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‘The drive to sustainability is real’

Mohammad Farooq, Managing Director, Rheem Manufacturing MEA, in conversation with Surendar Balakrishnan, says that sustainable development is a serious internal motivator for manufacturers

| | Feb 25, 2020 | 8:16 am
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Mohammad Farooq

WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF SERIOUSNESS WITH WHICH MANUFACTURERS ARE PURSUING A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA? IS GREEN MORE OF A MARKETING DISTINGUISHER, OR IS THERE A GENUINE CONCERN TO LOWER INDIRECT EMISSIONS?

While each company and industry’s internal motivators may vary, I believe the drive to sustainability is real, because climate change is a real issue for the majority of the population. Our leadership team has put forth a bold vision for our organisation’s drive to sustainability and has committed to achieving some bold targets by 2025.

We have committed to reducing our overall carbon footprint by 50% by 2025. We are ensuring that all our products are built on sustainable design and manufacturing platforms. We are ensuring that our manufacturing facilities have zero waste to landfill, and we have taken a target of training 250,000 plumbers and contractors globally towards sustainable practices.

Being green is increasingly becoming a norm driven by regulations, market trends and conscious efforts by key stakeholders like consultants, end users and manufacturers. We believe this is a conscious effort by all to reduce indirect emissions.

WE OFTEN TALK OF HOW THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF AN EQUIPMENT HAS A MUCH GREATER IMPACT IN MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE THAN THE REFRIGERANT COURSING THROUGH IT. WHAT CALL SHOULD MANUFACTURERS BE TAKING TO BE DECISIVE ON THIS?

Energy efficiency does have a major impact. Higher energy efficiency simply means more power savings and lesser impact on global warming. As manufacturers, we have to be conscious of energy efficiency with an ecofriendly refrigerant, as both together have an impact on global warming.

INNOVATION CAN BE NOT ONLY TO INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OR IAQ BUT ALSO TO LOWER COSTS FOR CUSTOMERS? HOW DO YOU BALANCE INNOVATING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY WITH KEEPING EQUIPMENT ACCESSIBLE, COST-WISE?

We have a very robust product development process, which follows the Rheem 360+1 design philosophy. As per this well-rounded approach, the product developed has a value proposition, which meets the requirements of key stakeholders – that is, consultants, end users and contractors. This approach ensures that we offer the best-in-class performance and that the product services the need for install-ability, serviceability, durability, integration and peace of mind for the user. This approach ensures that the product meets these aspects. For example, high-quality durable components mean lower replacement rates and costs. To summarise, the products offered are having the lowest cost of ownership over the lifecycle.

Along with designing intelligent and innovative products, manufacturers need to look at their manufacturing processes and at training industry professionals to be responsible messengers. In 2025, Rheem shall be completing 100 years, and we have formulated three strategic pillars on sustainability commitment. The first is Degrees of Innovation (Intelligent Products). Under this, we are focused on innovating with intent, engineering solutions with lifetime sustainability in mind – from material selection to smart features to responsible recycling. The second is Degrees of Efficiency (Responsible Processes). Under this, we strive for operational excellence, working smarter and more sustainably to consume fewer resources, generate less waste and ensure simpler, safer processes. The third is Degrees of Leadership (Inspired People): Under this, we work to help build a thriving industry workforce – supporting the recruitment and empowerment of tomorrow’s plumbers and contractors, leading the way to a prosperous future, together.

WOULD YOU SAY THAT SINGLE-SOURCING OF EQUIPMENT AND ALLIED EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES WOULD ENSURE THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS WORKING IN HARMONY, THUS GUARANTEEING GREATER BUILDING PERFORMANCE?

Up to some extent, yes. However, the industry has evolved, in which equipment suppliers have developed innovative technologies and products that are best in class. Considering the practicality of the situation and to ensure that the end user gets the best products, system integrators, FM companies, ESCOs and MEP contractors have an important role to play in ensuring that the systems offered in an installation work in harmony and ensure greater green performance.

INTEGRATION OF DIGITAL SEEMS TO BE THE NORM IN THE HVAC INDUSTRY, BUT IS THERE AN EQUALLY SOPHISTICATED UNDERSTANDING AMONG OPERATORS? WHAT SHOULD MANUFACTURERS DO BESIDES BUILDING AWARENESS AND TRAINING TO ENSURE THE DIGITAL SOLUTIONS MEET THEIR PURPOSE COMPREHENSIVELY?

Digital solutions or IoT are becoming prevalent in almost all industries, and there is a certain level of expectation among the customers about them. What manufacturers need to be careful about is that the solutions shouldn’t constitute a gimmick. They need to be something that add value to the user. We have a controls platform that is available in several HVAC and water heating products. It focuses on energy savings, safety and up-time – prognostics to ensure uninterrupted service. Proper training and understanding the value it provides are essential in ensuring that the technology is used to its fullest potential.

WHAT CAN MANUFACTURERS REALISTICALLY DO TO ADDRESS THE COMMON PRACTICE OF OVERDESIGNING OF AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT TO CAPACITY?

Overdesigning of an air conditioning system has always been a concern when it comes to energy efficiency of the overall building; in such cases, the air conditioning equipment requires high input power. We have considered this a key factor in product design and have been offering solutions with ability to meet part-load performance using advance range of components, such as EC motor on indoor units for residential ducted systems.

WE ARE SEEING NUMEROUS INSTANCES WHERE BUILDINGS ARE BEING REPURPOSED, WHICH CHANGES AIR FLOW, CAUSES THERMAL COMFORT AND AFFECTS ENERGY EFFICIENCY? WHAT SHOULD MANUFACTURERS DO IN TERMS OF DEVELOPING ADAPTIVE AND REACTIVE EQUIPMENT?

Manufacturers can look at developing variable refrigerant flow units, like VRF systems and inverters. Along with variable refrigerant flow units, electronically commutated motors can be used to tackle the changes in air flow requirement and give high efficiency. Other areas of improvement, when compared with the conventional air conditions system, is to have more efficient refrigerant components, which can involve precise controls for monitoring and achieving the lowest possible outputs.

HOW MUCH ARE PAYMENT CONCERNS AFFECTING BUSINESS AND PRODUCTIVITY AMONG MANUFACTURERS?

This is an ongoing challenge that has affected businesses over the last few years, but the economy is expected to improve in the near future. Even in this scenario, we see a lot of opportunities for organic growth in the GCC region. We are investing in building a strong and stable organisation with the right products, people and processes. We are confident that our end users will be seeing a lot of value in doing business with us.


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