Cover Story


1. Introduction: For the last few months, the response of the readers to the case studies on various incidents is overwhelming. Hence this month we are again choosing the write up on similar kind of studies for developing the synchronisation of practical observation to the theoretical concepts. The analysis of each incident being supported by actual observations had been described during the situation to add awareness amongst the operation, testing and commissioning engineers to know the cause of problems and be helpful for easy rectification of the problems. This can also help to develop economic schemes for the smooth running of the operation and control system in the Grid Sub-Station.

2.1. Tripping of All Transformers: At one of the 220/132 KV Grid Sub-station, it was connected with 3 no of transformers in parallel. One day it was observed with tripping of all the transformers at the situation, when all the transformers were sharing the load within the allowable limit of setting.
Actual Observation: 
  • These transformers were of Auto Transformers of rating 160MVA, 100 MVA and 100 MVA. On the day of this incident, R phase of the 160 MVA transformer on 220 KV side due to certain reason opened, resulting the tripping of all other poles in Pole discrepancy.
  • The other transformers were also tripped on over loading, resulting black out of the grid.
Analysis of this incident: 
  • The reason for opening of the individual R phase pole on the 220 kv side of 160 MVA is not known. 
  • But due to this opening, the Pole discrepancy relay (PD) on this feeder initiated for outage of the other two poles. The PD timing was set with 2 seconds. So during this 2 seconds, current on the R phase of 160 MVA transformer became ZERO. The other two transformers were loaded with the extra R phase current. 
  • So due to unbalance current in the system 2nd transformer was tripped on Earth Fault relay (Because it was of NON_DIRECTIONAL type). Now only one transformer was left to cater the system load and resulted the tripping on over loading and total outage of the supply system.
  • It was advised to reduce the PD setting to 1.2 seconds above the Over load condition tripping time of the rest of the transformers.
  • The Backup relays used in the transformers were changed to Directional type where it was with Non-directional type. 
2.2. Non-Tripping of the feeder for Ground touching of live conductor:  One of the 33 KV feeder was passing over the rocky area. One day it was resulted with the snapping of the Y phase conductor and the conductor touched the rocky area. But the relay used in the sub-station did not trip. 
Analysis of such incident: 
  1. The relay as used was of NON-directional type and setting of the E/F unit was of 40 % as the setting of PSM. 
  2. This time the snapping of jumper and touching to rocky area causes the fault as expected but the touch of ROCKY part resulted the impedance fault and the current as drained to ground was considered as the load in the system.
  3. As the E/F setting was of 40 % and the unbalance current due to this incident was of impedance in nature and the current drawal from the system was of within the limit of the setting. So the line did not trip and caused with the continuous supply from the system.
NOTE: This type of incident is always dangerous and due to falling of live conductor on ground may cause GPR (Ground potential rise) and Potential contour at the affected area. In case of any living being comes across with this affected part may be electrocuted. 
  1. If Back up relay is used, then the setting of the PSM to be kept minimum as per observation and practice.
  2. If DP relay of Impedance type is used then its coverage of impedance towards fault has to be raised in consideration to the load encroachment area. 
  3. However in this case setting was changed to 15% to avoid the non-tripping of the feeder due to these incidences.
2.3. Actuation of APR (Air Protective Relay): For one of the 132/33 KV grid it was planned for the charging of a new 63 MVA transformer. The air cell inflation was done as per the pressure mentioned in the manual. After inflating the cell, the oil was pushed to the conservator till oozing of the oil at the top valve. But it was found with the reduction of the oil level after some days on the conservator tank and actuation of APR. 

Actual Observation: 
  • The level was done to the point as mentioned with the required temperature of 30 deg at the monitor on the conservator tank.
  • But the filling of the oil was done at first attempt with the temperature of 50 deg centigrade.
  • When oil was cooled down, the level on the monitor was observed with less than that of the designated point.
  • The attempt of filling the oil was done with higher temperature than recommended during filtration of the oil in the main tank.
  • As the temperature was of 50 deg centigrade and oil was in hot condition so the level as expected should be little higher than the temperature assigned at 30 deg.
  • Moreover the attempt of inflating the air cell had been done without release/bleeding of the oil at different designated air release points. 
  • So due to cool down and stopping of circulated oil after completion of the filtration process, the air at different suitable pockets got trapped. 
  • Some air also got trapped in the conservator tank along with the inflated air cell.
  • So the level of the oil on the conservator tank got reduced and due to this discrepancy, the APR got actuated.
  • The process of inflating the cell was repeated once again.
  • This time oil bleeding at different air release points (Bushing turrets, Headers, Buch holtz relays and other points...) was done.
  • The air cell was put with the pressure as mentioned in the manual and filling of the oil was done on the bottom valve till complete oozing from the top valve point.
  • The problem was rectified. 
So while handling the air cell to inflate, the bleeding of air release has to be done at different points of the transformer earlier to inflate the cell.    

2.3. Observance of low PI during testing of Transformer: While taking the PI value of a transformer for the points (HT-Ground), it was observed with lower PI at 5 KV insulation tester.
Actual Observation: 
  • The attempt of PI value was done with HT to Ground, the IR value came in Mohm. But PI came of 1.2 for the new transformer under commissioning stage. 
  • The attempt was taken on repetition and on second attempt, the value came as of 1.3.
  • But this value of 1.3 was not suitable for the new transformer. 
  • So detail connection checking was done.
  • It was observed with the connection of HT lead being wrap over the HT neutral busing. 
  • The operator has done this to have better grip of the contact on the HT neutral bushing.
  • Now this wrapping HT test lead was put direct connection to the HTN bushing conductor and then the testing was done for HTN- Ground.
  • This time the PI value came of 1.8 and allowed of better value.
  • The transformer was charged and loaded successfully.  
  • The test lead as connected being wrapped over the HT bushing was resulting the radial leakage current causing lesser IR value during the considerable time of 1 minutes to 10 minutes. 
  • When the test lead was taken directly from the HTN bushing, this effect was reduced and required value was obtained of 1.8.  
Recommendation: So it was recommended to use test lead connection direct to the insulation tester instead of wrapping on the bushing or any external support.

