Leading Through Innovation

Anurag Vohra, India Business Head, Kirloskar Brothers Limited

Innovation has emerged as one of the key growth drivers in the 21st century. The Indian Government has recently declared the period from 2010 to 2020 as the Indian Decade of Innovation. Various challenges faced on the sustainability front can all be addressed through innovation.  It is a known fact that challenges create opportunities, paving way for new ideas and concepts. This is the time to redefine the businesses, processes and systems.

Pump manufacturing contributes significantly to the growth of the Indian economy. It has proved to be a highly critical element in boosting the productivity of the core segments of the industry.  A pump is an integral part of any industrial process and therefore its downtime would mean stalling of the entire process, leading to substantial production and revenue loss for the company. Today, India has attained near self-sufficiency in terms of pump demand, be it for large water supply schemes, nuclear power plants, conventional power generation units, commercial building services or high-end process industries.

Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) has been making in India for the past over 100 years and understands that, as a leading pump manufacturing company, we have a larger role to play in the Make in India campaign. Since its inception in the year 1888, KBL has been involved in the development of innovative products, be it the first iron plough for the agricultural industry or its latest Lowest Lifecycle Cost (LLC) series for the pump industry. In fact, throughout the industrialisation era, KBL has played a pivotal role in introducing indigenously manufactured products into the Indian industry, right from agricultural implants to engineering products like lathes, pumps, valves, turbines, etc.

At KBL, the i-Mission team which is a group of dedicated engineers, works very closely with the user industry to understand their needs and challenges that they face in their regular day-to-day work routine. The feedback from the customers has helped us from time-to-time to improvise and launch new pump series and provide better and more sustainable solutions to the industry.

Of late, power consumption and higher mean time between failures have been among the major challenges faced by the pump users. The focus of the manufacturers in India has usually been on initial capital cost. However, the cost of running the pump accounts for almost 95-97% of its overall life-cycle cost, clearly emphasising its importance. Loss incurred due to unexpected downtime and halt in production line is another significant cost component. It has been estimated that almost 1/5th of the total power generated in the world is consumed by pumps and systems, i.e. 20% of 21,000 Terawatts per hour. It accounts for nearly 25-50% of the energy consumed during certain industrial plant operations. Reducing these costs requires major improvements in pump design and process, which involves significant investment.

To address the above concern, we at KBL have developed the innovative Lowest Life Cycle Cost (LLC) pump series. As per the Hydraulic Institute of US and Euro Pumps, water pumps lose efficiency by up to 1-1 ½ percentage points per year while LLC pumps lose less than 0.25 percentage points per year. Due to its sustained energy efficiency over a longer period and lowest pump downtime, this pump series is in high demand in India and in International market. Some of the notable examples in India include Delhi Jal Board, Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). The capital cost of the LLC pump is marginally higher than the traditional designs but the payback period is less than three years and in some cases less than 2 years. Hence, it proves to be the best option. The product user will be able to generate revenue by way of reducing outflow with regard to energy and maintenance bills and also through lesser downtime.

Some of the other innovations by KBL include PAT (Pump as Turbine), a decentralised small-scale hydroelectric power generating unit, which is one of the most techno-commercially feasible solution. KBL has also provided pumping solutions to the Indian nuclear industry, which include sodium pumps for fast breeder reactors as well as pumps for boiler feed, shutdown cooling, condensate extraction, cooling water and other critical pumping applications in the Power sector. With the N & NPT certification, KBL has established credentials as a major supplier of nuclear grade equipment and components for the fast-growing Nuclear Power sector in the country. The company has also provided Canned pump that is used for handling liquid ammonia in the cold storage industry. Besides, KBL is the first company to introduce Concrete Volute Pump (CVP) for high discharge requirements in power plants and for city flood control and irrigation schemes. One of the latest customers of our CVP is Bangkok Water Supply Department.

With nine plants in India and seven facilities abroad, we are serving the industry in all sectors and across almost all geographies. We offer wide range of pumps and valves for almost every requirement. We manufacture pumps ranging from 2 m head to 1000 m head, with discharge ranging from 2 cubic metre per hour to 1,20,000 cubic metre discharge per hour. Similarly, we manufacture valves ranging from 6.35 mm (1/4 inch) size to 5000 mm size. Thus, with such an extensive range of fluid management solutions, we are able to cater to a large number of areas, right from small utility requirements to complex engineered irrigation schemes or even large municipal water pumping projects.

We have installations in 80+ countries. We are amongst the few pump and valve companies in the world to have in-house design and research centre, in-house foundry and in-house machining facility, i.e. complete in-house manufacturing centre, wherein we not only undertake pump and valve designing but also complete system engineering. We also provide customised solutions. KBL’s hi-end engineering solutions that resulted in substantial savings in CAPEX as well as OPEX have been well-received and appreciated by customers.

We believe that all the above accomplishments have been possible because of the unwavering belief, support and encouragement that we have been receiving from our customers.

Innovation is the core of our organisation and it is a continuous process.

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