In conversation with Anuraga Chandra, Head of India Sales – Danfoss Climate Solutions

What are your best-known solutions/products/services?

Under the refrigeration and air conditioning category, Danfoss offers durable, energy efficient, and affordable solutions which include residential and commercial air conditioning applications, commercial refrigeration support, supermarket refrigeration systems, industrial refrigeration, enabling increased food safety and limiting food waste, reliable bus and train air conditioning systems.

In addition to this, we offer technology driven solutions like IoT and cloud-based solutions in a bid to enhance energy efficiency across a wide range of verticals. Moreover, we develop and manufacture products which are used in applications like air dryers, brewery refrigeration systems, chillers, precise close control systems, cold rooms which are compliant of safety regulations, commercial ice making machines and its components, highly efficient dairy refrigeration systems, display cases with accurate temperature and operation control features for commercial spaces, drives for compressors/fans/pumps, glass door merchandisers, food retail and processing refrigeration, reefers, industrial ice making machines rooftop units and variable refrigerant flow systems (VRF) among other similar products. Danfoss is also one of the leading providers of trailer, truck and van refrigeration configurations.

Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest?

Some of the key verticals our refrigeration and air conditioning systems cater to includes food infrastructure applications, pharmaceutical industry, dairy and fisheries sector, supermarkets and convenience stores, commercial buildings and plants, public transportation systems (buses and trains) and cold-chain transport systems.

The announcement of the government’s immunization programmes and the overall demand for pharmaceutical products because of Covid-19, has resulted in the need for rapid development in India’s prevalent cold-chain logistics systems. At Danfoss, we have made significant investments in R&D with special focus on the enhanced safety and efficiency requirements. There has been an increased emphasis on using remote solutions for cold storages and applications within refrigeration with the onset of this pandemic, to enhance safety, cost and carbon emissions efficiency as well.

We have been able to work with many customers virtually, even in this challenging period, where with the help of technology we were able to undertake new installations as well as service. COVID-19 has accelerated the offtake of digital solutions and we as a company have been a front runner in providing such solutions. We are currently working with few customers on solutions where they can monitor their cold storages virtually from the comfort of their mobile. Further, in a bid to develop the industry in a sustainable and carbon-free manner, we have made significant strides in the promotion and adoption of natural refrigerants in lieu of traditional high GWP (global warming potential) and ODP (ozone depletion potential) refrigerants such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). This has helped us facilitate many in the industry, especially those  leading infrastructure to deliver end-to-end cold chain management.

What are your most recent product innovations?

The move towards the adoption of technologies that are energy efficient along with switching from HFCs to natural refrigerants are among a few steps we have taken to reduce our carbon footprint. At Danfoss, we are focused on encouraging innovations that have the least financial and environmental costs. This helps us realize and serve our bigger responsibility towards building and maintaining a sustainable tomorrow for the future generations. In this regard, we are centred around proactively developing products that run on low-GWP refrigerants to satisfy our clients’ demands for pragmatic and safe solutions, without compromising on energy efficiency. We also collaborate with few leading educational institutions in the country to leverage industry-academia research partnerships for developing and promoting more sustainable solutions, which help pave a greener tomorrow for India.

We are looking at digital enabled solutions so that customers can remotely monitor their refrigeration systems. We are also working with few customers on solutions to combine renewable energy with energy storage.

What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?

Danfoss is committed to identifying and capitalising on the global megatrends and developments of relevance within its domain, as they may occur. We have continued to see growth in our services sector along with rapid urbanization under the government’s “Make in India” initiatives.

India is a major consumption driven economy and attracts huge investments in infrastructure owing to its nature of growth. This in turn will drive the growth of key sectors of the Indian economy. Danfoss recently set up several new manufacturing lines in our Chennai campus to keep up with the government’s “Make in India” initiative.

We follow a 3-step approach to “Make in India”. The first step is to make in India to serve and strengthen the local market, the second step is to make in India for global markets. Lastly, we plan to develop segments in India which contribute to worldwide applications band growth. We are currently assessing technical roadmaps to capitalise on the recently announced extension of the government’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme which is aimed to give a boost to domestic manufacturing, in order to enable companies to become a part of the global supply chain. Behind all this, Danfoss holds true to its promise of engineering tomorrow’s India by providing diverse industries with a wide range of energy-efficient & sustainable solutions.