2.4. Failure of BUS connector ring: At one of the 132/33 KV GIS sub-station for the 33 system, it was observed spark on one of the bus connector ring, during the condition of high voltage on system.
  1. This system was connected with 5 numbers of out-going feeders with load catering of 80 MW.
  2. One of the feeder was feeding the load of 25 MW by twin connected cables system of 20KM line. 
  3. Especially when this feeder was tripping at remote end, the occurrence of spark at the connector ring was becoming prominent.
  4. Some cases, situation to cause for the outage of main incomers and interruption of the supply.
  5. But again for the availability of the feeder with required load on it was causing the reduction of sparking on it.
  1. The affected ring on the bus joint was checked thoroughly.
  2. It was observed with the missing of the earth/ body connecting link to ground. 
  3. This ring with its earth link was strongly connected by the flexible bond. 
  4. The other earth bonds were also checked and tightened.
  5. Then the system was charged and found with no such problems further. 
  1. In practice this ring is provided above the joint insulation of the bus connector for developing the voltage equalization around it. 
  2. But this ring needs to be connected to earth potential to avoid the development of phase voltage with respect to ground. 
  3. During heavy loading condition (approximately of 80 MWatt), it was observed with lowering of Bus voltage and accordingly the appearance of the voltage on this ring was resulting of less and the available insulation to the body earth was managing this voltage without resulting the spark. 
  4. But during the outage of the remote end breaker with connected load, the voltage at the sending end was causing higher as available.
  5. This appearance of voltage was resulting the spark on the ring due to break down of the surrounding medium between ring and metal body.
  6. But after availing shutdown, when the rectification was done, the ring remained at equipotential voltage of ZERO potential and no sparking thereafter.
2.5. No Oil passing to OLTC tank: During the filtration of a 63 MVA 132/33 KV transformer, it was observed with no flow of oil to OLTC tank from the main tank, equalization pipe being in open condition between them. 
  1. Before to the filtration, the equalization pipe being in open condition, the vacuumisation had been done. Then oil was pushed to the main tank and also to the OLTC tank through equalization pipe.
  2. The oil was filled to the level of pipe line connected between main tank and conservator. 
  3. This level was above to the OLTC tank and its conservator.
  4. But on observation it was found with no oil on the OLTC conservator tank.
  1. The valve used in the equalization pipe was checked and found in open condition.
  2. The valve used between the OLTC tank and its conservator was checked and found in open condition. 
  3. Now the air release point on top of the OLTC tank was vented and found with release of trap air and then oozing of oil out of it.
  4. Similarly top valve of the OLTC conservator tank was also opened to release of the air out of it. 
  5. Of doing this activities, oil started passing to the OLTC conservator tank and quickly filled with the oil. 
  1. On inquiry of the process of vacuumisation it was confirmed that the equalization pipe was in open condition and valve between the OLTC tank and its conservator was in closed condition. 
  2. After vacumisation and before filling the oil to the main tank, the valve between the OLTC tank and its conservator was opened. 
  3. So the air in the OLTC conservator now rushed to the conservator tank and trapped to certain level. 
  4. So during filling of the oil, required level in the OLTC tank got maintained due to trap of air and its pressure, but not to the level of OLTC tank. 
  5. Then when the air was released from the required valves, the oil started rushing to the space to maintain level of oil and resulted the filling of OLTC conservator tank.
  6. Then the equalization pipe was closed and filtration was done for the oil in the MAIN tank only. 
  1. During vacuumisation of the main and OLTC tank, the equalization pipe used in between must be kept in OPEN condition. 
  2. After vacuumisation and before filling of oil to the main tank, none of the valve should be opened to cause the trap of air, otherwise due to air trap, the oil circulation shall be hampered.
  3. During filtration, the OLTC tank being filled with oil should be separated from the main by closing the valve of the equalization pipe.  

Switchgear and Control Panels Industry Matures Owing to Complex Demand

"The international market showing the price hike by 2024 for low voltage switchgear industry, further the growing in demand for electrical and power sector in addition to the urbanization have increases the demand of the electrical products and electrical protection equipment. Here we are presenting the current situation of the modern and upgraded switchgear globally."

