Tekno Valves has been at the forefront of the Covid-19 response, supplying essential medical oxygen cylinder valves. Based in Kolkata, India, the company has seen unprecedented demand for medical oxygen cylinder valves, which currently account for nearly 50% of its total output.
“We expect this trend to continue for some time,” Rohit Behani, Partner and CEO of Tekno Valves, told gasworld. “Medical oxygen cylinder valves are essential components in the supply chain required to provide medical oxygen in cylinders to Covid-19 patients in hospitals and quarantine wards.”
“We responded to the crisis by maintaining continuity in supplies to cylinder manufacturers and gas companies. We received tremendous support from the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturer’s Association (AIIGMA), Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) who ensured that gas companies and equipment manufacturers involved in supply of medical oxygen were supported.”
After seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown on 24th March, which limited the movement of its entire 1.3 billion population. Within a few days of the lockdown being announced, Tekno Valves received permission to manufacture medical oxygen valves and other essential commodities with limited resources, ensuring health and safety of its employees. The Government of India’s Directorate General of Health Services granted permission for manufacturers of industrial oxygen and associated equipment to manufacture and sell for medical use in a bid to ensure availability and supply across the country.
“As much as would like to believe otherwise, we were not expecting the Covid-19 pandemic to cripple normal life in such a short space of time,” Behani said. “The situation leading up to the lockdown was uncharted territory, unprecedented and unforeseen. There was a lot of uncertainty when the lockdown was initially announced, and the lockdown was further extended over two months.”
Despite cases continuing to soar, India eased its lockdown at the beginning of June, reopening places of worship, restaurants and shopping malls, in a bid to rescue its economy. At the time of writing, India has the world’s fourth biggest outbreak of Covid-19 reporting more than 605,000 cases and 17,800 deaths.
“Post lockdown, we are now starting to see demand reviving in traditional sectors like industrial gases, firefighting, specialty gases and automotive application,” Behani said. “Demand continues to be robust for products required for water purification, lifesaving equipment and pharmaceutical industry too. We hope to scale back to our normal capacity as the Government of India has announced phased plans of unlocking the economy.”
Founded by Behani’s father Y.K Behani in 1971, Tekno Valves is a leading manufacturer of industrial, medical and specialty gas cylinder valves. Its facility in Kolkata is integrated with a tool & die shop, forging unit and ISO 17025 certified laboratory in the field of calibration, mechanical and chemical testing. Tekno Valves’ cylinder valves are type tested and approved by the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Germany in conformance to TPED and ADR and supplied with the prestigious “Pi” mark.
“My father, an engineering graduate from IIT Chennai, founded the company with five people. He got the idea of manufacturing chlorine cylinder valves from a friend and he jumped right into it,” Behani explained. “At that time, India did not have any approved manufacturers of chlorine valves as the only existing manufacturer had closed down. I am told that a prospective customer, whose caustic soda plant would have shut down without valves, met the statutory authority, personally collected our approval, and informed my father to start manufacturing.”
Behani joined the company in 1997 after completing his Mechanical Engineering degree and MBA. “I was passionate about cylinder valves even during my college days,” he enthused.
“When I started, the Indian economy had just started opening up and importing technology and raw material was getting easier. The internet, mobile phones and emails were transforming the way business was conducted and fax machines were about to become obsolete,” Behani recalled.
“I aspired to do business internationally and the timing could not have been more perfect. I spent time learning the business end to end, but export marketing and designing new products excited me the most. The business has grown multi-fold in recent years and Tekno Valves is now a well-established and reliable brand in the gas industry.”
Next year, Tekno Valves will celebrate its 50th anniversary and Behani is very much looking forward to this milestone. In the meantime, and for the remainder of 2020, Tekno Valves will continue to invest in building capacities and developing new products.
“I do not foresee any travels this year, but it would give me time to focus on improving our systems to be leaner and flexible as an organisation,” Behani said. “We have forged new relationships during the Covid-19 crisis, and we plan to support our existing as well as new customers. We plan to be more active on social media and have a rounded conversation with the industry and our customers.”
Leaving gasworld readers with one thing Tekno Valves has learnt as a result of Covid-19, Behani said, ”The most important lesson we learnt is that there is great satisfaction when our purpose is aligned to help others and responsibility of team members takes a quantum leap in crisis.”