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Major Player of Power Sector Offers Servo Solutions to The Plastic Industry

Bharat Bijlee is generally known as the major player in India’s power sector and has been around for almost seven decades. But it is also the pioneer in supplying Servo solutions to the plastic industry, especially for injection moulding machines. Understandable, since the company provides complete automation solutions in the form of AC Servo drives, Servo motors, induction motors and automation controllers.

Bhadresh Dani, Vice President – Drives & Automation, spoke to Robin Shukla, Senior Editor,
and Anthony George, Marketing Director of Modern Plastics India, during a pleasant interaction at Bharat Bijlee’s Airoli plant.


What is your key edge in the industry?

In India, Bharat Bijlee was one among few to offer Servo solutions for Plastic Injection Molding machines. Our application team has Injection Molding Machine know-how and is able to offer right solution to customers. Bharat Bijlee's culture and DNA is to take quality very seriously. Our key differentiation is service, because people understand its importance. A manufacturer sees his machine as a currency printing machine, so it cannot be stopped. If it is stopped then he will calculate one hour x one hour production cost (the down time as you understand it), so we try to give immediate service.

Is there a particular strategy to ensure good service?

We have dedicated service centre at our Airoli works with dedicated helpline number. We have established some type of standard – TAT (Turn Around Time), where if our service center gets a call, the service coordinator registers it into the SAP system and there are parameters like within four hours we should be able to respond to a customer. If we get an email or a call, it is called TAT 1, where service coordinator should be able to tell the customer by what time our engineer will reach. TAT 2 is the time when we should be able to depute the person and TAT 3 is if we are able to resolve the complaint.

We have identified the stock locations with major population of machines. We keep service stock at various locations to provide prompt service. We have also developed authorized service centers for drives all across India.

Is this system firmly in place and has it helped?

We try to monitor this and have tentative time frame targets, like we should be able to respond in four hours to 90 per cent of the calls. For 85 per cent of them, we should be able to maintain 24 hours (TAT 2) target and for accomplishing task (TAT 3) it is 48 hours. We maintain a SAP system where we enter each and every call we get because they are 365 days, 24x7 working machines, so there can be a problem in moving parts or where electronics are involved. This is what gives us the edge over others, our ability to provide prompt service. This also implies that there are persons placed strategically to reach where they are required.

What other aspects bring you clients?

Another advantage is that Bharat Bijlee is a motor manufacturing company, and we are in the Servo motor business. The motors are slightly different – Servo motor is for a high end application and the induction motor, which we have been historically manufacturing, is used for the plastic extrusion machines. We have our own set up of around 48 service centers, and are identifying people to do repairs of the Servo motors. This gives us an edge over our competitors. We are able to actually build up our motor strength.

Are there benefits to opt for Servo systems?

Today, we are offering a Servo motor and a Servo drive as a package for injection moulding machine users. When you use this type of a system over conventional ones, you will be able to save almost 30 to 50 per cent on energy and that is one deciding factor why people opt for the package. In case of an injection moulding machine that manufactures maybe chairs, there is a mould of a chair and there is a cooling time also. During cooling time you need not operate the machine at which time you can actually save energy. So there is an injection moulding machine controller, there is a motor, there is a drive, altogether.

You are actually offering solutions.

We have a technological alliance with the German company, KEB, whereby we assemble and manufacture drives here in our set-up at Airoli, Navi Mumbai. KEB, historically, has experience in this particular plastics application and that helped us to also get into this segment and muster up almost 45 per cent of the market share today.
The largest customers are with us. Bharat Bijlee, in fact, provides complete solution consisting of Servo motors, KEB Servo drives, internal gear pump, accessories, cables, EMC filters etc. Further we provide complete commissioning support to interface drive with the IMM controller. We also have knowhow in selection of correct sizing and combination of components as per machine cycle.

How do you keep abreast of what the clients expect?

We work with design team of OEMs and discuss about future trends and required technologies. We have also started interacting with the end users who are really using the machines. We decided to meet them and find out whether they were happy with our products/services and what kind of new technology they are looking at.

New technology?

We are now thinking of offering solutions where the machines may be at other places, for example at Vapi or Silvassa. The owner is sitting here in Mumbai, and he should be able to see the production data, the down time, all on his screen. If one customer has 50 machines he would like to see what is happening vis-à-vis production or data. We are trying to work on the solutions for continuous monitoring in such a good manner that he can generate the MIS also! We are thinking in that direction. A leading plastics machinery manufacturer visited here and we asked him about the future trends. He talked about the need for remote control and monitoring from the comfort of his cabin. We are on that!

