“The concept may be inspired but the project is 100% indigenous. This is helping smaller companies in getting rid of the legal hassles, capital investments and space-constraints while adding to the production capacity of various industries.”
March 2022: Vishal Budhia, Director, Steam House, shares how his desire for creating a cleaner ecosystem and the passion for contributing to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign led him to the path of creating a unique solution of providing steam through a centralized plant in an industrial town of Surat in the year 2015. In this exclusive interaction with Niranjan Mudholkar, Editorial Director, Pro MFG Media, Vishal shares that this community boiler today serves over 50 plants in 3 different industrial clusters!
What is the genesis of Steam House?
My textile background has been taking me to South Korea for years to buy machinery. During one such visit to South Korea’s Daegu Dyeing Industrial Complex, I was introduced to the concept and technology behind the community boiler. I decided to implement this in Surat at an association level (given the infra and cost) but it was considered too progressive then. I felt that India needs such a solution, especially in the industrial clusters where steam is required for product manufacturing. It took 5 years for the first project to take off the ground. So yes, we are the pioneers in this business and have introduced this novel concept in India. In fact, steam wasn’t considered a commodity till about seven years ago and we have been instrumental in bringing it to the notice of the Government. We have been collaborating with the associations and the government bodies to educate industries about the benefits of having a community boiler. The Gujarat State Government is inviting us to sign LOI while the industrial associations are welcoming us and playing an instrumental role in spreading the word around.
My desire for creating a cleaner ecosystem and the passion for contributing to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign has led me to the path of creating a unique solution of providing steam through a centralized plant in an industrial town of Surat in the year 2015. This community boiler today serves over 50 plants in 3 different industrial clusters!
Is any particular sector more acceptable to this idea?
Steam is a mandatory requirement for many industries like chemicals, pharma, pesticides, textiles, paper and so on. But steam generation means Capex as well as Opex and it is also compliance heavy. So naturally, chemicals, pharma and pesticides sectors have been quick in outsourcing their requirements to us to get away from the operational hassles. However, the textiles industry and the paper mills are still debating over outsourcing.
What kind of infrastructure does Steam House currently have?
Steam House is servicing over 85 industrial organizations with presence in Vapi GIDC (South Gujarat), Ankleshwar GIDC, and 50 other facilities. We have at least 4 more projects in the pipeline in the GIDCs in Gujarat. Sarigam is the latest to be added to our network. We have 30 TPH and 60 TPH plants installed in these places that distribute steam through the State-of-the-art IoT and AI-led technology via an overhead pipe network that extends anything from 6 km to 15 km. So, apart from the boilers, our distribution network is an important part of the business.
Are you planning to move out of your home state Gujarat?
Yes, our plan is to go National as we would like every industrial cluster to get benefitted from our concept. We have already been invited by MPCB (Madhya Pradesh) and MIDC (Maharashtra) and have been allotted land in Tarapore MIDC for a similar project. We are estimating the project to be functional by the next financial year. Similarly, we have three projects lined up for the next financial year in Madhya Pradesh. At the same time, we are also in discussion with the Haryana Government for projects in the Yamunanagar, Sonipat and Panipat clusters.
Steam House is a new concept. How easy or difficult was it for you to get together a team that would understand the technicality of this concept and the magnitude of the project?
The initial period was quite challenging as nobody had done anything like this in India. The most difficult tasks for us so far were to first find the resources and then to convince and get them onboard, and then to educate and train them. And we have done it successfully. In fact, initially, even lenders thought that this was just a great concept on papers and not at all practical. Well, that made my resolve stronger and every objection prepared me with more convincing answers. That’s one reason why today we have people approaching us to collaborate. Today, we have a team of design engineers, in-house technical staff and a very strong delivery team.
How do you look at your work in the context of Government initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’?
The concept may be inspired but the project is 100% indigenous. This is helping smaller companies in getting rid of legal hassles, capital investments and space-constraints while adding to the production capacity of various industries. The use of AI and Machine Learning has allowed Steam House to control, modulate, and moderate the steam distribution with zero human interventions. SteamHouse distributes steam using AI technologies that check the consumption pattern and supply according to each organization’s needs with reduced wastage and zero discrepancies. AI provides the organizations with the accurate amount of steam they need and allows them to pay the exact amount of money for the quantity of steam they use. Pollution in this area is witnessing a 60-70% drop and hence we are receiving Government support.
The types of machinery/equipment used are all sourced locally. India has the best manufacturers of the equipment/ pipelines that we use. The designs are developed by our in-house team after 5 years of learning. Importantly, our top of the line engineers modify them on a regular basis.
You have overhead pipelines running through industrial clusters. How are you ensuring the safety of this infrastructure?
Every pipeline’s pressure is monitored on a real-time basis using SCADA. Also, the IBR (Indian Boiler Regulation) act is one of the most stringent globally. Every part used here is certified. These pipelines are laid after testing done by the Government Regulatory Officers. Tests are done before, during and after the installation under strict surveillance. Post-installation certifications are provided by the regulatory authorities. Adherence to safety compliances is our topmost priority.
We have a dedicated staff for 24/7 monitoring, drones to check security and to assess heat loss as well as thermal balance. We are using advanced technology to ensure the safety and security of our infrastructure and of people’s lives.
How has been the business so far and what are the plans for expansion?
We have witnessed a CAGR of over 75% and are sure of 100% compounded annual growth for the coming three years. We will soon be the first to provide nitrogen and instrument air via a piped network by April 22. We are consciously moving out of fossil fuel and there have been multiple initiatives in that line. For example, we are in the process of signing an agreement with a Municipal Corporation for MSW-RDF to be used for our boilers as fuel. We are also in talks with a multinational company to use the steam generated from their waste gas for one of their plants in Gujarat. The Green Hydrogen pilot project will take off in the next eight months. We are also in the initial stage of exploring plasma technology for energy efficiency. I am happy to say that Steam House will be 100% ESG Compliant within the next 10 years.
About Vishal Budhia: Vishal is a 2nd generation entrepreneur who comes from a business family. His father Sanwar Prasad Budhia started the Sanjoo Group in 1978. Vishal always wanted to carve his niche and his appetite to learn business and processes made him an early starter in the world of business.
Vishal began assisting his father at the age of 17 and learned the ropes of the business. That’s when he realised that process and use of technology should be the way forward. His understanding of business and technology helped the Sanjoo Group grow from strength to strength in the last 8 years. This happened because Vishal had very quickly turned around the internal processes, automated the operations to save costs and had invested in new technology to set the Group apart.
His passion for a cleaner ecosystem and the desire to contribute to the ‘Make in India’ initiative led him to pioneer the concept of community boiler and that’s how Steam House was born. Steam House is Vishal’s vision of reducing carbon footprint, increasing the efficiency for fellow industrialists and being a part of India’s growth opportunity. Vishal was awarded with the Golden Jubilee Memorial Trust Award from The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 2019. In his free time, he likes to read about tech-innovation, international market trends and being with his family.