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Digitising power distribution for safer future-ready plants

Schneider Electric Manufacturing Today Think Turf Series Round Table was held in Indore on March 15

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Schneider Electric, Think Turf Round Table, Caparo, AkzoNobel, Cummins India, Jk Tyre & Industries, VE Commercial Vehicles, Johnson Matthey Chemicals India, Force Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra

The world  of energy is changing. And with it come new demands. Considering that manufacturing companies constantly look at realigning production, it's imperative that power blend with the existing digital infrastructure.

The Round Table held in Indore focussed on just that. Moderated by Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media Group (India) and Deepak Maheshwari, director, solutions sales & target account management, Schneider Electric India, the panellists comprised Anil Singh, works manager - Hyderabad & Gwalior, lead - water paints, South Asia, AkzoNobel India; Ashish Bhatnagar, plant head, Cummins India; RF Kedia, VP, works, JK Tyre & Industries; MS Shankar, VP, manufacturing operations, VE Commercial Vehicles;  Harish Kataria, plant head, Unit I-II, Caparo Engineering India; Subhasish Deb, site operations manager, Johnson Matthey Chemicals India; Vijay Kumar Parashar, manager, QA & QC, Johnson Matthey Chemicals India; Manoj Verma, sr. manager, maintenance, Force Motors; Amrendra Singh, head, manufacturing, Caparo Engineering India; and Ram Prakash Singh, sr. manager, safety & maintenance, Mahindra & Mahindra Two Wheelers Division.

Maheshwari began with asking the panellists to air their views on how their respective company is tackling the issue of electrical distribution, digitisation and IoT enablement. Bhatnagar began with saying that the entire plan should be solar driven. "Currently, we deploy 500kW of solar power for some critical machines, and more later on. Also, if the site is too big, one should have drones to supervise the site," he added.
Kedia stressed on the importance of energy efficient motors to reduce power consumption. Sensors for online monitoring will help everyone's cause. There should be a reduction in using conventional energy as it means more outlay for the manufacturing plant.

Shankar said that efficiency must be given top priority. Power consumption is a given. So knowing how and where it is being guzzled is knowledge. Real time monitoring should be a constant and the data read should be utilised in the right direction.

Singh of AkzoNobel said that investing in the right technology is important because equipment gets upgraded but might not offer energy efficiency as the technology is dated. It would help if technology companies gave us the right insight into buying. Moreover, dated plants adopting new technology is pointless as the machines are unable to use it to its full efficiency.

Power consumption is at its highest and grids are constantly breaking down. Kataria spoke on the possibility of using solar power constantly instead of drawing from the grid. It would help ease matters and know the amount that one can use, while doing so judiciously.
Deb said that one must be future ready and also look at some of the good competitors. Plant design in the early stages plays a crucial role in decided how energy efficient we want to be.

Parashar brought in focus how automation can help in energy efficiency. Adopting sensors can have their own advantages.
With plants getting older, Verma said there's a need to ensure that compressors, which are the biggest energy guzzlers, should be upgraded.
Despite the latest technology available, RP Singh said that there continues to be a huge gap. Lifecycle cost analysis must be looked at keenly.

Singh of Caparo said that connected facilities help in preserving power and more companies need to look at it closely.

Summing up the discussion, Nitin Khare, associate GM, business development, power equipment & solution, Schneider Electric India, said that while solution providers are creating digital infrastructure, there is little manpower to look at the maintenance. "Actually, these should be independent of human skills. Moving people from one point to another should give the plant the same level of efficiency. Biodegradable components and end-of-life instructions must also be considered when investing in new products and technologies. Schneider Electric assures its customers that the solutions we offer are safe, reliable, efficient, and sustainable," he added.

After the panel discussion, Schneider showcased some of its new technologies and promised the panellists about its efficiency. Bibhor Srivastava thanked the panellists for their time and patience. The discussion ended late in the evening with cocktails and dinner.

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