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HRS: Global Technology for Local Customers
In an interview with CEW, V Gokul Das, Managing Director, HRS PSL, explains how local network of distributors and channel partner help the company serve its customers quicker. Company is expecting its India operation in heat transfer business to grow by 35 - 40 per cent in future.

Tell our readers something about the growth of the Group over the past years?
HRS Group is one of the leading heat exchanger specialists which operates at the forefront of thermal processing technology. We offer total integrated innovative heat transfer solutions for an extensive range of processing applications across a spectrum of industry sectors like Chemical, Petrochemicals/Oil and Gas, Pharmaceutical, Oil and Fats, Fertiliser, Cement, Steel, Power, Agro Chemical, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers), Paint, Paper and Pulp, Textile, Automotive, Sugar, Distillery and Breweries, Dairy, Food and Beverage among others. Our range of products includes the energy efficient corrugated tube heat exchangers marketed under brand ECOFLUX from India, UNICUS the dynamic scrapped surface heat exchanger and range of shell and tube heat exchangers and FUNKE plate and brazed heat exchangers to virtually cover all application segments across industries.

Our HRS Hot Water System is the most versatile and compact hot water generation system which provides solution to instantaneous hot water generation using energy efficient heat exchangers (Funke brazed or Gasketed plate heat exchanger or Ecoflux corrugated tube heat exchanger). Based on our efficient range of heat transfer products, we offer competitive process solutions for the food, fruit and beverage processing segment, dairy, neutraceutical and for evaporation, environment and energy recovery applications.

Beginning with operations from UK, Spain and India, today the group has spread to USA, Peru (Latin America), Dubai, and Malaysia. The group has a healthy growth rate of 20 per cent and with thrust in R&D activities in environment and energy recovery applications; we have ambitious growth plans in the coming years.

Tell us about the manufacturing operations in India and why the company operates in several other nations through distribution channels?
Our Indian operation HRS Process Systems Ltd was incorporated in Pune in April 2003 with manufacturing facility in Koregaon-Bhima near Pune. HRS PSL is ISO 9001:2008 certified along with ASME ¬U  (The American Society of Mechanical Engineers), NBBI (The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors), HTRI (Heat Transfer Research, Inc) and NSIC-CRISIL SE1A certifications. We have been proud recipient of the prestigious 'UK Trade and Investment India Business Awards 2007' in the 'Innovation' category for our innovative product range.

Our manufacturing facility is spread over four acres having a covered area of 40,000 sq ft. Manufacturing facility is well designed with proper lighting, ventilation and workmen safety systems. We have a regional office in key global regions from where we work with distributor channels and agents. This gives us a unique combination of local know-how and global technology to work in each of the local markets. The other aspect is servicing customer requirements, which is quicker with presence in local market.

Our Indian operation is perhaps the fastest growing company in heat transfer with over 25 per cent CAGR in the years since inception. It is expected to increase 35-40 per cent in future.

What are the R&D facilities the group has set up in Spain?
Any plans to have such facilities in India? We have installed all our pilot equipments in the R&D centre in Murcia, Spain, where we work together with the University on developing new equipment, application development and such similar activities in the heat transfer and food processing applications.

In India we plan to have our own R&D centre in the coming years to focus on developing process know-how for various food processing applications and for environment/effluent treatment solutions.

These would be in line with our global R&D effort in application engineering as well as process engineering with other institutes like those presently working on thermal-hydrolysis of various cellulose material and others on bio-methanation of sludge.

Which sectors in the process industry are going to show promising growth and healthy demand of products from HRS in the future?
Indian economy is growing at a steady pace and with a product like ECOFLUX which has application across the industries, from petrochemicals to pharma to engineering and food processing, the growth opportunity is very healthy. In recent years we have been witnessing good growth in the pharma, chemical and food processing like fruit pulp and beverage processing segments. We have also established a strong foothold in other industry segments like edible oil, cement, fertilisers, steel, power, dairy with our innovative heat transfer solutions. We believe these will continue to grow at good rate in the coming years too. Our thrust for innovative technology and systems for evaporation, environment and energy conservation will be the next long term growth segment. We are focusing our resources in this segment and are expecting good returns in the coming years.

How do you plan to maintain the competitive edge in the market amongst so many international players around?
We face competition from both domestic and international players however primary competition is from top players in the market. We have been able to make a dent in this market with our innovative technology and excellent service backup. Our innovative products backed by strong management, design and service team and sales network give us a winning combination. Our products and their applications are customised to not only give price advantage to the customer but also a technological edge over competition. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Koregaon-Bhima helps us to deliver quality products to international standards.

what strategy will the company adopts to penetrate the SME sector in the country?
The SME sector is a very value conscious segment and here our products give them a value-for-money proposition. We have many customers from this segment who have been our regular s right from inception and we have supplied our products for each of their consequent expansion or new plants. Customised design or solutions with ability to rework the units for expansion or product change in SME sector has been one of our winning strategies.

How do you rate Indian market with other global emerging markets?
Indian market has been on a healthy growth curve and we believe this to be a more stable than other emerging markets. Further, with a growing, health conscious and demanding urban population, opportunity for growth and development are much higher. The domestic market with the growth projection is much bigger than some of the emerging markets put together.

How much importance your company gives to R&D? Do you have plans to setup your own R&D facility?
R&D is top most in all our business plans since that gives us the competitive edge. Presently we are focused on application engineering of the products for our market and R&D activity is more focused in our centre in Spain.

We plan to have our own R&D centre in the coming years, which will focus on food processing technology and into environment and energy solutions.

What are the other latest achievements of the company?
This year we have launched the HRS ParaDice - an innovative processing solution for diced products that is capable of processing fruit dices/vegetable dices without any damage.

We have also introduced HRS Hot Water Generation Systems based on ECOFLUX Corrugated Tube Heat Exchangers and Plate Heat Exchangers which have a prime application in chemical and pharma as well as HVAC, hotel, textile food and brewery industries.

We have tapped various new market segments and now offer solutions for dairy, neutraceutical and health drink industry apart from various other industry spectrums. With more than 12,000 heat transfer solutions supplied in a decade, we have established ourselves as the preferred supplier for major blue chip pharma companies and leading beverage companies of India.

Tell us about the response you have been receiving across the events which are held domestically.
We have recently participated in various events across India and have received very good response to our products and technology. We have participated in the leading exhibitions related to chemical and food industry namely: Food and BevTech, International Foodtec, Pharmac India, India Foodex, Process Engineering Expo and India Chem 2012. Apart from this we also held many seminars in Tier 2 and 3 cities. We will also be participating in Chemtech 2013 in Mumbai.

Our aim was to reach a much wider spectrum of industries across diverse sectors and these expos with their immense footfall are a great platform to exchange information on our innovative heat transfer solutions. It is seen that there is high level of interest for our products and technology and visitors are keen to look at new application in their area of operation.

Beginning with 53.5 million in 2003-04, what turnover are you eyeing for the current year? Where do you see your company five years from now? Any plans to introduce new technologies?
The company is witnessing a growth rate of 30 per cent this year. However, we are working to achieve a turnover of 350 million in 2012- 13. We plan to introduce new technology for processing during the coming years in different segments. Evaporation, environment and energy recovery are the other focus areas for us where we plan to invest substantially. With right mix of innovative product, technology and management, we plan to be a 1 billion company in little less than five years from now!