation with SERAPHINA D’SOUZA.

To this company, sustainability is a mindset, a way to do business. And it pushes the boundaries of possibility in energy-efficiency and water conservation. In the water business since the 1940s, Grundfos has been introducing several ground-breaking innovations to the industry along the way. Improving water and energy-efficiency for the greater good, Grundfos believes in making a difference locally and globally. At the global level, the company has implemented a change in its organisational structure to strengthen its position as one of the world’s leading water technology companies. George Rajkumar, Country President, Grundfos India, shares more on the company’s sustainability goals, effective solutions for saving energy and water, and more, in conversation with SERAPHINA D’SOUZA. When we talk about sustainability goals, please tell us about the challenges in climate change for which Grundfos is finding effective solutions. How is this aimed at improving quality of life? Climate change can be mitigated if there is a reduction in the usage of energy. In times when the industry was moving towards the International Efficiency (IE) standard levels of 1 and 2 in the Indian market, we had already moved to the IE5 energy-efficient motor. We had moved to complete energy efficient products. To support the industry 4.0, we came up with new solutions: the iSOLUTIONS range, an intelligent and connected solution that enables remote operations. Demand Driven Distribution (DDD) is another initiative where supply is based on the demand of the distribution segments. It measures the demand and controls the product, which leads to the conservation energy and water. We have stepped into solar irrigation systems to provide solutions to farmers. One of our premium submersible pumps, SQFlex, has been installed across India for irrigation and providing drinking water. Coming back to promoting sustainability inside our premises, we have been measuring what we do. We believe we are an example for our stakeholders, customers, employees and society in promoting sustainability. What about solutions for recycling water effectively? In this direction, green building certifications encourage the use of water treatment plants, groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting and wastewater plants. Do we see a lot of these being adopted in India? The adoption of water recycling methods is picking up in India. People have understood the importance of water now owing to water bills and meters. Rainwater harvesting has been a part of the building industry, but it is still not part of policy. We are pushing it on a different platform to be made part of Indian building policy. Apart from this, most industries have now understood that zero liquid discharge is the future. People have started treating and reusing water for their own use. How much would it cost a project owner or developer to implement these at a preoperational or operational level? What is the return on investment (RoI) achieved? Rainwater harvesting is one of the cheapest solutions because it is just collecting water. The only initial investment is to create a channel and a storage tank; you can also create a recharge well in case of a lower budget. We cannot quantify how much investment is required for these water systems, but sewage treatment facilities require good investment. To promote this Government has to incentivise to encourage MSMEs to invest in water treatment so they can reuse the water. The RoI is about three to five years for effluent treatment plants (ETPs) and sewage treatment plants (STPs); it depends on the system and how effectively you use it. What about intelligent pumps? How can they be used in buildings for energy-efficiency? We are producing energy-efficient intelligent pumps and pump controllers. The pump controller takes the inputs from different sensors and connects back to our pump. Apart from pumps, we are also working on producing other systems like SCADA systems, controllers, sensors and programming to connect them back into the system. We are also following the energy-efficient index to use the right systems to connect and get feedback from this equipment. The controller intelligently calculates and gives back the signal. Our solution is going forward with a demand-driven distribution and solution platform. We are in the first phase of bringing in solutions to customers; in the future, the entire equipment will be connected and will give the full benefit of the connected system. How can these be integrated in building automation systems to further reduce operational costs of buildings? Could you give us a cost comparison here? It varies to 20-30 per cent of energy-efficiency as seen in a couple of case studies. Which segment or type of projects contributes the most to the application of HVAC pumps? Hospitals, hotels, educational institutes, large organisations and even residential complexes where centralised air-conditioning is used are areas where HVAC systems are used. In India, we have started providing solutions for HVAC systems fully. What are your thoughts on green infrastructure to be considered while planning and developing smart cities? Any recommendations for municipalities or ULBs? We have been working with municipalities and ecosystems where we have proposed how a smart city should be and the kind of solutions in terms of water intake, distribution, treatment and how it should be piped to individual houses. These are the areas where we have worked and submitted a few papers to multiple municipalities. Some are in the next stage of funding while some are in the planning stage. Our goal is to promote solutions to save energy and water and use it efficiently. Did COVID-19 impact the company’s India operations in any way, in terms of manufacturing, demand and supply? What measures were taken to keep business going? During the first wave of COVID-19 between April and June 2020, low demand impacted us. We were serving other industries as the construction industry was down. But once the lockdown subsided, there was a rise in demand. Then, between July and September last year, our order intake was higher. The last quarter of 2020 was really beneficial for us but, unfortunately, from March 2021 it started to slow down a bit. During the second wave, we followed the protocols sooner. While it did impact our business, we quickly got back to operations. With several initiatives in early April and May, we could continue to supply to our customers. Considering we fall into the essential services category, we needed to be in a position to deliver to our customers; hence, we had to build and keep stocks, equipment and systems ready. We started the work in small batches and by early June we were working with a 40 per cent capacity. Take us through your India operations and how much of the business contributes to the company’s overall business globally. In terms of value, last year, our global turnover was € 65 million. We continuously innovate products and are the first to bring in many applications to the pumping industry. Over time, we have brought in intelligent and energy-efficient pumping. In fact, 4.5 per cent of our business turnover is used for R&D at the global level. In India, we started business in 1998 and evolved over time. We brought in borewell pumps and boosters to the Indian market. Our CAGR was at 24 per cent for the last 23 years. In 2005, we had our own land and constructed our headquarters in Chennai, which is a green building. We have taken several initiatives for energy and water conservation. We have installed water harvesting plants in our facilities. Almost 24 per cent of our energy is produced from solar panels; in coming years, we plan to increase it to 50 per cent. Grundfos is also implementing change in its organisational structure. Please tell us more. Globally, we have restructured. We are operating in spaces like domestic and residential buildings, commercial buildings, industries, water utility and service and solutions. Each segment has a way of handling its customers. Earlier, we used to manage operations geographically; we have now restructured according to our customer business segment. How is Grundfos India positioning itself in the Indian market to reach your target audience better in upcoming years? We have restructured and are strengthening the company. We want to be on top of everyone’s mind when it comes to pumps. We are strengthening our position in the field of water solutions and energy conservation. We will be focusing more on providing and improving water efficiency and how water can be managed in industries and residential areas. We have also stepped into the solar energy space, which is one area where we want to strengthen our position in the coming year.

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