Dinesh Tembhekar is passionate about conserving energy. The managing director of Lean Solutions Group says his clients get 25 per cent guaranteed fuel savings when they replace their furnace oil boilers with briquette-fired boilers.
The group helps companies in the region diversify their energy sources – more so to green energy – through consultancy services in micro-hydro projects, solar panel systems and briquettes.
Lean Solutions also does audits for members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).
The mechanical engineering graduate started a consultancy firm in 2006, specialising in Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy that seeks to improve productivity through incremental changes.
“That is where the company derived its name. In the western world, Kaizen is referred to as lean manufacturing,” Mr Tembhekar told Enterprise.
While doing Kaizen, he realised there was a huge scope for doing energy audits.
“Our first client was Bidco Africa. The chief executive, Vimal Shah, was so pleased with the job we did that he introduced us to KAM and we started doing energy audits for its members,” he says.
That was in 2007 and in that year alone, Lean Solutions carried out 20 energy audits including one at Muhoroni Sugar Company that sparked the idea for Mr Tembhekar’s next project.
“The sugar company had a lot of bagasse lying around and yet they were using furnace oil for their boilers,” he says.
Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract juice.
The bagasse is compacted to create flammable blocks or briquettes that, other than being cheaper, have a lower carbon footprint compared to diesel-fired boilers. The boilers then generate steam which is used in manufacturing.
“We pitched the idea of manufacturing briquettes using this waste product that was in plenty and in 2008, we set up a briquettes plant within the company’s grounds,” he says.
Lean Solutions initially manufactured the briquettes and supplied to companies like Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA), but soon realised that the business model was not viable and involved a lot of marketing.
That is when Mr Tembhekar came up with the build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model where they would buy briquette-fired boilers and install them in company premises. This model, he says, was well received by the market.
Lean Solutions Group signs an eight-year agreement with clients, stipulating that the company will retain ownership of the boilers during the contract period and runs them using its employees (normally eight workers per unit).