Indian Electrical Equipment Sector…

India is well on its way to becoming a global supplier of goods and services. An efficient power supply system is the key ingredient for a country’s economic growth and quality of life; unfortunately, shortage of electricity is one of the foremost constraints in the ramping up and sustaining our growth momentum. At present, India has an installed generating capacity of over 305.5 GW, however the peak demand gap has increased to about 16% recently due to coal shortages. The GoI had set an ambitious goal in its 12th plan for generation capacity addition of about 88537 MW. Indicating significant growth in the power transmission sector, the CEA has estimated an investment of Rs 2.6 lakh Cr till 2022. These and other estimates form the base for a draft National Electricity Plan-Volume II, which would be the basis for investment and policy planning in the sector. Inter-regional capacity addition during the 13th plan (2017-22) is estimated at 45,700 Mw, from the present 63,650 Mw by the plan end, said CEA in the draft. The investment figure, it said, included an estimate of Rs 30,000 crore in transmission systems below 220 kv. About Rs 1.6 lakh Cr would come from states and the other Rs 1 lakh crore from Power Grid Corporation of India. The govt is planning to increase the size of projects and scope of work in transmission. Inter-state lines with capacity of around 56,000 Mw are being planned by the end of the 13th plan. In the first volume, CEA had said more more thermal power generation capacity wasn't needed but supply needed to be more accessible and affordable. And, that renewable energy generation would be 20.3% and 24.2% of the total energy requirement in 2021-22 and 2026-27, respectively. CEA says the already planned transmission corridors between regions is sufficient to cater to variable dispatches at peak times, with provisos. The estimate is that India would need 100,000 ckm of transmission lines and 2,00,000 MVA transformer capacity of substations at 220 kv and above voltage was expected to be added in the 13th plan. It has suggested that investment be invited through competitive bids. Various high capacity transmission corridors are in various stages of implementation and most are likely to be commissioned by 2021. 
Current installed transmission capacity for evacuation is an emerging bottleneck, further outdated distribution system with huge AT&C losses is a cause of serious concern, hence there is an urgent need for enhancement and upgradation of the T&D infra to evacuate additional power across the country. The govt has pulled out all the stops to attract investment in this sector and has taken various steps to make the sector attractive for investors. The Electricity Act 2003 has provided impetus to the power sector. It has also catalyzed the much needed reform in the EBs with many of them turning profitable after unbundling into independent entities and managed as SBUs. CERC and SERCs too are playing an important role in regulating the sector. Public Private Partnerships are on the increase and the Electricity Boards are opting more & more for turnkey solutions from EPCs. The govt had also initiated the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) in order to minimize aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses at the distribution level, with the objective of improving the financial health of state electricity boards (SEBs), The APDRP is now well on in it’s second avatar R-APDRP correcting the IT & Metering side of the distribution. Equipment demand from Rural Electrification programme (RGGVY) and expansion of Generation, Transmission & Distribution networks too is expected. Ultra mega power projects (UMPPs), nuclear power program, JVs by public & Private sector for manufacture of plant equipment including supercritical 800 MW turbines & boilers and Balance of Plant (BOP) equipment etc too are under progress to help debottleneck the power generation program. Renewable/Alternative energy initiatives like wind, solar-thermal, biomass, mini/micro hydel etc are gathering steam. This scenario presents a huge opportunity to the Indian electrical Equipment industry including Transformers & Switchgears.


Switchgear is a generic word used for all equipments that are used for the control of electricity and the protection of electrical devices. Electricity is the primary form of power used in the modem world. Switchgear of all sizes and types get used for switching, controlling and for carrying the different electrical loads. Switchgear is first differentiated based on the voltage of operation. The differentiation is
  • HT or HV (above 3.3 KV)
  • MT or MV, (between 1KV & 3.3KV)
  • LT or LV (less than 1 KV)
Low tension switchgear can be of various current capacities. It could be suitable for certain frequency of start-stop operations. It starts with applications which are immediately after the secondary side of a transformer and could continue to the actuators of loads. Switchgear which is used upstream has higher current ratings, and usually lesser frequency of operation. Devices used downstream need to be used more often, but have lesser current ratings. The in-built protection is higher and more automated for upstream devices. 

Switchgear products...

There is a wide range of switchgear that gets used in low tension distribution. A few common types are - Powergear Products Air circuit breakers, Moulded case circuit breakers, Switch-disconnector fuses. Controlgear Products Contactors, Starters, Timers and other panel accessories. Distribution products for 240 V segment miniature circuit breakers, earth leakage and other residual current circuit breakers. Energy metering and protection products meters, relays. Reactive power management products capacitors, harmonic filters. Powergear products are those that are most often used to control the incoming power and in the distribution of these products further downstream. Controlgear products are typically used close to the load and are for the control of load devices. The 240V segment products are used for the commercial and residential establishments. Products are needed for metering of the energy consumed by users. This is necessary so that one may bill a user for the energy he consumes. Apart from single phase meters, three phase meters, demand controllers and trivector meters, there is also a need for relays to protect the electrical installations and circuits. Quality of power and the control of reactive power is a growing concern in the industry. Products for reactive power are growing in importance. 

Switchgear users...

Some common types of switchgear have been considered in brief. Wherever there is the presence of electricity one has to have switchgear. All industries, commercial establishments and residential complexes have them. These users of switchgear may be considered under three broad headings
  • Users in the agricultural sector
  • Users in the industrial sector.
  • Users in the building sector(commercial and residential)
Users in the agricultural sector are primarily the farmers, who use pumps for irrigation. These pumps are energised with starters. Occasionally some other switchgear gets used along with starters.The dealers in semi-urban and rural areas generally supply to this sector. Once in awhile, the farmers combine the purchase of starters with some other activity, and do both of these in a common visit to the nearby city. The agro based industries in the rural and semi rural areas are considered in this sector. Rice mills could be one such example.
In the industrial sector there are users of switchgear in the industrial load applications. These are in steel, cement, power, paper, textile, sugar, pharmaceutical, mining, telecom, oil & gas, sugar, paints, glass, brewery, fertilizer, petroleum and many other industry types. The government and utility buyers are users with special needs. These are all actual users of switchgear. hi the commercial establishments, the use of power could be as much or higher than industrial loads. Large commercial establishments have been seen to use even 7 MW of power. There are examples of commercial loads with larger planned use of electricity. This is much more than the power needs of medium sized industries. With more usage of power, there would be greater use of switchgear. The residential establishments use specialized switchgear for the needs of the domestic consumers. The actual users in all the above sectors often get their switchgear from value adding intermediaries. Some of the intermediaries are 
Panel builders are the largest users of switchgear among the intermediaries. They put the switchgear together in an enclosure or the panel and then get the circuit wired up as per the control scheme needs of the user. Panel builders are usually concentrated in the large cities. Occasional ones are available in the semi urban and rural areas, catering largely to the local needs of that area
OEMs, manufacture machines or different applications. These machines have switchgear. The requirement of an OEM is for standardized switchgear products, which go along with the machines they manufacture. Manufacturers of plastic moulding machines, air conditioning plants, telecom equipment, paper machinery , stone crushing plants, elevators, cranes, battery chargers, DG sets, packaging machines, windmills, fire fighting machines, furnaces, textile machinery and industrial laundry machines are some of the many, many types pf OEMs.
Contractors are another important intermediary. The contracts that are taken by them, need switchgear. These products could be for isolated use or could get used in a panel manufactured by a panel builder or along with the equipment supplied by a OEM. Apart from the users and the intermediaries, this industry has a lot of influencers. As the name suggests, these are not actual users or buyers of the product, but they have a say in what products need to be bought and used. Consultants are the major influencers. They advise the users and help them to decide the specifications, makes and sizes of the equipment that need to be used. While any, of the segments could use any type of switchgear, there are some typical usage patterns associated with them. The panel builder segment is the largest. The usage of ACBS and MCCBs is more when the panel manufactured is a power control centre. When the panel is a motor control centre it will have more contactors and relays. The switchgear market is growing and the most rapid growth is in the construction segment.