What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a driver for change across sectors. The need and importance of a safe HVAC system has been highlighted due to the safety considerations raised by the nation-wide lockdowns. Coming into 2021, there has been a surge in cooling requirements. To meet the demand and cater to this undeniable need for more efficient and safe HVAC systems, energy efficient measures are required to be taken and integrated into the production and application processes. As we look forward to establishing the ‘new normal’, and charting a path towards economic recovery, it is highly imperative to develop and implement a low-touch low-carbon strategy to make sustainability an intrinsic part of future economic development projects.

A complete digital convergence will be instrumental towards integrating sustainability into the HVAC-R sector. This will include integrated building management systems, connected devices enhanced with remote operation and management capabilities with key focus on digitalizing the sales and delivery channels. IoT can lead to automation of maintenance and operational processes resulting in reduced human intervention in critical areas. At Danfoss, we have designed solutions like Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and oil-free Turbocor compressors which are equipped with these abilities.

At this point, decarbonising the overall HVACR industry will not only lead to reductions in the use of chemical components and heat emissions but also contribute to the positioning of the HVAC industry as an environment friendly sector. Under such circumstances, aligning R&D and innovation efforts will become pivotal in the growth of the sector.

What’s the latest news from your company?

In the beginning of the ongoing financial year we injected outlays into our drives segment to support the localisation efforts of the government’s ‘Athma Nirbhar Bharat’ program. This was done with an aim to meet the global demand for sustainable technology across key sectors such as pharma, automobiles, food processing among others. During the nationwide lockdown, Danfoss has resiliently worked towards reducing any operational disruptions. During the pandemic, we have taken an agile stance towards ensuring that all open production lines operate within strictly implemented safety standards. As a major part of our workforce continues to work asynchronously out of their residences, key production lines have already been optimized to full capacity. Meanwhile, we have utilized the digital landscape to invest in complex functions like R&D and carry out virtual product inspections. We have leveraged this as an opportunity to interact more closely with our stakeholders.

In a bid to enhance its strategies towards strengthening its core business and customer value, Danfoss also acquired Eaton’s hydraulics business early in 2020. The merger between the two companies with organisational similarities and complementary geographical footprint, has been a step towards Danfoss entering and growing in the hydraulics market, previously served by Eaton Hydraulics.

Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?

Apart from working on innovative smart & sustainable products & being effective, we believe an energy efficient supply chain is also a key driver for cost. Here, Danfoss plans on becoming a role model for companies willing to undertake steps towards reducing their carbon footprints. To fulfil this, we have committed to a zero-waste environment philosophy. Not only does the model contribute positively to environmental sustainability but also provides space for a plethora of business benefits. An example can be drawn from our own experience in India where we have deeply localised supply-chain networks for our customers spread across the geographical expanse.

In order to limit and further reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain, we identified and adopted the ‘Milk Run’ model. To enable this, our customers agreed to a fixed delivery model, with pick-up and delivery on specific days only. This would ensure the smooth flow of supplies with maximum capacity utilisation and significant cost reductions. Our supply chain team works towards meeting demand requirements and enabling effective transportation. This has also ensured enhanced customer engagement and delight as they benefit from a clear schedule of deliveries and have a sense of contributing to a clean and green environment.

Could you please share your views on the Cold Chain sector for our magazine readers?

Logistics is one of the most important sectors on which the progress and growth of the economy hinges. Among the most important emerging aspects of logistics is temperature-controlled warehousing. Understanding the complex framework of food infrastructure in India, cold chain is an essential component of post-harvesting and provides a complete series of storage facilities designed to retain the nutritional value and increase the shelf life of food produce.

Given the current Covid-19 circumstances, the development of cold-chain infrastructure in the nation has been brought to sharp focus vis-à-vis the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. With a number of Covid-19 vaccines in the market, and the administration already underway, the challenge of optimal temperature-controlled storage has significant bearings on its viability and accessibility. This has acted as an impetus for multiple players to enhance and accelerate the development of cold-chain infrastructure, and going forward, the pharmaceutical industry is set to be an important contributor to the development of the cold-chain ecosystem in the country. At this juncture, with the Union Budget for FY 2021-22 around the corner, it will be a welcome step for the Finance Minister to make provisions towards strengthening and widening the cold-chain infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country, benefiting both the pharmaceutical and the agriculture and allied industries tremendously.

Through advanced research and engineering, Danfoss strives to make the process more ecological by adhering to stringent emission standards and taking sustainable quality control measures. Danfoss is relentlessly working towards reducing the wastage of resources and increasing hardware efficiency at every step of the cold-chain process.

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