Pune-based Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, the flagship company of the $2.1-billion Kirloskar Group, is a world-class pump manufacturing company with expertise in engineering and manufacture of systems for fluid management. KBL provides complete fluid management solutions for large infrastructure projects in the areas of water supply, power plants, irrigation, oil and gas, and marine and defence. Aniket Kulkarni, in an email interaction with Renu Rajaram, discusses the growth of the Indian water sector and its bearing on the pumps sector.
From small agricultural applications to large irrigation and water supply schemes, Kirloskar has come a long way. Can you brief us on the growth of the water sector in India and Kirloskar’s share in the pump sector?
Kirloskar Brothers Ltd is one of the major players in fluid-handling products. The organisation has evolved into a company executing fluid handling projects in domains such as irrigation, power, water supply and wastewater treatment. KBL has completed many projects involving customised products and services in India as well as other countries. The water sector is an important sector for India and therefore we have a focused marketing team at KBL to cater to the needs of this sector.
The drivers for the sector include population growth, increased water-intensive food consumption, urbanisation, industrialisation, increased awareness about drinking water quality and health, decreasing water quality, environmental pressure on wastewater discharge from government pollution control boards and reducing availability forcing users to recycle and reuse.
The Government of India has prioritised and intends to improve water supply and sanitation facilities with schemes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Rural Mission. We attempt to complement the government initiative by innovating and offering highly reliable and energy efficient product range comprising of (LLC) TM pumps, Tamper Proof Kinetic Air Valves and 5-star rated pumps.
The size of the Indian pump industry is estimated at Rs.8,000 crore and KBL is the leader in the Indian pump market and the largest manufacturer and exporter of centrifugal pumps from India. We envisage a strengthened position for KBL in the global arena built on 126 years of engineering experience and focus on research and development.
Recently, Kirloskar Brothers came out with a new series of its unique Lowest Life Cycle Cost pumps. What are the advantages of this product?
The distinctive range of Lowest Life Cycle Cost (LLC) pumps sustains efficiency over longer period of time and has a low lifecycle cost compared to the conventional pumps. LLC pumps have average periods of 12-16 months and after that it repays during its whole lifecycle by saving energy and maintenance cost. The cumulative reduction in energy consumption directly aids cost saving and therefore increases the profitability of the organisation. The LLC pump users derive the benefit of guaranteed performance in a sustainable manner over the life cycle of the pump.
The key features of LLC pumps are sustainable efficiency, supreme longevity, reduced downtime, ease of maintenance and efficiency enhanced glass flake coating.
What are the issues and challenges in the Indian water sector that is hindering its growth?
The demand for water is projected to overtake its availability in India. India’s rapidly increasing population, urbanisation and industrialisation has led to a significant increase in the need for water. According to the Indian Constitution, water is the subject of legislation at three levels, the Centre, the states and local bodies, with the primary responsibility resting with the states, while the Centre only looks at interstate water disputes. Lack of regulatory binding on water usage and wastage of water, absence of water loss monitoring and subsequent reduction scheme, overexploitation of groundwater and reduction of groundwater levels due to climatic changes are some of the issues in the water sector.
In order to seek private sector investment in water sector, it is imperative to have a user cost recovery mechanism operational across the country. There is also need for a national regulator in the water sector for planning and allocation of water supplies to consumers. India is trying to address the challenges with policies such as National Water Mission. The policy intends to improve water use efficiency at least by 20 per cent and that is where Kirloskar Brothers Ltd contributes. KBL executes water pumping projects from concept to commissioning with optimum pump houses which substantially reduce the water distribution cost. KBL offers water distribution equipment comprising the Lowest Life Cycle Cost (LLC) pumps which are reliable and sustain efficiency over the life and tamper proof kinetic air valves difficult to tamper due to innovative design saving thousands of litres of precious water. The upgraded buying process, which takes into account the cost of ownership and technical superiority over the price, will enable access to better technology and reliable efficient products will help achieve the objectives of National Water Mission.
To what extent do Chinese products affect the growth of the pumps segment?
