In an interaction with Industry Outlook, Sunil Mistry, VP - Motors, Bharat Bijlee shares his views on the evolving market of electric motors, the need for energy efficiency, challenges in ensuring quality and achieving sustainability.
Increasing industrialization and urbanization is creating a high demand for energy efficient electric motors. How do you see the current evolution of electric motors market in India? What are the major factors driving its growth?
Electric motors are classified by their power rating, power source, construction, commutation, etc., and range in size and application from marine propulsion to wristwatches. The electrical systems in a typical motor car, for example, can contain several hundred motors of various ratings. However, our discussion today is centered on the Low Voltage (LV ) AC integral horsepower (IHP) motors which are mainly used in industrial and commercial applications.
Motors are the prime movers for machinery across all sectors of the economy; market growth in the long run tends to mirror GDP growth, with greenfield and brownfield expansions being the major demand drivers. In the decade FY 2011 to 2020capacity addition and expansion in most sectors was lower than in the previous decade due to various macro-economic factors that led to underutilization of existing capacities. This led to sub-par growth of electric motor demand at about 2.5% CAGR in MW terms. As capacity utilization moves up in core infrastructure sectors there is optimism(COVID permitting) that the new decade will see consistently higher growth. Domestic motor manufacturers have proven capabilities, and imports are essential only for highly specialized motors.
What are the major challenges faced by industries using electric motors for different use cases like pumps, compressors, fans & blowers, conveyors, lifts, screen, vibrators, centrifuges, stone crusher etc. How can those challenges be addressed?
The application needs to be at the forefront of an engineer’s mind when selecting a motor; each application will have its own unique requirements that need to be evaluated and fulfilled. Proper motor selection depends on the characteristics of the driven system (i.e. the load to be handled), the input power source, and the environment in which it will operate. There are multiple interdependent parameters to be considered in matching motor specifications with the application to ensure performance, reliability and optimal capital cost.
Correct selection is essential even for a standard catalogue product. Sometimes customization becomes necessary to fulfill the specifications; quite often this can be accomplished by modification of a standard motor’s electrical or mechanical design. However, if the customer’s needs are highly specialized, it may be necessary to design a completely customised motor, with significant developmental work and investment in tooling.
As a full-range manufacturer with extensive experience in handling large project orders for core industries (steel, cement, paper, chemicals, food, infrastructure, and oil and gas) we are well positioned to work closely with customers and advise on motor selection. This means evaluating the application’s performance requirements and ensuring the motor will properly match its needs.
Our sales team undergoes regular training on applications and the selection of motors. With this, we can leverage our knowledge and experience to optimize our performance and cost offering to best suit the project’s parameters.
How is Bharat Bijlee positioned in this segment? How has been its journey in this segment since inception?
We began manufacturing motors in 1946 under the brand Bijlee. In the late 1950s we became licensees of Siemens who also marketed all our products. This was a fruitful association and continued until 1990. Today we have a complete portfolio of LV motors from 0.12 kW to 1250 kW, which enables us to meet the diverse needs of every industry sector.
We have steadily invested in augmenting our manufacturing capacity, and in building the processes and capabilities to deliver a reliable product on time to our customers. Our supply chain is designed to be agile and to consistently improve point-of-sale availability and on-time delivery. We back this up with an all India sales, distribution and service network.
We place great emphasis on after-sales service as this can be a significant differentiator. Our centralized service desk system BB ServiceLINE®enables us to monitor all service calls until closure, and to measure response and resolution performance.
Given the fact that electric motors consume more energy than any other industrial application, how is the company enabling energy efficiency?
We have a wide range of energy efficient products and solutions not only in our Motors SBU but across our Industrial Systems (IS)Segment. Our SynchroVERT® series IE4 Class motors, for example, have demonstrated impressive energy savings (with short payback periods) in applications as diverse as textiles, cement and HVAC.
