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Atlas Copco India, has unveiled its Rs. 1-billion business plan to build its fourth manufacturing facility in India at Pune, after having served the Indian market successfully for five decades. The company anticipates strong growth in demand over the coming years from India and the country will be one of the key markets for the group in future. Filip Vandenberghe, Managing Director, Atlas Copco India, and Stephan Kuhn, President, Compressor Technique Business Area, Atlas Copco, elaborate on the accomplishments of the company in India, the new facility and future growth plans in an exclusive interview with Mittravinda Ranjan.

Give us a lowdown on Atlas Copco's presence in the Indian market?
India was a closed market when Atlas Copco forayed into the Indian market in 1955 through its distributors. We set up our first production facility in Dapodi in 1960, which was followed by the second plant in Nasik, to produce compressors for the mining sector and engineering centres in Pune and Bengaluru. Our third production unit is in Hyderabad, which we acquired in 2009 as a part of our strategy to enhance our portfolio, and now, this facility is Atlas Copco’s global drill bids facility for the mining industry. Pan India, we have trained staff at our services centres to support our customers across all industry verticals served by us.

How has compressor technology evolved over the years?
Compressors are energyintensive equipment that account for a major chunk of energy bills. Worldwide, electricity prices have increased sharply due to steep increase in feedstock and energy prices. It is an imperative for compressor manufacturers to build efficient machines which consume less energy, without any reduction in productivity.

The cost of manufacturing compressors is miniscule as compared to the overall cost which is incurred during their operation through their entire lifecycle; it is the electricity consumption throughout the lifecycle of the compressor which forms approximately 80 to 90 per cent of the lifecycle cost and poses the biggest challenge for compressor manufacturers, especially in current times when energy costs are increasing, and the reverse trend is nowhere in the foresight.

This has always been our key focus area and our research efforts aim at achieving excellence in performance of compressors through energy optimisation. A large part of our revenue is utilised by in-house research to enhance efficiencies of our existing technologies and develop innovate techniques which can help our customers reduce overall cost of compressors throughout their lifecycle.

How do you view the competition for compressors from other players and are you geared up to supply compressors for the large-scale capacities that are being set up in India?
We are a global company with presence in more than 170 countries, either through our own companies or through distributors through which we have garnered vast experience to work in multicultural environments. There are a few international players in the Indian market already, but then, the competition is no different from the international market. Energy efficiency is at the core of all our processes and technologies, and we are comfortably placed in the global as well as Indian market.

Our portfolio encompasses a wide range of compressors for various industrial applications. Atlas Copco has developed expertise to offer technical solutions from small- to largesized compressors, which is our strong point as many compressor manufacturers still lack the capability to deliver technologies across different sizes.

We are well-equipped to serve the growing demand in the Indian market in terms of quantities as well as the capacities across various industry verticals. The new facility in Chakan, which will be ready by end of next year, will further leverage our ability to cater to India’s growing demand. We are one of the few compressor companies with the broad portfolio of technologies which puts us far above our competitors and our energyefficient technologies can be scaled up or down to suit the customer specifications, which further give us an edge over our competitors.

Which industries, in your opinion, will drive the growth?
It may be difficult to segregate one sector, as the Indian manufacturing sector will continue to maintain positive growth momentum where product demand will come from all the industrial sectors. Being a young country, with more than 66 per cent population below the age of 35, the growing middle class, the increasing purchasing power parity of people, and urbanisation, our product demand has increased tenfold during the last decade, which has been the fastest period for us.

Compressed air is a utility in all the industrial sectors and we foresee a strong growth all the sectors including oil and gas, power generation, heavy industries such as cement and steel, infrastructure, chemical and pharmaceutical, along with a broad, general manufacturing industrial sector. We have expanded our product portfolio further and added compressors for wastewater treatment and expect significant growth from this segment, in addition to all the other segments, and are optimistic to continue the double-digit growth trend in the near future.

companies, which constantly rue about high attrition rates, we do not face this challenge. We have been present in India for 50 years and Atlas Copco India is an Indian company with Indian leadership in each of its verticals. We recruit people with the right attitude; those who wish to grow with us, with our set of values, our beliefs.

We have set up our own academy to impart training to our workforce, where we conduct in-house workshops to develop their skill sets through various leadership and training programmes.

What are your views on growth of Atlas Copco in India and which other markets you see as the future markets?
India is fundamentally a very strong market, and increasing product demand will steer industrial growth in the country. Atlas Copco India has been enjoying double-digit growth over the past 10 years and we are very confident that the same growth momentum will continue for the years to come.

We have placed big bets on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which were unnoticed hitherto. Though Atlas Copco has been present in these markets over the past 15 years, we are now reinforcing our presence in the Central Asian markets.