Thermax has opened a new manufacturing unit at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, a private SEZ located about 65 km north of Chennai, to produce vapour absorption products such as chillers, heat pumps and heaters, targeted at export and domestic markets.
The factory built with an investment of ₹166 crore, will have a capacity to produce 400 machines a year. Initial staff strength will be 60 and will increase to more than 300 in stages.
“At present, we are selling 300-350 chillers a year. So Phase 1 capacity of 400 units will take care of our requirements and we may initiate Phase 2 expansion to double the capacity in three years’ time,” said MS Unnikrishnan, Managing Director & CEO, Thermax.
The new manufacturing unit, which has come up on a 40-acre plot, has a large portion of industry 4.0 built into it and also uses Artificial Intelligence.
It is a highly digitised and robotised factory as the manufacturing process is crucial to ensure zero defect since these products last for more than 20 years. The factory will employ highly skilled workers, including women in the shop floor.
“Every product coming out of this factory will be IoT-enabled,” said Unnikrishnan, adding, “we have been a pioneer in adopting digital technologies – moved from electromechanical to digital controls 17 years ago. In these, we have now added IoT in view of customer requirements.”
The company, which has a strong export share for chillers, will consolidate its chillers manufacturing under its Sri City unit.
“In addition to serving our existing customers in the region, it will also be an important manufacturing hub for Thermax’s global operations that will augment our export capabilities,” said Meher Pudumjee, Chairperson, Thermax.
The Pune-headquartered ₹4,500-crore Thermax’s chillers are meant mostly for industrial applications, as its products work on waste energy.
The global market size for the cooling products is estimated at $118-120 billion. Of which, chillers, which are large and centralised machines, are estimated at $4 billion plus.
Indian market is evolving and the market size for absorption chillers that Thermax makes is about ₹125 crore.