Industry Analysis

Digitising switchgear for power and longevity

An industry analysis on how digitisation helps in improving performance and reliability of LV and MV switchgears.

Indian switchgear industry today is well-integrated with the global switchgear industry. All the major global manufacturers have operations in India. All companies are selling their latest global products in India. India is a huge market, but at the same time, it is cost-competitive, performance, reliability, innovation and safety enhancements with its unique requirements.

Performance and reliability
Digitisation in many ways helps in improving the performance and reliability of LV and MV switchgear. It has given access to valuable and important information like, real-time monitoring and recording of current flow, power consumption and power quality in an installation. It can also report number of on and off operations, various faults occurred, cause of faults with date and time, etc. Gopal Jha, Manager Marketing, Low Voltage Switchgear – Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd states, “With such vital information available on a click, customer can timely plan the preventive maintenance of switchgear. This ensures effective utilisation of power and increases longevity of switchgear.”

Digitisation or connected products help extensively in improving the life and performance of LV switchgears, those products compatible with networking help us to have a real-time data and consumption pattern, thus helping us to analyse data and to check and optimise whole electrical eco-systems. Piyush Garg, Additional- Director, Balaji Switchgears says, “It helps to utilise and distribute all power feeders based on their actual current consumption in comparison to traditional general feeder ratings.”

Modernising the existing electrical switchgear
All manufacturers are now launching intelligent solutions which can help one make their current LV/MV electrical panels be ready for Industry 4.0 and communication capable. Garg vouches for Schneider Electric where they have a comprehensive platform which can help one connect its product, from an ACB to a MCB, with all its accessories and circuits and then monitor the data to analyse and control on a single window. He says, “Need not to change the entire installations, but few changes and few add on can help one modernise their existing install bases.”

Gopal Jha says, “We have a wide range of retrofit solutions to replace old/obsolete or conventional switchgear products of any make with advance solutions. We have a team of experts who study the existing panel boards as well as products, make necessary changes in the panels, busbars, links, etc. We can do retrofit activity to upgrade and installation by dismantling the old switchgear and installing new products within shortest possible shutdown time.”

A company can then add advance communication features, prepare network architecture for monitoring and control over a digital platform, thereby enabling smart power distribution with centralised monitoring, out of an existing old switchgear panel.

Innovation and safety enhancements
LV and MV switchgear have inbuilt protections against various electrical faults or abnormal conditions such as over loads, short circuit, ground fault, single phasing, motor related faults, over and under voltage supply, etc. These protections prevent electrical accidents such as fire. Switchgear immediately disconnects the faulty section. Gopal Jha says, “Switchgear also offers safety to human beings by sensing leakage currents which can cause risk of life, otherwise.”

According to Garg, on application point, the best part is that all products in the installations can now be connected, i.e. each and every product/feeder is interlinked which would help one diagnose even smallest of small error. Also, as this architecture helps us to pull out analytical data, one can even monitor and service their installation in a seamless manner without having any major downtimes.

Future of the Indian switchgear industry
Switchgear industry in India seems to adopt Industry 4.0 rapidly, as all major players are ready with products which are communication capable and connected products. Garg says, “We can also see a paradigm shift by most of the industries and end-users as now they are ready to invest in smart products, rather than conventional switchgear products. This is also like a CAPEX itself, which helps the plant work more effectively and efficiently. Also to be at par with the global competitive industry we have to adopt the principals of AI and Industry 4.0.”

Indian switchgear industry can be broadly divided into two parts; manufacturers and suppliers of foreign origin (MNCs) and indigenous players. This industry is evolving continuously with rising demands all across the nation due to expansion of power network, infrastructure, industries and the increasing number of applications. A major shift in switchgear technology and products can be observed during past two decades. i.e. from fuse to fuse-less, thermal magnetic to electronic and microprocessor-based devices are few of such changes, explains Gopal Jha.

In the future, concepts such as IoT, big data, cloud-based data management, centralised monitoring and control through internet is going to boost the industry in a big way. Besides, installation is getting smarter every new day. Indian switchgear Industry will surely adopt these evolving technologies in their upcoming products.
Digitisation helps in preventive maintenance of switchgear, ensuring effective utilisation of power and increased longevity
Gopal Jha, Manager Marketing, Low Voltage Switchgear – Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd

All power feeders are utilised and distributed based on their actual current consumption in comparison to traditional general feeder ratings
Piyush Garg, Additional- Director, Balaji Switchgears

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