Interview: Danfoss India to double workforce and focus on home-grown innovation

By Editor


Danfoss India is the Indian subsidiary of Danfoss Global, a supplier of technologies that meet the growing need for food supply, energy efficiency, climate-friendly solutions and modern infrastructure.

Headquartered in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Danfoss has been in the country for over 15 years and has made significant impact to its client’s businesses by enabling them with energy efficient applications that help reduce their energy intake drastically, resulting in operational profits, says Ravichandran Purushothaman, president, Danfoss India and chairman-Chennai Chapter, CII.

Danfoss has been a global trend setters in the field of climate and energy and hope to bring about a desirable shift in the mindset of people and promote energy efficiency as an alternate fuel.

Ravichandran Purushothaman, president, Danfoss India

Their applications such as solenoid Valves, VTL Drives, Compressors, filters, pressure controls and thermostats among others find use in varied industries such as Cold chain, Retail, Manufacturing, Processing and HVAC.

Danfoss looks forward to strengthening their R&D in the country and focus on home grown innovation that can find global acceptance, Purushothaman added.

“We look forward to doubling our employee strength and working with a larger workforce who can help add value to our growing clientele. The sector we are in is quite niche and hence skilling is very important. It was only last year that we started investing in academia tie-up initiatives to tap into potential talent who can add value to our business offerings.  We are expanding this search to more and more universities within India,” he said.

Purushothaman says investing in both people and technology are key to addressing environmental challenges. On one hand people need education on the benefits of energy efficient substitutes and the value of substituting these existing solutions in order to bring about the desired change in the system. On the other hand, Companies need to constantly invent or innovate on existing applications that can lead to operational excellence with minimal reliance on energy.

He continues, “Our products reduce carbon footprint instead of adding to it. We are trying to ensure that there is strong awareness on energy efficiency and the use of energy efficient products. When you are in a stage where producing more energy is a grave challenge, its conservation is the next best fuel to run on. The beginning of this journey starts with stakeholder education.”

In order to educate customers, owners and other stakeholders on applications, Danfoss has set up a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning learning Center in Chennai which houses a two Stage Ammonia Cooling Unit. The Center focuses on facilitating knowledge transfer about Danfoss technologies, its applications and value added services to customers and partners who can gain hands-on experience in handling these new to world technologies and feel enabled to make informed decisions within their businesses that can help lower the GWP of the country.

Danfoss is also constructing its new green field manufacturing facility in Oragadam. The 500-crore facility will have renewed focus on R&D and manufacturing capabilities. In fact 50 percent of headcount at the new facility will account for R&D. The focus of this center will be to design and innovate products for climate and energy for both India and outside markets, Purushothaman said.

One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers is the need of testing labs. To address this, Danfos has set up three world-class labs that help their clients do testing for their technologies.

The new facility at Oragadam works on a zero-waste concept with several components contributing towards meeting this goal.

Danfoss decided to build R&D Administrative building as platinum rated green building during the conceptual design. Later the Management decided to build entire production buildings also to qualify for platinum rated green building. Aimed to achieve 87 LEED points for R&D Administrative building and 82 LEED points for production buildings against the platinum rating minimum LEED point of 80, this is one of the first Platinum certified facility in and around Oragadam.

“While on the one hand our products reduce other companies’ energy consumption, internally we ensure we are environment friendly in our production practices. The upcoming plant in Oragadam Chennai is testimony to the fact that we care internally too about the noise we make in the environment,” Purushothaman added.

“Innovation by design is a key factor that has enabled this including energy efficient structural glazing, re-use of construction waste generated either within the site or disposing to recycler, using recycled material as much as possible and  insulated roofs to minimize heat ingress among other structural and functional aspects. Additionally, we are in the process of setting up a renewable energy 1MW solar plant within the campus aimed at producing 1.5 million units per annum,” he said.

The company is also looking at launching Danfoss VZH inverter compressor by October 2014. With this technology energy savings of over 30 percent can be achieved when compared to a unit equipped with a fixed or mechanically modulating compressor, Purushothaman said. “Aspects of the compressor design that render advanced performance are optimization for different pressure ratios, permanent magnet motor technology, capacity modulation, and manifolding capability.”

