Interview: Janda Campos
Senior Director, Head of Group Sustainability at Grundfos
Investing in Solutions that Drive Sustainable Future doesn't Necessarily Mean Higher Capex
August 30, 2022. By Manu Tayal
Que: What is Grundfos’ business in India all about? What is the size of its operations and what makes India important for Grundfos?
Ans: Grundfos India is headquartered in Chennai. The commercial operations in India started in 1999 and we maintained a CAGR of about 27% till 2019. We are humbled to have grown from EUR 400,000 in 1999 to EUR 65 million in 2019, despite two downward cycles in 2008 and the financial crises in 2013.
Committed to sustainability, Grundfos India’s headquarter is LEED Gold certified in 2005, making it the first commercial building in the country to receive such recognition.
As we grew in size and business, we expanded our presence to launch a manufacturing facility in Dantali, Gujarat in 2017 to meet our increasing production demands. The facility further caters to our supply chain network in Western and Northern India.
Today, Grundfos India stands as a core team of 475 employees, working with 250 distributors and dealers across eight branch offices. Grundfos in India is one of the country offices that has a Country President overseeing the company’s
business in the country.
Que: How does sustainability fit into this larger landscape? How would the business operate around the sustainability agenda?
Ans: Sustainability is important for us in all what we do and what we drive. It is one of the main reasons why Grundfos was started. It is the company’s purpose to pioneer solutions to cater to the world’s water and climate challenges and improve the quality of life for people. It is one of our values to be sustainable, while being transparent and accountable for what we do. Today, we are aiming toward minimizing our environmental footprint and advocating for sustainable solutions, for climate, water, people, and the communities where we are placed.
As an organization, we are dedicated to a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Today, 4.1% of our total employees are specially-abled. In India, we are also working with NGOs to both support them and also develop a diverse workforce to give them the opportunity to work under special conditions.
We are also accelerating efforts to reduce the CO2 emissions of our own activities, through resource recovery, sustainable transportation, water management, green buildings and investments in renewable energy. On top of that, we are working with the local communities on several activities, which we conduct either with our employees or with other organizations where we strive to drive sustainability. We approach sustainability both from a community engagement perspective as well as a business perspective.
For instance, we provide solar pumps for people where access to water and energy is not constant. In the remote village of Pummel in the Kashmiri mountains, residents did not have drinking water in their homes and had to manually hand pump clean water. A team of engineers from Grundfos in association with channel partner M/s SIAB Surgiments came up with the solution to install a solar-powered pumping station. We supplied the Grundfos SQFlex 2.5-2 groundwater pump along with a controller.
By December 2020, we installed 36 solar pumping stations in the Kashmir Valley, offering a reliable, low-maintenance solution which were independent of the electricity supply in the region. This is one of the ways how we are contributing to society with our products.
Through our employee-driven program called the Water2Life project, Grundfos is striving to create a sustainable future and bring clean water to communities in need. As a part of the program, we helped in restoring a traditional water structure and promote sustainable agriculture in the Pattikadu village of Tamil Nadu. We have worked with India Hand-in-Hand to launch a project with the aim to reach a local community of around 1,000 people that do not have basic access to water. The project included installing a solar pump, renovating their irrigation tank, developing organic farming methods, and installing five toilets.
To restore the 100-acre Sembakkam lake in Chennai, we partnered with Cognizant, The Nature Conservancy, Care Earth Trust, and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. This project is expected to be completed by this year. We have contributed to cleaning the inlets and outlets, improving the lake’s connectivity with upstream and downstream water bodies, and building an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system, which is part of our expertise. Some of our products are also being used in some aspects of the water treatment at the lake.
Que: India is a country that accounts for a great deal of water and energy wastage. When it comes to understanding sustainability, where does India stand? While working across countries, what is your experience of working with Indian utilities?
Ans: Today, organizations and governments across the world are moving towards driving sustainability. Our role as a company is to empower enterprises, enabling them to drive their own sustainable growth plans. For example, Grundfos is supporting the
India-Denmark Green Strategic Partnership. This partnership has a focus on hydrogen, renewable energy, and wastewater management as well. Last year, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TATA Projects to work on projects through cooperation and Joint Ventures in the area of environment, sustainability, and water. In a similar effort, we have unveiled innovative drinking water and dispensing solution in Delhi.
We think that collaboration and partnership are key to sharing knowledge and contributing to the betterment of communities worldwide. Therefore, we at Grundfos are associated with C40. The C40 is a coalition of mayors of nearly 100 cities, looking into climate change and how cities can be adapted to mitigate climate change. Most of these cities are also water stressed as a consequence of climate change. Together with the Grundfos Foundation, we are supporting and developing solutions for how cities can be prepared and made resilient to water challenges. We fund and support by sharing technology and knowledge on water resilience with this organization, which is then shared with the participating mayors from across
Que: Recently, there has been a spurt in sustainability around the world. At a larger company level, what kind of changes has Grundfos implemented?
Ans: To address the acceleration of climate issues, one of the things that we have done recently is signing up for a science-based targets initiative. We have set a baseline for all our CO2 emissions throughout the whole value chain, from our suppliers to the end-of-life of our products and solutions, and have used that baseline to submit scope 1, 2 and 3 targets that are expected to be approved later this year.
For a pump, most CO2 emissions happen when the pump is in operation. Therefore, our biggest impact as a company is when our products are in use. Therefore, we are reevaluating our pumps and how we can ensure efficiency with lesser emissions in their production process and when in use for our end-users.
Grundfos was one of the first companies to focus on energy efficiency in the 70s and brought digital solutions to the market to improve efficiency. We have always been aware of the need to champion a sustainable agenda with efficient products and solutions. For the past 70 years, we have improved the efficiency of our products with the aim to reduce energy consumption. Today, we have strengthened this focus and continuously interlinked innovation to drive our sustainability ambitions. As such, we are looking at how we can further include digital features and how to make our products more intelligent, which can help our end users in energy savings.
Que: With this entire shift towards being able to produce more efficient or sustainable solutions, is there a higher Capex assessment?
Ans: Investing in solutions that drive a sustainable future does not necessarily mean a higher Capex, because it leads to better energy savings. For instance, recently, Bosch’s automotive electronics plant in Naganathapura, Bengaluru was looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. Grundfos ran a pump audit on the plant’s cooling system to suggest ways to reduce energy consumption. After the audit, two Grundfos CRE pumps were installed, which reduced power consumption by 47% as compared to the old pumps, saving 4.42 kW per hour. The cost reduction from the energy saved makes the overall operational costs lower.
Que: Key highlights of the Sustainability Report 2021.
Ans: Again, this year, we are immensely proud that we have been able to help our end users who are using our circulators to save energy. We have a 14% increase in energy conservation as compared to 2020. Our pumps sold in 2021 allowed our customers to reuse over 1.8 million m³ of water per year, which is a 20% increase in water savings. To improve water access, together with our partners and NGOs, we have provided more than 1.6 million people with increased water access in 2021.
In terms of circularity, we are developing and furthering our take-back programme, where we work with our distributors to retrieve some pumps and assemble them. In 2021, we had a 160% increase in pumps taken back for recycled, compared to 2020.
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