Thanks to its unerring focus on product quality, realistic pricing and timely deliveries, Ahmedabad-based Aira Euro has skyrocketed to the upper echelons of valve and actuator manufacture in India. The company is the ‘go-to’ supplier for valve automation for customers in practically all segments of the domestic economy. Valve World India & Middle East had the pleasure of hearing Mr Pankaj Pandey and Mr Ashwin Rathod detail exactly how the company serves its clients.
By David Sear
India, the world’s most populous country, is currently setting a benchmark for others to follow. Government policies, a wealth of natural resources plus a highly educated population, are combining to drive solid, sustained, economic growth across all sectors. In industries from hydrocarbons to pharmaceuticals and from cement to fine chemicals, companies are looking to ramp up output to meet growing demand. In doing so, they in turn are depending on reliable deliveries of quality engineered products, such as the valves and actuators from Aira Euro.
As Marketing Head India Mr Pankaj Pandey explains: “these are without doubt boom times in India, with growth across practically all segments. And, as Aira Euro has established a strong presence in practically all industries, we are definitely seeing this upswing reflected in our order books.“
Asked if he could reveal some examples of specific valve types required by individual segments, Mr Pandey promptly discusses mining and infrastructure. “In India, mining activities are heavily concentrated in the North and the East of the country. These mines are working flat out, so we are seeing increased calls for products as such gate valves, butterfly valves, knife-gate valves and also pinch valves. Amongst others, they are being specified for slurry applications. Another particularly buoyant area right now is the infrastructure market. This sector obviously relies on bulk commodities such as steel, cement and coatings, which are quite literally the building blocks for houses, offices, bridges, etc. Our flow control products are in demand as companies look to revamp or extend existing process facilities and invest in new-builds. Fast-movers include butterfly valves and also dampers, which are used to regulate blast furnaces. It is an open secret that we deal with all of India’s major steel companies.”
Underpinning Aira Euro’s capabilities to quickly serve customers is a manufacturing set-up that can produce high volumes of standard products as well as unique, engineered valves with equal ease. Says Marketing Manager Mr Ashwin Rathod: “In terms of manufacturing we can rightly boast about our well-appointed and highly automated manufacturing facilities. For example, we have over 300 CNC machines and other automated machining systems. Our skilled operators can produce everything we need in house, so from the smallest of components for a solenoid valve right up to three-metre butterfly valve bodies. This autonomy has helped us to shrink production time lines and to safeguard our reputation for quality products.”
Mr Rathod notes that to control the quality of its valves and actuators, Aira Euro has invested in a wide range of test equipment. Checks start with goods inwards, where positive material identification systems are available, and continues through all stages of production. On completion, valves up to 50 inch in diameter can be hydrotested on the premises. This in-house capability further helps the company to meet delivery deadlines, says Mr Rathod. “Dotted throughout our manufacturing units you will find numerous test rigs manned by dedicated team members. For example, they conduct hardness tests on metals and rubbers, perform non-destructive tests, etc.”
Further discussing production, Mr Rathod reveals that Aira Euro currently operates from a cluster of four manufacturing units in Ahmedabad. That situations is, however, set to change. Mr Rathod: “The company was set up as recently as 2005 and has experienced periods of rapid growth. Sometimes land availability did not quite align with our need for extra factory space, hence the creation of four distinct units. However, we have since purchased a sizeable plot where we will construct a factory large enough to consolidate all manufacturing processes under a single roof. At 5.5 lakh square feet, this will almost double the current floor space, enabling us to streamline production flows and facilitate further growth. This new factory is set to open in 2025.”
Mr Pandey indicates that the investment in the new factory ties into customer needs. “Our clients expect timely deliveries, realistic prices and top quality products from us. The new facility will help us to meet these requirements as we can better manage all production processes. Also, we plan to install our own sand casting and investment casting facilities. These are high-value capital investments but the benefits are clear: we can decrease lead times, drive up quality and control costs for critical items such as cast valve bodies.”
