"HRS is a technology driven company and that differentiates us from most of the other companies who are predominantly fabricators"

V Gokuldas,
Managing Director, HRS Process Systems Ltd.
“HRS has been at the forefront of thermal processing technology in the chemical process and food processing industry. We have continued with our passion for innovative heat transfer solution and developed solution for pharma sector whereby they have huge cost advantage and product recovery, chemical process industry for value added solutions, energy saving units for fertilizer segment, amongst host of other solutions,” Says V Gokuldas, Managing Director, HRS Process Systems Ltd. In an interview with Chemical Engineering World, he further discusses evolving chemical process equipment market in India, HRS' journey so far, future plan and much more.

Where does HRS Asia stand today since the company commenced its Journey?
HRS Asia started its operation in 2003 from Pune, providing innovative heat transfer solution to the industry. Beginning with the modest turnover of Rs. 50 million, HRS today is Rs. 880 million company. We have established state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and cater to a host of application in the chemical process and food processing sectors. We have also launched innovative product and solutions to these industries in course of our journey. HRS reference today is a host of blue chip companies in chemical, agro chemical, pharma, steel, cement, beverages, fruit processing and such varied industries.

What are the key thrust areas for HRS Asia?
HRS has been at the forefront of thermal processing technology in the chemical process and food processing industry. We have continued with our passion for innovative heat transfer solution and developed solution for pharma sector whereby they have huge cost advantage and product recovery, chemical process industry for value added solutions, steel industry for innovative products in cokeoven and by-product plant, energy saving units for fertilizer segment, aseptic and hygienic solutions for nutraceuticals and food processing sectors, amongst host of other solutions. We are committed to developing products and solutions which cater to these industries.

Give us a brief overview on HRS’ offering to the chemical industry.
HRS offers a range of heat exchangers and heat exchanger based systems for the chemical industries like condensers, coolers, heaters, reboilers, evaporators, heat recovery units, kettle vaporizer and heater, etc. Our range of product consist of ECOFLUX* corrugated tube heat exchanger, HRS Funke plate type heat exchanger, UNICUS® scraped surface heat exchanger, Heat exchanger based systems, Customized heat exchanger fabrication. We offer heat exchangers in various grades of stainless steel, duplex, alloy 20, 904L, duplex/super duplex, hastelloy C227, C22, high nickel alloys, titanium and tantalum. We cater to chemical, specialty chemicals, organic and inorganic fertilisers, paint, and dyes etc sectors of the chemical industry.

How is the company positioned in global and Indian markets?
HRS is an ISO 9001 company with ASME ‘U’ certification. With our technology expertise and suitably accredited manufacturing facility we are able to offer all types of heat exchangers to Indian and Global markets. We are operating from Pune with set of region offices in the country to have closed connect with our customers. For South East Asian market we have a group company in Malaysia. We directly market in the neighboring Asian countries. In India alone we have an installed base of over 20,000 heat exchangers/heat exchanger based systems for various products, processes and industry segment. We have a heat transfer solution for all applications. With our strong financials and product references we are able to give confidence to customers and win orders.

What do you think sets HRS Asia apart from companies with similar offerings?
HRS is a technology driven company and that differentiates us from most of the other companies who are predominantly fabricators. We have the key heat transfer products – ECOFLUX* corrugated tube heat exchanger, plate type heat exchanger, smooth tube heat exchanger and scraped surface heat exchanger – which enable us to offer right solution to customer for their application, rather than a fabricated equipment. Thus, we are able to give customers value for money solution and in many cases resolve their process problems being faced due to current equipments in use. This win-win association is amply demonstrated by the fact that over 60% of our business is from customers who have our heat exchangers in their plant, “Once a Customer, Customer for life".

Please elucidate over the chemical process equipment market in India? How do you compare this with other international markets?
Chemical process equipments market in India has been growing steadily as compared to the developed international markets. The primary reason being huge domestic consumption coupled with availability of the raw material and processing units. Most of the material required for chemical process equipment manufacturing is available in the country, giving price competitiveness. Some developing markets have shown similar trend in recent years. However, the expertise and the skill developed at HRS help us compete well in the international market.

