Leaders Talk

India is seeing a rapid growth in the need for wastewater recycling plants compared with other countries

Editor Water Today

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8 min read
Mr Prakash Kalimuthu is associated with Evoqua Water Technologies for more than eight years now, he was looking after the product engineering group supporting on various water and wastewater treatment products with applications in Municipal and Industrial sectors for global locations. He was based out of the Singapore office until early 2018 thereafter re-located to India for the green field setup by looking after the Engineering and Technology related business activities and then on heading the Evoqua India operations. In his current role as Director of India Operations, Mr Prakash is responsible for strategic planning, operational aspects, managing the direct and indirect cross functional teams for the growth. Before joining Evoqua, he worked in various roles covering project management, engineering and proposal for products and systems which are in the power generation industry for close to a decade with customers based in India & in the ASEAN region. Mr Prakash holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University and a master’s degree major in computation & modelling from National University of Singapore. Here, Mr Prakash reveals to us about current industrial wastewater scenario, emerging water concerns and Evoqua’s world-class technology and expanding portfolio.
Prakash Kalimuthu
Prakash Kalimuthu
Q

Please elaborate about your journey in the water and wastewater industry sector and what motivated you towards this industry?

A

My motivation towards different physical, chemical, and biological process like equalization, separation, filtration, coagulation, etc, has really started as early as during my under-graduation internship program where it was interesting to see how milk in a dairy plant goes through different process equipment’s to achieve its various required states to produce products & biproducts. On completing my graduation studies in advanced fluid sciences, I initially got into the thermal power industry looking at different aspects of engineered products which are used in power generation, where water is everything in the entire process and in simple terms it is actually the energy connecting medium in entire power plant cycle. This further means that any impurities in water affect the performance of the entire plant and its associated equipment. With close to a decade’s experience in the power industry, I gained interest towards providing solutions by observing the fundamental aspects of water and its properties at a much granular level and correlating it with different process needs and its associated equipment. So the initial interest and added experience anchored me with Evoqua Water Technologies. Here, I started out in product engineering and development and worked on various products and systems that are used in the water and wastewater treatment space. With the rapid population growth in places, along with industrialization, digitalization on its way forward, the access for clean finite water becomes a challenge as new biological, chemical, physical impurities are increasingly different and difficult to transform water into clean and efficiently usable. At Evoqua, globally likeminded water experts join hands together with laser focus on bringing new and efficient solutions and equipment which can serve the municipal and industrial water and wastewater space.

Q

Recently Evoqua Water Technologies announced the expansion of its existing Global Engineering and Technology Center, located in Chennai. What kind of expansion plans can be expected for the Indian and Asia Pacific markets?

A

As you know Evoqua Water Technologies is a leading provider for water and wastewater treatment solutions offering a broad range of portfolio of products, services and expertise to support industrial, municipal and re-creational customers across the globe. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Evoqua and our brands have over a 100-year heritage of innovation. We help more than 38,000 customers solve water challenges at over 200,000 installations worldwide and operate in more than 160 locations across ten countries. Every day, millions of people and thousands of companies rely on us as their trusted advisor to help them meet their water needs. We see a definite need to bring our broad range of expertise in this SAARC region where India plays a major role in the industrialization and the digitalization market space. Currently our business in this region are mainly in pharmaceutical, power and research labs, through our ultrapure water & disinfection product offerings like EDI IonPure®, Lab water systems, gas feed and onsite chlorination systems. The recent expansion of the global Engineering and Technology Center in Chennai is a part of Evoqua's growth and market development plans for the local region and the broader Asia-Pacific market, which further strengthens our presence in this region and provide path ways to look after for organic and inorganic opportunities and to address both the municipal and industrial market.

Q

The Indian water and wastewater treatment market remains competitive and extremely optimistic. How is your company planning to tap the growing opportunities in this market?

A

Yes, India is in our growth radar and we are highly optimistic about our growth in this region through both organic and inorganic ways, particularly looking after bringing in efficient and cost technologies to the water and wastewater treatment market space.

Wastewater has grown to be a major issue for India, causing environmental pollution. This is largely driving the long term investments in the wastewater recycling plants and its associated infrastructure.
Q

There are certainly increasing CAPEX and emissions challenges in this competitive marketplace, how does Evoqua’s technology cater to cost-effective recovery and maximise efficiency of treatment solutions?

A

Actually, Evoqua offers quite a broad range of products and technologies that are highly efficient in performance. We not only provide superior returns to customers, but also help in meeting with the environmental regulations, like limits on discharge, freshwater intakes and eliminate the risk associated with the conventional generation technologies. To name a few, our IonPure® CEDI VNX modules are high flow rate capacity modules that are cost effective, reliable, smaller in foot print and is a proven technology which provides lower operating cost and reduces the environmental, health and safety related risk for the power industry, where it can replace the conventional mixed bed DI. Globally, the power industry is adapting itself towards using CEDI polishing units even though its capital is high but because of its lower OPEX where the returns can be obtained within 18 to 36months of operation and thereafter it take through the cost savings & hassle free operating mode; India has got a great potential as most of the powerplants are still with DM and mix bed technology. Apart from technologies for the power industry, we’ve got highly efficient FGD technologies and products which meet the specific discharge limits according to the country standards. Besides this, we have got industry leading CoMag® System which uses magnetite to ballast conventional chemical floc, enhancing settling rates and increasing the performance of wastewater and water treatment operations with lesser footprint.

