Two-wheeler manufacturers race to conserve water

by Mayank Dhingra and Sricharan R 22 Mar 2021


While India is the fifth-largest passenger vehicle market in the world, it ranks right at the top when it comes to two-wheelers, which in FY2020 saw 17,730,687 units being sold. We take a look at what some leading players are doing on the water conservation front.

 TVS innovates to achieve water gains
By re-evaluating its consumption and usage patterns, Chennai-based two-wheeler manufacturer TVS Motor Company has been adopting innovative measures at its manufacturing plants by utilising ground water, surface water and harvested rain water for all its requirements.

“We have been adopting innovative water conservation measures towards making our company ‘Water Positive’. In our manufacturing plants, water is used for domestic and industrial purposes. The water used for food preparation, utensils cleaning, drinking, floor cleaning and sanitation is classified as domestic water. Water that is used in manufacturing process is called Industrial water,”says a company spokesperson. Some of the conservation measures adopted by the company for industrial water consumption are:

Accurate accounting of water consumption
The water withdrawal and consumption accounting at TVS is done with the help of electro-magnetic flow meters installed in production and office blocks. The accounting system is digitised with LAN (Local Area Network) which records water consumption by segregating them into two categories - domestic and Industrial.

  • Progressive elimination of water intensive processes: Like any other vehicle manufacturing facility, TVS also sees its maximum consumption of industrial water taking place in the paint shop. Through process innovations, the company has improved its water-intensive chemical processes including old paint plants being replaced with the most modern and water efficient paint technologies.
    Aesthetic painted parts in its products have also been replaced with textured parts to eliminate the need for painting, wherever feasible.The company has also taken initiatives at the design level with copper plating being eliminated in connecting rods and having been replaced with induction hardening. Furthermore, it has adopted practices like dry hobbing, vacuum cleaning, air-cooled radiators for heat treatment sealed quench furnaces that result in water conservation.
  • Advancement in waste-water management: The industrial effluent generated is treated using advanced technologies like Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) in Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). Treated industrial effluent is recycled in multi-stage RO, followed by Multiple Effect Evaporator (MEE) and the recycled water is used back in the process. With these measures, TVS claims it has achieved ‘zero trade effluent discharge”
  • Rainwater Harvesting: To enhance rainwater harvesting, TVS has created percolation ponds, contour trenches with recharge pits, storm water drain with recharge pits and earthen check dams in all plants. In its Hosur plant, a tank of 1,500,000-litre capacity is used to store rain water. This directly harvested rain water is then used for secondary purposes.The total quantity of rainwater recharged into the aquifer exceeds the total ground water withdrawal in one rainfall year. TVS marks this as an indicator of being net water positive by giving back to aquifers more than what it withdraws. At Hosur, the company has a green-belt area of a 340,000 square metres and about 57,000 of native tree species. It has 7 large ponds at two ends of the factory premises, which has become an ideal nesting spot for migratory birds who visit the factory every year. The company says that the scientific approach of rain water harvesting has made existing bore wells self-reliant over the years.
  • Enhancing water efficiency via new tech: TVS says it has replaced cooling towers with closed-loop air-cooled radiators that eliminate water loss due to evaporation and blow down. Reverse osmosis is adopted to generate high purity of water in places of resin technology.  

In another first, a fully-automatic vehicle wash system has been recently installed at the plant wherein washed water is collected and reused. This facility is being used for vehicle washing inside the factory. This unit totally eliminates the need for fresh water. Only topping-up is done whenever required to take care of evaporation loss. This practice has horizontally been replicated in about 250 of its authorised service stations.

India Yamaha Motor targets enhanced sustainability
For the Japanese player, water conservation is a sub-category of various scientific procedures that are being introduced for water management at its two factories in Surajpur, Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Chennai. Yamaha says that one of the prime factors of industrial production and human survival, water, is also the fundamental element of sustainable development, along with socio-economic development and healthy ecosystem.

The company’s Chennai factory is a zero liquid discharge factory, with no water being discharged outside the facility. After usage of water for both industrial and domestic purposes, it is treated in a state-of-the-art treatment plant with a three-stage RO process and reused back in the process of two-wheeler manufacturing. In this fashion, around 90 percent of the water in the plant is reused and recycled.

At its Surajpur factory, a digital piezometer is provided to keep track of the ground water table. A new die-casting shop in the same premises uses 70 percent (approximately 12,000KL) of STP-treated water for construction purposes. Treated water is used in horticulture (14,400 KL / annum), preparation of dosing tanks in effluent treatment plant (84KL / annum) and its stripping process only utilises treated water from the ETP.

Innovative practice of reuse of steam condensate water meant to be discharged from steam trap at Chennai factory and the unique idea of reuse of evaporator gland cooling water at Chennai are part of its conservation initiatives.

The company says that in line with the Group’s global commitments, environmental protection, health and workplace safety (EHS) assessments are held at dealerships alongside awareness campaigns to enhance competency of employees working at its service centres. This trained and competent team at dealerships then develops thought process conducive to sustainable environment.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's June 1, 2020 issue.