The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India on Thursday said it is revving up efforts to enhance production of oxygen generators by small-scale units to meet demand amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, having already increased output levels by more than 10 times.
The company has also pitched medium- and big-sized hospitals to install oxygen PSA (pressure swing adsorption) generators to avoid oxygen shortage and build efficiency considering the time taken for transportation of oxygen and losses during the process.
"Maruti Suzuki decided to involve itself in scaling up production of oxygen generators by small scale units to help overcome the critical shortage of oxygen. We have, in less than a month, increased output levels by more than 10 times," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) India Chairman R C Bhargava said. The company has partnered with Airox Nigen Equipments Pvt Ltd, SAM Gas Products Pvt Ltd and Gaskon Engineers to increase production of oxygen PSA generators.
"Oxygen generator production was increased 10 times from one plant in five days to two plants a day through two of these partners within a month. "Since we stepped in, 70 oxygen generator plants are being produced in May; in June, it will be 150 with the partners. The backlog order with these suppliers is 225," a company spokesperson said while interacting with reporters in a video conference.
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Citing 'most stakeholders', the spokesperson said, "This is more than the total number of oxygen PSA plants produced in India in 2020-21, though no authentic data is available." A plant with oxygen production capacity of one tonne a day or 500 litres a minute roughly costs Rs 60-70 lakh.
The spokesperson said Maruti Suzuki will donate 20 such plants in Haryana-Delhi-NCR and the rest plants are being commercially decided between its partners and the buyers. MSI is using its supplier network to facilitate smooth supply of 'child parts' and provide skilled manpower to its partners besides ensuring availability of critical components like air compressors.
It has also airlifted 120 tonnes of zeolite, a critical material used in oxygen production, from Germany and is planning to import a further 200 tonnes. When asked how long MSI would continue its support to the oxygen generator producers, the spokesperson said it would depend on the demand. As the company has already set up a website where the oxygen PSA generators can be ordered, there will be visibility of demand going forward and production can be planned accordingly.
On the importance of having in-house oxygen generators in hospital, Bhargava said, "We think that oxygen PSA generators provide oxygen at significantly lower cost, avoid the high cost of transporting oxygen and reduce consumption of fuel. The government and hospitals need to study this option carefully for the future." The company spokesperson further said that considering the time taken for transportation and losses during the process, it is inefficient and suboptimal. "Hence, for medium size to big hospitals, it may be a better idea to have these oxygen generator plants installed to avoid oxygen shortage and build efficiency."Commenting on other efforts by the company to mitigate oxygen shortage, the spokesperson said MSI has donated 500 oxygen cylinders sourced from local vendors to Delhi-NCR and while another 500 are being imported from Japan which are to be donated by parent Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) to the government. Besides, SMC is also donating a oxygen generator plant from Japan to the hospital set up in Sitapur, Gujarat in partnership with Zydus Hospitals.