Vinod Raphael, Country Business Head, Omron Electronic and Mechanical Components
Currently, which are the key focus areas for Omron?
We will continue to focus on conventional markets such as home appliances, telecom and automotive through our strong products such as release mechanisms, switches and connectors. In new business areas, we will try to resolve customer issues by creating value in terms of products, solutions and services.
How can you help Indian power utilities curtail their transmission and distribution (T&D) losses?
Omron's core strength is sensing and control. In future, sensors will play a big role because everything is based on data that comes from sensors. In sensing, especially in the power sector, we have identified pilferage of electricity as a major issue. Tampered detection sensor is one of our first developments in India. We would like to take it forward by doing larger proof of concepts by engaging with many more utilities.
On the distribution front, Omron has conceptualised a low voltage powerline monitoring sensor, which is the first-of-its-kind in the world. We will continue to develop it in order to address issues pertaining to hooking, harmonics and powerline differential, etc. As the next step, the transformer is among the most important and expensive assets in a power distribution system. There are a lot of technical and non-technical issues related to transformers. We are, therefore, using our sensing technology and control equipment in a bid to resolve those issues in the near future.
As far as the government's smart cities programme is concerned, what is the level of your engagement?
I believe that in order to increase our value in the smart city segment, we still need to travel a lot in terms of sensing and analytics. At the moment, we are at the components level.
However, smart cities won't become a reality unless you don't have safe smart buildings. We have a proven technology in Japan that we call the seismic or vibration sensor, which was originally developed to provide certain intimations about earthquakes to prevent their tertiary or secondary effects. When I translate that to the smart city concept in India, I think any information or estimation before a disaster strikes can help in saving lives. For instance, if the seismic sensor picks up the tremor of a certain magnitude, your utilities can automatically cut-off power and gas supply to that area to prevent collateral damage such as fires.
Are you working on any other India-specific solutions?
At this point in time, we have identified power as the key area of focus in India. Even within existing appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, the challenge is to make them energy efficient. For instance, imagine an air conditioner that cools only that part of a room where people are assembled! We have something called the thermal sensor, which can estimate the presence of people in an area. This can help you control the fan speed as well as direction of air to that area. We have something called face recognition and detection technology to identify human forms. Then we also have a technology to assess headcount. If such technologies are incorporated in an air conditioner, it can be made many times more energy efficient. Imagine, how much of energy will get saved that way.
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