In conversation with Pradeep Rout, CEO and Founder Director, MachPhy Solutions

Pradeep Rout

We live in a world where we consume foods from different parts of the world at different times of the year. This has been made possible with a globalised supply chain and advancement in technology of preserving perishables. The cold sector even though it existed decades earlier has been pushed to extreme innovations in the recent pandemic..

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

MachPhy provides a state-of-art range of cold chain solutions where the systems can maintain temperatures from -50 to +25 degrees with functional and structural features. The cold storage units can either be portable or fixed based on the requirement of the customer. It can run on grid power or without any power backup based on cooling systems being used. We use Phase Change Materials (PCMs) & nanomaterials to maintain temperatures at required levels. Our proprietary technology of hybrid cooling efficiently manages different energy sources and optimizes the use of PCMs for thermal backup.

We have charge and go units which gives customers a lot of flexibility to last-mile delivery of perishables like dairy and dairy products, fresh and frozen meat & fish, medicines and other life-saving drugs. These are available starting from the small size of 2.5-litre storage to large 100L units.

For post-harvest supply chain and agriculture perishables, MachPhy provides cold rooms which can be powered by alternate sources of energy like solar and biogas and can maintain temperatures up to -25 degrees. These cold storage units can be fixed in open spaces or built on a mobile platform that can be hauled with a prime over like tractors and mini trucks. Majorly crucial for intracity (same-day deliveries) to intercity deliveries that can take up to 5 days.

MachPhy’s Biosure product line has helped its customers in the diagnostics & research field to ship frozen samples in remote areas of India where there is the unavailability of dry ice to ship crucial samples for DNA/RNA extraction, frozen tissues, tissue grafts, etc.

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

MachPhy is increasingly getting clients from Healthcare & Life Sciences sectors. Apart from that, our base customers are from sectors such as Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, fisheries, FMCG and Food processing industries.
Our recent leap into optimising cold storage products and cold supply chain for vaccines such as Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V–maintaining them at controlled temperature has received positive responses from the medical sector. It provided us with an opportunity to leverage our platform to cater to healthcare systems in a dramatic consequence.

What are your most recent product innovations?

MachPhy is developing prototypes for multipurpose solar cold rooms where one solar-powered (or powered by alternate green fuel like biogas) room can maintain temperatures from -25 degrees Celsius to +25 degrees Celsius, i.e. store fresh leafy green vegetables along with frozen products, with the same unit.

Taking an example of our tie-up with Mati Farms, one of the exotic and fresh organic produce suppliers in Odisha. Initially, the supply chain partners for the farms were erratic where the need for reliable cold storage arose. MachPhy developed a multiparameter unit, probably for the first time in eastern Odisha for a small customer-centric farm. The stable unit had CO2 levels, light exposure, fresh air exchange, temperature & humidity. Local cold storage for harvested producer require scrutinised care for the longevity of the produce.

We have also been working on solid-state cooling technologies where a compressor is absent and the system cools down with the help of semiconductors. These systems have a very niche application where compressor-based systems fail to perform. Starting from extreme conditions to highly hostile situations the compressor-less units have performed extremely well. We target to position them for cooling devices that are deployed in hazardous environments and possibly with Armed Forces.

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

We have been observing that clients have been lately open to new technologies and innovations. MachPhy has been innovating based on customer orientation so that we can help our customers meet their needs with simple designs.

For example, We have designed micro cold storages for small scale farmers where the focus is to minimise post-harvest loss and commercial losses due to distress sales. These micro cold storages are multipurpose cold storage units that can maintain temperatures from -25 to +20 in one unit. Further, during off-season periods the same units can be used for growing mushrooms or storing highly perishable green leafy vegetables in high humidity conditions.

Overall, If we look at the global power consumption data, close to a quarter of the power consumption is in commercial and residential cooling systems & cold storage. This is a huge portion alone for cooling requirements. Keeping in consideration of current trends, this is high time we make the systems more efficient and sustainable
considering the effects of global warming and climate change, this demand is expected to rise further.

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

The Pandemic has been a major driver for this startup-climate advancement equilibrium. It provided MachPhy with the opportunity to pivot on the technological nuances to cater to the growing market of cold storage, post-harvest and simultaneously, portable and efficient systems to empower vaccine immunisation drives in the country.

For us as a company serving the community in every tacit way, we rely on our customer’s trust and providing them reliability in our company. We are highly customer-oriented such that we address specific problems and challenges for our customers.

