Industry Analysis

Top Trends: Low Voltage Switchgear

Featuring some of the latest key trends from the LV switchgear market in India.

The Indian electrical equipment industry is immensely diversified, comprising manufacturing capabilities for high technology equipment on one hand, to low technology electrical components. The industry contributes 9.9 per cent in value to the entire Indian manufacturing sector, translating to 1.4 per cent of India’s GDP. The Indian electrical equipment industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8–12 per cent during 2016–2020, varying across electrical equipment. Low tension (LT) electrical equipment such as switchgears, energy meters and wires and cables are expected to witness a faster growth in comparison to generation equipment. Further, the generation equipment segment is targeted to reach a size of ` 125,000 crore and the transmission and distribution (T&D) equipment segment is targeted to reach a size of ` 375,000 crore by 2022.

Electrical power is one of the crucial engines for development, and efficient and reliable Low Voltage (LV) switchgear devices are the wheels of that engine. Given that electrical accidents such as short-circuit may cause fires, electrocution, power cuts, voltage disturbances etc. and potentially cause loss of life, property and productivity, a well-designed switchgear is very much a necessity. These switchgears are used to protect low voltage electrical equipment and are extensively used in commercial, residential, and industrial set-ups for varying purposes.

The LV switchgear industry covers products such as Air Circuit Breakers (ACBs), Moulded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCBs), Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs), Residual Current Devices (RCDs), and fuse gear products. The practicality and benefits of installing LV switchgears coupled with increasing preference of branded high quality products over local products contributes to making it a high volume business, opines Abhra Rajib Banerjee, Vice President Standard, Havells India.

Growth drivers
With a market size of ` 11,050 crore (according to IEEMA Journal), the LV switchgear is one of the well-established industries in India. The LV switchgear industry constitutes about 10.1 per cent of the entire electrical industry and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1 per cent during 2017-2020.

According to Banerjee, the government’s focus on augmenting infrastructure development, the smart cities project and capacity addition in electricity generation with added stress on increasing generation from renewable sources would boost demand for quality electrical equipment. He adds, “Initiatives such as Power for All, Make in India, rural electrification, and Housing for All would further drive the demand for electrical equipment such as LV switchgears.”

Gautam Seth, Joint Managing Director of HPL Electric & Power Ltd informs, “The key growth drivers for LV switchgear market in India include revival of industrial segment; growth in residential segment; Government initiatives and reforms for expansion and development of T&D network and power capacity augmentation; and increased demand from renewable energy segment.”

As the Chinese penetration in the LV switchgear market reduces, there is a chance of the organised industry players making a big impact on the nation’s infrastructure, observes Ram Sahani, Manager – Product Marketing Group (Switchgear), Anchor Electricals. Ha said, “Commercial and industrial switchgear is seeing a boom with initiatives such as ‘Make in India’.”

Anchor’s Switchgear business is already seeing a double-digit growth since last two years, he claims. This year the company plans to make a robust foray in the commercial switchgear segment along with products such as TPN ACCL, new range of Mini MCBs, MCCB, Commercial DBs and RCBOs by end of this year.

Increased awareness
Technology and digitalisation has empowered end-users, making them more aware and well informed than ever before, which means they prefer to make one-time investment in quality products for safety and peace-of-mind.

“With end-users increasingly preferring branded high quality products over local supplies, it would augur well for players in the organised sector of the industry to invest in R&D and induce innovation into their product line to reap the benefits of increasing demand for LV switchgears in the long run,” said Banerjee from Havells India.

Standard is a well-known brand of Havells India. Standard’s new 10kA MCB adopts current limiting design with energy class limit 3. During short-circuit faults, they extinguish the electrical arc long before zero crossing, ensuring low value of both peak current “cut off” and minimum let through energy. Further, Banerjee claims, these MCBs are designed to have power loss figures 50 per cent lower than IS requirement, thus saving both energy and running cost.

Standard also offers new 10kA RCBOs with such compact construction which allows far more devices to be fit into the distribution board than previously possible. These voltage-dependent RCBOs deliver higher immunity against the nuisance of tripping along-with several user-friendly features thus offering a high performance to size ratio.

In line with “Make in India”, the complete range of Standard switchgear is designed in-house and manufactured at Havells’s state-of-the-art plants in Baddi, Hardwar, Sahibabad and Faridabad. All products of Standard are designed on the lines of Indian and international specifications and are tested and certified by nationally accredited laboratories CPRI/ERDA for quality and performance.

Expanding horizon
According to Seth, “Market players catering to the industrial segment have expanded their product portfolio to include modular switchgear devices increasing their reach to capture the residential market. Further, manufacturers of wires and cables continue to enter the market for modular switchgear devices enabled by sales and distribution synergies.”

GST Challenge
GST has posed as a challenge for the switchgear industry, points out Sahani. However, he adds, “The branded LV switchgear players have a huge scope of growth vis-à-vis the non-branded as switchgear norms are becoming stringent. Switchgear adapting to smart cities, switchgear with environment aware features and low watt losses is in demand.”

Adding innovative ideas
Sameer Saxena, Director- Marketing, Legrand (Group) India acknowledges that the latest key trends in the LV Switchgear industry in India are the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) switchgear and the Totally Type Tested Assemblies (TTA) switchgears. These switchgears have continuity of power supply and efficient protection and are very critical factors in any electrical distribution system, he explains.

The response to various electrical faults depends on whether the electrical distribution is designed as a system or not. When electrical distribution is made of various subcomponents like busbar trunking, LT panels which are interconnected, it is very important that they work as a system. There is a growing trend in market where more and more customers are going for totally TTA, observes Saxena.

TTA are low voltage switchgear and control gear assembly conforming to an established type or system without deviations likely to significantly influence the performance, from the typical assembly verified to be in accordance with this standard. The totally type tested assemblies offer numerous advantages over partially type tested assemblies. “TTA panels offer high level of continuity, efficient and effective coordination among the devices and most importantly the value for money,” claims Saxena.

The new standard IEC 61439 has been defined so that the electrical distribution acts as a system and not is isolation. The new IEC standard assures continuity of electrical supply, efficient level of protection.

This new standard only defines TTA systems. IEC 61439 1 & 2 lists down 13 design verifications which needs to be carried out on the assemblies by the original equipment manufacturer and the assembly manufacturer needs to conduct 10 individual routine verification tests on each assembly. New standard brings tests which are much stringent than the earlier standard and the enclosures are tested with protection devices mounted and for rated current defined. IEC 61439 1 & 2 is defined keeping end user in the centre of the reflection to define equipment requirement:

Defines two parties (sub para)
The original manufacturer
The assembly manufacturer.

Two verifications (sub para)
Design verification
Routine verifications.

Innovation in switchgears is primarily in terms of the aesthetics and customised features offered by the products rather than technological changes in the product, such as improving the product life cycle, tamper-proofing, increasing safety and handling, improving user-interface and focus on multi-functionality and niche functionality, observes Seth. He adds, “Multinational companies and established manufacturers usually spend more on product improvement and the frequency of updating product features is usually two to three years.”

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