By Indika Sakalasooriya
The Danish pump giant, Grundfos, which has been in Sri Lanka for a quarter-century, sees ample opportunity in the island nation as the demand for water across drinking, agriculture and industrial use, is on the rise.
“Grundfos sees plenty of business potential in the country. We expect to continue experiencing double-digit growth in Sri Lanka,” Grundfos Singapore and Export Markets (Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Myanmar) Country Manager Andy Tan told Mirror Business.
Sri Lanka, after a 30-year-old civil conflict, is undergoing a rapid transformation and is one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia. The country’s middle class is growing and the businesses are expanding.
Also, Sri Lanka, with a 21 million population, is seeing a massive development in its physical infrastructure—both state sponsored and private sector-driven—and is in the middle of an urbanization drive as more people flock to its capital city.
Right now, Colombo is experiencing a property boom with a number of apartment complexes and top hotels dotting the city’s skyline.
On the ground
According to Tan, Grundfos in Sri Lanka focuses on commercial building services, water utility and supporting the local industry with pump and water solutions, which offer a plenty of opportunity.
Tan said the biggest project they have undertaken so far is supplying pump solutions to Shangri-La Hotel Colombo, which opened up for business a couple of weeks ago in the picturesque Galle Face Green promenade in Colombo.
Another major project undertaken by Grundfos in recent times was the upgrading works at Lion Brewery, whose production facilities were inundated during the floods that havocked Sri Lanka’s Western Province, last year.
Building a water treatment plant for the Vavunia General Hospital, the largest state-run hospital in the country’s Northern Province, was another important project undertaken by Grundfos in Sri Lanka.
At present, the pump giant marks its presence in Sri Lanka through a Grundfos Singapore subsidiary, which has its office at the World Trade Centre in Colombo. It employs eight staffers, who are tasked with growing Grundfos business in the country.
In addition, Grundfos’ Sri Lankan partners, Analytical Instrument and Hayleys Aventura (Pvt.) Ltd, provide after sales services to the industry and commercial building services sectors, respectively.
“We offer a partnership approach to our customers where we are able to consult on maintenance and troubleshooting after the product is sold, to make sure we are providing long-term solutions that ultimately reduce environmental and operational costs,” Tan said.
When queried as to whether Grundfos has any plans to set up a sales company in Sri Lanka, Tan said such a move is a possiblity in about five years’ time as the firm’s business grows.
Grundfos Holdings A/S has a fully-owned subsidiary company in neighbouring India, which recently opened up a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Central Gujarat.
Meanwhile, Tan said Grundfos is constantly on the lookout for suitable government projects for which they can provide their services and we participate in the public tender process via their partners Analytical Instrument (Pvt.) Ltd, a technology company supplying the medical, analytical and agricultural sectors and infrastructure development company Sierra Engineering & Construction (Pvt.) Ltd.
What future holds?
During 1970s only a quarter of the world’s population lived in cities and now it’s half. The United Nations predict that by 2030 two out of three people will live in a city.
In that backdrop, the role of pumps play in modern life—where clean running water, central heating and sanitation are taken for granted—has been highly understated.
As the urban living paradigm evolves, now the policymakers and city planners are talking about smart cities and tapping into Internet of things (IoT) to successfully tackle the issues their cities face.
In that context, the relevance of state-of-the-art pump manufacturers such as Grundfos is increasing and even coming under the limelight.
Sri Lanka too in its own little way is also trying to address the changing dynamics.
The government has embarked on an ambitious US $ 40 billion Western Province Megapolis Development Project—an attempt to create smart urban physical infrastructure in and around Colombo that will propel Sri Lanka into a higher income country within two decades.
But a number of problems stand in the country’s way.
Apart from the never-ending traffic, Colombo is prone to frequent flooding due to poor city planning, unapproved constructions and absence of an advanced flood control and water management system. The higher rainfall due to climate change is also not helping.
Although a World Bank-sponsored project has somewhat improved the Colombo’s flood resilience, the problem is far from being solved as heavy rains for about half-hour could literally cripple the entire transport system in Colombo.
So, Colombo has water problems and it will further aggravate as the city swells. The Chinese are building a port city adjacent to the Colombo harbour reclaiming the sea and experts opine that this will present a set of whole new problems—specially with regards to water usage.
Hence, it is important that the policymakers proactively address these issues before they snowball into major problems that impede the country’s growth and for that identifying the right partners and solutions remain key.