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INTERVIEW

“Grain chiller effective post-harvest tool,” says Grain Technik’s Khanna
Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]

Grain chillers eliminate the need for aeration, fumigation or rotation of grain inside the silo, besides driving up profitability. Many major millers already have silos for storage at their plants.

“We are working to ensure the  grains are free of pests and molds during storage. India is ranked second globally in agricultural production, which makes us predict the high demand of grain chillers going by the Centre’s push to use this technology for milled rice storage across India,” said Rahul Khanna, sales director, Grain Technik, in an e-mail interaction with Nandita Vijay.

Excerpts:
What is the current scenario for grain chilling in India?
At this point in time, the Indian food processing industry is in a phase of comprehending the importance of grain chilling technology.

We feel before a customer invests in our technology, they should be completely educated on the benefits of using grain chilling during storage.

It is critical that users of this technology see the benefits, and this can be advantageous while promoting the end-products.

Apart for maintaining and preserving the quality of the grain being stored, the low temperatures and humidity levels being maintained inside the silos or warehouses lead to insect development and reproduction coming to a complete stop and restricting the growth of harmful mycotoxins or fungi.

This not only provides the end customer with a product that is harvest fresh, but also fetches a higher price in the market.

Customers who have used this technology do not require fumigation during the storage period making the grain chemical-free.

As we know, some countries have stringent norms against use of any insecticide or fumigation methods in grains, many Indian millers and processors are finding grain chilling a natural way of preserving grain during storage.

While the install base of grain chillers is increasing quite fast in India, we feel that this is  not even half done, and there is no better way to reach out to our customers than creating more awareness about this technology globally by participating in various seminars and exhibitions, including the recently-concluded Grain Tech 2017.  

What is the typical customer profile, and what is the kind of saving for customers to invest in this?
Our customers can range from farmers storing grain in small silos to large multinational companies involved in the trading, milling or processing of several hundred thousand metric ton of grain.

The  key segments include maize, paddy or milled rice, soybean, wheat, oil seeds, coffee beans, barley, etc.

After understanding the operation of the chiller in detail, customers can use the machine to chill the grains in the most efficient manner.

Considering India is a highly cost-sensitive market, we ensure our customers are educated about the running costs and how to run the unit at different ambient conditions to get the maximum output with the lowest costs.

The initial capital expenditure involved in the purchase of the machine, along with the annual running costs can be easily calculated and then compared with the benefits achieved with maintaining the grain quality and quantity.

Using grain chilling eliminates the requirement of using any kind of aeration, fumigation or rotation of grain inside the silo during the storage period, and thereby, increases profitability.  

How is the grain chiller faring in India and other markets of the world?
The grain chiller is an  effective and  efficient tool in post-harvest. It is already a popular technology being widely used in major agricultural economies globally.

As per our estimate several thousand such machines are already being used worldwide. India is a relatively new market, which has to be developed by strong technical and commercial facts.

The grain storage and milling companies in the private sector and government corporations need to be convinced.

Currently, our government with its focus on doubling farmers’ incomes, reduce imports of grains and minimise loss post-harvest loss is keen to increase use of newer technologies.

Further, the government is pushing for import substitution with its Make in India programme.

Many companies are looking to upgrade their entire grain handling process from bag to bulk, which will directly increase the demand for newer storage technologies like steel silos and modern warehouses.

Many major millers already have silo storage at their plants and we are already working with them to ensure their grains are free of pests and molds during their storage times ensuring the grain  quality is preserved.

India, being second globally in agricultural production, makes us predict the high demand of grain chillers in the coming years, especially considering the government’s push to use this technology for milled rice storage across India.

While Grain Technik is the first company to offer this equipment in India, could you tell us there are any other players that have emerged in this space?
Our group company has been involved in the manufacturing of heavy-duty air conditioners and chillers for the last three decades. We  ventured into the agriculture sector to curtail the losses during post-harvest storage. With over two-and-a-half years of research and development (R&D) to ensure chilling is done with dehydrated air to  preserve the quality of  stored grain, India’s first grain chiller was manufactured in New Delhi.  

What is the scene globally for this product, and how differently is the design features?
This is a widely used product globally, both in tropical and cold countries. Each type of grain is unique and the grain chiller can be installed at  different outlet temperatures and relative humidity levels to maintain the quality required at the time of milling or trading.

These machines are also used for grain chilling in Europe and North America, although the ambient temperatures are much lower compared to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Brazil, South-east Asia, Africa, etc.

Considering the high prospect of using chillers in India, our machines are designed and manufactured keeping in mind the extremely high temperatures and humidity during summer.

The maize belt in Bihar has temperatures soaring to 48 degree Centrigrade.  Our machines with special refrigerants ensure continuous uninterrupted operation, which is extremely important.

What is the competition for the company in the international market?
Being a highly technical product, our grain chillers are  custom-built, and  the number of manufacturers are limited. Considering, Europe, Latin America and South-east Asia have already been using this technology for over 30 years, there is international competition.

However, we  feel competition should not be viewed as  negative. We take pride in being the  first company to launch this technology in India.

There is positive feedback from customers in the Middle-East, Africa and South-east Asia. By ensuring our operational costs are always under control, we are proving to be competitive both in India and overseas.

What are the key features that help the company to garner a market in the international arena?
While the costs are always an important criteria while promoting a product, technological know-how of air conditioning and refrigeration makes us a strong contender, both in India and globally.

We have stringent norms to control quality and performance parameters to ensure customers would never doubt the quality of a product made in India.

The technology used in our grain chiller includes a half-loading compressor for energy efficiency, VFD implementation and remote monitoring.

We are up-to- date with the latest technology and strive to add more features to provide our customers the added advantage.

Where is this product manufactured here and what kind of research is going on to upgrade this ?
The company manufactures its heavy-duty grain chillers at Badarpur Industrial Estate in New Delhi, India.

The complete machine is conceptualised in-house. Our design engineers are adept in air conditioning and refrigeration. We use a licensed Solid Works software to design simulate to predict the machine  performance.

It is assembled using highly reliable components. The in-house test facility ensures thorough analysis.

One of our biggest advantages lies in our competency to provide immediate service support.

Being an Indian manufacturer, we are prompt in installation and repairs through service centres across India to access customers fast.

Are you looking at any new products to develop?
We are an air conditioning and refrigeration company currently involved in various industrial segments.

We feel that grain chillers have a huge potential considering grain wastage turning out to be a national issue.

Therefore, product additions and variants of grain chillers are on the anvil to cater to the entire spectrum of storage techniques.

Our chillers can be used for single-grain silo capacities ranging between 500 metric ton and 15,000 metric ton.

Using our recommended ducting design, multiple silos can also be cooled using a single machine.
 
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