FC 360The VLT Automation Drive FC 360 is a dedicated industry drive from Danfoss that provides precise and efficient motor control in a wide range of industrial applications. Due to the fact that all Danfoss frequency converters follow the standard design and operating principle, existing owners and users of VLT drives will feel instantly at home when operating the VLT Automation Drive FC 360.

Danfoss Turbocor inverter centrifugal compressors are another technology that has the potential to salvage the HVAC industry, especially commercial building and hotels who run their AC round the clock. In these buildings at least 30-50 percent of their operational costs goes towards power consumption. While it’s yet to be introduced in India, globally, hotels who have adopted this technology has witnessedCO² emissions reduced by 1,500 tons in 5 years. The company is planning to bring the technology in India.

India 2015 is Danfoss India’s growth outline for the coming years, Purushothaman said. “We go wherever growth takes us. We look to tap further into the fast growing Indian market and increase sales three fold by 2015. A pivotal part of this strategy is to build a combined manufacturing, R&D and sales campus in the near future that will serve as Danfoss India’s future headquarters.”

The investment of 17 crore for the factory in Sholinganallur is for the manufacture filter-driers for refrigeration and air-conditioning units, 80 percent of which will be for the overseas market. The plant spread across 10,000 square feet, is built to have a capacity of two million pieces a year.

With regard to the company’s policy on promoting sustainability among employees, Purushothaman said, “Sustainability can never be limited to your infrastructure. Even employees are expected to contribute towards sustainability at work place and those who will be taking the steps towards the same will be encouraged by us.  For example at our new facility, we will be providing battery charging facility for battery operated vehicle, reserve car parking for pooled cars and even encourage usage of bi-cycle inside premises. Additionally, 50 percent of car park will be powered with solar panels.”

For Danfoss, sustainability runs in the design of its infrastructure, products, model of service delivery and across the length of their operational and marketing practices. “All our applications, be it from the Refrigeration & Cooling, Commercial Compressors or even the Power Electronics sector is engineered to bring about energy efficiency.  Our upcoming green field manufacturing facility will ensure that some of these products are home grown now.”

Danfoss recently partnered with ISHRAE, the industry body for the HVAC Industry to ensure that green projects that are being executed across the country are closely monitored and adequate guidance is provided to those who want to execute these projects in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. Since buildings affect the environment, opportunities to improve in these areas can have a significant impact on the final outcome, Danfoss official said.

In the last decade, Danfoss has helped banana cultivators in Theni double their profits, improve energy conservation up to 50 percent at the Kartarpur onion and potato cold storage in Punjab, saved close to 140 KW of power each day in select stores of Bharti Walmart, helped pharmaceutical company Cipla lower its energy consumption by 40 percent and save 25 percent on electricity bills for Jindal Polyfilms at Nashik among others.

In order to take sustainability outside the campus, Danfoss’ CSR team is engaging with educational institutions in and around Oragadam for pilot studies.

In the wake of the ripples created by the Climate Change Report recently introduced by the IPCC, the uptake of energy efficient technologies can definitely help corporates and organizations, both private and public, reduce their energy footprint. Essentially, this segment of the market is relatively an easy target because there is a regulatory body (like Bureau of Energy Efficiency) and a number of corporates who want to responsibly create infrastructure. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has been driving the labelling of energy efficient buildings. There are international bodies that are accrediting buildings with platinum and gold ratings for sustainability and the use of sustainability in the creation of new infrastructure which has lead to many upcoming structures vying for these accreditation as Corporate responsibility is a government mandate now. However in India, the certification costs are high and the previous is equally tedious. The government should definitely take adequate steps to bring this under control to encourage further certifications.

Bodies from India such as the CII GBC and even ISHRAE are in the process of helping streamline green building projects. While CII has been doing this for quite some time, ISHRAE recently partnered with Danfoss to launch the IAPD platform (Integrated Approach to Project Delivery) to ensure that all logistical issues when it comes to co-ordination and logistics involved in the execution of a green project are ironed out. The practice of sustainable building is really about an integrated approach towards planning, designing, construction, operations, and maintenance. Having the right standards and codes for Buildings will assist in a Green future.

A number of companies in India are trying to use these concepts through creating green buildings, green hotels or green airports. To enable the deployment of these concepts, green products and technologies that can truly deliver energy efficiency are required, Purushothaman added.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

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