International Market…

In the international market one may study both growing as well as developed markets of switchgear. India is a developing market, and this helps us understand the direction that the distribution channel will take as the economy gets more mature. 
Europe is a developed market. Schneider is the market leader in France and some other countries. The other two major players are Siemens and ABB. Both hold the position of leadership in their home country and some other countries. The market has consolidated, with generally three major players in each territory. These countries have very different price structure for trade and non trade. The distribution channel has got more specialized and strategically important customers are direct accounts of the manufacturers. Panel builders are associated to large houses as franchisees. This market has seen low growth for both controlgear and powergear. Manufacturers have to look out for export. 
China is a developing market. They have progressed fast and the switchgear market there is many times larger than the market in India. China has allowed many multinationals to operate in their country. However, there have been strong barriers to trade in the form of certification requirements and tariffs. However, the market is gradually opening up, and multinational firms have started building there channel to capitalize on the emerging opportunities. There are manufacturing set ups of all important multinationals and some local players. The distribution channel has strong similarities to the Indian scenario. However, the consolidation of trade has progressed further. 
Malaysia is one of the developing economies of southeast Asia. The development in infrastructure makes it a large powergear market. There are local, European and Chinese manufacturers competing for the controlgear market. The powergear market prefers the European manufacturers and L&T from India. The distribution channel is in a state of flux. Most orders need to be routed through it. However trade is losing out on its functions of inventory carrying, after sales service and promotion. There are increasing numbers of orders where trade works as a one-time commission agent. 
Middle East has seen a booming construction segment. There is lesser manufacturing in the countries of middle-east. However, there are large warehouses for distribution to the nearby countries. Schneider and other European manufacturers dominate the market. Trade is in the development stage. The distribution channel goes through its process of development as the economy develops. There are some unique characteristics of each territory, however there would be some parallels that could be drawn in the stages of development of the distribution channel of a country.

Switchgear Industry in India…

The Indian power sector has an investment potential of Rs 15 trillion (US$ 225 billion) in the next 4–5 years, thereby providing immense opportunities in power generation, distribution, transmission, and equipment. The govt’s immediate goal is to generate two trillion units (kilowatt hours) of energy by 2019. This means doubling the current production capacity to provide 24x7 electricity for residential, industrial, commercial and agriculture use. The GoI is taking a number of steps and initiatives like 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects, etc., in order to achieve India's ambitious renewable energy targets of adding 175 GW of renewable energy, including addition of 100 GW of solar power, by the year 2022. The govt has also sought to restart the stalled hydro power projects and increase the wind energy production target to 60 GW by 2022 from the current 20 GW. The Indian electrical equipment industry comprising of multinationals, large medium & small players is fully geared up producing, supplying and exporting a wide variety of electrical equipment including switchgear and controlgear items needed by the expanding industrial and power sector on which we focus in this article. This industry sector in fact manufactures the entire voltage range from 240V-2800KV. The current technology level in India is Contemporary. Currently, the MV & HV segments are suffering from overcapacity due to lack of orders. Inadequate demand could be due to insufficient planning by the users and delay in finalizing tenders. Unfortunately bunching of orders also creates supply delivery problems, and L1 (lowest quoted price) procurement system followed by all utilities i.e. procuring products at lowest price creates a hurdle for bringing good quality material in the system. Further insistence on repeated type testing of products in spite of inadequate type testing laboratories poses additional delays and harm to the equipment. 

Market Opportunity…

HV and EHV demand majorly derives from the utilities. The govt is focusing on increasing the penetration of Electricity in villages. Schemes like R-APDRP and RGGVY are providing an excellent opportunity for the LV and MV switchgear market with large number of villages yet to be electrified. 
Industrial Segment India's industrial sector accounts for about 30.0 percent of GDP, with most of the industrial divisions reporting growth in output in the fiscal. An increase in process automation levels observed which support push-buttons, contactors and switching relays, as well as the protection relays market, which finds application extensively for motor control. Investment in new infrastructural setup is set to increase the market for ISGs, RMUs, MCCBs, ACBs and C&Rs. Another indicator of sustainable growth is the increasing gross assets of organisations.
Commercial and infra infra sector is one of the most important thrust sectors in the Eleventh & Twelfth Five Year Plan of the GoI with an estimated investment of $475 billion over next five years upto 2017; An average GDP growth of about 7.6% and massive investments from the private and public sector are expected to drive the growth in infra segment. This includes modernization of crucial economic and social infra, such as new hospitals, commercial complexes, IT Parks, Shopping Malls, Ports, railways, Metro, roadways and schools etc infra development is expected to benefit the Ring Main Units(RMUs), Intelligent Switchgear, Air insulated and Moulded Case circuit breakers market for switching, control and general protection applications.
Residential Segment In the residential construction sector, the market has picked up in 2010-11 post recession and with support from the govt. The prices of real estate are firming up and projects which were on hold have restarted Continued growth of the residential sector is likely to drive the MCBs, ELCBs and MCCBs market which has already clocked a growth of more than 20% over last fiscal. Recently the revised National Building Code NEC 2011 in line with the latest IEC code has been launched. This will help improve both Electrical & fire safety for the common man. 
Power Plant Modernization and Refurbishment As in other parts of the world, numerous power plants in India are nearing the end of their service plan, thus requiring overhauling and modernization. This includes replacement of existing transformers, which are on average over 30 years old and the replacement of LV, MV and HV switchgear. Power plant modernization and refurbishment is expected to additionally support growth of the switchgear market. 
Alternative Energy Sources The India govt continues to research and invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar-thermal and hydroelectric power. The renewable energy market has grown by about 2400 MW to 20,100 MW the growth in this segment is likely to sustain at current/higher levels percent over the next 4-5 years. The increase in investment in alternative energy sources is also expected to support market growth, as LV and MV switchgear products are required for general protection as well as switching. The MCCB and MCB markets are expected to benefit considerably from alternative energy expansion. 

