Steam House aims to become fossil-free in next 10 years
Textile industry needs steam for various processes like yarn setting, dyeing, colour fixation, etc. Steam House, a venture of the Sanjoo Group, is a unique concept of supplying steam to industrial clusters from its centralised steam generating plant via overhead pipes using IoT (Internet of Thing) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) led technology. Steam House was established in 2015 by Vishal Budhia, Director of Sanjoo Group and a second-generation entrepreneur from Surat (Gujrat). Steam House provides organisations high-quality steam, frees industries from capex, saves the legal and compliance hassles for manufacturing units, etc. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Vishal Budhia elaborates on advantages of using steam-as-a-utility and growth plans for his start-up.
Could you brief us about Steam House’s business model?
Steam House – a first-of-its-kind company in India – has centralised steam generation from common boilers to provide Steam-as-a-Utility to industrial units through a grid of pipelines. During my trip to South Korea, I was introduced to the unique concept and technology behind the community boiler. After much understanding, I felt that India definitely needs such solution, especially in the industrial clusters where steam is required for the product manufacturing.
There are industries that mandatorily require steam; for example, textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plywood, paper, etc. When they subscribe to Steam House, steam is provided to them via common boilers by an overhead pipeline network spread over several kilometres. Industries get steam at their doorsteps as a plug and play solution with their billing metre installed at the premises. The technology implemented checks the consumption pattern and supply according to each industry’s needs with reduced wastage and zero discrepancies. This provides industries with the accurate amount of steam they need and allows them to pay an exact amount of money for the quantity of steam they use. The use of AI and machine learning (ML) allows Steam House to modulate and moderate the steam distribution with zero human intervention.
Which industries are you serving at present? And in which region/states are you offering this service?
Steam House currently serves over 85 industrial units in Vapi GIDC (South Gujarat), Ankleshwar GIDC, and 50 additional industries, with at least four more projects in the pipeline in GIDC in Gujarat. With a capacity of 30 tonnes and 60 tonnes per hour, it provides the highest quality steam to industries like textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plywood, paper, etc., at their current cost under the supervision of highly experienced professionals. Steam House will be adding states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka shortly.
What do you bring to the table for your customers? How do they benefit from Steam House?
I will dive deep into this topic because the benefits that we provide to our clients are the core of our identity.
Industries have been setting up their own boilers at their premises to meet their steam requirements. These boilers are small to medium in size, have low efficiency, and are operated by under-trained staff, causing casualties. Another major hazard is the increasing level of industrial air pollution. The chimneys in industrial areas that emit black smoke add PM-5 and PM-10 to the environment, causing diseases from asthma to cancer due to improper air pollution control equipment and non-professional management.
Switching over to common boiler-based steam generation witnesses a reduction in the production cost of up to 25–30%. There are no operational and maintenance hassles as there are no boilers installed – no more setting aside of separate manpower for the operation of boilers and no fuel storage area required. Owing to the better quality of steam, there is an enhanced product quality that yields to higher production at an increased rate of 12%, which makes new product opportunities and expansion possible with zero downtime.
As steam in bulk reduces the per-unit fuel consumption, there is an improved fuel-to-energy conversion, increased efficiency, and minimised shutdowns. Steam House, being 100% compliant, frees small industrial units from their legal and compliance hassles by handling all the boiler regulatory norms and inspections. Steam House meets both industrial and environmental obligations by reducing up to 70% of air pollution caused by steam generation while also reducing coal consumption by 25–30% and improving emissions control.
You have a background in the textile industry. How do you see the performance of the textile industry in India?
India’s home textile exports grew at a healthy rate of 9% in FY21 despite the pandemic. The textile sector has witnessed a spurt in investment during the last five years. The industry (including dyed and printed) attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth $3.75 billion from April 2000 to March 2021.
To bolster the industry’s growth, the government even announced a Rs 10,683-crore Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. The technology investment and acquisitions will further the growth. The Indian textile industry is lucky to have its own 130 billion population market as well as access to global technology. I believe that the Indian textile industry will witness multi-fold growth in the coming years.
Which processes in the textile industry use steam?
Textile industry needs steam for its yarn setting process, dyeing machines (jet/jigger), mercerising, colour fixation (loop agers or pressure ager), etc.
How are you serving your textile customers?
Our textile customers are connected to the same pipeline as others. As pressure requirement of every industry is different, they use pressure reduction station to manage it as per their requirement. Since, we come with over 50 years of textile experience, we also consult our clients on operations.
In addition to Surat (a major textile hub in India), which other regions are you serving?
While Vapi and Ankleshwar are operational, Sarigam, Nandesari, Panoli, Daher and Tarapur are under construction. For growth, we are considering areas in Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh for 2022-2023.
Also, are there plans to expand Steam House services to other textile hubs in the country?
Yes. Clusters like Panipat and Sonipat in Haryana are in the pipeline, while SIPCOT in Tamil Nadu is under discussion.
Sustainability is gaining traction in the textile industry (& other sectors as well). How is Steam House helping its customers to meet their green goals?
Steam House has already started adding bio-fuel to its basket and expects to increase that by 5% every year. A contract has been signed to procure steam generated from waste gases, which will be 25% of Steam House’s revenue going forward.
We are also in talks with the municipal corporation for our first boiler of MSW RDF (Municipal Solid Waste-Refuse derived fuel), which will be replicated nationally in quite a few states. Steam House is also working on the idea of running its projects on green hydrogen in the near future. Steam House is aiming to become fossil-free in the next 10 years.