“The scarcity of good quality refrigerated truck body builders was the primary reason to enter this business. Refrigerated truck bodies were being produced in India using outdated conventional processes without any real innovation. This meant that the trucks on the road were inefficient and too heavy, compromising on carrying capacity of the vehicles. Sub Zero decided to bring in technology and introduce light weight high performance refrigerated truck bodies,” shares Deep Khira, Founder & CEO, Sub Zero Insulation Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Kindly share with us the journey of Sub Zero Insulation Technologies?
Sub Zero started off as an offshoot of the pioneering commercial bus body building company Jayanand Khira & Co. (est. 1949). When the director, Deep Khira, joined the family business, he decided to focus on market dominance in a niche and growing segment. Sub Zero brought in technology and specialized machinery from Israel to manufacture high performance refrigerated truck bodies in India.
What made you start your stint in cold chain segment of the country?
The company decided to foray into the cold chain segment to help address the immense wastage of food produce in India. About 30-40% of food produce is wasted due to lack of proper cold chain infrastructure (i.e., refrigerated trucks and cold storages). There was a large shortage of good quality refrigerated trucks and the company set up a manufacturing plant dedicated to this product.
What were initial hurdles encountered when you entered this territory and how did you circumvent them?
Initial challenges faced included doubts over the strength and stability of sandwich panel refrigerated truck bodies. This was tackled by taking the customer in confidence and mentioning longevity of business relationships. The fact that the promoters have a strong background in commercial vehicle body building since 1949, provided a huge boost in convincing customers. Now, with a proven track record of 1000s of vehicles on road and 100+ new ones being rolled out every month, customers have utmost confidence on Sub Zero.
Kindly share with us the technological enhancements being innovated by you in your products.
Sub Zero brought in technology and state-of-the-art machinery from Israel. Engineers from India and Israel worked collaboratively to design and develop refrigerated truck bodies ideally suited for Indian road conditions. Innovation was brought in through building truck bodies by sandwich panel technology using cutting edge materials such as GRP (Fibreglass). Introduction of this technology and usage of these materials helped customers gain several advantages such as superior insulation, more carrying capacity and lower maintenance costs.
We would be keen to know your role in the vaccination movement of the country.
Sub Zero is proud to have supplied several vehicles which have been and are still being used to transport vaccines across the country. Right from pick up vehicles for last mile distribution to larger trucks for primary distribution have been deployed. Special lashing arrangements have been made inside these trucks to prevent this sensitive cargo from moving around and potentially getting damaged. All the trucks are installed with telematics system, ensuring complete cold chain data records.
Where do you see the cold chain segment of the country shaping up from here on and how is Subzero positioned to enable this transformation?
There is still a tremendous shortage of refrigerated trucks in the country and demand is likely to continue to increase y-o-y. Sub Zero plans on being a dominant player across the country. Already having presence in West and South, the company is looking at opportunities to set up assembly units in the North and Northeast parts of the country.
Your vision is to deliver healthcare to rural and remote parts of India where there is a lack of medical infrastructure. Kindly elaborate.
During peak times of the Covid pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty in the line of business. During this downtime, the company decided to pivot and leverage the existing capabilities to develop more niche products. Sub Zero developed a very innovative portable medical unit. It is essentially a portable mobile hospital aimed at addressing such diseases and pandemic. There was a huge shortage of proper medical infrastructure, including shortage of hospital beds, etc. This product was designed and developed to address these challenges. The company is now known for developing such innovative applications like mobile medical units, mobile test laboratories, ambulances, etc.
How do you envision your company five years from now?
In five years from now, Sub Zero aims to be the leading manufacturer of refrigerated truck bodies in India with multiple factories across the country. The company also wishes to export its products to neighboring countries. Apart from refrigerated truck bodies, the company will look at adding more niche truck body applications to its portfolio.