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Tweaking the power market engine

Deccan Herald, Delhi, 8th September, 2014

 

The gap between power production and consumption is widening in India and is set to further widen with the government’s thrust on manufacturing. Since power outage has become the order of the day, industrial consumers are left with no other option but to use diesel gensets. Banking on this space, Satara-based Cooper Corporation Private Ltd, a company which manufactures different types of gensets and engines, aims to leapfrog its Rs 600 crore turnover to Rs 1,000 crore by 2015. In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s N V Vijayakumar and Umesh M Avvannavar, Cooper Corp Chairman and Managing Director Farrokh N Cooper shares the importance of technology in the manufacturing sector. Edited excerpts: The genset market is highly competitive with overseas and local players. What differentiates you from your peers in the Industry? Since diesel prices are shooting up in the country, cost per unit of power produced from gensets will also escalate.

 

Here, technology plays a pivotal role in the segment. Our technical association with Ricardo UK helped us in this regard. The Cooper engines are designed by Ricardo. The designs with thrust on innovative technology are now a priority for Cooper. We had the foresight in 2008 to rope in the services of Ricardo UK to create an engine family which would meet the latest global emission norms. Our inhouse research and close association with Ricardo has created the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) II Emission Limits for diesel engines up to 200KVA. We plan to increase the range upto 1 MW. There is an Engine Management Unit (ECU) in our two cylinder engines. Just as a mechanic connects a computer to the car and takes out the engine readings and monitors its performance, the ECU-driven Cooper engines can be connected to a computer and performance can be monitored.

 

At Cooper, we made investments for this 4-5 years ago so that we can comply with CPCB emission norms. So, as a company, one needs to be always forward looking in terms of the technology and worldwide trends. Of the Cooper Engines, 65 per cent of the engine components are manufactured inhouse by Cooper Corporation such as the head, the block, the flywheels and the bedplates. Can you explain your expansion plans to meet growing demand? We have nine manufacturing units in Satara and employ around 2,000 people. Cooper has invested Rs 400 crore till now and registered turnover of around Rs 600 crore last fiscal. Besides adding more plants and more lines for manufacturing, Cooper is also planning to install a new aluminium foundry facility at an investment of Rs 100 crore. We are also going in for investments of Rs 60 crore to enhance our research and development. What is the estimated size of the genset market in India today? With a genset power range of 10 KVA–200 KVA, the Indian market constitutes about 100,000 units per year.

 

Major volumes come in from smaller gensets considering the preference of small consumers in the market. Leading contributions for the segment come from the real estate, banking and financial services, retail and hospitality. Now, the telecom industry is also driving demand. We hope that demand will pick up with manufacturing getting a boost and investments going up in the market with the coming of the Modi government. What share of your revenues come from the export market? The company is not only looking at catering to the domestic demand but has also expanded its global footprint with orders from Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Panama and other countries. For gensets, the share of revenues from exports was around 22 per cent last year this year and is expected to be around 25 per cent soon; a major chunk of the exports have been going to markets like South America, Africa and the Middle East. Low-cost products are the order of the day. What is your take on this? We are looking to develop diesel engines where we can incorporate aluminium components.

 

These are now used only in the automotive segment. We are planning to develop engines in aluminium, which will yield not only great operating cost advantage, but also better fuel efficiency. Aluminium plays an important part in modern day engines. Aluminium components help reduce the overall weight which in turn enhances power-to-weight ratio and increases fuel efficiency. Coopers are increasing the aluminium content used in our engines to give our products a distinct edge over the competition. Nowadays, information technology plays a major role in ignition and manoeuvring the fuel consumption of engines. What is your take on this? Cooper has introduced remote monitoring modules developed by our R&D division. We have incorporated this remote monitoring in our products which will give our end users the facility to monitor each and everything from performance to load on gensets. Hence, the gensets can be monitored centrally. For this, we have also partnered with a few companies who have developed this technology.