One feature is monitoring, second is fault finding. Suppose a client has supplied a machine to South Africa and there is nobody to tackle a fault, he should be able to actually resolve the problem sitting here. If there is no component involved, like a filler or something, and suppose it is a software issue, then he can sort it out online. It can even give an alert message. We are also offering Servo/torque motor – drive solutions for the main screw of the hybrid plastic IMM wherein the low efficiency hydro motor is eliminated.

Bharat Bijlee also provides Servo solutions for enhancing Energy savings for ALL Electric IMM that has ball screw mechanism with timing belts and excludes the pump for IMM to operate in oil free environment for food and pharmaceutical grade plastic components. In this the Servo drive offered is of book shelf design, which is very compact with common rectifier and individual inverters for multi-axis operation. The Servo drive response is very fast (<250 microseconds) to communicate with the IMM controller in All Electric IMM.

Where has the technology been developed?

The product, the hardware, is actually coming from KEB, the software part we take care of from here. We also get feedback from global application team since our people go there twice or thrice a year. There is continuous training and re-training if required. Our people are a part of their global team, so if they call them twice a year everyone shares what has been learned here. We also learn from other countries. It’s almost like having a library and software is available and there is scope to refer to or use our inputs, so there is exchange of technical knowhow from both sides. They too learn from us.

The KEB connection helps?

Our association with KEB is quite strong and the advantage for us is that KEB has lot of domain expertise in plastic applications. Here the application is much more important than the product. Product is available, but the person should be able to talk in the language of the machine manufacturer. He should be able to understand the machine language. Over a period of time our company has also built up this strength.

You are leaders, but how close is the competition?

There is competition, so we are trying to find new ways to retain our position. We are not being complacent even though there is no immediate threat. There are many international competitors offering low cost Servo solutions, but they don’t have service set up in India. Initial selling price for them is very low, but there is no guarantee for services after warranty period.
We have good products and we always find someone at the top of the pyramid who understands the long term benefits of price linked with quality and will therefore not go for cheaper options, where there could also be problems and no guarantees with the product. Customer should look for total cost of ownership instead of just initial price.

What is the future outlook for plastics?

Per capita consumption is hardly 7-and-a-half kg as against global figure of about 25 kg. There is lot of scope for usage of plastic; even window profiles, house hold furniture, hospital furniture are all becoming plastic nowadays. Many applications are coming in and there is lot of scope, especially for injection moulding machines.

What is your future road map to offer solutions for plastic Industry ?

KEB also offers VFD (Variable Frequency Drives) for extrusion machines. These machines run 24X7 and main factor is energy. We would like to offer super premium motors (IE4) motors and drive as a package to extrusion machine manufacture. Major focus is on rotating machines, because machine is operating through motor, and there are energy efficiency standards called IE 1, IE 2, IE 3, and IE 4.
In this, IE 1 is for the least efficient motor, whereas IE 4 is for the super premium efficiency motor. At Bharat Bijlee, our motor division has developed IE 4 motors. There is 25 per cent less loss compared to IE 3 and IE 2 motors, so the efficiency is in the range of 90 to 95 per cent. IE3 and IE 2 could be 85 per cent or much less. We are also working on VFD + torque motor (direct drive) solutions for extrusion machines, where in OEM can eliminate main gear box and improve energy efficiency and also save on maintenance cost of machine.

These machines work 24x7 for 365 days, so one of the major factors today is the rotating machine that is the motor where people have to focus on the energy savings. In the near future, we are planning to start manufacturing of our own Servo motors and torque motors. This will ensure better and long term support to OEM and end users.

How do you evaluate that for the customer?

The problem today is all end users are asking for low cost machines from the OEMs in turn OEMs also insists for price reduction from their suppliers. The focus should be on total cost of the ownership - which is the operating cost (including energy cost) plus the maintenance cost. It is time for the end user to focus on - high efficiency machines with the motor being one of the important parts of it. Like the stars that determine the efficiency standards for refrigerators, IE 1 to IE 4 are standards for motors already prevailing in the market. But there is no compulsion and it is not statutory as yet.

Is energy efficiency that crucial a factor?

If someone wanted to produce plastic and increase profitability, the energy efficiency of the machine is crucial factor.

There is an energy cost per kg per hour production of plastic article and I am not sure the end user is enquiring about this to the OEMs. How much money he is paying per kg for the manufacturing cost, and how much he is saving on energy - which he can control via the machine since power is costly anyways. So what kind of machine, what motor and what components should be the main criteria. This is the message Bharat Bijlee would like to give through your magazine in the market.

For more details: www.bharatbijlee.com

Source: Modern Plastics India

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