The $8.78 billion global polymer conglomerate Orbia Group is keenly focused on the fast-growing markets in India. It’s building & infrastructure business, of which Wavin with its pipe and fitting solutions is the flagship brand, accounts for 33 per cent of the Group’s revenues.
In 2021 the company acquired production facilities of Indian telecom conduit maker Data Communications at Neemrana and Hyderabad. In February 2022, Orbia’s subsidiary Wavin acquired a 67 per cent stake in plumbing & drainage pipes and water tanks major Vectus Industries Ltd for a consideration of $132 million (Rs 990 crore).
Commercial director for Wavin India Manish Khandelwal says, “As India looks to become a global manufacturing hub and a $5 trillion economy by 2025, infrastructure including health and sanitation will play an important role in achieving this goal. With our futuristic pipe and fitting solutions, we are committed to investing in the growth of the industry as well as bringing innovations tailored to the market.”
In an exclusive exchange with Sourcing Hardware, Khandelwal explained Wavin’s growth plans for the country.
What are the water-related challenges that we face as a society today?
In the last decade we have witnessed a significant increase in the five big challenges in climate resilience: floods, droughts, heat stress, groundwater depletion, and surface water pollution. The world will face a 40 per cent shortfall between forecast demand and the available supply of water by 2030. If we truly intend to reduce water leakage and water contamination in the ageing and leaking infrastructure that leads to wastage of water, every decision we make has to count. Our solutions need to be smarter and more connected to pave the way for sustainable urbanisation.
At Wavin, we believe that the current water infrastructure can be fixed without extensive city interruptions. We need to enable better solutions for rainwater reuse to prolong our freshwater resources. As industry experts, we have been addressing these challenges and meeting the needs of cities by providing safe and efficient pipe and fitting solutions for water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. With our knowledge and experience, we’ve also been helping build climate-resilient cities to deliver improved building performance and infrastructure.
What are the mega trends that are likely to impact India’s water management sector in the coming decade?
We are witnessing trends on several planes. First, as we navigate through an unprecedented pandemic, positive trends are emerging in terms of industrial activity. Covid-19 has caused an unexpected shift in many industries, especially in the building and infrastructure sector. A combination of increasingly stringent sustainability requirements, rising cost pressures, new materials, new approaches to production, and increased implementation of digital tools is forcing the industry to innovate and move towards building sustainable, smarter cities.
Next, sustainability is a significant conversation right now. The focus has now shifted towards making quality and sustainable products for cities to overcome future challenges. Resultantly, the market is moving from the unorganised towards the organised sector.
And more specifically depletion of groundwater is emerging as one of the key concerns. Rainwater harvesting, along with storage and reuse of water for dry periods and for meeting increasing water demand, will be the key agenda for greener cities in the coming years.
How is Wavin planning to ride these trends? What action will you take on the ground to prepare for this future?
By aligning with India’s ongoing efforts and her focus on sustainable development, we are introducing robust and reliable PVC and CPVC pipe and fitting solutions for indoor climate, water & gas supply, and rainwater management. All our products are based on a ‘let’s build long-lasting cities’ approach that advances a healthier, better and sustainable environment built for future generations.
Additionally, we have also introduced a range of specialised cost-efficient and quality solutions for the Indian market, offering safe and efficient drinking water supply & sanitation systems, and noise-reducing drainage systems among others.
What are some of your most innovative and industry-leading plumbing solutions?
Our domestic reuse system for harvesting allows for the expansion of private disconnection systems with additional infiltration systems such as Wavin AquaCell and Wavin QuickStream. In times of peak rainfall and storms, to minimise the risk of flood damage, these two attenuation solutions give maximum control over rainwater and stormwater discharge, allowing infiltration into the surrounding soil.
Under our drinking water solutions range, we have the Tigris K5/M5, the world’s first fitting with an acoustic leak alert that identifies areas where leakages occur. The Push Fit Hep2O, which is compatible with both copper and plastic plumbing systems, provides maximum flexibility.
