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Freudenberg Strengthens Research & Development Activities in India
Jimmy Panthaki, Managing Director EagleBurgmann India Pvt Ltd
EagleBurgmann underlines India's importance in developing new technologies and solutions for the industrial sealing market by adding a new R&D centre to its Pune-based production plant, constructed in 2009.

The Freudenberg group company will use the new facility for testing of various seals addressing mainly Oil & Gas applications. Freudenberg has identified the Oil & Gas segment as one of the most important strategic future markets. The investment in research facilities in India highlights the importance of the Indian market for the Freudenberg Group's global growth strategy.

Focus on Indian customer needs
In the R&D centre in Pune, EagleBurgmann will test high-end products like dry gas seals for compressors as well as high-pressure and high speed engineered seals for pumps and agitators. It will also include running tests as well as endurance testing for various mechanical seals and seal supply systems. EagleBurgmann's customers in India will benefit the most from this new facility. "The major benefit for our customers is a reduced product lead time, especially for products which were fully designed, manufactured and tested abroad due to lack of such facilities in India," says Pramod Mehata, Site Execute Officer for EagleBurgmann╩s Pune Site.

The Oil & Gas market is one of the key future investment areas for the Freudenberg Group, as Dr J÷rg Matthias Gro▀mann explains, the Freudenberg Group's Regional Representative in India and Chief Financial Officer of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities: "We have identified Oil & Gas applications as a high priority strategic business segment to invest in, thus expanding the respective Freudenberg's businesses. The current EagleBurgmann investment underlines our respective engagement."

Innovations made in India
Research and development in India has a long tradition within the Freudenberg Group. One of the latest innovations is the Viledon eee.Sy concept, a co-development of Freudenberg Filtration Technologies and its business partner Thermax. It is a combined filter and cooling solution which was developed in India and today is used in the petrochemical and chemical industry.

"The above-average growth of the past few years highlights the prospects of Freudenberg in India and affirms our targeted expansion strategy for the region,ë says Dr J÷rg Matthias Gro▀mann. "A significant factor in the outstanding growth rates was the consistently very good performance of our Indian Business Groups." One of these Business Groups is EagleBurgmann India, market leader in the mechanical seal industry in India.

The company is the country's only seal manufacturer whose test facilities are recognised and approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. The site in Pune produces mechanical seals and seals support systems, which, amongst others, are used in centrifugal pumps, compressors, agitators and blowers.

CEW interviewed Jimmy Panthaki, Managing Director, EagleBurgmann India Pvt Ltd, and sought more insight into the current development. Excerpts from the interview:

How big 'Mechanical Seal' business is in India for the company? What is your current market share? The mechanical seal business in India is about EUR 75 million ( 528.61 crore) and EagleBurgmann India has a significant market share.

How will the new R&D Center Boost Company's performance?
For several critical applications, there was a trend of importing the equipment from Europe, US, Japan, etc. While this picture has changed in the pump industry since all major pump OEMs have set up their design centres in India, seals continue to be imported to a large extent.

With the new high-tech R&D Centre, EagleBurgmann India will have a huge advantage of indigenously developing as well as dynamically testing some critical mechanical seals which are currently imported. Indian customers tend to prefer vendors with indigenised products rather than fully relying on imports.

One such product was Dry Gas Seals for compressors which till now are manufactured, tested and even reconditioned abroad. With the new R&D centre the dynamic testing and servicing will be possible to do in India thereby reducing the turn-around time of these jobs.

Why Research and Development is so crucial in this segment?
Over the last few years, capacity enhancement has been the key focus of major industry sectors. This has naturally led to larger equipment which have higher speeds as well as operating parameters. Emission control, energy conservation and alternate energy have been priority topics for the industry and have gained topmost importance over the last few years.

All these changes naturally put a positive pressure on the mechanical seal industry, which needs to continuously upgrade its products in order to meet these new challenges in the industry.

Hence Research and Development does play a crucial role for the mechanical seal industry leading to newer low-emission, high-pressure high-speed mechanical seals with optimised power consumption.

What is the role of Japanese EKK Group in this venture?
EagleBurgmann is an alliance between NOK Group of Japan and the Freudenberg Group of Germany.
EKK Japan is the flagship company of NOK for mechanical seals. In the Indian operations, there is a equal shareholding between the alliance partners. EagleBurgmann India has been continuously upgraded with newer technologies in sealing fluids. EKK Japan was instrumental in transferring technology for mechanical seals as per API 682 and also in setting up one of the high-pressure high-speed test rigs in this new R&D Centre.

India has been a major focus area for company. With huge investment is predicted in oil and gas, chemical, petrochemical and allied industries, how do you plan company╩s growth in near future?
We are well-known in India for catering to special engineered applications. We will continue and further strengthen our position in the market by utilising the new R&D Centre to develop products for newer application areas untapped till now.