Regenerating Energy

Without [manufacturing] our own products that are different from others in the market, we would not operate our business sustainably in the long run.”

One Thai enterprise stands out from the crowd, through inventing a technology that uses waste heat to generate household electrical appliances.

Innovation has played an important role in Thailand’s electrical and electronics industry since the country decided to enhance its competitiveness on the global market. However, in a competitive marketplace, businesses such as PAC Corporation, have to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

“Growing up in a family that ran an air conditioner installation and maintenance company for several decades, I would say that I have an extensive knowledge of this business,” says Atchara Poomee, managing director of PAC Corporation, creator of innovative and energy-saving water heaters and air-conditioners. “However, I realize that without [manufacturing] our own products that are different from others in the market, we would not operate our business sustainably in the long run.”

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the exports value of electrical appliances and parts was US$742.92 million (23.50 billion Thai baht) in 2017, of which US$152.46 million (4.82 billion Thai baht) came from the shipment of air conditioners and parts.

Established in 2003, PAC Corporation’s first product was PAC Frenergy, a water heater that used the heat generated by an air conditioner.

“I observed the air conditioner’s operation, and saw its compressor emitted hot air to the environment. I decided to transfer this heat to a storage tank to heat up water,” Poomee explains. “With my father’s expertise in air conditioning systems, we invented and developed PAC Frenergy, which allows users to get free hot water because they do not need electricity to producing hot water.”

PAC Frenergy is Poomee’s proudest product and has won many awards both domestically and internationally, such as Thailand Eco Design Award 2012 and International Invention and Innovation Exhibition (ITEX) Award 2013 in Malaysia.

“Our heat recovery technology, which uses an air conditioning system to generate hot water won the 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Awards for small and medium enterprises in Thailand,” Poomee says. “We are the winner of the Business Model Canvas Contest, held by DITP’s New Economy Academy (NEA) in 2017. We learned a lot about business strategy through participating in this project.”

In addition to Frenergy, the company has developed other innovative and energy-saving electrical appliances, including PAC Pooltemper that uses minimal energy to change the temperature of a pool; PAC Heat Pump, a water heater using the heat of the surrounding atmosphere to produce hot water; and PAC SolarAire, a modular air conditioner run on solar energy.

“While we use the heat from air conditioner compressors to run the water heater, our PAC Heat Pump provides cool air as a by-product so pets staying close to the PAC Heat Pump compressor can feel the cool air,” she adds. “The price of our energy saving products is around 30 to 50% higher than ordinary ones, but they help reduce electricity costs by 20 to 100%.”

To stay competitive, the company focuses on manufacturing high-end and trusted quality products, safety and after-sale service.

“Our key customers are hotels, resorts, spa and wellness facilities, hospitals, housing projects and factories. We also install our products in individual houses,” she adds. “Strategic partners are crucial for our business. Not only can they distribute our products, but also they are able to offer reliable after-sale service to customers, especially in overseas markets.”

Currently, 80% of total sales is domestic, with the rest from overseas markets, including the Maldives, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

“CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] countries are interesting markets because they don’t have their own innovative and energy-saving appliances, but they do have purchasing power. We have to educate them about the benefits of our products. Once they understand, they will buy them,” Poomee says.

PAC plans to explore new business opportunities in other ASEAN countries, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar because their tourism industry, which is the company’s main target, is growing. In addition, it will focus more on developing software and mobile applications to control its electrical appliances.

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Words by Somhatai Mosika