TKAP taps natural gas to fuel operations

by 03 Apr 2013


Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts (TKAP) added another feather in its ‘green’ cap by sourcing piped gas from the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) to run a captive power plant at its auto parts manufacturing facility in Bidadi, near Bangalore. The company, a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Industries Corporation, Japan and Kirloskar Systems, Bangalore, began sourcing gas from GAIL on February 18, 2013 when the state-owned utility commenced gas supplies to industries in Karnataka.

GAIL has laid a 1,000km gas pipeline from Dabhol, south Maharashtra, to Bangalore at an investment of Rs 4,500 crore. It has a capacity of 16 million metric standard cubic metres per day (MMSCMD) of natural gas. TKAP is the first industrial unit in Karnataka to get gas from this pipeline to meet power needs for manufacturing operations, showing the way for other OEMs in Karnataka to meet their power demand at the time when the state faces an acute power shortage.

T R Parasuraman, senior vice-president of TKAP, told Autocar Professional that “the company has critical processes like heat treatment and critical machines with CNC controls that require reliable power and quality electrical power supply.”

Earlier, TKAP had furnace oil-backed DG sets to generate power for its production requirements. But TKAP had concerns due to increased furnace oil costs and pollution that its DG sets generated. Moreover, power requirements also increased as TKAP expanded its manufacturing operations. So TKAP set up a 6.5 megawatt dual-fuel DG set sourced from Wartsila, a global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions, at an investment of Rs 25 crore. This DG set can run on diesel and natural gas. “In end-January 2013, the new 6.5 MW DG was installed and commissioned with diesel. "We got the natural gas supply from February 18 and since then have been using the natural gas for the 6.5 MW DG set,” he adds.

At present, TKAP is conducting an appraisal of the quantum of carbon emissions that it cut by using natural gas instead of diesel and furnace oil. While Parsuraman did not disclose the quantum of gas procured from GAIL to run the captive plant, he says, “GAIL has just completed gas connectivity into our facility. We are yet to commit the minimum gas requirements for our production requirement. We are in talks with GAIL to freeze the minimum requirement based on our daily requirement.”

Green initiative

Since the use of natural gas has just commenced in Karnataka, the state government has been supportive in helping TKAP obtain clearances for laying end-of-line connectivity pipes to TKAP. As power shortages are a major hurdle, the state government’s support for bringing natural gas is a major green initiative, he says. In addition, Parasuraman explains that 6.5 MW generated from the captive power plant is mainly used for critical operations in the manufacturing of components. TKAP’s power demand stands at 75,000 kWh per day. While a majority of its power requirement is met by the energy generated by the captive unit, TKAP buys power for non-critical functions like general industrial and office lighting, he said.

TKAP has around 1,450 employees to run its multiple production lines at its Bidadi factory complex located in the vicinity of Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM). Besides supplying systems to cars manufactured by TKM, it also exports some of its products. Recently, TKM inaugurated its engine and transmission production units at its factory complex in Bidadi, set up at an investment of Rs 500 crore. Currently, TKAP’s Bidadi plant has an annual capacity to produce 85,000 of axles and shafts and 420,000 units of transmissions and 108,000 engines.

It supplies transmission and engines to the Etios saloon and produces axles and propeller shafts for the Innova sold in the domestic market. TKAP also produces R-Type manual transmissions for export to Thailand and Argentina and also for the Fortuner made for India.

TKAP is one among a few companies in Karnataka that involves itself in green activities as part of its CSR initiatives. Its other eco-friendly initiatives include the use of non-conventional energy for factory lighting, the use of natural lighting in the DG room, water conservation through recycling of treated water, afforestation and rainwater harvesting.

With TKAP using natural gas to support its manufacturing operations, the scope for other OEMs in the Bangalore region to use natural gas has increased. Apart from TKM, France-based automotive supplier Faurecia has a manufacturing facility at the Bidadi industrial estate.

Bosch is also shifting its existing production plant to Bidadi industrial estate from the current location of Adugodi, in the heart of Bangalore. According to official sources in the Karnataka government, even these companies may consider sourcing gas from the GAIL pipeline.

Karnataka pushes CNG

Meanwhile, in another separate development, against the backdrop of TKAP getting GAIL gas, the Karnataka government has sought the cooperation of the petroleum ministry to promote the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) for the transport sector in Bangalore.

Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shetter has said, in his letter to Union minister for Petroleum and natural gas M Veerappa Moily, that the state government is keen to install a CNG infrastructure in Bangalore on a priority basis. This could help contain air pollution levels in the city. Chief minister Jagdish Shettigar has said that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has carried out only four rounds of bidding for the city gas distribution (CGD) authorisation project since its inception in 2007. Of this, he claimed only two rounds have been concluded.

He also expressed his interest to know when the PNGRB will put Bangalore for bidding. He said the Karnataka State Industrial Infrastructure and Development Corporation (KSIIDC) and GAIL plan to form a joint venture for gas distribution to various consumers in the State.

The proposed CGD project envisages the supply of natural gas to public transport buses, industrial areas and commercial establishments as well as for cooking, through a network of pipelines.