"KEB products offer innovative features which cater to difficult machine building applications in plastic, textile, machine tools, crane, elevators, printing & metal”

Bhadresh Dani, Vice Precident, Bharat Bijlee Ltd.

In an exclusive interview with Automation & Controls - Bhadresh Dani, VP, Bharat Bijlee Ltd, speaks to Jigar Patel, Editor (A&C TODAY) about Bharat Bijlee's strong alliance with KEB Germany, Bharat Bijlee-KEB manufacturing plant set up, product range, after-sales service abilities and corporate forecast.

Can you tell us about Bharat Bijlee's alliance with KEB, Germany?

KEB was established in 1972 in Bantrup (near Hannover), and produces more than 150,000 frequency inverters and servo controllers every year. KEB's product portfolio is solution focussed, and caters to specialised applications. True to their motto "Designed in Germany-Made for the World", the company consistently addresses customer requirements for global availability. Know-how, Engineering, Benefit is just another way of looking at the KEB abbreviation. It is for these values that customers value KEB as a reliable partner for applications in virtually all areas of machine and plant building as well as plant, system and process technology. Bharat Bijlee first tied up with KEB as an exclusive sales and service partner in 2008, and the partnership has evolved since then: we now also manufacture VFD and Servo drives under license.

Bharat Bijlee-KEB has acquired substantial market share in a short span of time in Variable speed AC drives servo solutions and automation product segment. Can you please elaborate on this major achievement?

Our strategy is to focus on specific applications within defined industry verticals instead of spreading too thin. KEB products offer innovative features which cater to difficult machine-building applications in plastic, textile, machine tools, crane, elevators, printing and metal. There is a clear value proposition for customers in each industry vertical. The application knowledge we have built also helps us understand the unique demands of each application, and to speak our customers' language. Our vertical managers work closely with the application engineering team to design and build the right automation solutions. Our service team, located near major industrial clusters, plays a key role in providing technical /service support within defined timelines. We are committed to this strategy; it has helped us achieve a leadership position in the plastic injection moulding market, with a strong market share and an installed base of 6000+ servo solutions. We are striving to achieve a strong presence in other verticals too.

Could you give us an overview on the Bharat Bijlee-KEB manufacturing plant set up, and the Variable speed AC drives /servo drives manufacturing product range? What is the production capacity of the Bharat Bijlee-KEB plant at Airoli, Navi Mumbai?

We manufacture drives from 15 KW to 900 KW, with an annual capacity of approximately 5000 drives. Capacity can be scaled up based on market demand. Electronic cards are sourced from KEB Germany, and other parts from KEB approved vendors across the world. Our manufacturing and testing facility and processes are audited and approved by KEB, and our people are trained by KEB experts on an ongoing basis. Functional and Load testing with online data logging is performed on a “Green” Regenerative automated test set-up.

An ESD (electro-static discharge) protected environment ensures safe handling of drives and components during manufacturing and storage. The set up is state of art and enables us to deliver a German quality product, but “Made in India”.

How do you view the current market size for AC drives and Servo drives?

Based on published data of 2014, the total market size of Low voltage AC drives & Servo solutions (Drive + Motor) in India is close to Rs. 2000 crores, of which 25% is contributed by Servo solutions. Both markets are growing @10-11% per annum. Many traditional VFD applications are migrating to Servo solutions, and I expect that the Servo market will grow much faster in the near future.

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Airoli, New Mumbai plant?

The usual financial measures, of course. Also Due Date Performance (DDP) which tracks how consistently we fulfill customer orders on time and in full. Quality measures are important to us, as are the hierarchy of Turn Around Time (TAT) metrics which tell us how well our service team is responding to complaints. All these KPIs are formally reviewed every week.

Describe the BBVERT BL51 vector control AC drive. What are the key features? What is the unique selling proposition for this drive? Which industry sectors will benefit most from BBVERT BL51 vector control AC drive? Who is your key target for OEMs in the industry?

The BBVERT BL51 range can be used for V/F control as well as in sensor-less vector control mode. They are compact, easy to install, and simple to operate. Some unique features of the BL51 drives are 500 C ambient, built-in BACNET Protocol for HVAC applications, conformal coated electronic boards for environmental immunity, built in EMI filter for noise suppression, a high speed 32 Bit-100 MHz CPU for fast dynamic response, and PTC terminals for motor over-temperature protection.

The drives can be used for speed and torque control in various machines (Cranes (CT/LT), Conveyors, Extruders, Mixers, Fans, Pumps), and in diverse industries (Textile, Chemical, Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverages, Packaging, Plastic and HVAC). BBVERT BL51 is available up to 11KW at present; the range will be extended to 90KW in future.

There are many intelligent Motion controllers and Servo drives available in the Indian market. What makes Bharat Bijlee-KEB drives a better choice for OEMs? Could you please elaborate its unique selling points?

KEB's C6 motion controllers are a scalable automation platform, and offer a freely programmable software environment in terms of IEC 61131-3. It is very suitable for electronic gear applications, with very accurate positioning, and it can handle simple velocity or positioning modes right up to very complex synchronized motion tasks such as CAM profiles, gearing and phasing. The programmer can attach an axis, select the motion behaviour and monitor the axis status – all within one function block. This drastically shortens and simplifies project development time.  Its base communication protocol is Ethercat. The C6 is also available with built-in HMI in various display sizes, which allows high-quality visualisation and operation of the application. It can work with more than 256 axes with precise results.

KEB's product portfolio is solution focussed, and caters to specialised applications. True to their motto "Designed in Germany - Made for the World", KEB as a reliable partner for applications in virtually all areas of machine and plant building as well as plant, system and process technology.

What sort of after-sales service is your company providing to your customers?

Responsive service is an essential ingredient of customer satisfaction. We have a dedicated service centre at our Airoli works with dedicated helpline number. We have established a hierarchy of benchmark response times that we call Turn Around Time (TAT). This maps our response from receiving a complaint to registration in the SAP system, acknowledgement to the customer (including when  our engineer will reach site), attending to the complaint, and satisfactory closure. Just to illustrate, we would like to close 85% of the complaints we receive in 48 hours. Of course, CAPA is an ongoing process to ensure that we know why there are failures in the first place, and are working to minimise them.

Where do you see Bharat Bijlee-KEB business growth & road map in 3 years' time?

We would like to grow our Drives & Automation business by 3 times in the next 3 years. It seems like quite an ambitious target in such a competitive environment; however we are confident to achieve this with a clear focus strategy. We will need to anticipate technology trends and shifts, and work towards offering our customers solutions that help them meet their own goals of energy-efficiency, precision, and productivity.

There will be an increasing focus on Motor Driven Systems, of which VFDs are an increasingly integral part. Our Drives & Automation team works with our Motors Division, looking for ways to leverage their forthcoming high-efficiency products in industry segments that value lower life cycle costs.

We are looking forward to the journey!

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December'15/January 2016