B Lal, Director General, Indian Transformer Manufacturers Association (ITMA).
Are Indian products competitive enough in the global market?
India has a strong base of over 500 transformer industries with an overall capacity of 1,000 GVA per annum. The contribution for discoms/utilities is about 50 per cent while rest is catering to the export market. The industry is divided into 95 per cent manufacturers of distribution, and power transformers and only five per cent other types of welding, traction and furnace etc. The transformer industry is well versed and matured enough as a reliable supplier and can manufacture up to 800 kV level transformers. The quality of these products can match with any of the global peers, but unfortunately, the price competition for domestic market does have an impact on quality when some of them indulge in the use of inferior grade of raw material.
However, manufacturers do not compromise for the export market and have developed the technology for cost effectiveness through their design. With the help of strong R&D facilities and infrastructure available at the national level, industry is continuously looking at upgrading the product performance.
How are imports affecting domestic manufacturers?
There is competition from China and Korea for their cheaper products especially due to financial incentives and subsidies for export from their respective governments. Of late, our transformer industry took up this matter with GoI and as a result, some measures have been imposed on the import of the electrical equipment in order to safeguard the interest of the Indian industry. Consequently, new entrants from abroad have started establishing their base in India.
For example, Chinese company TBEA has set up a plant in Baroda, Gujarat, while Japanese company Toshiba has acquired Vijay Electrical at Hyderabad and even more are said to be finding their bearing in the Indian market. Such ventures will be good for production of quality equipment with price competition and eventually help the export market for small, medium and higher voltage range of distribution and power transformers.
How is the Indian transformer industry faring in exports? What are the measures needed to boost exports, considering the present level of adoption of global standards?
Small and medium sized distribution and power transformers are being exported to almost all the countries by manufacturers who have established their credibility at the international level, by not compromising on quality and adopting automation in the manufacturing process. They are strictly observing the technical standards as laid by BIS or the country of export. Additionally, power transformers in the 220/400/765 kV range are being manufactured in India by MNCs like ABB Ltd, Alstom T&D, Siemens etc., for domestic and export market. Besides domestic and export demand for high-value transmission projects is also met by Indian companies such as BHEL, CGL, EMCO, BBL, Prime Maiden, PME Power solutions (India) Ltd and Kotsons Pvt. Ltd.
What are the emerging technological trends in transformers?
Our transformer industry is second to none. ITMA, in order to infuse the latest technological development, arranges international conference on transformers with the support of well-known apex government organisations like the CEA, Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (RECL). Power Grid, NTPC, NHPC, BBMB, NEEPCO, BEE, BIS, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), National Power Training Institute (NTPI); ICA, CBIP, PHDCCI, ASSOCHAM and India Energy Forum. The objective of these conferences is to provide a forum to discuss present status and ongoing trends in transformer technology - not only in India, but also in foreign countries amongst various manufacturers, utilities, power industry; and share experience and knowledge at the global level, so as meet the challenges and evolve new strategies for generation of power and other aspects arising out of transmission and distribution reforms, electricity polices, restructuring of SEBs for supplying power at reasonable cost; and to play role in reducing the cost of equipment production with utmost customer satisfaction without affecting efficiency and reliability, with deep sense of commitment in order to increase the competitiveness both domestic and export market for enhancing the economic growth of the country.