ISHRAE drives innovations

Vikram Murthy, National President, ISHRAE (Indian Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) in an interaction with Cooling India highlights the challenges HVAC&R industry is facing and what initiatives ISHRAE is taking from their end to overcome such a scenario and market insights to its readers:

What are the issues that HVAC&R industry is tackling? What role ISHRAE is playing to handle these challenges?

The industry is challenged by regulatory authorities and specifications made by design consultants continuously raise energy efficiency of products, phase down HFCs to reduce GHG emission and maintain prescribed indoor environment quality. ISHRAE interacts and supports industry by prescribing standards for testing – like the chiller standard, for the chiller labelling program of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, the Bureau of Indian Standards, the Ministry of Environment for Refrigerant phase down and skill development prescriptions, the Department of Science & Technology for cutting edge innovation projects and other International organisations such as UNEP – to encourage district cooling and practice.

Like several other industries, HVAC industry also suffers from a lack of skilled labour. What initiatives ISHRAE is taking to overcome this hurdle?

Skilled manpower is more a myth than a reality. All manufacturers continuously conduct well organised training to develop skilled technicians who do safe and efficient installations. However, a large number of unskilled technicians exist in the unorganised sector and their proliferation is largely a result of consumer behaviour of discouraging manufacturer recommended service due to economic reasons. It is a matter of time that all such technicians will be eliminated with the regulatory mandates service of air conditioners to be done only on certified technicians. ISHRAE has a well-established Airconditioning Service Certification program that is conducted at multiple locations. ISHRAE shall soon complete a comprehensive multi-level technician certification curriculum that can be administered at multiple locations and by multiple organisations.

How are you gearing up for endorsing the HVAC&R
industry in overseas markets?

This is a work in progress that is on a slow growth curve for equipment exports but is certainly on a fast trajectory for projects. Markets continue to grow in East and West Africa, the Middle East and our neighbours in South Asia. On the other hand, overseas HVAC manufacturers and businesses are rapidly expanding their Indian operations. ISHRAE encouraged both ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make for India’ by showcasing manufacturers at their flagship exhibitions ACREX and REFCOLD India both held annually.

What is the objective of REFCOLD India 2019? What are your expectations from this event?

REFCOLD is a unique showcase to promote the Refrigeration Industry and the Cold Chain – that is the backbone of Food and Health security. Refrigeration continues to be a key development priority of the Union as well as several state governments. REFCOLD brings manufacturers, government and end users to interact to promote the industry. Simultaneous workshops and seminars raise the drive towards innovation and the prescription of good practice. REFCOLD is India’s largest and best attended event on all aspects of the cold chain.

What are your expectations from the Government for the growth of the HVAC&R sector?

The government is driving energy efficiency relentlessly as well as offering several incentives for growth of the cold chain in an exponential manner. Both these will create multiple development initiatives by manufacturers as well as investors and end users of refrigeration.

How does the future look like for HVAC&R industry?

The HVAC&R industry has an overall growth rate exceeding 15 per cent. Regardless of this access, the penetration of air conditioning is below 10 per cent of our population. The areas of radiant cooling, alternate energy driven cooling as well as IoT and automation shall continue to drive growth of the HVAC&R industry.

What are your plans for the coming year?

The coming year looks bright for ISHRAE. Several new initiatives in standards, research and online education have begun and are being developed or updated. The society membership continues to rise by over 19 per cent annually as well as new ISHRAE location started at Pondicherry and two more will be added later in the year. Flagship programs like Urjavaran are rolled out at 30 national and international locations. Member volunteers are the backbone of our technical activities and their contribution grows to match the targets set.

The society has planned interactions with national and international institutions and the government to drive energy efficiency, indoor environment control and low environment impact of the HVAC&R industry.