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SMEs are Now Investing in Green Tech

According to reports, Emerson, the global engineering powerhouse with revenue topping $24 billion, is making rapid strides in the Indian market that has seen strong technology adoption in core sectors such as oil and gas as well as metals and minerals. GE veteran Pradipta Sen, who now helms the company’s affairs here, has seen the Indian operations grow income eightfold to $700 million and become one of the top five markets for Emerson globally.

But what’s more, Pradipta Sen is energised by the new opportunities in renewable energy and biotech, and the introduction of new technologies like wireless in industrial solutions to major infrastructure companies.

“Indian companies are aware of the benefits they will reap on adopting these solutions, and reactions from sectors like oil and gas, power and pharmaceutical have been encouraging,” he says.

To give an example, Sen says that compressed natural gas companies started retailing in India less than a decade ago. But right from the beginning, the kind of accurate tracking, measurement, transportation and dispensing technologies they adopted, enabled them to minimise seepage, increase operational efficiency and profitability. “As the average input gas prices go up, ensuring minimal leakage becomes important. Flexible design ensures that the same flow-metering solution can be used for dispensers both for light vehicles such as autorickshaws as well as heavy vehicles such as buses,” he explains.

“The challenges companies face are the high cost of adoption and implementation visa-vis the size of the business. Lack of skilled people who can address technology obsolescence through continuous innovations are factors that dissuade technology adoption. Awareness was not high a decade ago, and it took some time to educate the market. However, it is safe to assume that the market is definitely more evolved and informed now,” Sen explains.

Sen says hi-tech firms such as Emerson can help reduce project risk, lower project cost, and shorten overall project schedule. This is music to India’s infrastructure sector, which has seen delays and bottlenecks stemming from policy difficulties.

“Optimising manufacturing efficiency, minimising wastage and improving return on investment become critical to ensure success in core sector companies. We believe that the optimum route to this is efficient automation and power management. Concepts like infrastructure monitoring and integrated power management are gradually taking root.”

India’s infrastructure and other core sectors are still growing at a healthy rate and, despite some delays in policymaking, there has been growth, not contraction, in most quarters. The infrastructure sector accounts for a large share of India’s industrial output (26.7%).

The slow growth rate in the crore sector industries is actually a boon for a firm like Emerson. “The areas in which we see opportunities are power, refining, alternative energy including and solar and wind, water and waste treatment. Our strategy is to customise global solutions to meet local needs. As India develops further, we are geared to provide technology to support this growth,” he says.

Interestingly, Sen points out that “over 90% of what is sold by Emerson India is domestically produced. We also export India-made solutions to the Middle East and parts of Asia. For example, some of our industrial valves and process valves used in oil and gas industries in the Middle East, where quality is absolutely vital from a safety standpoint, are made in India. We also export compressors for air-conditioning and refrigeration industries and alternators.”

Emerson has built significant global engineering capabilities in India. “So, for example, wherever Emerson is working on a refinery project, our India engineers are usually involved from a project engineering standpoint. Overall technologies originating from this market are excellent examples of best-cost solutions produced in India,” Sen explains. The company has invested around Rs 4,000 crore in its India operations over the last few years.

Sen says sustainable technology development is the greatest challenge of our time, especially in developing countries. “It brings together a number of global problems like pollution, climate change and depletion of mineral and organic resources . Technology has played an important role in creating the problems we face, but it can play an equally important role to resolve these issues,” he says.

He adds that Emerson’s local innovations meet global environment standards. And the green-growth drive isn’t restricted to big business only. “Our experience indicates that a significant number of small and medium businesses are waking up to the concept of sustainability and are investing in sustainable technology. These companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of investing in green technologies,” he concludes.

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