As mechanised cleaning becomes the mainstay of sewer and drain maintenance, how has it influenced the manufacturers of the equipment that makes it possible? Mrigank Warrier, Associate Editor, Clean India Journal, set out to find out, and learnt that the growth of this segment can be charted by tracking the sales of the components they use.
Two manufacturers of such components – Renish Bhaskar, Designated Partner, Ren Jetting Systems LLP & CEO – BOSS Group and Anees Ahamed, General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Whale Enterprise Pvt Ltd – explain all the factors driving the growth of this segment.
We offer complete solutions with technical support for manufacturers of maintenance equipment, backed by technology collaboration and transfer from Europe”, said Bhaskar. “Our clients supply equipment to urban local bodies.”
Similarly, Whale Enterprise manufactures valves, pumps and other components for manufacturers of equipment used to maintain underwater and stormwater drains (it makes entire machines as well).
“Many of the components we manufacture are exported to our parent company in the UK, and from there to the rest of Europe, where they are widely accepted, even by our competitors. A handful of Indian businesses have already been buying from us; we see potential in supplying parts and components to manufacturers in India as well, and would like to explore this segment at the Waste Technology India Expo,” said Ahamed.
His company also provides parts for products that have already been supplied to municipalities and corporations, as well as after-sales service for solutions of other brands.
Whenever a pressure or vacuum vessel is being used, certain parameters need to be kept in check to prevent damage to the pumps. Choosing the proper material can help prevent air leaks, protecting the efficiency of the machine. A lower performance will also lead to burning of more fuel for the same amount of work.
Safety features of a solution are also linked to performance. Malfunction of a valve can lead to major damage to the tank, increasing downtime.
Traditionally, sophisticated solutions have come to India years after they were adopted by the West. “In India, we decide to emphasise more on safety than sophistication,” shared Ahamed. The market has also evolved with us, and is slowly incorporating these features in tenders.”
A good fit
According to Ahamed, many manufacturers use water valves rather than valves meant exclusively for liquid waste. While these may be cheaper, they will wear out within 18 months if used for the wrong application; the correct valve will last for 8-12 years.
Such valves are specially engineered for drain cleaning equipment, preventing even the slightest amount of liquid from leaking. They are also easier to operate, with simpler opening and closing.
Up until recently, the water tank of a truck had to be refilled from time to time, limiting its operations. Bhaskar shared: “At the Waste Technology India Expo, we will be exhibiting solutions that have in-built water recycling pumps. Such trucks can work continuously for as long as 10 hours, rather than 3-4 hours that is possible now. With savings from water recycling, reduced manpower requirements and no need for a supporting vehicle, the ROI is achieved within three years.”
Although the law banning manual scavenging has existed for long, its enforcement has been particularly stringent in the recent past, driving the adoption of mechanisation in sewer maintenance. Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, there also has been a spurt in businesses manufacturing sanitation equipment in India. Those who already provided solid waste management solutions have also entered the liquid waste management space.
The Smart City Mission and AMRUT made funds available to build sewerage infrastructure. Municipal corporations expanded their existing drain network, while smaller urban local bodies constructed all-new sewerage systems over the past 3-5 years, driving up the demand for maintenance.
Ahamed offered an example: “In Tamil Nadu, we have 18-20 corporations, which already have some maintenance equipment and will be investing to fulfil the remaining needs. But we also have around 150 municipalities; out of these, Grades 2-4 may have not yet reached a position where they need to procure equipment, but all the other grades have completed construction of sewer networks and are new buyers for us.”
According to Bhaskar, “High-flow high-pressure pumps are the most in demand, mostly from metro cities, with some demand also coming in from Tier II cities like Ahmedabad.”
With the volumes being sold in India, it may not be feasible for a manufacturer to also enter the after-sales parts market. This leaves a gap in the service segment.
“As a brand, we place strong emphasis on offering after-sales service for all our machines. When we supply machines to any part of India, we always have a backup engineer recruited for that location”, said Ahamed. This person can also cater to the after-sales service of other manufacturers with parts from Whale Enterprise – a win-win for both the company and the engineer.