Another proven area is Evoqua’s century old market leading disinfection products ranging from chlorine gas feed, clo2, onsite hypochlorite, ozone systems, UV, chlorine analysers and controllers. Our brand OSEC® systems are fully automated and can safely generate sodium hypochlorite on site and on-demand, using only salt, water and power which are suitable for many applications across municipal, aquatics and industrial markets. The onsite hypochlorite generation system provides great flexibility with on-needed base generation, completely automatic, efficient and eliminates the issues and risk associated with chemical storage and handling.

With more than 80 years of lab water experience and innovation, we offer a wide range of solutions to meet your specific application for the Lab water requirements - from Primary Grade Water (Type III) for simple washing and rinsing to Purified Water (Type II) for general laboratory use or Ultrapure Water (Type I) for highly sensitive applications..

Q

Demand & supply is a great challenge in this business – How do you tackle this challenge?

A

This is particularly true in the current pandemic crisis, where the entire global supply chain ecosystem is disturbed. We are strategically partnering with our suppliers and vendors to meet our product needs on a regional level with focused avenues whereby we are able to minimize the fluctuating cost in this challenging situation. There is obviously a base demand cost which is appliable for all the players, but our strong long term relationship with our vendors and suppliers with volume provided leverage with this situation

Q

Industry 4.0 refers to a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation and real-time data. How has Evoqua managed to fit into the digital water management system?

A

Our digital strategy started from an early stage, when our product and technology improvised efficiency and moved from semi to automatic to completely automatic with remote monitoring, automatic troubleshooting by applying our long running water expertise into the AI domain. Many of our core products are now connected with secured cloud based IoT system where we or our customers can monitor the performance of the system remotely and predict the upcoming maintenance and serving needs thereby, eliminating lot of maintenance associated cost, which is the key for a hassle free operation to our customers.

Our optimized WaterOne® service solution was introduced across the USA in 2018, which enables customers to outsource their water treatment systems and focus on their core business, while Evoqua manages the operation and maintenance of customers’ water treatment systems. With Water One services, Evoqua determines the right technology and an economic solution to meet customers’ on-site water requirements for our customer and from there, designs, builds, install, maintains and provides water guarantee for customer and customers can pay on flow rate basis. Additionally, Water One service utilizes real-time data analytics and 24x7 remote monitoring capabilities to enhance Evoqua’s own predictive maintenance economics by optimizing the utilization, detecting leaks, performance issues and notifying and scheduling of its service personnel. We are soon planning to extend the offerings across India and APAC regions.

Q

How much has the demand grown in India for recycling plants compared with other countries?

A

For the past few years, India is seeing a rapid growth in the need for wastewater recycling plants compared with other countries. A country with 1.3bn population India is currently on a fast track with urbanization and industrialisation, hence the availability of freshwater is depleting. Additionally, with changes in climatic patterns year after year there is a huge pressure added unprecedently for freshwater particularly in urban areas. On the other side, wastewater has grown to be a major issue for India, causing environmental pollution. This is largely driving the long term investments in the wastewater recycling plants and its associated infrastructure.

Our entrepreneurial culture empowers us to quickly develop or acquire solutions, allowing our customers to proactively protect their business and end users.
Q

Help us understand what sets Evoqua apart from other players within the sector? What is the core competency that gives Evoqua an edge over others?

A

We are the global leader in identifying emerging water concerns. Our entrepreneurial culture empowers us to quickly develop or acquire solutions, allowing our customers to proactively protect their business and end users. Our world-class expertise and ever-expanding portfolio of products has established Evoqua as the trusted advisor to municipal, industrial and recreational customers worldwide.

Q

What do you think is the importance of your work in the context of the current Covid-19 epidemic? Could you please share some examples of how your work is presently helping in dealing with this situation in the country?

A

High purity water is critical to pharmaceutical manufacturing as an ingredient in products, such as vaccines and reagents used in diagnostic tests. Manufacturers cannot operate without the high purity water they use to produce these critical products. Also the Covid-19 created sudden increase in demand for hand sanitizers, surface sanitizers and health care diagnostics companies for the need high purity water, etc. Our high purity, Lab systems, disinfection products are reliably supporting across these needs. Covid-19 has also accelerated the need for hands off plant management, driving digital solutions for the continuous water needs where Evoqua’s 24/7 remote monitoring product lines are supporting less touch points for the continuous essential water needs.

Q

What do you think are the pressing water problems in India currently?

A

The wastewater generation from the domestic usage and outlet of various industries is the pressing issue. If we take the pharma industry, CPCB regulates pharma as a high pollution industry and mandated ZLD since 2016, with a lot more strict discharge limits set last year. Other industries like textile, paper and pulp etc are on the same track for the treatment and discharge needs. On the other side, only around 18% of India population is connected to water network. Drinking water hygiene and sanitization is a significant challenge for safe drinking water in the country.