How Aira Euro’s butterfly valves are helping to improve air quality
Looking to reduce sulphur emissions, the Indian government has introduced measures whereby power plants with capacities over 200 MW are required to fit flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems to flue stacks. The FGD sector has therefore grown rapidly, leading to an attendant demand for valves, states Mr Pandey. “Reliable flow control products are fundamental to the correct working of FGD systems. We sell various types of valves to this industry but the butterfly valve really stands out as the flow control device of choice. FGD systems typically require a combination of large butterfly valves plus a sizable quantity of small, automated butterfly valves. Thanks to our portfolio, we can deliver a complete valve package to customers.”
A quick look at Aira Euro’s website reveals the breadth and depth of its portfolio, which includes ball valves, butterfly valves, plug valves, solenoid valves, pressure reducing valves, pneumatic actuators, control valves, and automated valves, etc. This wide range quickly fills a complete catalogue once all the variations in size, pressure class, materials, trims, end connections, etc, are factored in.
“New clients often seem bemused when we start to discuss our capabilities,” states Mr Pandey. “We therefore invite interested parties to tour our plants, so that they can assess our strengths in terms of the portfolio but also as regards our design, engineering, production and quality control capabilities. I believe that we really do have a one-of-a-kind manufacturing set up for the Indian market – a set-up which is on a par with major overseas multinationals. We have evolved into a leading player in the quarter-turn valve market, capable of providing any type, size and quantity the client may require.”
Asked about recent product innovations within the portfolio, Mr Pandey quickly mentions valves for the chemical sector. “This is yet another example of a booming sector in India. Specific chemical processes require valves with tight shut-off and inert wetted surfaces. Here, we can provide PTFE-lined ball and plug valves, as well as butterfly valves with a double offset disk. Note that we have our own moulds, so can design and produce PTFE components to our exact requirements, instead of relying on sub-suppliers. Aluminium is yet another materials option for certain valve bodies, which some clients prefer.”
Huge domestic market
Aira Euro’s rapid expansion since being founded barely 18 years ago shows that management are fully in tune with the needs of all (potential) customers. They have also clearly struck the right chord with staff -– almost all employees who joined early on are still with the company today. The technical knowledge which has since been amassed in all departments constitutes an enormous bank of valve manufacturing experience and know-how.
Given the company’s size and status, it is a valid question to ask about export successes. Both gentlemen, however, turn the conversation back to India. “We do have a number of overseas clients but to be honest, in the foreseeable future the domestic market offers us huge potential to continue our growth. We have the world’s largest population with growing aspirations. Meeting their future needs will require significant investments in all segments. So our focus right now is on serving domestic clients. Primarily those who have MRO needs but we are also receiving more and more inquiries from engineering companies and end users for large-scale projects.”
Almost as an afterthought, Mr Pandey indicates how close – literally! – Aira Euro is to customers. “We have established a wide domestic network of offices, sales outlets and service outlets. At the last count we had well over a hundred and ten locations. This widespread presence plus our vast stocks enables us to quickly channel products to our customers, giving us a very strong position in the Indian market.”
Mr Rathod comments that Aira Euro is certainly keeping a close eye on emerging segments in India. “Opportunities are arising in relatively new sectors such as renewable energy, biogas and hydrogen. In fact, valve needs from such industries can in many cases already be met with our existing portfolio of products.”
Rounding off our pleasant conversation, Mr Pandey turns back to the topic of product quality. “Most valves and actuators in India are sold with a twelve-month warranty. That’s the industry standard. Now for us, quality is not simply a matter of running final checks, it is about selecting metallurgies, fine-tuning designs and paying attention during all stages of manufacturing. In short, we have such confidence in our products that some valves and actuators are shipped with a four year warranty. And that really does set us apart from the rest!”
About this featured story
This featured story is an article originally published in Valve World India & Middle East journal (March 2023 issue). Interested in reading more articles about technical developments, company presentations, case histories, etc? Then why not take a print subscription or a free digital subscription? DIGITAL MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE NOW FREE.
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