We recently announced SuperTemp CPVC fittings which are one of our made-in-India plumbing solutions. Under our sewage treatment category, we have a wide range of future-proof fittings that last for a longer time alongside being cost-effective. Besides this, our advanced low-noise drainage pipe solutions Wavin AS+ and Wavin SiTech+ are composed of unique high-density material, offer secure and durable connections, and assure high chemical resistance.
What kind of capacities and capabilities does Orbia now control in India through its acquisitions? How does the Vectus brand fit into the scheme of things?
Since coming to India, we have aggressively expanded our network and presence in the country. We have established Wavin plants in Hyderabad and Neemrana. Last year in December, we also announced our partnership with Vectus. This partnership is a major step in our global expansion journey and has given Wavin a solid manufacturing footprint and hands-on expertise. With its 17 manufacturing plants, Vectus will continue to provide plastic pipes and tanks to support the above and below-ground building segments, complementing Wavin’s full spectrum of solutions for drinking water, wastewater, and rainwater management.
With this partnership, Orbia’s building and infrastructure businesses will operate at the forefront of India’s growing water management industry. We are now well placed to service customers in the residential, commercial, industrial, infrastructure, and agricultural sectors. This partnership will also enable the company to play a key role in the real estate development of tier II and III cities and governmental investment in affordable housing.
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How entrenched is Wavin’s distribution network? In which regions are you planning to expand?
We are investing heavily in regional expansion and strengthening our presence in the country. Additionally, we are also looking at increasing our overall local production. At present, we are building our supply chain and commercial teams. As we ramp up local capacity, which will be a gradual process, we will bridge the supply gap by importing some products. Additionally, we are also looking at expanding our overall presence in tier II and tier III cities in the coming years.
You have recently launched a mobile app for plumbers. What’s the mission of this innovation and what outcomes are you expecting?
As an innovative solutions provider, Wavin takes its responsibilities toward stakeholders and partners extremely seriously. We not only believe in creating a positive change in the world but also in the life of our community, thus ensuring a trustworthy, confident and smooth work environment.
For instance, on the occasion of World Plumbing Day, we launched our Wavin Rewards mobile app. This app reiterates our commitment to moving the plumber community towards a more organised structure. It will not only help the brand stay connected with the plumber community, but also offer privileges and benefits around discovering new plumbing solutions, pipes, fittings, hardware accessories, new tools, and techniques.
The app highlights to plumbers the importance of technical knowledge and product discovery, and it provides them with a straight route to our retailers. We believe that this newfound accessibility will enable our partners to serve their consumers better.
The digital platform is incentivising all registered plumbers through reward points for engagement within the community; discussing product details, specifications, and experiences; and supporting one another in identifying new opportunities and customers. Furthermore, the app is enabling them to search through the entire catalogue of Wavin’s pipe and fitting solutions in seven languages – English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam and Bengali. So far the app has registered more than 10,000 plumbers across India.
Your digital campaign is titled ‘make every decision count’. How does the campaign articulate Wavin’s purpose and mission for the Indian market?
Our ‘make every decision count’ campaign is a step toward making cities livable in the future. The campaign brings attention to the challenges the world is facing due to climate change and rapid urbanisation, both of which are resulting in dwindling water resources.
In India, a significant portion of the population does not have reliable and constant means of getting water for daily needs. Hence, a campaign like ‘make every decision count’ is relevant, especially for raising awareness about sustainable living and achieving urban resilience. It urges people to get up and make every decision count to keep the city livable. It calls for action to play an active role in creating a positive change in the world.
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The campaign takes viewers on an invigorating journey and helps them learn how the decisions they make about water infrastructure and building design can make a difference to our cities. The campaign also highlights the four purpose pillars of the Wavin brand: safe & efficient water supply; better sanitation & hygiene; climate-resilient cities; and better building performance. It shows viewers how they can be a part of the solution.