New trends…

LV Switchgear-Increased acceptance of electronic releases in circuit breakers; Embedded Intelligence and communication enabled; Improved materials for cost saving, environmental reasons and ROHS; Movement from motor starters to submersible pump controllers; Soft Starters; Increased use of modular device in building electricals; Vacuum contactors for higher ratings; More use of magnetic actuators; Field for Life-Maintenance free (IEC- M2 duty-10000 Operations); Shift from Electromagnetic to Numerical relays; Shift from Electrical sensors-CT/PT to electronic sensors; Ring Main Units; Intelligent switchgear; VCBs with higher ratings. [HV and EHV Switchgear]-Compact GIS; Compact AIS; Compact switchgear; Controlled switching; Solid State switchgear; Intelligent switchgear; VCBs with higher ratings (50kA-4000 Amps); 800-1200KV Ckt Breakers under development; Substitute for SF6 gas; Harmonisation of protocol IEC:61850--Package substation; Polymer of HV equipment-Smart grid

Issues and Challenges...

  • The industry has to largely depend on the financially weak Electricity boards for its sales, whose condition has increasingly worsened over the years.
  • Uncertainty & slow pace of reforms
  • Increasing Competition from unorganized sector and Chinese imports
  • Macroeconomic challenges which constrain public & private funding and High Interest rates
  • Low investments in R&D, Lack of Innovation 
  • Integration of new technologies into development of new products in the sector needs improvement 
  • L1 procurement system in utilities i.e. procuring products at lowest price creates a hurdle for bringing good quality material in the system. 
  • Underutilization of installed capacity 
  • Lack of HV switchgear test facilities in the country 
  • Increasing competition from unorganized sector in low end/low tech items/imports in LV seg. & project imports. 
  • One sided contracts by the user industries/ Price Variation contracts not accepted by many users 
  • Improper procurement planning/bunching of orders, 
  • Entry of unproven contractors/sub-contractors with minimal technical knowledge. 
  • Lack of standard specification and design parameters clubbed with increasing trend of customisation is adversely impacting the delivery schedule as well as taking away benefits of economies of scale. 
  • The new Clause of consequential damages which in short means an organisation supplying an equipment is not only responsible for the supply but also for the damages arising out of the equipment. 
In LV products, it is increased digitalisation and connectivity, wherein the customer wants access at all times, from anywhere. They also want value-for-money, which is another front where development is on. A new trend has come out of smart panel for the LV Switchgear market, which is fully communicable, and monitoring, control, measurement and notification is possible from any open protocol/ethernet or even from the smartphone of the user. These are fully communicable to monitor the status and control of the devices. Even operating and tripping problems can be eliminated via a dedicated LAN network/protocol. There will be a considerable amount of demand for switchgears wherever electrical appliances or equipment are used. Looking at the complete mix, the demand will be more for final distribution level products, i.e., RCDs. However, on the commercial side, the growth will be primarily driven by power circuit breakers. Thus, the potential growth will be in higher single digits. In the time to come, we feel that due to increased investment from the govt in improving the macroeconomic outlook in India, the growth rate should go up. All of the govt.’s growth drivers i.e. infra, smart cities, etc. will lead to increased demand for electrical energy, and hence the segment will grow accordingly. The growth of this segment is directly linked with the economic growth of the country. Although there is a lot of positive vibes about growth, but when talking about the actual consumption at ground level, the opportunities are quite low. Also, even though digitalisation is well talked about, when it comes to actual execution, this is implemented in only selective cases. People are inquiring about it, but conversion into actual implementation will take more time. Another thing is that price remains an important driver in determining what the customers buy. The only thing that decides the growth of the country is the concept of value-based selling. So, each person involved-right from the manufacturer-should add value in such a way that the end consumer sees the incremental benefit. If this is done, then there can be good growth. India is on par when it comes to the products. In fact, we are far better than many countries in terms of resource availability. 

Industry Analysis: Test & Measurement Industry

Over the years, test and measurement (T&M) equipment has grown in significance, reflecting the critical role it plays in any industry, right from R&D to production & services. Despite this, the T&M industry has somehow remained out of the spotlight in India. However, the growing emphasis on the quality of products & services delivered, as well as the need for accuracy & timely results, is driving the growth of the market in India. The increasing R&D activity across various industries is also expected to further augment the growth of the Indian T&M market, which has shown an average annual growth rate of 2% YoY. Experts estimate that this market has the potential to touch US$ 1 billion in the next 3-4 years.


Let us start with a typical test scenario that involves measuring some characteristics of the device or material. This can range from a very simple setup, like using a benchtop digital millimeters (DMM) to measure resistance values, to the more complex systems that involve featuring, special cabling etc. When determining the required performance of the system, which is, the required measurement accuracies, tolerances, speed, etc., one must include not only the performance of the measurement instrument but also the limitations imposed by and the results of the cabling, connectors, test fixture, and even the environment under which tests will be carried. When consider a specific measurement instrument for an application, the specification or data sheet is the first place to look for info on  performance and how that will limit the results. However, data sheets are not always easy to understand because they typically use specialized terminology. Also, one cannot always determine if a piece of test equipment will meet the requirements of the application simply by looking at its specifications. Like eg, the characteristics of the material or device under test may have the significant impact on the measurement quality. The cabling, switching hardware, and the test fixture, if required, can also affect the test results. Sometime perceived as a necessary evil, the T&M industry plays a critical role in the delivery of products and service qualities to one’s customers. Virtually every industry, including aerospace and defense, telecommunications, automotive, energy, medical, consumer electronics, semiconductors and many more, uses T&M equipments for designing, manufacturing, deploying and ensuring the highest level of satisfaction of customers with products and services.

