Prakash Kumar Chandraker, Vice President & Managing Director, Energy Business, Schneider Electric, says that expansion of digitalisation in the metro rail space will benefit their customer as it would substantially reduce their operation and maintenance (O&M) costs in terms of the quantum of support they need. They can then think of optimising resources and plan on improving the efficiency of their equipment by several times.
What is the present level of engagement with metro rail projects in India?
We are deeply engaged with metro rail projects. We are working on the Nagpur Metro, which is presently under development. We are also engaged with the Pune Metro Rail team.
We are sharing the global best practices and use cases with the concerned stakeholders to inform them how different technologies are being adopted and what benefits are accrued from them in terms of energy efficiency, reliability and availability. We are also sharing with them our past experience on cyber security and how systems can come under risk if they are not taken care of during the project implementation phase itself.
What are some of the new trends emerging in the metro rail space amid internet of things, big data analytics and artificial intelligence?
Digitisation is basically the conversion of infrastructure information into bits and bytes. The next level is digitalisation. Unless you connect with a communication link, you cannot use it. Although you might have a huge amount of data, if you do not know how to use it, it is as good as useless. Therefore, we are trying to create all analytics in applications in that layer, where the customer will know both what is happening and what is going to happen in the system. On that basis, we are trying to convert it into applications where customers can create add-on applications to manage their overall network.
We are also developing - which is more futuristic - stretched reality or real world for the electrical network where digitalisation will empower customers by enabling them to assess the health of a system. A customer will not only be able to monitor but also have the option to control the system without having to physically handle it. That is the level of digitalisation that we are moving towards. This technology will soon be available through Schneider Electric's innovation process and we are intensely working on that. That will greatly benefit the customer because it will help them reduce their O&M costs substantially in terms of the quantum of support they need. They can focus on optimising resources and start planning on improving the efficiency of their equipment by several times compared to what they have today. Sitting in the control room, the customer can have access to a large amount of information on the equipment, such as how it was purchased, when it was purchased, what is its health, what is its setting and, based on the network behaviour, what is the next setting that it might require. Not only will the customer be able to exercise control over equipment, he can also take level-2 or level-3 help from original equipment manufacturers to the next level. All of that will help make the equipment much more robust and intelligent in operational terms.
In these times of rapid developments in technology, do you see any evolution in demand from the customers' side?
We do see that expectations in terms of power supply reliability and overall lead time have become greater. But Schneider Electric is geared well to meet such demands in India because we had well forecast these requirements some time ago. Therefore, we offer gas insulated switches, edge control, analytics and EcoStruxure solution, which is basically an open architecture platform with interoperability.
Given the unique nature of the market in India, have you also provided some bespoke solutions to metro rail projects?
We have provided many such solutions. In power, for example, we enable 30 per cent savings in energy, from building management system to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) or complete smart power distribution in medium or low voltage (MV/LV). Adopting the complete network of power management solutions that we offer enables customers to save a substantial amount of energy. To give you a small example, our miniature circuit breaker (MCB) switch in LV is also internet protocol (IP) enabled. If there is ever an issue in a metro system, our MCB can immediately provide information to the control room about the exact spot where power outage is experienced.
What are some of the challenges that you encounter while working on solutions?
Since metro railway teams are quite proactive and demanding, I would say that they make for progressive customers. We are not facing many issues when it comes to implementing metro power systems. All the metro railways that I have worked with are very proactive on critical implementation management. Despite so many obstacles in terms of civic infrastructure, metro railway teams are able to still push forward with project execution. And that is what I truly appreciate about them.
The government has identified 50 new cities and towns for metro rail projects. What opportunity do you see for Schneider there?
We see very good scope for smart power distribution system, geographic information system (GIS), substation automation, edge control, analytics, HVAC and building management system (BMS) for Schneider Electric.
- Manish Pant