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Tarun Sawhney

Vice Chairman & Managing Director

Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd (TEIL)

1 Rating


Nov 1, 2021

…says Tarun Sawhney, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd (TEIL). TEIL is one of the largest fully integrated sugar & alcohol manufacturers in India and a market leader in engineering businesses. In this interview with Juili Eklahare, Sawhney throws light on how the company has delivered strong performance in a difficult ecosystem, its adoption of digitalisation technologies and more. Excerpts…

During the tough COVID-19 period, how have you helped TEIL maintain business continuity? What are the strategic shifts that have helped maintain high growth trajectory in the recent past?

Our response to COVID-19 at TEIL was both cautious & aggressive. We took several targeted initiatives to protect the health and safety of our employees, supply chain partners, communities and other stakeholders while ensuring business continuity in a complex environment. Driving growth in the sugar & alcohol businesses, where operations continued uninterrupted even amid the lockdown, we delivered strong performance in a difficult ecosystem. We also moved forward with plans to add two more distilleries to the business portfolio to aggressively harness the National Policy on Biofuels opportunity unleashed by the Central Government. We chose not just to maintain business continuity in these difficult times but went on to expand our alcohol segment with increased capacities and foray into the Indian Made Indian Liquor (IMIL) business.

Can you tell us about the adoption of digitalisation technologies in your company that has enabled better production operations in your organisation?

Amid the pandemic, we adopted several digital channels across the businesses to sustain the crisis. We also moved fast to embrace Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 practices, particularly in our power transmission and water businesses. Besides, the sales team worked closely with customers through digital platforms to fulfil their requirements.

The water business focused on enhancing the business footprint from the domestic market to the international market. We facilitated customers with virtual inspections of the project to avoid travel amid rising COVID cases and travel restrictions. In the sugar business, our IT teams worked closely with the state and district administrations to ensure business continuity.

Your company won the first international order of Maldives Water & Sewerage project. What do you credit this to?

It is a matter of pride for us that our technology and approach on water treatment is seen as a success internationally. In order to further improve our turnover and profitability, we are exploring new products and geographies for expansion. Given the expansion aim, we managed to secure the first international order for providing water treatment to around 10,000 people in the six islands of Maldives. Amid this positivity, one thing that really stands out is the resilience of our people, who were the pivot of our efforts to keep our business plans and performance on track in an extremely tough environment.

What are your thoughts on taking risks in the industry? How can these calls be made without putting too much at risk?

Risk is inevitable. One cannot navigate through any challenges without taking risks. And I believe there’s no such thing as risk-free success. The company is engaged in multiple businesses and there are unique risks associated with each business. The company follows a well-structured Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) policy which requires the organisation to identify the risks associated with each business and to categorise them based on their impact & probability of occurrence – at the business level and at the entity level.

The ERM policy defines the risk parameters within which the businesses should operate. It helps to build a discipline within the organisation wherein all business decisions are taken after assessing the attendant risks.

How is COVID-19 driving automation and digitalisation in India’s food & beverage production? What are the emerging trends in this area?

Due to the pandemic, consumers have become more concerned about their food hygiene and thus, prefer minimal level of handling & human interference. Therefore, we have witnessed automation across levels, while still ensuring the freshness and taste which are key parameters. A fully automated system also ensures a complete sterilisation and disinfection process. Plus, the usage of IoT & robotics is emerging, and drone-based deliveries are not far away from becoming a commonplace thing.

The emerging trends in this sector are:

  1. Automation of packaging lines to improve the speed and accuracy of packing.

  2. Integration of Industry 4.0 and IoT to support manufacturing systems to generate necessary analytics to self-correct the processes.

  3. Use of ML, AI and cloud computing helping with real-time analysis and quick decision-making.

Your corporate vision is to be among the top three players, whichever industry you choose to be in. How are you working towards that vision?

Our ability to deliver exceptional response to our stakeholder needs and aspirations, in even the most difficult circumstances, is driven by our vision & philosophy. It is steered by our customer centric ethos, with responsible growth at the centre of our strategic approach and actions. Our founding group principles are centred on ethics, product quality, technology, strong relationships, sustainability and all of this helps us stay ahead of the curve.

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  • Tarun Sawhney holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, USA. He is passionate about technology & innovation and its role in creating a sustainable world. He has held significant industry positions as the chair of the National Task Force on sugar, ethanol & bioenergy and is an active member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Council.

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