Over the past several years, what are some of the trends that you’ve noticed in chemical process equipment market, and how has HRS responded to these trends?
The Chemical Process Equipment market has grown in size and also in adopting latest technology and material for various process / equipments. This has necessitated enhancement in material processing and fabrication technology. Many companies have upgraded their facilities to have latest machinery. Also, there is a growing need for special metals. HRS had already anticipated the growth in chemical process industry and we upgraded our manufacturing facility in 2007 to incorporate ASME ‘U’ certification and further expansion in 2013. We have installed some of the latest machinery for fabrication of heat exchangers. Our facility is equipped to manufacture heat exchanger in all kinds of stainless steel, high alloy steels, special metals like duplex, hastelloy, alloy 20 and exotic material like titanium and tantalum. HRS today is capable of supplying heat exchangers to key sectors like steel, power, cement, fertilizer, etc. We also have expertise in manufacturing of copper alloy based heat exchanger which is used for marine and similar applications.

What, in your opinion, are the challenges that need to be addressed?
Chemical process equipment manufacturing has many challenges; one of the primary challenges to be addressed is regarding the cost economics of technology product vs fabricated equipment. Price competitiveness has always been a challenge. There need to be a better understanding of cost of ownership of equipment viz-a-viz one time buying cost. Even today many customers decide based on one time cost rather than looking at cost of ownership over the period of time. Other areas are infrastructure, availability of finance, labour reforms, employment opportunity, etc. There are times when Customer is unable to decide on a technology product in absence of references. In such instances the company and product track record is important.

What are some of the opportunities that are still under-utilized in this field?
Chemical Process Equipment market has potential to offer better and cost effective solutions to the industry with outsourcing of processing components. Outsourcing by each company of non-proprietary / noncritical items to a sub-vendor will develop the network of good part suppliers which can benefit the equipment manufacturer.

Of late, how difficult has it been for process equipment manufactures to maintain profitability?
Profitability is under pressure for process equipment manufactures due to increasing overhead costs, lack of skilled labour, policies and lack of infrastructure. Low project investment in the process industry results in less business, so many companies vying for the same job. Competitive pressure can lead to price war and reduced profitability. There has to be a right evaluation else the companies which take order at lower margin may not deliver and this affects the entire sector.

Please elaborate on thermal processing technology and its application in chemical industry?
Thermal processing technology has been the back bone of chemical industry and used for all types of heating and cooling applications. Shell and tube heat exchangers have been used for decades and the plate type heat exchangers about 50 years ago. HRS introduced its innovative ECOFLUX* corrugated tube shell and tube heat exchanger technology in 2003 which has made a mark in the industry by giving better performance at competitive price. All industries used heat energy in different form to produce finished goods. Thus there is a need to have effective and efficient use of energy. There are various heat transfer equipments used in the industry some of which are for very special application. Common application areas include condensers, coolers, heaters, reboilers, evaporators, heat recovery units, kettle vaporizer and heater, etc.

What are your thoughts on impact of Make in India campaign?
Make in India campaign has been a very thoughtful concept which has give opportunity for the global market to manufacture / source from India quality products and equipments. This will help the chemical process equipment manufacturers too. In the coming years this initiative will attract more investments and provide job opportunities in the country.

How is the company planning to carry forward company’s legacy in future?
HRS is committed to being a partner in progress for our customers. We have expanded our product range to include products and manufacturing capability to be able to cater to the growing demands of thermal processing equipments of the industry. We have application engineering which looks into various process applications and developed suitable costs competitive heat transfer solution. We have research center in Murcia, Spain, where we carryout product trials before introducing new product in the market. With a healthy growth and robust financials, we are geared up to carry forward our company to the future. We planned to become a Rupee 1 billion company soon.

What would be your message to the aspiring entrepreneurs in this field?
One of the most important aspects in any business is commitment and delivering on commitment. Anyone who wants to enter in this field must have long term commitment and able to provide products that performance and be in pace with the growing need of the industry. We must always have a long term vision, which will help growth.