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Interaction | March 2018

The future is digitalisation

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Harald Griem, Executive Vice President and Head - Energy Management Division, Siemens</span> believes that being digital will allow a switch from failure-based maintenance to reliability-centred asset management through condition monitoring and analytics.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What opportunities have you witnessed in the power equipment industry? How is the market shaping up?</span><br /> Our transmission and distribution (T&amp;D) equipment industry, in 2017, covering towers, lines and devices, is around Rs 180 billion, including exports. At an aggregate level, the industry has grown nominally at ~ 3 per cent over 2016. However, towers, conductors, insulators, in particular showed negative growth. What we should do is keep a careful watch on imports; for product items namely low-voltage (LV) switchgear, medium-weight (MV), high-voltage (HV) switchgear, insulators where we are the net importers. We are basing our perspectives on the trade information furnished by Indian Electrical And Electronic Manufacturer Association (IEEMA).<br /> <br /> Demand from government-driven programmes on infrastructure, railways and so on is buoyant.&nbsp; Green shoots in core industries such as minerals are beginning to show signs of recovery. Going forward, the investment in the central transmission sector is reaching the end of its investment cycle. Together with high achievement in the XII plan ended in 2017, we foresee subdued demand from transmission sector for the near term of two years, post which the next investment cycle should kick in.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">Do you see any change in the demand dynamics for power electronics and why?</span> <br /> Decarbonisation of power as well as transportation will demand more power electronics sitting in the power network. The demand is created out of increasing need for managing intermittency, reactive power, frequency control at local area level, and emergence of fast DC charging infrastructure.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What is the market share of unorganised sector among domestic manufacturers?</span> <br /> When we say unorganised sector, we refer to those companies that are not publicly listed with small volumes and regionally distributed. The sector largely operates in the space of isolators, medium and high voltage put together. They are not members of the IEEMA organisation as well. To our view, they will comprise about 50 per cent of the country's isolator production. While isolator is one the failure prone device in a substation, it is not fair to generalise conclusion on the unorganised sector's quality per se.<br /> <br /> The procurement specifications of major equipments of government schemes such as Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) still have room for greater stringency. One reason why we are still on legacy mode of purchase is that the public procurement is still largely based on initial capex cost and not life cycle based.<br /> We have spoken nearly on every forum on utilities going for imports of equipments like relays and GIS. The single largest reason is again tied to their motivation to minimise the initial investment cost.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What are the emerging technologies and how&nbsp; will they impact pricing and efficiency?</span><br /> The future is digitalisation! In the coming years, we expect every electrical equipment to be digitally connected, allowing a switch from failure-based maintenance to reliability- centred asset management through condition monitoring and analytics. Utilities will deploy digital twin systems for network planning and upgradation.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The wide-scale digitalisation will fundamentally alter business models such as transition from capex to availability or use-based fees in both operations and maintenance. These changes will usher significant user efficiency and price advantages.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What is your contribution to research and development (R&amp;D) and what initiatives can boost the same in the areas you operate?</span><br /> India is lagging behind in R&amp;D spend on heavy engineering capital goods in general. It is in the range of 0.5 per cent, comparing poorly with 3-5 per cent spends by developed economies like Germany or Korea, for instance. We tend to believe that the same scenario will hold true for electrical goods as well. While we have demonstrated our abilities for economical applied research, we still have room to scale up basic R&amp;D.<br /> <br /> In the near term, Siemens will focus on renewables, regional utilities, railways, and core industries like steel and oil &amp; gas.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">How are you likely to leverage mega expo-Elecrama? </span><br /> We recognise Elecrama as the largest T&amp;D show on the planet. The 2018 edition lays focus on future technologies. Our focus this year is to showcase our digitalisation capabilities. Accordingly, we shall be showcasing a digitally-enhanced GIS with non-conventional instrument transformers, a wide range of smart grid solutions suite for power grids which also falls under the distribution space.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">To what extent have we adopted standardisation and global benchmarks in the areas of T&amp;D business?</span><br /> Our organised sector is realising that we need to achieve global benchmarks on process and product quality to thrive. I will say that Siemens products made in India have come a long way as we are now increasingly accepted in the Asian, African and parts of Middle East and even European markets. <br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">When do you see new orders coming your way? </span><br /> Energy management division of Siemens is doing well currently, posting consistent results quarter on quarter. We are confident of maintaining this streak on the future expectation of industrial recovery kicking in. Our customer first culture is paying off and we will continue to sustain and enhance customer value by offering end to end customised T&amp;D solutions. On the utilisation front, we can balance the domestic demand with capacities to serve overseas markets.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">- RAHUL KAMAT</span><br />
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