Kshitij Batra | Director, Marketing - Partner Projects Business, Schneider Electric India
What are the emerging trends in the switchgear industry?
In LV products, it is increased digitalisation and connectivity - wherein the customer wants access at all times, from anywhere. They also want value-for-money, which is another front where development is on.
Provide some examples of the new technologies you offer.
Schneider recently launched a smart panel for the LV Switchgear market, which is fully communicable, and monitoring, control, measurement and notification is possible from any open protocol/ethernet or even from the smart phone of the user. Besides this, we have also launched communication capabilities for final solutions such as MCBs, RCCBs, RCDs etc., applicable for residential and commercial applications at the final distribution load components. These are fully communicable to monitor the status and control of the devices. Even operating and tripping problems can be eliminated via a dedicated LAN network/protocol.
Estimate the growth rate for switchgear applications in India?
There will be a considerable amount of demand for switchgears wherever electrical appliances or equipment are used. Looking at the complete mix, the demand will be more for final distribution level products, i.e., RCDs. However, on the commercial side, the growth will be primarily driven by power circuit breakers.
Thus, in my view the potential growth will be in higher single digits. In the time to come, we feel that due to increased investment from the Government in improving the macroeconomic outlook in India, the growth rate should go up.
All of the Government´s growth drivers-infrastructure, smart cities, etc.-will lead to increased demand for electrical energy, and hence the segment will grow accordingly.
The growth of this segment is directly linked with the economic growth of the country.
What are the major challenges that you face in this segment?
Although there is a lot of positive vibes about growth, but when talking about the actual consumption at ground level, the opportunities are quiet low. So, we are yet to experience ´achche din´. Also, even though digitalisation is well talked about, when it comes to actual execution, this is implemented in only selective cases. People are inquiring about it, but conversion into actual implementation will take more time. Another thing is that price remains an important driver in determining what the customers buy.
What suggestions would you recommend to counter these challenges?
In my view, the only thing that decides the growth of the country is the concept of value-based selling. So, each person involved-right from the manufacturer-should add value in such a way that the end consumer sees the incremental benefit. If this is done, then I think there can be good growth. We even try to do this at Schneider, by adding value to every aspect from the end-user perspective.
Where does India stand in technology adoption and investment in R&D?
India is on par when it comes to the products. In fact, we are far better than many countries in terms of resource availability. I cannot speak for others, but at Schneider we strongly believe in the right investment levels for R&D. As a benchmark rule, we invest about 5 per cent of our global turnover into R&D every year to bring innovative offerings to the market.