Neles' valve business has been operating in India for over forty-five years already so how will the late 2018 closed acquisition of India-based Rotex Manufacturers and Engineers Pvt. Ltd. by Metso affect the company’s position in today’s India market? “As far as India is concerned,’’ says Sjöholm “it is an interesting time for us. Possibilities in the marketplace are expanding here all the time and the acquisition also represents an important landmark in Neles’ growth.” The process industries Neles serves in India are, broadly speaking, the same as those they serve on a global basis – chemicals, energy, gas processing & LNG, industrial gas, refining, fertilizers, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, and of course, pulp & paper in which they are a very strong player. “Additionally, we should also not forget the many OEM customers we serve”, continues Sjöholm.
Goals and achievements
As of now, Neles will be offering a wider product range and increased added-value services, not only to existing and potential customers in India, but which will also have a global knock-on effect. Their aim is to be among the top three players in the Indian valve business with a target to become the number one service provider, backed by dedication, expertise, high-quality services, and a positive outlook to the future.
When it comes to looking at the milestones that have been achieved in the last forty-five years in India, Sjöholm explains that in the 1980s, Neles were already involved in many export project businesses and that since then the company has been steadily developing its profile in India. Originally working through local sales partner channels, they opened their own sales office network in India around twenty years ago and introduced maintenance service centers. “I think this was a major milestone,” he says, “as before we relied solely on partner distribution channels.” Sjöholm goes on to say that Neles now has an extensive presence in the area, including sales offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Vadodara, Kolkata, and Pune. “In addition, I should also highlight our two new valve manufacturing sites close to Mumbai. This includes the factories in Ambernath and Dombivli catering for the valve business and the manufacture of scotch-yoke actuators. And I mustn’t forget our supply and service center in Vadodara. Today, we have more than 400 employees working in our Indian valve business.”
Expanding valve offering
Neles offers a broad product spectrum today with a number of high-performing brands such as Neles® and Jamesbury® for both metal- and soft-seated technologies for butterfly, ball, on/off and control valves. Sjöholm: “We have third generation state-of-the-art valve controllers and positioners on top of Neles’ own products. Furthermore, we have just launched the latest enhancements to our third generation digital positioner family Neles NDX®. Seven years ago we also acquired a Korean globe valve manufacturer and have been developing in that field ever since.”
“We are known for our quarter-turn technology and, since globe valves are the most common control valves used in industries such as oil & gas, petrochemicals and the like, adding a globe valve to our product portfolio was an important step. Recently, we have been able to add high performance butterfly valves for some applications in which we have not previously been involved so much, such as pharma, food, and fertilizers.” Well designed, top-performing products for the Indian market such as state-of-the-art pneumatic products like Scotch-Yoke and rack and pinion actuators have also now been added to Neles’ global range. “Now we can serve a multitude of process industries with a wider range of high quality flow control solutions and with stronger local support in India,” says Sjöholm. “This also gives us an opportunity to introduce a wider range of offerings for oil & gas in mid and downstream, the petrochemical & chemical industries, industrial gas, pulp & paper, power, as well as serving new industries such as food & beverage, mining and minerals processing, pharmaceuticals, and water & waste water.”
Helping to optimize customers’ processes
Apart from the company’s wide product offering, Neles feel it is important to work with customers to optimize their processes and, to this end, provide a whole range of value-added services designed to help customers solve everyday challenges, through maintenance and diagnostics. Sjöholm explains: “For example, customers may need data on valve packages or information on how their processes are performing, and look to collect data through digital positioners, which communicate with DCS or similar systems. Neles offer analyzing and diagnostic tools, which can be used to prevent unplanned maintenance issues.”
“As such,” says Sjöholm “Digitalization should be used as a tool in existing assets and begins with a comprehensive inventory and rationalization of the installed base. In many cases, these installed base lists are not up-to-date and/or complete. Over time, new items have been added by hand with varying spelling types. Each variant is listed as a new item - which it isn’t. This in turn leads to a top heavy list, which also makes it hard to use for asset management/maintenance. Just to give an example: we have streamlined such lists from 5000 items to just 550! Imagine the difference for the maintenance team – the installed base just shrinking to little more than 10%. By harmonizing and streamlining these lists, significant savings in man hours and inventory costs can be achieved. It also paves the way for more advanced maintenance concepts, such as predictive maintenance.”
More with less
In establishing a bridge between process (parameters) and monitoring/maintenance, valve performance data are necessary to “listen to the valves talking”. Neles’ smart control valves hold performance and condition data that can be used to save on maintenance costs, prevent unplanned shutdowns and subsequently optimize output. “In the current production climate, the demands are high”, Sjöholm says. “Besides the economic parameters you just mentioned, there is also a hightened regulatory, environmental and safety pressure, for example, on fugitive emissions. With smart control valves and additional analysis tools, we are able to finetune the production process.”