Globalisation has ensured consistency in the raw material prices for pump manufacturers across the world. So, factors such as operational effectiveness, design for reliability, and design for performance are more recently seen to alter the final prices of the products. Traditionally, Chinese pump manufacturers enjoyed low labour cost advantage which enabled them to offer the pumps at competitive prices. But the numerous recent global macroeconomic dynamics are expected to take away the competitive labour cost advantage of China. With this, it is expected that there will be declining trend in the Chinese products affecting the growth of pump segment. User education to select products with features such as lower cost of operation and zero downtime are further expected to enable pump manufacturers to offset the labour cost advantage of Chinese manufacturers.
KBL has collaborated with Tata Power and installed the world’s largest circulating water pumping system for Tata Power’s Mundra UMPP.
Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd, Tata Power’s wholly-owned subsidiary, had implemented the 4,000-MW (800×5) UMPP that required massive amounts of water to condense the heat generated in the production of power. In early 2004, Kirloskar Brothers partnered with Tata Power to set up the World’s largest circulating water pumping system for them. To achieve optimal efficiency, KBL deployed 10 Concrete Volute Pump sets to churn 10.5 million litres of water every minute. The layout of the pumping system is designed in such a way that large fluctuations in the sea water level due to tidal variation is taken care of. The motors are installed above the high tide level whereas pumps are installed in such a way that enough submergence is available during low tide levels. To accommodate this, motors are connected to the pump shaft with a specially designed cardon shaft. The length of the cardon shaft with universal coupling is 12 metres, making it one of the longest pump shafts. The entire pumping system is so large that it has become the largest circulating water system in the world.
What is the potential for pumps in small hydropower plants?
Pumps are required across industries even in small hydroelectric plants for various applications like power generation, drainage and dewatering, cooling water supply and so on. The demand for electricity varies across the day; so during excess electricity generation pumps are used to create the head by pumping water to the reservoir. Water flowing from the reservoir to the outflow generates electricity. When the direction of rotation is reversed, water is pumped to the reservoir. Such hydroelectric plants are called reversible pumped storage plants. KBL offers turbines up to 25 MW for small hydroelectric plants.
Drainage and dewatering pumps are also common in small hydroelectric plants, maintained in case of an emergency. Also, pumps are being used to supply cooling water for the equipment used in small hydropower plant. KBL offers range of pumps for these applications.
KBL offers an innovative product Pump as a Turbine to the market. A pump running in reverse acts as a turbine and can be used for power generation. This application is very useful for decentralised power generation.
There is a huge untapped potential for small hydroelectric plants in India itself which, whenever realised, will create massive demand for products such as small hydroelectric turbines (Pelton, Kaplan and Francis), pumps and Pump as a Turbine.
KBL recently handed over the pumps for first-of-its-kind 500-MWe prototype fast breeder nuclear reactor project in India underway by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI). Could you tell us about the project?
Recently, KBL developed and manufactured a world-class technological marvel to cool down India’s first 500-MW fast breeder nuclear reactor project underway by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI).
KBL manufactured three Primary Sodium Pumps (PSP) weighing 135 tons with a handling capacity of 5.16 lakh litres of liquid sodium per minute when installed at prototype fast breeder reactor. At 590 rpm (rotations per minute), these technological marvels will handle liquid Sodium at 400 °C to 550 °C. The pumps were engineered at India’s second oldest industrial township, Kirloskarvadi.
KBL also executed the prestigious projects of seawater pump house and firefighting for the same PFBR project.
With this project, KBL becomes the only Indian company to develop critical application sodium pumps for fast breeder nuclear reactors.
Discuss the future of the water and pump industry in India and what is your vision for 2020?
With increasing population and urbanisation the demand for water has increased exponentially. To meet the food requirements of the increasing population it is imperative to ensure water supply to agriculture. As more people migrate to urban India for better life, they further increase the demand for water. Water is equally important to industries. In power plants, water is used for cooling purpose and improves the thermal efficiency. Increased demand for water creates increased need for pumps. As need for pump increases we have to ensure the availability and supply of technologically advanced pumps, pumps which consume less and give more. We attempt to achieve with continuous investments for improvements in our research and development and manufacturing infrastructures. We also try to ensure our proximity to locations of demand generation. We expect our initiatives further strengthen our position in Indian market and help us leverage our strengths outside the boundaries of India.