Air quality and the level of purity in the air is a well-debated subject among industry representatives. When given the opportunity to assess the air filtration sub-industry within the scope of HVAC in India and globally, representatives analyse whether we as an industry have lost our sense of valuing and appreciating the factors that are in some regions indispensable to humanity. In this case – IAQ, IEQ and its connection with air filtration.
Industry representative Dr Iyad Al-Attar, an independent air filtration consultant describes filters as expensive items that come with a cleaning function to remove pollutants.
Speaking on the market, Manisha Pareek, Marketing Manager, AAF- Daikin EEMEA, CIS & SAARC Countries, points to the importance of good Indoor Air Quality as a growing concern. She says: “The air filter market has a good scope of growth in India. In recent years, the market has witnessed a hike in demand as the industry continues to be more aware of IAQ.”
Nodirjon Rasulov, IAQ Specialist & Business Development Manager, Camfil Middle East FZCO, highlights how air treatment is a crucial factor in the Middle East. He says: “IAQ is still a luxury for many and fewer standards and authority regulations are governing it.” In general, he says, the air filter market is always on the rise. The demand for air filters in different industries remains the same. Giving an estimate on the market size for air filters in the Middle East, Rasulov says: “The air filtration market size can reach up to 100 million and can be divided into various aspects of air filtration. On the global front, we expect growth in KSA, Egypt and the UAE according to the project announced,
but again this growth should not look into the number of filters but the quality of air filters supplied in the market as per latest standard such as ISO16890 or EN1822:2019.”
If we have to talk growth, it should be based on the quality of the product that goes into the market. He adds that the demand for air filters in the last three years has increased by 30%, however, the demand needs to be evaluated. “The market needs education for better supply, and the lack of knowledge in air filtration standards has created an increase in demand for low-grade filters,” he says.
Market Drivers and Demand Trajectory
Abhilekh Verma, Senior Business Development Executive, Ideabytes Software India, highlights the major factors fuelling growth in the market. He says: “The market is driven by the increasing need to reduce downtime and improve system efficiency.” Pareek highlights the key factors driving market growth, she says: “There is a need to control industrial air quality, the demand is ever-increasing for air filters as the requirement for clean air is crucial even for hospitals, pharmaceuticals, labs, data centres and more.” Dr
Iyad Al-Attar highlights that industrial air filtration is a multi-billion market today, however, today with the coronavirus pandemic, the dynamics of such growth may be intensified. He says: “There are five main drivers that have contributed to market growth – Strict government emission regulations and norms globally, growing demand for highly efficient and aerodynamic filters, an increased global energy demand, the frequent epidemics, outbreaks, rising air pollution beyond the thresholds, and an increased (but not sufficient) awareness of air pollution on human health, vegetation, and climate.”
Speaking of the trends within the filter sub-industry, Pareek adds: “We are seeing an increase in customer demand for genuine industrial-grade HEPA filters as high-efficiency filters are capable of eliminating microparticles resulting in the prevention and the spread of airborne diseases.” She highlights that there is also a shift towards commercial buildings as they are inclined towards maintaining IAQ for the well-being of staff. “Customers are open to being educated on the importance of IAQ in commercial buildings as we spend maximum hours of the day indoors,” she adds. Speaking of whether demand has scaled up in the past 3-years, Pareek says: “In the past three years, industries are becoming aware of the surrounding environment and of the importance of clean air in the industry.” AAF she says has adapted the latest global standard – ISO 16890 and this helps harmonize the standard label products. “The importance of air quality in Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) and the betterment of IAQ has shown considerable growth. Demand for customised solutions has increased considerably. Hence, proposed customized solutions are tested, analysed and implemented. For instance, due to coronavirus outbreak, hospitals have become more conscious and are upgrading their isolation rooms with international standard high-efficiency filters.” Also, she says, commercial buildings are upgrading their air handling units with filters that have higher efficiency. “IAQ is crucial for the well-being of employees and helps keep the sick building syndrome at bay. This also brings us to the importance of gas-phase filtration systems that have also been emphasized for IAQ applications.
Next-generation monitoring, IoT in air filter performance
Verma suggests that the market is heading towards IoT and automation, and the factors that play a key role when functioning in a price-sensitive market is the need to adapt to new technology and the role of users in connecting multiple departments at the same wavelength in using technology. Speaking briefly about his company contribution, Verma says: “We work in the Internet of Things (IoT). In the HVACR industry, we don’t just monitor parameters like temperature but we control equipment via remote or mobile.”
Highlighting the work being done by AAF, Pareek says: “We have India’s first auto-scan test facility for HEPA and ULPA filters. The latest invention which differentiates AAF from the rest of the filtration companies is Sensor360, a next-generation monitoring and facility management tool that enables the customer to understand and plan their air filter performance and maintenance in an entirely new way. It is the first IoT (Internet of Things) patented technology platform that demonstrates the effectiveness of a building’s filtration system by monitoring particulate levels. Sensor360 provides real-time data on air quality.” Nodir adds and says: “At Camfil we have six dedicated R&D centres that investigate and research closely across markets to understand the demand and provide the best solution.” If we talk about primary filters, in many cases customers prefer washing air filters rather than disposing them. By doing that, they seek some financial relief. However, it is not the right to practice. If we focus on washing pre-filters, that means we are putting in danger the life of the entire system and building occupants. Another crucial aspect is to study the level of engagement among consultants and building owners and to understand whether technicians within the industry are educated well-enough to minimise on down-time. Verma
says: “Yes, in India with the internet we have a large number of social media groups and we stay connected. Proper SOPs are provided to technicians to minimise on down-time while conducting retrofits.”
Pareek reiterates the thought and says: “We share continuous updates on any new advancements to existing and new consultants. We also focus on technical requirements and sustainable investments. Our technicians are experts in retrofit projects too and AAF’s expert technicians are appraised and applauded due to the minimal turn-around time by providing filtration solutions.”