Clocking Rs 300Cr annually, Zeco Aircon aims to disrupt India's $49M air purifier market amidst the pandemic
According to the US-based Health Effects Institute, India accounted for almost 25 percent of all air pollution-related deaths in the world in 2016. In fact, several reports also state that over six million people lose their lives every year because of respiratory problems.
While various factors contribute to the increased pollution in India, especially during the winter season, this year, the concern is much more grave than before. The novel SARS – CoV-2 virus or the coronavirus — which has been touted as airborne by the World Health Organisation (WHO) — has also acquainted people with the need for clean air.
Gurugram-basedhas been a manufacturer of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) management systems since 1989. Founded by Ravi Singhal, Zeco Aircon manufactures products under four verticals — air conditioning, air purification, air distribution, and insulation.
Amidst the pandemic, the company is garnering prominence for its air purification vertical that started in 2010. Zeco Aircon clocks a turnover of Rs 300 crore annually and also exports to 15 countries, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, and UAE. Its clientele includes the likes of Radisson, ITC Hotels, Fortis Hospital, The Oberoi Hotels, Hyatt, etc.
Kartik Singhal, Director of Zeco Aircon, joined his father’s business in 2013 as a trainee engineer and started learning everything from scratch. “Once I knew all about the company and its products, I started heading the sales and marketing division,” he tells SMBStory.
One of the biggest challenges for Kartik was to professionalise the business and streamline the operations, which had been running in a certain way.
“I tried to change the company culture, implemented SAP, and software that digitised and streamlined operations,” he says.
As part of this, he also focused on upskilling the workforce, as he believes it is critical for any business’ growth.
Air purifiers by Zeco Aircon are manufactured in its manufacturing units in Haryana, Bengaluru and Mumbai
The air purification space
Zeco Aircon’s air purification vertical manufactures air purifiers in about 19 product categories that can run for four years without any maintenance or recurring cost.
Explaining the workings of an air purifier, Kartik says, “Recirculating air purifiers or passive air purifiers take the air from inside the occupied space and purify the particulate matter in the room.
“On the other hand, active air purifiers do not need recirculation of air through the purifier. They generate harmless hydroperoxides that are present in the room in equilibrium that kill the microorganism from the source itself.”
In some cases, air purifier systems are put in central air conditioners (generally in larger spaces like offices), to filter out the air.
According to Kartik, different people need different air purifiers, and Zeco Aircon’s USP lies in its bespoke air purifiers, which it customises as per the demand of the consumer. “We assign one engineer to every customer who stays with them till the end,” Kartik says.
He adds that the company has tied up with technologists in the air purification space from across the world, including the US and Europe, for driving research and development within the company. It has also tied up with IIT Delhi to come up with an air purifier that costs as low as Rs 400.
In January 2020, the company launched O2 Cure, a website for its B2C bespoke air purifier business. These air purifiers — which are manufactured at its Haryana, Bengaluru, and Mumbai plants — cost between Rs 400 and Rs 2 lakh.
So far, Zeco Aircon has installed 12,105 air purifiers in India, including at the Delhi and Hyderabad airports.
Zeco Aircon Team
Technologies at play
O2 Cure uses the Photo Hydro Ionisation (PHI) technology (developed by US-based RGF Environmental Group) to manufacture its products. “PHI uses the UV radiation as a source of energy, which is radiated on a quad metallic material (silver, titanium, copper, rhodium). When air passes through the PHI cell, it produces hydrogen peroxide. This is similar to getting hydrogen peroxide from the sun in the morning which is fresh and safe to breathe,” Kartik elaborates on the technology.
The UV radiation is specially designed to restrict the production of hydrogen peroxide and discourage the release of ozone. PHI has been tested in occupied space with over 50 different bacteria, viruses, gases, odour, and smoke, and has proven to be effective in containing the SARS outbreak in China in 2003.
Zeco Aircon is also using another patented technology of the RGF Environmental, the Reflective Electro Magnetic Energy (REME), which is an induct active purification system that combines PHI and bi-polar ionisation to neutralise the PM levels of the air, along with the others particulates.
Both the PHI cells and REME can last for 30,000 hours without any cleaning or maintenance.
While Zeco Aircon’s air purification vertical has made several advancements, it is hard to ignore that India, as a country, lacks proper infrastructure.
So, how is Kartik ensuring his products continue to remain effective?
After giving some thought, he says, In India, the culture to stay outdoors is less. He adds, “People mostly spend time indoors in their houses, restaurants, or even driving.”
Kartik says the sector needs support from the Indian government in terms of investment and technological advancements.
A report by Research and Markets stated that India’s air purifier market stood at $49 million in 2018, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 28 percent during 2019-2024 to reach over $220 million by 2024. In India, companies like Dyson, Sharp, Blue Star, Samsung, Eureka Forbes, Blue Air, and Godrej, among others are leading in the air purifier manufacturing space.
At present, South Korea and China are leading the global air purification market. However, Kartik aims to make India the hub of air purifier manufacturing in the coming years.