Water technologies provider Ekki Group said it plans to commence assembly of German joint venture partner Homa’s products at its Coimbatore facility in the next six months.
The company, which had been selling imported Homa products in India since the JV was set up in 2018, has set up an assembly-test-and-paint unit in Coimbatore. “We have tested the products at more than 100 locations in the last year and have had overwhelming results. We hope to start assembling Homa products in the facility in the next six months,” said Kanishka Arumugam, co-chief executive at Ekki Homa Pvt. Ltd.
Ekki Homa will produce a range of waste-water technologies, including pumps, mixers, packaged systems and digital water solutions, targeted at India and the neighbouring markets, Hans Hoffmann, CEO, Homa Pumps, said in a statement.
Asked if specific segments helped the group tide past the pandemic-induced slowdown, Mr. Arumugam said, “Agriculture, from which segment we derive 70% of revenue, helped generate demand during the first wave of the pandemic. This time, that has not been the case. Further, we have had to raise our market prices by about 20% in the recent past due to input cost pressures, despite having absorbed some of these costs. The market may not be able to take any more price increases.”
He said the pumps business ‘did well’ last year despite the lockdown. “We were able to achieve the same units target as the previous year. This year we will have to wait and watch on the recovery scenario because the rural markets are also affected.”
He pointed out that the second wave was easing in parts of India, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. “We are hopeful that the situation will improve going forward.”
As to whether pent-up demand returning with the easing of lockdown curbs would challenge production capacities, he said, “Business from the agriculture segment is seasonal. Demand should pick up after the monsoon season.”
Mr. Arumugam said that the group – comprising Deccan Pumps, Deccan Enterprises, Ekki Pumps and the German joint venture – earned 5% of revenue via exports and that the goal was to double the contribution to 10% by 2025.
The group did not have to take any drastic cost-cutting measures due to the slowdown. “It is very good to be cash-rich and debt-free as a privately-held, family-owned firm to face these unexpected crises and be able take care of our employees and communities.”
Mr. Arumugam pointed out that as part of its Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations had introduced an ambitious target: clean water and sanitation for everyone by 2030. “That means safe water for about 8 billion people in less than 10 years. Today, in 2021, one in three people don’t have safe drinking water.”
He added that more than 80% of the wastewater produced globally was discharged into rivers and seas without any treatment. “We still have a long way to go.”
“About 1.2 billion people on the planet do not have access to clean water. India is home to 16% of world’s population but has access to just 4% of the water resources. A major portion of water in India is contaminated. Big cities are on track to run out of groundwater soon and this will affect almost 100 million people. It is estimated that about 40% of India’s population will eventually face severe water crisis. For a water technology start-up like Ekki, this is a huge opportunity to contribute to sustainability,” said Mr. Arumugam.
The market for water solutions in India is about $2 billion while the global opportunity is $50 billion, he said.
Asked what directed the group’s journey to go beyond selling open-well submersible pumps into groundwater pumping, waste water solutions and digital water technologies, he said, “Although Ekki has its roots in Deccan Pumps, which is a 40-year old pump company, we are not just about pumps.”
“We are a water technology start-up that is reimagining water. Current water systems in the market are designed for a global population of three billion; and, by the end of this century we will need clean water for over ten billion people. Ekki’s mission is to use cutting-edge technologies to make access to clean water affordable.”
He said owing to its strong focus on sustainability, Ekki will play a role in helping the planet meet the UN’s target of clean water and sanitation for all people (goal six of the sustainable development goals), and to help combat climate change (goal 13). “Water is still one of the least technologically influenced industries on the planet. I believe it will provide big opportunities for Ekki. We help in monitoring and control of water systems through our deep tech partnership with Homa,” Mr. Arumugam said.
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