T&M industry key issues

Increasing complexity of the devices to be designed produced and deployed by manufacturing CoS demands an unprecedented level of the knowledge from the users of test equipments. Increasing industry maturity in developed regions demands a change in customer reach strategies for the market participants. The economic downturn of 2016-2017 is still impacting the test strategies of customers, forcing CoS to look beyond the selling capital equipment and consider alternative ways of acquiring test equipment. While market research analysts predict that the Global T&M markets to grow at a moderate CAGR of >5%. Rapid growth of the other sectors is one of the key factors driving the growth of the T&M markets globally. The increasing adoption of T&M solutions by end-users is expected to propel the growth prospects of this market in the upcoming years. The electronic test equipment ensures that the high standards required in the various industries such as energy, infrastructure, aerospace, automotive, healthcare, telecom etc. are efficiently met.
The market should be growing at a much faster pace but still nothing significant is happening because of the fluid economic condition, and as a result of that the industry is still reluctant to make any major capital investment. The major competition in electrical T&M instrument industry is from Chinese CoS only, as there is not much of competition in this field from within India. The main reason behind that is the Chinese govt subsidizes the export of electrical T&M instrument very heavily. Thus, it is not a level playing field for Indian manufacturers. The only way to counter this unfair practice adopted by the Chinese is that the GoI should levy higher custom duty on these equipment when imported from China, failing doing that this industry in India will never develop. The main transformation in this segment is that earlier on, largely these equipment were imported from US/Europe and now these are being imported mainly from China. Industry leaders for some reasons are willing to accept Chinese products, but not those made in India, though the quality of products coming from China is not good. They are accepting the same as these are really cheap (not less expensive). It is not a good phenomenon since quality suffers. However in the power sector, customers are aware about Chinese goods and avoid purchasing them as far as possible. Having said that, some of the Chinese T&M instruments that are available are also of good quality, but one needs to be careful in buying only from genuine suppliers. 

Trends in Test & Measurement

Increased Use of Multicore/Parallel Test Systems: To continue realizing performance gains without increased clock rates, processor manufacturers are developing processors with multiple cores on a single chip. With multicore processors, test engineers can develop automated test applications capable of achieving the highest possible throughput through parallel processing. The inherent parallelism of graphical dataflow software like NI LabVIEW helps engineers immediately benefit from multicore processors and overcome the complexity associated with traditional text-based languages. 
Growth of Software-Defined Instrumentation: Increasingly, the functionality of complex devices is being defined by the software embedded in them. This is challenging for many test engineers because most stand-alone instruments cannot change their functionality as fast as changes in the DUT due to the fixed user interface & firmware that must be developed & embedded in the instrument. Thus, test engineers are turning to a software-defined approach to instrumentation, so they can quickly customize their equipment to meet specific application needs and integrate testing directly into the design process.
Growing Popularity of FPGA-Enabled Instrumentation: With the increase in system-level tools for FPGAs that is field-programmable gate arrays, more manufacturers are including FPGAs on modular instruments and giving engineers the access in software to reprogram them according to their requirements. For eg, test engineers can embed a custom algorithm into the device to perform in-line processing inside the FPGA or emulate part of the system that requires a real-time response. New system-level tools are emerging so engineers can rapidly configure FPGAs without writing low-level VHDL code.
The Explosion of Wireless Standards: Test engineers are facing new challenges as use of RF & wireless applications is expanding. RF & wireless traditionally have been very specialized fields, but the industry is seeing wireless capabilities integrated into more & more products. Soon, RF instrumentation could become as ubiquitous as general purpose instruments such as DMMs. This growth in adoption requires test engineers to learn wireless protocols & keep pace with the rapid introduction of new standards.
Emulation-Based ATE for System-on-a-Chip (SoC), System-in-a-Package (SiP) Testing: Complex SoCs and SiPs require a system-level functional test more closely related to testing components placed on a PCB than a typical vector-based chip test, but they still require the high speeds demanded in production test for the semiconductor industry. The strategy of testing a device by emulating actual real-world signals provides a better method of functional test for these types of high-speed systems. This emulation-based ATE combines FPGA-based hardware to offer real-time responses and real-world interfacing with the standard pin electronics found in traditional ATE.
By taking advantage of these trends, it is believed that CoS can gain a market advantage in reducing their costs, improving product quality, and decreasing time to market. The development of new instrumentation technologies is driven by the needs of the users (the measurements and analyses required to support new technologies and applications). Among today’s needs are measurement speed, broadband signal measurements, modulation and demodulation capabilities within instruments, and greater integration with computer simulation & analysis. There are also increasing needs for high performance portable instruments, flexible & fast production test systems and a continuing push for the highest performance in lab instruments. The single biggest recent advance in test equipment is the inclusion of digitization of signals and computer analysis capabilities. Many instruments now have internal PC platforms that operate the instrument & perform the calculations necessary to process the measurement data (FFT, modulation/ demodulation, BER analysis, etc.) and deliver detailed displays and reports to the user. Production testing is a significant challenge, with today’s complex modulation types, spectral mask-defined emissions limits, and ever-higher frequencies of operation. Current production test systems must have performance approaching that of high-end laboratory instruments. With evolving standards and deployment of new systems, the flexibility of production testing has also become an imp issue, with the goal of reducing the cost to reconfigure test systems for new products. High performance portable instruments is a growing area of interest. The construction and commissioning of new wireless, industrial, automotive and medical systems can be considered an extension of the manufacturing process, including testing. Once they are operating, maintenance of these systems must use instruments that are capable of verifying that performance is fully compliant with the operating specifications. Finally, the nature of the signals themselves drives the requirements of test instruments. Complex digital modulation (such as OFDM), and wide occupied bandwidths are just two factors that have only recently become commonplace.
Electronics measurement business in India
With huge investment outlined in the power sector will lead to a big growth in the T&M market in India. The T&M industry in India has performed very well in the last few years. As electronics technologies evolve, CoS are staying one step ahead with its mantra of Anticipate- Accelerate- Achieve: anticipating customer's T&M needs, accelerating their tests or time-to-market with reliable products, and helping them achieve their goals. India's T&M industry has seen good growth in last few years with the increasing investments in design, R&D and manufacturing for all major electronics markets including telecom, aerospace, defense, automotive, consumer electronics, contract-manufacturing, semiconductors, etc. Markets in last few years have been cautious due to the prevailing economic climate but it is being seen as a temporary phase especially with large nascent markets like India. Fundamentals around investments by private players in the country are still very strong, and some of the govt policies like the National Policy for Electronics & National Manufacturing Policy would be a further shot in the arm for the electronics and test equipment market growth in the country for the next many years to come.

