HVAC Industry: Current challenges & future market growth

Currently India’s HVAC industry is Rs. 25000 crore and the Refrigeration industry is worth Rs. 8000 crore. Going forward, D. Nirmal Ram states that the HVAC & R Industry is poised to have an exponential growth but requires huge skilled manpower at all levels.

Current scenario across HVAC & R Industry:

D. Nirmal Ram

D. Nirmal Ram

“The boom is happening and this will lead to a large number of developments in the areas of commercial, residential, hospitality, industrial applications including high rise buildings not only in the metros but also in the tier 1 and tier 2 cities. This makes the requirements of specialized allied building services like air-conditioning & ventilation, fire & safety and plumbing much more demanding, requiring a higher level of engineering and co-ordination between all the services. With rising global warming, energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings has to be the mandate going forward. We have to be ready for the future now.”
HVAC & R is a national building industry – it is next to impossible to witness any application without HVAC & R. HVAC & R is no longer a luxury and a part and parcel of everybody’s life. Stakes are very high in HVAC & R as the systems consume close to half the connected electrical power.

The indications say that HVAC is Rs. 25000 crores strong industry and the Refrigeration industry is worth Rs. 8000 crores.

While there are a good lot of manufacturers of HVAC equipments in the country, the industry experiences lot of imports of equipments and products from abroad mainly from China owing to cheaper prices.

The HVAC & R Industry is poised to have an exponential growth but requires huge skilled manpower at all levels.

Current challenges facing HVAC & R industry and solutions to these challenges:

While there are lots of manufacturers in the country who have their own technology or have acquired the technology from abroad, there is a gloomy atmosphere for local market mainly on account of commercial considerations.

Projects are not executed properly with the first time right concept, as all have forgotten to focus on the life cycle cost and quality is always remembered.

Research to have a cutting edge technology and training to hone skilled manpower is not given its due importance.
Proper guidelines or standards tropicalised for India seldom exists.

Solution to the challenges is to focus on the Life Cycle cost (which is installed cost, operation and maintenance cost) instead of the First cost. Energy efficient products are to be sourced even though it may be marginally expensive to start with, good study on the life cycle cost and the Return on investment will save the country from current energy crisis as One unit saved is Two units produced.

Projects need to be executed properly with a good planning, deputing right resources and dedicating time and importance as required. The quality and specifications shall not remain on paper and has to be displayed during execution. A project executed well will maintain comfortable conditions without overcooling and shall have lesser failure rates with enhanced life.

Companies need to have larger budgets allocated for Research and Training activities. Education is the key and instead of spending time and money on crisis management, the same can be spent on these areas which will bring in a good work and life balance as well.

With more and more multinational companies coming to India, the expectations are high with cutting edge technology equipments, state of the art execution followed by a great piece of commissioning, operation and maintenance.

Standards, codes, guidelines totally tropicalised for the Indian scenario are to be available in all the possible areas.

Certification of engineers, technicians and operators is the need of the hour and such requirement is not present as of now.

Air-conditioning is made the reason for spread of fire and indoor air quality issues. But a correctly designed and executed project will not only maintain the right design conditions and good indoor air quality. It will also help in safe exit of human beings in case of fire with extensive smoke management systems.

Standards and codes are to be tropicalised to meet the present scenario with more practical approach.
Owing to Ozone Depletion and Global Warming issues, study on alternate refrigerants is in full swing. Unfortunately there is no single refrigerant which satisfies both the conditions and there are few refrigerants being used by manufacturers which strike a fairly good balance.

Integrated approach with all the stake holders right from owners, developers, architects, consultants, project managers, manufacturers, contractors, facility managers is required to achieve the various objectives. It is the weakest link as on date with lack of trust amongst them and least synergy possible. HVAC & R Engineers have a greater say and the day is not far when they will be important stake holder towards integrated approach in project delivery.

Estimated future market growth:

A developing country like India is known for intellectual skill set and this is attracting all investments from each and every corner of the globe. The residential sector is poised for a quantum jump. Infrastructure and hospitality industry, IT and ITES sectors growth is appearing positive – this will propel the HVAC & R Industry and growth rate can be as high as 20 per cent. Refrigeration the sleeping giant which is the life line for our survival has to be given importance – it can surpass the HVAC industry in a decade or so.

Demand drivers:

Recession mode is on the receding phase and with light at the end of the tunnel and a stable government, the country will attract lot of investments. This will call for a surge in the requirement of HVAC & R. With more energy saving certifications and with interactions between the industry, various societies and with government – Happy Days are here again for the infrastructure industry and in particular HVAC & R Industry!

(The author is Principal Consultant, Cerebration Consultants & National President – ISHRAE.)

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