Maintaining Market Leadership in Compressed Air & Gas Solutions

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A global leader in providing innovative compressed air and gas solutions, Atlas Copco’s Compressor Technique Division is focusing on delivering sustainable and energy efficient solutions to maintain its top position. In an interview, Conrad Latham- General Manager, Atlas Copco Compressor Technique, India reveals the division’s focus on R&D and innovation. Latham talks about evolving market trends, opportunities and challenges in India and his future growth plans for the company. Excerpts:

Q. Being one of the leading manufacturers of industrial compressors in India, how according to you the market has evolved over the years? Update us about the recent technology trends emerging in the segment?
The market has evolved in a few ways. There is clear acceptance that India is a growing market for manufacturing and therefore the interest from International companies means it becomes a more competitive market to operate in for compressor manufactures.

India has always been a price sensitive market and this remains in a lot of the segments, but we do also see that there are a few segments that are driving their purchasing decisions on energy efficiency more now than before. In a lot of industries, the cost to produce compressed air is one of the major expenditures in energy costs. Therefore, the drive to reduce the amount of energy a compressor consumes is a growing demand.

We also see that the acceptance of Variable Speed Drive technology is there across a wide spectrum of industries in India, this now stands almost as the industry standard if energy saving is the preference.

We see that segments like textiles that have grown in India, need to change their compressor technology solutions to a combination of screw and centrifugal compressors. The more air required means the centrifugal technology becomes the first choice for many customers as long their demand is not fluctuating. For those with fluctuating large air demands, the hybrid solution of an oil-free screw and centrifugal becomes the preferred choice.

We also see a change in the air piping distribution systems. Before, carbon steel pipe was the preferred choice due to its cost and ease to install. Now more and more companies see that big energy savings can be had from extruded aluminum pipes as the have a smooth internal finish and with the correct fittings drastically reduce air leakages.

Q. What would you describe as your niche? How do you stand out from the competition?
Our niche is the fact that we have every compression and compressed air drying technology in our product portfolio and we are responsible for the R&D, manufacturing, marketing, sales and after-sales of these technologies through the diverse product portfolio we have. By being able to master each technology we can define the most suitable solution for our customers.

We are able to define the right solution for the customers by making sure their needs are met and they remain the most competitive in their market segment.

Q. How do you perceive India as a market? Comment on the opportunities and challenges that you see in the country in your segment?
The India market is a dynamic market that is seeing changes based on the drive to grow manufacturing and implement the Make in India initiative. The major challenge comes as India manufacturing needs to compete with other countries if it wants to really realize the true opportunities.

Q. Tell us about your new product line and India-specific products.
Since the beginning of this year, we have seen multiple launches under our Compressor Technique Division. In January, a range of revolutionary compressors – GA 75-110 VSD (Variable Speed Drive) was introduced, which provides an enhanced Free Air Delivery (FAD) increase of up to 6% and reduces energy consumption by 50% on average.

In addition to this, we recently initiated the global launch of Smart Air Solutions as part of our Oil free air division and comprising of products such as – ZR VSD Standard, MDG, ZS’s and ZE’s, Optimizer 4.0, GA VSD+ and ZH.
Smart AIR Solutions are complete air or gas solutions designed to provide our customers with the lowest life cycle costs for their equipment. These new products will set new standards in reliability, energy efficiency and serviceability and are all part of the smart AIR solutions concept.

This year, we have launched a total of 12 products, each individual product has been optimized for the best possible performance in energy efficiency, reliability and air quality. These products innovations in compressed air and gases have been targeted for the low, medium and high pressure markets.

Q. How Atlas Copco is contributing towards the green movement? Tell us about your energy efficient air compressors.
Energy is the largest part of the life cycle of running compressor and easily represents more than 70% of the life cycle cost. The biggest changes in compressor energy reduction come from the ability to track the demand of the customers’ air usage and change the speed of the motor to only use the power required. This has become industry standard over the last 20 years and Atlas Copco’s new VSD+ range epitomizes the investment in R&D to make the most energy efficient VSD compressors.

But more and more the requirement goes beyond the single compressor to the compressor room. The necessity now, is for the complete compressed air system to be monitored and controlled to perform at its optimum level. Here understanding of the compressors work with the compressed air dryers and how different technologies interact is the secret to future energy reductions. Our new Optimizer 4.0 controller has this ability and we are only able to do this due to the fact we master all technologies.

Q. According to you, what is the future of the Indian industrial compressor industry?
The Indian Industrial compressor industry is driven by the Indian manufacturing industry. If this continues to grow so will we. We see that there are changes in the Power and Energy segments in India and these are also strong drivers for the growth of the compressor industry.

Q. Please update us about your future vision and growth plans for the company.
We presently believe, based on the data we have, that we are the undisputed leader in the market when in comes to compressed air and gas solutions. So, our focus is to remain the number one by delivering sustainable and energy efficient solutions to our customers.

On a more internal mission I am driving the company to be recognized as the preferred choice for all manufacturing companies in India for their compressed air requirements.

We will do this with passionate and dedicated employees. We are nearly 60 years in India and I continue to work with our hard working, innovative and loyal colleagues to make sure that in the next 60 years we are still the most sustainable choice in the market whilst delivering a fun and energetic working environment.

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