Eye on the process 24/7
Generating process data is merely the first step. It is equally important to select relevant data sets, analyze the figures and provide specific data for decision-making processes. Neles has developed specific software designed to monitor the production process 24/7.
“Our award-winning Expertune PlantTriage control loop monitoring software has been developed by a team with hundreds of years’ worth of control experience. As such we are also able to assist operators and/or maintenance personnel who are less experienced.”
In most plants, Sjöholm states, there are hidden problems that are degrading production efficiency and costing money. These problems can range from controls in manual mode to incorrectly operating control valves. In general, valves are key elements in controlling production, efficiency and continuity. With Expertune PlantTriage, these problems are brought to the surface and prioritized. “Our service tool also includes integrated loop tuning, instrument, and valve analysis, so you can choose the best parameters to optimize your process. Neles’ profound know-how regarding smart positioners and valve position feedback systems has been incorporated into Expertune PlantTriage to meet customers’ needs for improved reliability. The tool has also been tested intensively in different demanding industries, including refining, chemicals, and pulp and paper.”
What the future holds
Turning to the future, Sjöholm says: “Since the acquisition, we are currently integrating and combining our offerings to customers to fulfill their needs in the best possible way.” We also want to ensure that we continue to have the best and most competitive packages for products and services. One future challenge is that, with fewer resources, customers need to obtain more output and better quality from their processes. Neles is in a good position to help customers meet and manage this challenge by providing services at the installation stage, and through ongoing digital data sharing, which we are strongly developing. Globally we have done sample and pilot projects analyzing customer data and providing them with information to improve their performance and quality. I believe this is the future for us working within the process industries – so more data sharing between partners and customers, and eco systems implemented across everything connected with the process, such as pumps, instruments, measuring devices, and valves. All need to fit and work well together to provide adequate and reliable output. Neles’ valve business provides a solid experience in delivering engineered performance, reliability, and efficiency to a wide range of process industries and our product offering is complemented by already proven comprehensive value-added services around the world and our 40+ service centers globally. Says Rajadhyaksha: “Neles is currently using its technology to support the existing set up. This will enhance the reach in to chemical and pharmaceutical segments with both existing and potential new customers.”
Sjöholm: “Neles has strongly based its way of working on four values. The first is to be as customer centric as possible throughout the company. We also implement the same basic HR administration and ways of working worldwide, which gives the company a solid footing. Secondly, our innovativeness – we have to be as innovative as possible in order to find new solutions, not only new products or add-on services, but new ways of working together with customers and partners which leads to our third value: working together. This is a very strong value in Neles so that our entire team, not only in India, but globally, find a way to achieve good cooperation. Which brings me to the fourth value: all these need to be done in such a way to generate group and individual respect. Four basic rules Neles follows.”
Rajadhyaksha confirms that these values have been adopted with enthusiasm by the new employees and that the company as such is seen as a noble and an attractive employer, with whom employees see a very bright future.
“At present we have many interesting projects and programs ongoing,” says Sjöholm “such as Euro VI updates for refineries, and economic developments that help us to better serve our customer base and the market place. Right now, it is an interesting time for us in India. “It will take time and will be challenging to get all the improvements in place and implement new programs but this is one of the reasons why India is such an exciting marketplace.”
Rajadhyaksha agrees. “Euro VI Upgrades is a boost to the oil & gas business. Whereas other initiatives of local governments such as FGD and the plastic ban are helping the manufacturing industry, the plastic ban is indirectly helping the growth of the paper industry. On the other hand FGD projects will create new applications for our products. A proactive organization like Neles will therefore have the opportunity to gain a stronger foothold in my country.”
Sjöholm concludes by adding that the development and integration of the acquired offering into Neles’ own range will continue. Acquired products fall under the leading product families, Neles® and Jamesbury® and comprise two new product groups compliant with industry standards: Jamesbury® EasyFlow range of valve solutions and Neles® Scotch-Yoke actuators. The Jamesbury® EasyFlow range of valve solutions offer a complete suite of products: ball and butterfly valves, rack and pinion actuators and limit switches. Moreover, designed for low friction and a long cycle life the Neles® Scotch-Yoke actuators provide a simple solution for applications where a mid-to-high-torque range is required in on/off, ESD, or modulating duty.
All in all, the future of Neles looks to be burgeoning in the developing Indian market and company management has high expectations for general growth there and also in the global market as a whole.
Text by by Gillian Gane and John Butterfield.
Article "Metso building on its strengths to further conquer the Indian marketplace" has been published in Valve World India magazine February/March 2019 issue as their ’Spotlight on’ story.
The text has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.