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Ashok Pandey

Director - Automotive, Pharmaceuticals & Consumer Filters

Freudenberg Filtration Technologies India

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CHANGING DEMANDS OF CONSUMERS A rapid rise in the demand of air filtration solutions

Jul 27, 2022

…says Ashok Pandey, Director-Automotive, Pharmaceuticals & Consumer Filters, Freudenberg Filtration Technologies India. In an interview with EM magazine, he shares his thoughts on the changing demands of consumers in the manufacturing industry. At the same time, he highlights the growing trends & technologies in the automotive industry. Excerpts…

Freudenberg Filtration Technologies India serves some of the biggest names in the industry. Can you brief us on the recent technological developments in filtration systems? What are consumers demanding in this area?

Industries have different filtration needs & Freudenberg Filtration Technologies offers various solutions according to customer needs. We have solutions that can be integrated to current systems for energy enhancement & we call it as eesy (Energy Efficiency Enhancement Systems). These are optimal solutions for users looking for an integrated capacity rather than going In for new machine & works well for various industries like power, fertiliser etc. Besides we also provide normal air filters, customised air filters & air filtration solutions for customers.

Freudenberg has been in the Indian market for 24 years now. Can you tell us about your journey & developments so far?

Freudenberg Filtration started its operations in year 1998. Before this, we were serving the Indian industry via nominated agencies. Our presence in India has long history & goes back to times when automotive business in India was just starting, we had our installations in OEM lines.

We had our plant & office at Mumbai which later shifted to Pune which happens also to be main automotive hub. Initially we started with trading activity and ventured into manufacturing later with different types of air filters for the industry.

We import few materials from our parent companies globally to convert it to finished Goods required over here.

Our journey started with surface treatment business & then progressed to other segments like turbo machinery, automotive cabin air filtration, food & beverage industry, gas phase filtration & with acquisition of an Indian company back in 2012 also stepped to pharmaceuticals.

The Indian government has set an ambitious target of achieving a $1 trillion manufacturing economy. What is your take on this?

The government has set ambitious target to achieve $1 trillion by 2025, this like considering 30% growth. Today we are around $700 billion & this additional opportunity will be big boost to manufacturing industry as several companies will try to invest. As investment grows, it creates opportunity for every sector including where Freudenberg filtration is present. In a way, whosoever needs air will have some or other requirement of filtration & that is where we will contribute.

Given that we have achieved $700 billion so far, now, the manufacturing industry’s target is $ 300 billion over the next few years. How do you oversee this scenario?

The initial timeline to hit the target was around 2030. The government has tried to make it a bit shorter to have more stringent and close control, for reaping the benefits as early as possible. I believe that this target can be achieved as several industries are potentially looking up to India for their manufacturing operations. In addition, a lot of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is happening in sectors like aeronautics, pharmaceutical & others. This is certainly a great push for the Indian manufacturing space as there will be high investments in these sector helping the Indian industry reach desired target.

Emerging trends such as EVs, growing demand for safe vehicles, and connected cars will have a direct impact on component suppliers. How component suppliers such as Freudenberg is gearing up to serve the growing demands from the OEMs?

As far as Freudenberg is concerned, we are present in various segments like filtration, sealings and backup lining for car interiors. For filtration, we have solutions that will continue till existence of passenger vehicles & mass transit. When the trend started wherein EV’s played a important role in replacing IC engines, it was challenging as well opened new avenues for Freudenberg.

Freudenberg adjusted fast to changing demand and has solution ready for use. An upside with EV is that it will have more space due to IC engines being replaced & hence advance air conditioning systems with bigger, better filtration efficiencies can be installed. For this we have products lined up and this will be beneficial for users and of course our company.

Industry 4.0 is another trending topic among manufacturing professionals. How much sense does it make in a frugal market like India? What is your take on this?

In the current scenario, Industry 4.0 should be a balanced work-frame. This means that addressing internal requirements are more critical. This means that a frugal approach could be a short-term approach for addressing challenges. But on the other hand, it is also a long-term approach, especially when one wants to establish as a global supplier or a company producing products & solutions that are beneficial for mankind. Thus, to create such solutions, digital technologies like Industry 4.0 are essential to integrate into the existing product line.

This is also about being at par in the industry with competitive industry standards. Therefore, quality becomes quintessential here. Now, to arrive at this desired level of quality, if the market must be frugal, there is nothing wrong. The ultimate objective is to find a solution. So, if this can be achieved with a frugal market, this can potentially become a foundation for tomorrow’s technology. This essentially means that the industry doesn’t have to adopt solutions just for the sake of it, but rather find a balance. That is where I believe that Indian industries should adopt Industry 4.0 solutions, even if it is for the frugal market.

Going forward, what are your short-and long-term plans?

Currently, we are largely focusing on the Indian market, especially with localising solutions as per consumer demand. In this process, we have also started manufacturing in India for the global market. In addition, we plan to focus on R&D, new products, and innovations. With the growing innovation around, consumers have become tech-savvy, and that is why we will also cater to new markets based on emerging applications.

We, at Freudenberg, are eyeing customers who demand quality and want to improve their lifestyle. One of the finest examples here is home air purifiers. This is a new market with major demand. Two years back, people were not aware of such solutions. But now, with the growing concern of pollution and health-safety measures, it has started generating consumer demand. Therefore, we will strongly be focusing in this area and will continue to do so, going forward. This also applies to the automotive industry where air purifiers are growing in demand.

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  • Ashok Pandey has an experience of working in Mecon India, followed by a four-year tenure with Kalyani Technical & Management Services. Thereafter, Pandey worked in the industrial filtration, automotive, pharmaceuticals & consumer Freudenberg Filtration Technologies India, and has been the head of Automotive, Pharma & Consumer in Freudenberg Filtration Technologies India.

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