Electric motor systems consume large amounts of electrical energy; even a small improvement in efficiency can result in significant energy and cost savings. Improving energy efficiency not only pays back in energy savings but reduces greenhouse gas emissions. However, purchase of a new motor is often dictated more by its price than the electricity it will consume over its lifetime.
We have been at the forefront of promoting energy efficient motors for over 20 years; we have worked closely with bodies like BIS, BEE, IEEMA, and the International Copper Association (India)to facilitate and promote the use of energy efficient motors in India. The Government of India’s Quality Control Order of 2017 prohibiting the manufacture and sale of motors below specified minimum efficiency levels is an excellent example of how industry and policy-makers can work together to make a real difference in reducing CO2 emissions.
For a manufacturer, what are the challenges in ensuring the quality of electric motors? What is the methodology followed by your company for quality assurance?
Product quality and reliability are hygiene factors today. The customer expects them, and that is how it should be. We seek ongoing improvement against internal quality benchmarks; this makes us aware that we are aiming at a moving target, and that sometimes we need to run just to stay in the same place.
Motors will continue to grow in sophistication and performance thanks to the ongoing improvements in materials, manufacturing processes and design technologies
The Quality Assurance (QA) team of our IS Segment sets policy and methodology, and monitors and guides the progress of each SBU. Our quality philosophy encompasses three major aspects:
a) Culture building for quality, with quality KPIs being measured at every stage of the value chain.
b) Using quantitative techniques to carry out deep and insightful analysis for improvement and preventive action. This is a closed loop process and spans the entire value chain from vendors to customers.
c) Field problems are resolved through our service network with clear response and resolution KPIs. All field problems are monitored through our call monitoring system BBServiceLINE®.
At the same time we work by the maxim that Quality is everyone’s job, not just the responsibility of the Quality team. Every member of the team is responsible for improving the customer’s experience of working with us.
While designing hazardous area motors, what are the major concerns to be factored in? How do you develop the product as per the extent and type of hazard?
Once again this requires selecting the proper motor for a given hazardous (combustible or f lammable) environment. Hazardous areas are those where an explosive atmosphere is present in quantities that call for special precautions for equipment. This is determined by regulations and by the user, consultant or inspecting authority.
We have a wide range of hazardous area motors that complies with relevant standards and carries the necessary jurisdictional statutory licenses and approvals based on stringent testing protocols. These motors are used in industries like mining, petrochemicals, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals; they call for a special design and manufacturing process. The frame temperature for example must not exceed the ignition temperature of the gas-air mixture; and all parts of the f lame-proof enclosure need to be hydraulically pressure tested after machining.
Hazardous area motors are designed and selected based on the application and location: the Zone, Temperature Class, and Gas Group classification of the environment, plus the auto ignition temperature of the hazardous material. To illustrate, IS 5572 classifies hazardous areas into three zones, depending on the frequency and duration for which dangerous concentrations could be present. This in turn determines the type of motor enclosure and protection to be used. Inverter-fed motors need special determination of the temperature class and maximum surface temperature.
Proper selection enables correct product design without over-specification, while keeping safety first. It is also essential that the special installation and maintenance instructions are strictly followed.
Where do you see the electric motors market in the near future? Which new technologies is it going to adoptto become more innovative? What is the future road map for your company to gear up for emerging challenges in this domain?
Motors will always be required so long as there is a need to convert electrical energy to mechanical energy. India is a structural growth story and we foresee that as our GDP grows and investment revives in core infrastructure sectors, the market for electric motors will grow in response.
Motors will continue to grow in sophistication and performance thanks to the ongoing improvements in materials, manufacturing processes and design technologies. The ongoing upgradation of Minimum Efficiency Performance Standards (MEPS) by countries around the world will escalate demand for energy efficient motors.
Motors are also increasingly becoming part of a digitalised and interconnected manufacturing ecosystem via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). We are working on all these areas and will launch new products to meet the needs of our customers.