The Denmark-based firm’s solar-powered pumps fitted with sensors help plug water leakages while reducing power consumption.
When NITI Aayog released its Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) in 2018, almost 60% of the Indian states (15) were tagged as low performers in their water resource management operations, indicating a need for better water management practices across the country. In recent times, with smart city projects coming up, several large digital enterprises and startups (both domestic and international) have come up with a number of Internet of Things (IoT) and long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) based solutions to monitor water usage in both rural and urban India.
While the approaches taken by these companies are largely contemporary, as is the technology itself, some of the older players like Grundfos, who have been in the water business even before digital picked up, approach this problem with a utilitarian mindset. With a database that is as old as 20 years, starting from the year 2000, Grundfos today bets big on IoT and sustainable forms of energy to power its pumps across the globe.
“Questions around IoT are very important. We started connecting thousands of our pumps since early 2000s and with that data, we are now able to predict the use of water in a network. Our algorithms make sure that the water is available exactly when you need it,” says Marianne K Knudsen, group vice president, Water Utility, Grundfos. Knudsen points out how these algorithms can improve the efficiency of the pumps installed, reducing power consumption, pointing at an overarching issue of energy managment, in accordance with UN’s policies for climate action, sanitation and clean water for all.
In India, this translates into great opportunities for legacy companies, especially in areas where water is scarce and is made available for only two hours a week. It might be easy to assume that as a legacy player, Grundfos can achieve the solutions with an all-propreitary model. But, the company has been active in forming an ecosystem, especially in Bengaluru.
“The passion with which Indian startups present their ideas is proof enough that the need for clean water and sustainable growth in the country is intense. We aim to mature the ideas and jointly achieve our goals,” says Knudsen. Things get complete when the other end is also addressed, especially at the front where pumps are deployed all year. The Denmark-based manufacturer came up with solar powered pumps with sensors, or in short e-pumps.
The painpoints for water utility is in both cap-ex and op-ex. “For instance, some of the markets have painpoints in water leakages which costs money. Using our platforms we have helped them reduce leakages while ensuring that the pressure throughout the network is maintained to continue water supply,” explains Knudsen.
According to Grundfos, in a pump’s lifecycle, 80 % of cost is due to power consumption. For a client, considerable amount of money is saved if the pumps can consume less power, even if its only 6-8 %, enabled by the latest tech in hardware and digital. As for Grundfos, it gets to service the water network and the entities in it throughout their life time. It also allows it to redirect some amount of profits to R&D for the betterment of its products.
However, the catch is, it’s not just the push from players that’s needed to implement all this innovation. But also a pull from governments/ markets, creating a push-pull system. And as of today, the pull is yet to match the strength with which the innovations are pushed.