The sound of silence
Indian genset makers are spending much on R&D to bring out innovative machines.
BY TEAM CW
In 2013, Asia Pacific was the largest market for diesel generators, followed by Europe and North America. The generator market is driven by the rapidly expanding global population and urbanisation of cities throughout the world. Telecom, manufacturing, mining and construction sectors are fuelling increased growth in the industry. The most prevalent end-use applications for generators include industrial plants, manufacturing, construction, chemical applications, petrochemicals, agriculture, automotive, mining, oil and natural gas, telecommunication and healthcare. The overall demand for energy is closely related to the level of economic activity.
Sanjay Jadhav, president, Sterling and Wilson Powergen, says, “There are many customers who are looking for tailor-made power solutions and we have the capability to not only manufacture products as per customer requirements but also design these products. Our capability has been established by product approvals in Middle East, Australia and all the key Asian markets which have stringent technical specifications.”
Most Indian organised players have been looking at developing the latest technology products to suffice power requirements of every individual customer from different market segments. Amit Gossain, executive vice-president, sales, marketing and business development, JCB India, says, “We manufacture products based on the customer feedback as our objective is to design machines which provide the best-in-class technology and productivity. Moreover, every product is manufactured on the company philosophy of “One Global Quality” i.e. products manufactured anywhere in the world are of global quality and can be used in any part of the world.”
Recently, in a bid to accelerate the renewable energy generation process in the state, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) cleared a 24MW Deviyar Small Hydro Electric Project (SHEP). Likewise, the board also gave a go ahead signal for a proposal under which two of the old diesel-powered generators would be replaced with gas-fuelled ones with a capacity of 36MW. This and more such instances will only help the generators market going ahead.
Sanjeev Nimkar, VP and head, power generation, industrial engine and customer support business, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd (KOEL), says, “Efficient production is at the core of one’s survival. Adaptability becomes necessary in light of changing customer’s requirements. Two decades ago, genset manufacturing was a simple business. Makers took an engine, some alternators and together with cabling made power available. That was the era when people bought open construction gensets. This has changed drastically. Today customers are looking at the gensets with varied needs.”
This also stands true for manufacturers. More manufacturers are adapting themselves to cater to the increasing demand from customers. Nimkar adds, “Televisions are now available with remote controls, which was not the case earlier. Today’s generation will not buy a TV set without a remote. A similar degree of change has happened in the generators industry too. We have a panel called AMF panel (auto mains failure). During a power failure, the genset should start automatically.”
He also adds that the dark side to this is that there are about 30% gensets that continue to be sold in the market without AMF panel. A standard genset is usually fitted with a manual control panel. However, for special applications various other panels can be made available besides a manual control panel such as AMF and synchronising panel with auto load sharing features.
Indian companies have been steadily working at products that are not only environment-friendly but also fuel efficient. It’s common to find generators that have low noise levels and are certified by CPCB for emissions and noise compliance. They meet stringent exhaust emission tests as per ministry of environment and forests norms, without sacrificing fuel efficiency at normal operating loads.
The new CPCB II Emission rule is a breakthrough legislation which will certainly help control release of polluting gases into the atmosphere and result in overall healthy living. CPCB II norms aim to reduce levels of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM), which are the two main pollutants in diesel engines. Jadhav says, “With implementation of CPCB II and stringent emission norms, there will be substantial improvement in the quality of exhaust gases being discharged into the atmosphere. The new norms will have positive impact that will ensure favourable actions by companies. More oxygen in engines and higher combustion temperature in engine result in higher production of PM and NOX in the air. The implementation of these norms will certainly help control release of polluting gases into the atmosphere and result in overall healthy living. The genset industry is progressively moving towards cleaner and greener energy solutions.”
Emissions, fuel efficiency and reliability are the three key drivers which will take the industry forward which will require inputs from the organised industry. With the advent of latest CPCB II norms, it is now mandatory to conform to latest emission standards. The Ministry of Environment and Forest & Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises are engaging with unorganised players to bring them into main stream by providing technological and financial support.
Gossain says, “With significant investments in product design and innovation, we will keep delivering on our promise of bringing performance-driven and market-leading products built to the highest specifications for our customers in India. JCB diesel generators provide five-star advantages to customers. Along with their highly efficient engine and compact size, they are easy to maintain and offer quality service through our world class JCB dealer network.”
JCB manufactures gensets based on feedback received from customers. Gossain speaks about the benefits they offer: Best in class fuel efficiency with four valves cross flow head for optimised combustion of fuel and centralised location of FIP for even burning of fuel; low maintenance spends ensures overall reduced running cost; fuel cost is 95% of the total operating cost; about 40% more compact; high pressure cooling system for improved performance in extreme environment conditions; and heavy duty cylinder block and deep bed plate design for improved stiffness, lower noise and improved sealing.
Nimkar speaks about the applications that could cause a certain load on the genset. “We call it block loading. The capacity of the block loading of the genset becomes a deciding character for buying. Then there is the new generation silent genset that adhere to the legal norms of the country. The noise levels should be less than those prescribed. There’s an even more superior one super silent that are mostly in demand from hospitals and hotels.”
A trend in buying gensets is the synchronising gensets where instead of buying one big genset, people prefer to look for smaller and more number of gensets. Depending on the load factor, they are synchronised and they can work in tandem or in isolation. These are all happening because the customer is more informed and educated.
At Sterling Generators, listening to customers and their needs is a tradition as old as the group itself. “There’s complete job planning and management through online monitoring and planning software. Each and every stage starting from order booking to final dispatch is being monitored and controlled through the software. We now have a full fledge R&D team who works on new technologies and manufacturing processes, which helps us in bringing the best technical offerings to the customer coupled with lower cost of ownership,” says Jadhav.
A new initiative started by KOEL is the seven-day delivery assurance begun a month ago. “Traditionally, the waiting period in the genset industry is 4-6 weeks. Over the last few years, we have put in tremendous efforts that enable us to give assured deliveries within a week. All the customer needs to do is place an order and call us at the care centre.”
An irking factor for this industry is the parallel market of unorganised players. Most of them sell open gensets by hastily putting together some elements from an application, buy loose alternators and put together a machine. While this is illegal, it’s highly damaging in terms of emissions and noise pollution. Generators coming from the Chinese market and from the smaller towns of India also thrive on this business. “However, there has been a reduction in this rogue business after the new emissions norms have come in. The government norms are definitely helping the organised players,” says Nimkar. KOEL Green offers fully developed gensets to customers. There was a time when it was one of the main suppliers of engines as an OEM.
A little known fact about this business, and the reason that MNCs have failed to understand, is the changing temperature zones in the country. While gensets are manufactured at a particular location, they go through the logistics which means that a genset travels across the length and breadth of the country. Another is the abuse of the product by operators. Citing an instance of a common sight across the country of accommodating four persons on a bike, Nimkar says that gensets too are prone to being mishandled. And only an Indian manufacturer would know the art of making a genset that can truly be used well and for long in India.