Industrial air coolers: Future market growth and demand drivers

Achal Bakeri states that India’s market for industrial coolers is estimated at around Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000 crore and estimated to grow at strong 25-30 per cent in coming years.


The Indian air-cooler market carries vast growth potential and is all geared up to soar new highs. Thanks to good demand from across the sector, the current global financial crisis has not much affected the air cooler market. Currently industrial cooler segment is at a nascent stage in India, posting a single-digit growth in business. Increased focus on strengthening product awareness and the corporate brand in domestic and international markets for this product are expected to generate sizeable volumes over the medium-term.
As the name suggests, industrial coolers are comprehensive cooling solutions, addressing the cooling needs for large enclosed areas and opportunities in this segment are immense.
As far as market share is concerned currently the market is predominantly by local fabricators and local players. So there is nothing like an organized industrial air cooler market even though it has great potential. The market for industrial coolers in India is estimated at around Rs. 2,000 – Rs. 3,000 crore and estimated to grow at strong 25-30 per cent in coming years.
For decades, nobody had bothered to cool industrial environments, so question could arise, why now? The cooling of industrial environments was an expense; why add another during a slowdown? But looking at the advantages, installing industrial cooling for commercial establishments, airports, retail chains, banquet halls, proves its worth.
Industrial cooling is slowly gaining increasing importance as corporates are looking to create a congenial working environment for their shop floor teams. Large and small factories are the most pertinent examples as corporates can ill-afford centralised air conditioning due to open-air areas as well as prohibitive capital and operating costs.
Firstly, it is proven that better work condition has helped increase productivity considerably. Further shifting to air cooling for commercial and offices, retail and hospitality industry over air conditioning has helped big time in saving costs to the companies as air coolers use 90 per cent less energy than an air conditioner does.
The same is supported by, NASA report which stated that at 38 degrees temperature, there is a 62 per cent loss of work output and at 41 degrees, it goes up to 79 per cent. Hence, there is an immense potential for industrial air cooling in India, wherever air conditioning is just not feasible.

Industrial cooling also provides solutions to air cool segments such as airports, malls, retail chains, factories, and banquet halls that are difficult and very expensive to be air conditioned.
For certain factories, centralised cooling becomes mandatory due to operational process or product characteristics like textile applications, certain dyes and intermediates and certain chemicals, industrial coolers emerge as the most cost-effective solution.
In factories that house large boilers, large furnaces and other equipments, which generate lot of heat, air cooling emerges as the only cooling solution in these areas. Air coolers also find application in warehouses that need to store material at controlled temperatures. In large commercial space and retail malls which have expansive open areas, industrial air coolers are the only workable cooling solution. Interestingly, wherever centralised air conditioning is used, there is potential even of using centralised air cooling or ducted air coolers.
Similarly because of certain product application many of the warehouses need to have some reasonably cooling comfort. Again, all these are the applications where air conditioning is nowhere viable alternative.
Retail is one big potential industry for the industrial cooling solution in India. India is at the threshold of a retail revolution and a preferred destination for global retailers. Indian retail industry has expanded by 10.6 per cent between 2010 and 2012 and is expected to increase to US$ 750-850 billion by 2015, according to another report by Deloitte, hence it offers tremendous growth opportunity for the industrial cooling in years to come.
Other industries such as paint industry, logistics, moulding industry, auto Industry, carpet industry, religious sector, bakery, FMCG companies, food industry, educational institutes, auditorium, bottling plant too are big markets for the industrial cooling.
Affordability and low maintains cost of Industrial air coolers also likely to play a big role in coming years – industrial air coolers are attractively priced, for a large residential house (approximately 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft) investment for cooler ranges between Rs. 1 to Rs. 2.5 lakh — about one-third, or 40 per cent of investment required for centralised air conditioning. Electric consumption of industrial air cooler is only about 10 per cent of the consumption of centralised air-conditioning. In other words, payback period from centralised air cooling is less than one year, just from saving of electricity of air cooler vis-à-vis air conditioner.
As far as industrial air coolers are concerned, firstly factories are excellent potential customers because hardly any factory can afford to do centralized air conditioning. Plants and factories of many companies were earlier being air cooled by some local fabricators but there were problems regarding after sale service and repairing cost. Hence many companies are now looking for organised players in this sector for better working environment and after sale service.
One may ask about the difference between air conditioning and air cooling from a user point of view. Let me explain it in a very simple manner. You know the difference between air conditioner and air cooler for home application. So actually similar way it will be there for the industrial air cooling. Only difference is that wherever there is humid climate, air cooler will be lesser effective but still there are industries where humidity is an advantage. So for those industries, air cooler is a better option as compared to air conditioner.
So are people shifting from air conditioning to air cooling? I can say one is a shifting to air cooling. In earlier years due to lack of awareness and availability of the air cooling solutions for industrial undertaking, the penetration was low but it is improving.
Further, air conditioning in most of such cases is non-viable obviously because of a very high capital cost and also because of very high recurring cost and in that case air cooling becomes a viable option.
Technology in Industrial coolers: Evaporative Cooling
Among all air cooling techniques evaporative cooling is most natural as well as environment friendly. It constantly provides natural, cool, clean, fresh and filtered air. Uses 100 per cent air from outside and provides a complete change of air every few minutes. Is kinder to sensitive noses, eyes, respiratory tracts and skin hence is considered healthy and safe. This technology maintains an ideal level of humidity & improves its performance as it gets hotter outdoors. Windows & doors can be left open however it ventilates – eliminates smoke, odour and stale air. It is the ideal choice where extreme heat is encountered.
(The author is CMD – Symphony Ltd.)

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