Oscilloscope market in India: Oscilloscopes are the fundamental test & debug tools in all spheres of product development & manufacturing. They have evolved from the traditional analog scopes to high performance digital oscilloscopes. Today’s oscilloscopes have extremely high speed ADCs & loads of memory. They have unprecedented analysis capabilities & more & more automated compliance software. Modern day oscilloscopes also have very high fidelity high bandwidth modular probing systems. Most of research in oscilloscope is focused on solving customers' debugging issues and enabling their forays into new technologies of the future. CoS endeavour is to provide a good user-experience, in addition to being a 'tech-enabler' for scientists and engineers around the world.
T&M is no longer an “equipment-driven” activity but nowadays involves use of computer software and Internet  based applications:  This depends on application and usage of T&M equipment. However, the use of software and computers will be done only after the data is collected in real-time. And for that, equipment is required. So it doesn’t eliminate overall requirements of measuring equipment, in applications such as ATS (automatic test setup) that is a combination of hardcore equipment, software, and Internet-based application for using data in remote control and analysis. So sometimes, certain equipments are merged in common test set-ups and no longer exist as individual equipment. Aplab’s RF test setup is one such example.

Power Sector: the booming market: Power is an essential req and a basic human need. The growth of an economy depends on the power consumption and its availability. Even the govt authorities understand this, which is the reason they are investing more in the power sector. The sector is expected to create more job opportunities in in upcoming years. The future for the Indian T&M equipment industry is certainly very bright. This optimism essentially comes from the country's power sector ambitions. India is set to add around 15,000 mw of new power generation capacity per year, over the next 5-7 years. New power generating stations and supporting evacuation infra will positively influence prospects of the T&M equipment industry. It is also pertinent to note that Indian power transmission sector is moving to the EHV and UHV AC class, which will generate demand for even more sophisticated equipment. Also when we talk about UHV levels, safety is a primary concern. Technicians/engineers working on such platforms require instruments which can not only provide reliable, repeatable and fast results but also it should be safe and easy to operate. 
The Smart Grid Culture: The smart grid is revamping the electricity delivery network from electrical generation through the end-use customer with improved costing, efficiency, reliability and security. Smart grids leverage the latest in digital & IT such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, and information technologies that provide advanced II-way communications between utility provider & energy consumer. These changes are resulting in a multitude of new smart grid devices with more advanced electronic designs that must seamlessly integrate into the grid. These more advanced designs require new modernized manufacturing test strategies in order to meet the cost, quality, delivery and reliability expectations of smart grid stakeholders. Smart-grid implementations include generation stations; step-down and step-up substations; and various residential, commercial and industrial customers. Smart meters must be tested before they are deployed. To this CoS are enabling manufacturers to perform comprehensive in-circuit test (ICT), functional circuit test (FCT) and combination test (ICT + FCT in a single test) at the assembled PCBA level, with the goal of assuring product quality and greatly reducing costs. While on the other hand with shortage of other energy resources and looking at costs and hazards with nuclear power generation, solar energy is becoming a challenge for Indian engineers. Besides this, India is in a tropical zone where ample sunlight is available throughout the year except for intermittent rain. The explosive growth in the solar industry has intensified the need for solar cell, solar module and MPPT/inverter T&M solutions. The challenge is to differentiate the solar product. Competitive differentiators are efficiency, yield and reliability. Today several CoS are powering the solar revolution with industry leading power supplies, electronic loads, parametric analyzer, source measure units (SMU), DMMs and data acquisition systems, a broad range of solutions for R&D and manufacturing engineers developing solar products.
Outlook on India's T&M Market: The measurement market will grow in the coming years. Industries belonging to the aerospace & defense, automotive, general electronics manufacturing, security, telecom, pharma, life sciences and services sectors have been the primary drivers of this growth. There is an increasing spend in all these sectors in India. As a result, measurement products that are suitable for these markets are being conceived, innovated and developed in India. Measurement market in the electronics and the bio-analytical areas that serve the above mentioned segments has experienced a very robust growth in India. In order to tap this growing market, CoS are continuously innovating and launching new products and solutions which can fit into R&D bench or onto manufacturing belt.
Quality of Indian T&M equipment is slow but surely improving: For the T&M equipment industry to grow, India needs to have a sharper focus on R&D activities. Some CoS in India don't give much importance to R&D as well as maintenance and re-calibration of the T&M equipment. This has resulted in lower demand. Probably if CoS give more focus on R&D and on regular maintenance of their plants, the demand will increase. We are heavily reliant on foreign CoS although there are CoS who have started making T&M equipment locally. Although they are quite successful, their quality is still couple of notches below the foreign products. But as the world is becoming globalized and the quality of Indian products is slowly but surely improving. Also it is to be noted that the new generation is more tuned to the IT sector and there is a shortage of good engineers in R&D sector. There is overall shortage of trained manpower in T&M industry be it in power or telecom, or in any associated domain. Young engineering graduates prefer to work with the software industry where salaries and perks are higher and work environment is “cushy & comfy” as compared to manufacturing industry. So far we do not see any encouraging change in this sector. The test and measurement software arena does see some engineering students interested to learn on a fast track.

