Pradeep Kumar Bajaj | executive vice-president of L&T Electrical & Automation
Now government is getting into ideas like smart cities, smart grids, digital India etc., so what kind of products does someone expect from L&T in future?
We believe a lot more smartness, integration and capability, lot more solution-oriented approaches have to happen to give customers more empowered solutions and I think to me that is the direction. Now empowerment can go down to the last man for example we have only a single tariff applicable all through the day and not dual tariff and no peak time tariff. If the government changes the metres and gives you this approach on your mobile phone then wherever you are you can use time of the day metering. Now it is empowering you to choose what you want to do.
What are the products that you have developed for what you said, smart cities? We have unveiled the state-of-the-art SCADA solution, which is a communication or networking or integration platform of multiple devices. We have tried to make each and every device what we make for making smart and when I say smart it could mean remote command, remote switch on, remote switch off, whole lot of monitoring parameters. So it is more like empowering customer with the data so he can pick and choose from a control room or from a mobile phone or from an Ipad depending on how I would want to control my plant. So sitting in one place, it could be his home or whatever, using an internet you can communicate with devices - you can switch on and switch off or whatever you want just by a click on your network. So what we have tried to do is capability of the system and products which can be operated this way in a very smart and seamless manner.
Has the demand for such products really come up?
Yes and no. You see there are industries that are using them. We think it has not been used to its potential. But it has been used. It is like you go to a building and there is always a mock up flat which is done. It is not that we are going to live in the flat of that kind. But what they try and show you is the potential of that apartment what all you can do with it, you decide what fits you. So, this SCADA wall is more like showing you a potential. I think a lot more juice can be extracted out of it. As we move forward, as a supplier of system our job is to fill more and more juice in the same thing so our customers gain more and more value out of the same thing and maybe some added products and facilities and benefits.
What are the benefits and the areas of it utility of this solution?
This software connects a range of devices - meters, MCBs, MCCBs, ACBs, relays, AC drivers, soft starters, I/O modules, building automation devices and sensors. It is also scalable and customisable and has in-built drivers for multiple industrial communication protocols. Its areas of application include energy management; integration, monitoring and control; building management solutions, sub-station automation, smart grids, smart cities and renewable resource management.
All these things are under discussion as of now - the road safety?
There are pilots which are running, it is not just discussions. When we talk about smart cities somebody will say smart city means electricity for all, water for all, sewage of all, there is one level of it. It does not mean it stops here. Traffic management, visual video analytics for example, we already have done jobs in Bombay, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad which are city surveillance jobs that is more like traffic management or traffic offence management and also security management. So it is not that it is just on drawing board, we have started seeing things on ground, moving, yes one can debate on the speed of movement how many cities have been touched so far, not too many. People are mapping, we have done a job for MHCTCL, which is a Maharashtra state distribution companies (discom), of mapping losses across the whole state of Maharashtra. So, you can bring information from each node at each transformer point, losses on to a control room of what is happening where and now you can take a call as a utility or as a service provider what is it that I need to do. Our job is to empower a customer in taking his decisions.
L&T has been with the power grids on the distribution side for so long, so what are the challenges you see and what are the real things that we could expect in a so-called smart grid at the real practical level?
The challenges are, for example, we say smart metre as an integrated part, we have a smart metre on show, which means you can do metre reading from remote location is all possible. When you want to change it you have an existing base of metres and you have to remove all of them. Are there resources available so easily, my answer is ´no´. The way metres are installed today is another challenge. Some are in the basement, some are on the first floor, some this way, some that way. Are they readable using one kind of a technology? These are some of the challenges you have. But I can also say that government is quite serious about it. It means some regulations will have to be brought in based on convenience. I am not saying they must be visible right away, but at least you must be able to read them from 20 metre away. But if there are metres three floors below or above, yes there are challenges of this kind.
Don´t you feel that before going for smart cities all our people have to get smarter. I know some areas like Bhiwandi where power tapping is very common and since that electrostatic metre is installed and times are changing...
There is basic work which will have to be done is enforcing law and order. But if it is tapping, no amount of smartness can stop it. So, this is one way. Somewhere that political pressure must get converted from the economic sense, and we hope this will happen. Now, it is a question of time. Subsidies have got to be more targeted. I mean poorer people need to be subsidised, but the government is moving on with Jan Dhan Yojana and Aadhar Card Yojana Things are moving. One can expect pace to be a little bit faster, yes.
Have you thought of entering the power distribution space?
No not at all.
In our country now we are talking too much about solar energy and we have enough potential for that, what L&T is exactly doing in solar sphere?
We are a contractor. We do install solar power plants, we may have done close to a 100 MW or more. But that?s what we do as a contractor. There are some switch gear components that go into it but we are not into solar panels. That?s not our line. Our line is about distribution. L&T as a construction group is into contracting and this is how we see it.
When you look at the larger ones actually adoption in India as compared to global levels how many years we are lagging in terms of this thing and how can we define...?
This is a very difficult question. Had you asked me this question on telecom 10 years ago or 15 years ago I would say we are behind by 30 years but today we are not there is no gap. Now sometimes you have a step jump of technology and it becomes a new space for everybody. So internet penetration for example I think India is number three after China and US, so saying how many years behind are we is a very difficult question to answer because one breakthrough happens and the game suddenly changes.
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