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By TPCI | November 5, 2019

As one of the pioneers of the industrial revolution in India, Kirloskar group has contributed immensely in every field of its operation during its 130 year-long journey. Unsurprisingly, it holds a place of repute in the industry for its good business values and customer focus.

Driven by commitment and working with a focused vision and approach, Kirloskar Pneumatic Company Ltd., one of the core business units of the Kirloskar group, remains as a manufacturer of choice for its global clientele.

Sanjay Grover, Vice President, International Business Division & Corporate Marketing, KPCL shares expansion plans that hinge on innovating top-of-the-line compressors and ensuring physical presence in focus markets. He also talks about his expectations from the upcoming Indusfood-Tech 2020. Below are few excerpts from the interview:

Indusfood-Tech: Tell us about the company’s formation and growth story? How have you evolved as a business in India and abroad?
Sanjay Grover: Kirloskar is a large engineering conglomerate in India. We started our journey as a group in the year 1888. We are a more than 130 years old hard core engineering group. Our founder incepted the concept of an iron plough somewhere in the year 1903, when irrigation used to be the major challenge in agriculture.

He immediately took this into notice and innovated centrifugal pumps and engines, which paved the path for a new company called Kirloskar Oil Engines.

Gradually, over the years, a number of milestones were achieved and in 1958, Kirloskar Pneumatic Co. Ltd. (KPCL), one of the core companies of the Kirloskar group was formed, which is also a public listed company today. We have four divisions where we largely provide our services into: Air Compressor (first manufactured by us in 1955); Air Conditioning & Refrigeration; Process Gas System (specializing in oil & gas segment); and Transmission where we make gear box and pinions.

Indusfood-Tech: What are the key product categories you cater to and what are the major end-use sectors where you are witnessing good demand for your equipment?
SG: Our air compressors, which we had developed in 1958, created a huge buzz immediately after their launch in the domestic as well as global market; as it is a utility item and finds its vast usage and implementation largely in the food and beverage industry, besides many other sectors. Today, I can proudly say that we are world’s largest manufacturers of refrigeration compressors, which are widely used in the entire food industry. Our equipments are well placed in industries like cold storages, ice plants, sea-food industries, meat plants, dairy, beverages and breweries. Worth mentioning, our refrigeration compressor is our flagship product for our export market as well. Besides, our gear boxes find their usage widely in sugar industry.

Furthermore, I believe that there is a lot of demand up-surging in the cold storage segment. From the government’s perspective also, there are initiatives in this arena. You see, almost 40% of the agricultural produce is being wasted. So, it is high-time to combat this huge food wastage where cold chains & storages can be looked as the best option. So, for the next 10 years, cold chain and storage of horticulture products is emerging as a key area for us to diversify into.

Indusfood-Tech: What are the latest trends in the evolution of the compressor industry? How are you adapting to them as a company?
SG: The reciprocating, centrifugal and screw compressors are ones that are in trend and are in huge demand. We, at KPCL, are fully equipped and geared with the latest & trending equipments and technologies which the world is adopting to.

Indusfood-Tech: How do you plan to expand your business in the next five years?
SG: Currently, we have reference base of our refrigeration compressors in over 40 countries.  We have offices in Dubai and Johannesburg looking after the operations in Sothern Africa and MENA regions; Bangkok, which looks after the operations in South-East Asia and further I am happy to mention that we are very systematically increasing our footprints across the globe. In India, we have three factories as of now; the corporate office and a colossal factory in Hadapsar Pune, one at Saswad, Pune and the other manufacturing unit in Nasik.

There is a conscious effort by the organization from the last couple of years where we are focusing on our engineering and trying to keep pace with new technological innovations. Pertinent to this approach of ours, we have also created a separate department for research and engineering at KPCL.

Secondly, with a clear defined vision, we are setting up a new factory, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, in Nasik, which would be earmarked for the manufacturing of top-quality air compressors. We have also successfully explored some strategic tie-ups with European companies for sourcing new technologies. Hopefully, we would be commercially ready by the next year.

Indusfood-Tech: How is the food processing equipment industry expected to grow in the future? What will be the drivers of the growth?
SG: Since the food processing industry is itself expected to grow double in, say, next seven to ten years, naturally the allied equipment industry is also envisaged for an enormous growth.

Indusfood-Tech: What has been the progress of your business on the export front and which are the main markets you have successfully penetrated? What are your future strategies to tap your potential target markets?
SG: We have been exporting our compressors for last three decades or so now. But to mention, from the last few years, there has been a focus area from the company perspective. We have been increasing our infrastructure in terms of setting up our own operations in the overseas market. Secondly, identifying the potential countries and developing channel partners across various locations has been our other focus area. We had a clear vision i.e., “Focused Country, Focused Approach”, which certainly helped us decide on what product of ours goes into which market. So, the fact that we sketched a blue-print has helped us achieve huge success on the international platform.

Today, our products and machineries are, probably, as good as or even better than those of European and American manufacturers and find strong presence in countries of Africa, South-East Asia and Middle East. We also have good plans to move to Europe and the US, further.

Currently, we are growing at a rate of 10-11% YoY and plan to expand with around 40% of KPCL’s turn-over from exports in the near future. Furthermore, through Indusfood-Tech, we would like to focus on and source buyers from MENA (Middle East North Africa) region and South East Asia. We would like to promote two of our major product lines: refrigeration compressors and refrigeration & gas packages in the upcoming edition of Indusfood-Tech.

Indusfood-Tech: How do you see the investment opportunities and the business environment for the food processing industry in India?
SG: Of-course, it is getting better now. With changing food habits the processing sector is set to increase. The demand in the ready-to-cook segment, esp., the chopped & packed vegetables, is increasing. Initiatives by the Government of India are pretty exciting and encouraging. Foreign investors are wooed to invest in the Indian market like never before. Having clubbed all these factors, the growth in the sector is pretty certain.

Indusfood-Tech: How do you see IndusFood-Tech as a platform for the growth of the industry?
SG: I was astonished to see the hosted-buyer concept of Indusfood-Tech. It is for the first time that I am seeing the government investing money in bringing buyers to India from across the world. It is something that we as a private sector do. But the Government of India doing something like this is commendable. The enthusiasm shown by the government is amazing and appreciated! In short, we see Indusfood-Tech catalyzing our meetings with the buyers from across the globe and also accelerating the results.