India Needs A Focused Manufacturing Policy

T&M industry, which undoubtedly has an exciting future but also serious challenges en route. India can gradually move up the value chain only through a concerted attempt from stakeholders. It is true that investment in power sector is growing due to rising needs of growing population and on account of extensive developments in rural India. These remain the govt.s’ prime focus. It is felt that testing tools for these sectors will result into higher demand and one will see more investment in this type of infrastructure. And it is absolutely true that we are still dependent on imports. There are many reasons for this. The basic semiconductor industry is not wholly present in India. This is creating major weakness as this remains the basic infrastructure for the electronics industry. We have to depend fully on imports. Sometimes this becomes a major hurdle in the development of sophisticated products. “For East is east, and West is west, and never the twain shall meet” remains a call to action. India can gradually move up the value chain only if there is a concerted attempt from multiple stakeholders to create active change. We feel that India in general has lost focus on overall manufacturing sector. The govt does not have a clear focused policy to encourage manufacturing industry. They have taken careful steps to boost the software industry but remain entrenched in a time warp when it comes to the manufacturing industry. Trouble intensified when cheaper Chinese products flooded the market. This is the case around the world, in different sectors. This is one of the reasons very few players could make globally competitive products. Well, definitely competition from China is significant. The industry loses business merely based on price. However, we get the customers back after they realize the importance of buying the product from Indian manufacturers. But the process is long, intractable and you should be capable of suffering such losses. This can sometimes weaken the morale-especially of marketing personnel on the field who interact with clients and customers on a daily basis. PMA policy will lead to increased demand for T&M equipment and  “Make in India” campaign is expected to boost the nation's manufacturing industry.
Scope of T&M instruments in the electronics industry: T&M instruments generally fall into 3 categories: (1) General test and measurement equipment like signal generator analysers, multimeters, automated testers, clamp meters, etc. (2) Semiconductor related test equipment like digital testers, analogue RF testers, etc. and (3) Communication test equipment like wireless and optical testers. While growth of the T&M instruments market in India is driven by several factors, it is pertinent to mention that one of the key drivers is the increasing domestic thrust on R&D, across sectors. T&M devices find widespread usage in the research and development space.
Market size and growth opportunities in the T&M industry: The general-purpose test equipment market in India was estimated to be around US$ 200 million in 2016 and is growing at a CAGR of 12-13%, while the size of the wireless communications test devices market in India is currently US$ 40 million with a CAGR of 25%. Electronic devices form a pivotal part of most commercial and industrial establishments. Telecom, aerospace otherwise aeronautical, automotive and power are the sectors where T&M instruments have widespread applications. In the Indian context, it is in these sectors that T&M plays the most crucial role, and where growth opportunities are extremely good. The fate of the T&M industry is highly dependent on how the electronics industry fares. As per reports, by 2022, India will emerge as a US$ 400 bn market for electronics, with domestic manufacturing of electronic products worth US$ 174 billion! There is indeed a huge potential for electronics in India in the near future and, therefore, the growth opportunities for TMI are immense.
Major demand-generating applications in the T&M industry: In the Indian market, as per my reckoning, the earlier-mentioned verticals provide the highest potential for growth. The communications industry accounted for the largest share of 56.90% in the T&M equipment market in India. The growth of wireless tech will lead to an increased requirement for relevant testing equipment & devices. The aerospace & defence industries are the 2nd largest end-user segments for T&M equipment domestically, accounting for a 18.93% share and this is expected to increase to more than 20%, with a CAGR of around 15%. The consumer electronics segment is another major demand-generating vertical for T&M products in the country. Apart from these specific industries, the other application space with potential is the utility sector comprising power generation, transmission and distribution.
The latest trend in T&M industry: The telecom sector is projected to witness exponential growth with 3G and 4G network expansion proceeding at an unparalleled speed across India. This will be the driving force for the expansion of T&M in the country. The automotive industry will also contribute a significant portion of growth for T&M products. Besides, the conventional manufacturing sector will witness increased growth in demand for these products, for testing and maintenance. Another undeniably crucial segment in India is aerospace. Growth in air traffic, the increasing number of passengers, and the expansion of existing infrastructure are all major factors catalysing the T&M industry’s growth. While India has not seen major capacity addition in recent times with respect to power generation, the transmission and distribution sector is undergoing aggressive expansion and refurbishment. This is another sector where T&M  products are required. India is being seen as the emerging solar hub of the world, with cumulative capacity of nearly 100GW to be installed in the next few years. Solar power is also a very important market for T&M products. The education sector is another relevant segment for T&M. India has tens of thousands of students joining colleges every year for technical education. As part of the curriculum, they learn about electronics, electrical concepts and allied products, for which, they need to be exposed to measurement devices. This underscores the opportunities for the growth of T&M instruments within this vertical. Overall, the T&M business volumes are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 25% in India as per some published reports.

Future of the T&M industry in India

Evidently, there is huge potential in India for T&M products. Customers expect the products to be more user-friendly and with the most compatible technology. Within the overall instrumentation and metering vertical, T&M is growing the fastest. The progress in the energy, telecom, automation, electronics and education sectors, along with increasing defence requirements, has influenced the boom in the T&M market. Internet penetration and wireless communication have witnessed significant growth in the country with the use of smart devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, and smart TVs. The Digital India initiative of the GoI, and its Smart City programme covering 100 cities/towns (as of now) are all expected to further lead to better connectivity and increased digitisation in India. These developments over the medium to long term will also fuel the growth of the T&M equipment market. Though the T&M market is registering a steady growth, it does have its share of challenges. Imports of low quality foreign products that are sold by traders across India are harming the country’s self-reliance. Demand for T&M equipment will continue to grow as long as there is development in the country, which is seen as a given over the medium term. Several T&M CoS are working with the Make in India initiative, and have plans to expand our manufacturing capacity over the medium term. The T&M industry in India has performed very well in the last few years, and the future also looks bright. This optimism essentially stems from the ambitions of the country’s power sector and growth in the energy, aerospace, defence, telecommunications and consumer electronics verticals. 

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