General Market Scenario: The market for central air conditioning plants has been very depressed during the year as very little investment is taking place in infrastructure projects with the private sector adopting a ‘wait-and-watch’ attitude and the Government busy allocating funds for various subsidies to obtain votes during the coming general elections. The Room AC segment is almost flat or at best a marginal growth over the previous year. VRF systems continue to grow well at the expense of central plants and packaged ACs and so do Cold Chain refrigeration systems for the food industry.
Reciprocating Compressors: The oldest design of AC&R compres¬sor, the reciprocating compressor is available in a wide range of capacities, in open, hermetic and semi-hermetic types. The open type is widely used in refrigeration applications in the Cold Chain as well as for water/brine chilling in Industry. Also used for mobile ap¬plications in automobiles, bus air condi¬tioners and truck refrigeration systems with the compressor body made of aluminium to reduce its weight. The hermetic type is commonly used in cooling appli¬ances such as drinking water coolers, bottle coolers, visi-coolers, deep freezers and food display cases. The semi-hermetic type is popular in cold storage-refrigeration applications, particularly in the Cold Chain for the food industry.
Although they compete with rotary and scroll compressors in the small capacity range , hermetic reciprocating compressors are no longer popular in RACs and have been replaced with rotary compressors while in packaged air conditioners they have been replaced with scroll compressors. The open type is preferred in parts of the country where the electric power supply is erratic and a motor burnout is not very difficult to repair. The low initial cost is another reason for its popularity.
There are 12 manufacturers of reciprocating compressors in India and in alphabetical order they are – Accel, Bock (GEA), Chintamani, Copeland (Emerson Climate), Freezeking, Frick India (Vilter), Kirloskar Pneumatic, Metalex, Metro, Sea Bird, Tecumseh, Voltas. Out of these, two companies (Sea Bird and Voltas) produce both open and semi-hermetic types, another two companies (Copeland and Tecumseh) produce only hermetic types, while the rest produce only the open type. Kirloskar Pneumatic is the largest producer of open type, heavy duty compressors upto 250 hp, while Sea Bird is the largest producer of a smaller range of open type, going upto 20 hp. Voltas continues to produce the Carrier open design 5F (9-27 TR) and 5H (40-120 TR) and semi-hermetic 6D design for their Service operations and a few for new refrigeration applications. In the imported category, Bitzer is by far the most popular manufacturer of reciprocating compressors in open and semi-hermetic types, followed by Bock (GEA) and Frascold. Mycom (Mayekawa) of Japan is gaining ground in the heavy duty open type ammonia compressors.
Screw Compressors: The main applications of screw compressors are in wa¬ter chillers for air conditioning systems in place of reciprocat¬ing compressors. Centrifugal chillers in capacities up to 300- 350 TR are also being substituted by screw chillers. In the food refrigeration field their use is growing and they are replacing the older open type reciprocating compressors. The cooling capacity of screw compressors ranges from 30 to 500 TR, which is about its maximum capacity currently available. Tandem chiller systems equipped with large capacity triple screw compressors are gradu¬ally becoming a strong competitor to centrifugal chillers. In addition to twin-screw compressors, tri-rotor screw compressors have been developed. Compared to twin-screw compressors of the same capacity, tri-rotor compressors have shorter rotors and offer higher efficiency and reliability.
Screw compressors are not manufactured in India. Bitzer, Germany is the largest supplier of these compressors to chiller OEMs and for refrigeration applications in the food industry, in three configurations—open, semi-hermetic and compact semi-hermetic. Hanbell of Taiwan, Mycom of Japan, Frascold of Italy and J&E Hall of UK (owned by Daikin) are the other major suppliers.
Scroll Compressors: Scroll compressors have a wide refrigeration capacity range. Single scroll compressors with a capacity of 60 hp have been developed, which has expanded the application range for scrolls. Systems that combine multiple scroll compressors can achieve capacities equivalent to screw compressors and this factor has helped to rapidly grow the market for scrolls.
Scroll technology is also predominantly used in the light commercial air conditioner segment including RACs, PACs and VRFs. Digi¬tal Scroll compressors and DC inverter designs are the two types commonly used in VRF sys¬tems.
There is no manufacturer of scroll compressors in India and all OEMs of room air conditioners import their requirements from Japan and USA.
Rotary Compressors: Rotary compressors started being used in India by OEMs of room air conditioners in 2003, prior to which only reciprocating compressors were being used. Today, rotary compressors dominate the RAC market upto 2 ton capacity. So much so, that Shanghai Hitachi, a joint venture between Highly, China and Hitachi, Japan, the largest Chinese manufacturer of rotary compressors in the world, has established a large factory near Ahmedabad with a capacity to produce upto two million compressors a year. This will help save on freight costs and customs duties over imported compressors. Tecumseh started producing rotary compressors in India earlier but have not succeeded in the local market in spite of their first-mover advantage.
Other leading rotary compressor manufacturers include Meizhi (GMCC, a joint venture between Midea and Toshiba Carrier), Landa (Gree), Rechi, Panasonic, Qingan, Mitsubishi Electric, Samsung, and Shenyang Sanyo.
As rotary technology continues to evolve and is presently available up to 5 hp, they are no longer just adopted in room air conditioners, but have broadly expanded their application into medium and large packaged air conditioners and chillers for air conditioning as well as in refrigeration systems. Large capacity twin rotary compressors able to match scroll performance are attracting attention in the PAC and small chiller segments.
Centrifugal Compressors: Most centrifugal compressors are made for chiller applications and are used by chiller manufacturers themselves in their own chillers. They come in single-stage and two-stage designs, typically start from 300 tons with sales concentrated in the 500-700 TR range and are mainly applied to air condition large-scale facilities such as airports, hotels, shopping malls and IT software parks.
Until very recent l y stand-alone centrifugal compressors could not be bought from any inde¬pendent producer but the scene has changed, with Korean and Taiwanese compressor manufacturers selling such compressors on a stand-alone basis. In January 2013, Danfoss acquired full ownership of the Turbocor oil-free magnetic bearing centrifugal compressor and the company has since then speeded up global development of their cen¬trifugal business and been expanding markets in USA, Europe, China and India. There are only two centrifugal chiller manufacturers in India at present – Kirloskar Chillers, who import the impellers from European sources and Blue Star, who use the Danfoss Turbocor compressor.
Market Size for Compressors: Table 1 gives a summary of the market size for air conditioning and refrigeration compressors in the calendar year 2013. All quantities are approximate.