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Bright Outlook for Switchgear and Control Panels

Rajiv Vastupal ,  Saturday, May 05, 2012, 11:22 Hrs  [IST]

Rajiv VastupalThe Indian electrical equipment industry comprises of multinationals, and large, medium & small players. It can be broadly categorized into generation equipment such as boilers, turbines, generator sets; transmission equipment like transformers, distribution equipment such as switchgear & control panels, and others like electrical motors and wires & cables.

According to the Indian Electrical & Electronics Manufacturers' Association (IEEMA), the Indian switchgear market was worth around Rs.9,000 crore as of 2010-11. The switchgear segment accounts for about 15 per cent of the total electrical equipment industry and estimates indicate that the industry grew by 21 per cent in terms of volume in 2010-11.

On the other hand, a new report by the IEEMA has revealed that the growth of the Indian electrical equipment industry has sharply decelerated to 0.6 per cent in the third quarter of FY12, after growing at 13.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent in Q1 and Q2 respectively. Growth in the transformers, switchgear and rotating machines sectors in Q3 has turned negative, which implies distinct slowdown in industrial capex activities and slowdown in offtake by users due to credit squeeze, high interest costs, and the like. Imports continue to rise for 765kV transformers and reactors (mostly through project imports), insulators, LV switchgear and HV cables.

Switchgear and control panels are integral at every switching point in power systems. The switchgear industry in India manufactures the entire range of circuit breakers from bulk oil, minimum oil, air blast, vacuum to sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) as per standard specifications. This sector manufactures the entire voltage range from 240kV to 800kV.

Secondary equipment such as relays or control gears used for various types of fault protection, have made significant advances due to the developments in the field of electronics. Digital relays are fast replacing conventional relays due to technology advancement, compact size & reliability. As per recent trends, in addition to protection and control of power, monitoring and signaling have become an integral part of switchgears. With monitoring, the fault conditions can be predicted whereas signaling helps one to know the status of switch gears at various locations.

Production figures for the latest available three years are tabulated. These figures, sourced from Secretariat for Industrial Assistance (SIA), relate to non-SSI units.

Current trends indicate a demand for compact, small, low-weight equipment with high quality, high reliability, low maintenance and easy accessibility. There has been a noticeable shift towards upgraded technology amongst major industry players of today. Indian manufacturers are becomingly increasingly competitive with respect to their product designs, manufacturing and testing facilities. Investments in R&D in the electrical machinery industry are amongst the largest in India's corporate sector. Manufacturers today, such as us at Rajiv Group, understand the importance of a diversified product portfolio. The increasing competitiveness in the industry and constantly changing consumer demands have lead to new and upgraded versions of products being launched into the market. Many players are entering into strategic alliances and tie-ups with technology suppliers to upgrade capabilities.

The switchgear industry has traditionally been low on technology, but with changing times automation has ushered in newer concepts such as soft starters, intelligent relays, compact intelligent switchgear and energyefficient switchgear. The primary technology factors are safety, efficiency optimization and reliability.

Along with the changing times and technology, Rajiv Group too has evolved. It manufactures LT switchboards with capacities of 415V, 3-phase, 50Hz, 4-wire & 6300A. Additionally, Rajiv Group also manufactures control & relay panels, bus ducts, DG panels and much more.

Rajiv GroupEvery modern industry needs reliable electrical systems to reduce production downtime as well as improve efficiency. Control panels manufactured by Rajiv Group company, Riddhi Enterprise, are made-to-order and designed in keeping with exacting needs of industries for maximum operational reliability and safety. These control panels are specially designed to incorporate the complete range of switchgear provided by Siemens, L&T, Schneider, GE, ABB, C&S and other reputed global brands. Furthermore, the control panels are designed in such a manner so as to meet diverse requirements under extreme site conditions.

The two major markets for switchgears are the government and the private sector. The growth drivers for LV switchgears are building segments, new industries and infrastructure development. For the MV segment, in addition to core sectors, the distribution sector including programmes like the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) and Restructured Accelerated Power Development & Reform Programme (RAPDRP) will drive growth. While for HV and extra-high voltage (EHV) segments, growth stems from power generation and transmission sectors.

India is emerging as an important global supplier of goods and services. Prerequisites for this growth are continuous power supply and the availability of quality electric equipment. The increase in automation is the driving force of the switchgear market. The trend of end-user segments such as oil & gas, petrochemicals, etc. consuming more switchgear is a very positive factor.

To sum it up, the future holds great promise for this industry. The current scenario where capacity building in industries is on an increase bodes well for the electrical industry. The construction of residential complexes, malls, IT parks, hospitals, stadiums, etc. has created an increase in demand for switchgear and control panels too. The XII Plan period (April 2012 to March 2017) is almost here and throws huge opportunities for growth with a foreseeable investment of approximately $300 billion, together with exports growth.

(The author is Chairman & Managing Director, Rajiv Group)
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