Design is also one of the overlooked aspects in a startup. We believe in efficient designs and that a lot of challenges can be addressed by design modifications to existing systems. Overcoming those design challenges with simple and technologically better efficacy helps us progress as a company. Having a patented technology also keeps us ahead of the cold storage curve.

Can you tell us about any of recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?

MachPhy has been forefront in solving immediate and urgent customer issues in cold storage. In remote and furthest North-East India, where the availability of dry ice is rare as a commodity, we faced challenges transporting frozen tissues from Shillong to Delhi. In collaboration with DNA Xperts, a molecular diagnostics and genetics laboratory
based out of Delhi, we worked this out. Our portable units based on PCM helped move the frozen units in temperatures of -25 to -20 degrees without any use of dry ice.

  • It is worthwhile to mention that in tropical & subtropical regions like India, it is usual for samples to show non conformity because of temperature shocks faced during transport. This increases the operational expenses for diagnostics companies where samples have to collect again for tests that require RNA/DNA extraction. We designed cold bags for a Biotech company called Core Diagnostics that can maintain refrigerated temperatures for up to 16 hours with better space utilization and functional features.
  • BioDx Healthcare is a channel partner of MachPhy based out of New Delhi. Collaborating together has helped MachPhy supply several cold chain solutions during the peak of second-wave COVID-19 in India. Despite the faltering supply chains and logistics, we delivered our commitments even with the delays. Thus ensuring customer success rates and timely deliveries.
  • We have also partnered with Nestlé India for a significant project on areas with high humidity levels and corrosive saline presence at Coastal Puri. Serving chilled coffee in such reactionary areas was a challenge. Our PCM based hybrid cooling systems made it possible for them to vend at remote locations with portable outlets.

What’s the latest news from your company?

MachPhy is the first company in Odisha to leverage cold storage technology as a product. Incorporating Make In India initiative for cold storage. We were recently awarded by Startup Odisha to accelerate our technology in the state. Yourstory, the startup newsletter of India did a feature on MachPhy. We also won the coveted Social Alpha Techtonic challenge for innovations in clean energy.

We are expanding our base by vaccine carry bags accommodating the temperature sensitivity which we believe is going to grow in the next few months. MachPhy aims to disrupt the cold chain sector on a global scale.

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

We have been advancing lately on the two fronts of solid-state cooling and hybrid cooling with Phase Change Materials (PCMs). We believe these two segments would the leading sectors in the future cold chain technology with applications in healthcare and life sciences where precise temperature control is very important. As mentioned above, our micro cold storages for small scale farmers where the focus is to minimise post-harvest loss and commercial losses due to distress sale. These micro cold storages are multipurpose cold storage units that can maintain temperatures from -25 to +20 degrees Celsius in one unit which can be used during both on and off harvest sessions.

Further, we have made a lot of technological progress in hybrid cooling systems powered by alternate green energy sources like solar energy and biogas. If we look at the global power consumption data, close to a quarter of the power consumption is in commercial and residential cooling system & cold storages. This is a huge portion. Considering the affects of global warming and climate change, this demand is expected to rise further. This is high time we make the systems more efficient and as much sustainable as possible.

Could you please share your views on Cold Chain Sector for our readers?

We live in a world where we consume foods from different parts of the world at different times of the year. This has been made possible with a globalised supply chain and advancement in technology of preserving perishables. Unfortunately, refrigeration technology has evolved slower because of which many of the preservation techniques
rely on the use of harmful chemicals to overcome the inefficiencies. We see the technology can further evolve to balance the over-dependence on chemicals for preservation. The cold sector even though it existed decades earlier has been pushed to extreme innovations in the recent pandemic.

We are looking at changes happening which previously looked impossible. In any of these years despite the technical revolutions, we have not been able to address the challenges faced in public immunisation cold chains. This is where the future lies. We are also on brink of rapid development of systems to take food to space through human
space endeavours. We need to think about it. We need to start a conversation on it.

The coldchains in India, on average, are less efficient compared to international standards, As a result, the cold supply chain expenses in India are much higher than global figures. This gap can be overcome by innovations disrupting the field. Management of supply chain and logistical aspect challenges can also be resolved by those innovations.

In long run, we are on a mission to solve that. We are looking at decades worth of changes in a matter of a year which includes lifestyle and food habit changes as well. We have to be accomodating of this but at the same time being energy-efficient and sustainable as well.

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