With the rise in the uptake of solar power in India, there has been a corresponding rise in the demand for quality equipment to ensure that solar power systems perform well. Solar cables, which link the different parts of the solar power system, are important components of these systems. The efficiency of a solar power system depends on the quality and performance of these cables. Frequent solar cable failures decrease the overall project efficiency and, therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the cables function successfully over the desired life span. Good quality solar cables can help prevent considerable losses to the system. Havells entered the solar power segment in 2016, providing on-grid as well as off-grid solar solutions for a range of consumers. Its off-grid solutions include a solar home inverter system. The company also has a significant and growing presence in the solar cable market. In a recent interview with Renewable Watch, Arvind Agrawal, vice-president, Havells India, discussed the advantages of solar and shielded cables, the impact of Covid-19 on the company’s operations and the opportunities in emerging segments. Excerpts…
What has been Havells’ operating experience in the wire and cable segment over the past year?
The wire and cable industry experienced subdued demand at the beginning of 2020-21 due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. However, we are confident of bouncing back on a stronger note, thanks to one of the largest networks of highly engaged channel partners and our recently increased manufacturing capacity at Alwar. A new trend in the electric wire and cable industry is the rising sales of high voltage direct current (HVDC) power cables. The benefits of these cables over high voltage alternating current (HVAC) cables include lower transmission losses, lighter weight and reduced dimensions. HVDC cables, which include underground cables and light cables, play an indispensable role in long distance and high voltage power transfer as well as in submarine power transmission.
What are the various products offered by Havells in the solar segment?
Havells ventured into the solar segment as a business vertical in May 2016 to supply complete solar solutions for the residential, commercial and industrial segments. The company manufactures DC cables and solar DCDBs and ACDBs in-house. It is also present in the rooftop solar PV segment, providing on- and off-grid solutions. The company has been a key component supplier to the solar industry for the past few years through its cables and switchgear divisions.
Havells India launched solar cables some years ago. How has the market response been?
Our solar cable category has witnessed encouraging demand from consumers, especially in the commercial segment. Some of the prominent features of these cables are their environment sustainability and increased energy efficiency. The transmission of solar energy is cheap, clean and reliable. This improves the bankability of solar projects and, therefore, these cables have emerged as an important component for such initiatives. The new range is manufactured at our Alwar plant, which is one of India’s largest cable plants and manufactures good quality products.
What are the advantages of using solar and shielded cables?
We have recently launched our solar and shielded cables range. Shielded cables help reduce the volume and intensity of all kinds of electrical noise and EMI, thus decreasing their adverse effects and losses in signals and transmission.
“We are confident of bouncing back on a stronger note.”
Havells India has been a strong proponent of fire-retardant cables. What have been the growth trends in this space in India? How has Havells been faring in this segment?
The electrical cables and wires segment constituted 40-45 per cent of the electrical equipment industry in India, which constituted 8 per cent of the manufacturing sector in terms of value and 1.5 per cent of the overall GDP in fiscal 2018, according the CRISIL Research.
The increasing demand for power, lights and communication products has kept the demand for flame-retardant cables high. Investments in power transmission projects, execution of solar and wind energy projects and metro rail projects, as well as increased household spending have all led to a rise in the demand for flame-retardant cables. Havells’ HR flame-retardant cables are high on safety and ensure optimum electrical and mechanical performance at higher temperatures. Alongside their flame -retardant properties, these cables are also RoHS compliant, thus safeguarding against harmful substances such as lead.
“Investments in power transmission projects, execution of solar and wind energy projects and metro rail projects, as well as increased household spending have led to a rise in the demand for flame-retardant cables.”
How has the company been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis? What is your strategy to safeguard against such situations in the future?
Being in the electrical equipment sector, which caters to many essential supplies industries, we took special permission during the pandemic-induced lockdown to open up in a limited manner and fulfil the demands of both the domestic essential services sector and the exports sector, which was looking to pick up momentum as other countries had already started opening up. While undertaking such operations both at the plant and in our offices, we were one of the first in our sector to come out with detailed standard operating procedures for working. All necessary precautions and health measures were taken.
Immediate measures were taken by the senior management and HR personnel to assure employees about their emoluments and mitigate their fears of job losses. It is a testimony to the strength of our assurances and sincere efforts during the lockdown that almost 90 per cent of our workers returned to work for us as soon as unlock measures were announced.
The other challenge was to manage our supply chain, both inbound (raw material) and outbound (finished goods). Again, thanks to our investments in IT systems and processes, we were able to pinpoint the location, within 72 hours, of nearly Rs 6 billion worth of finished goods that were in transit when the lockdown was announced, and were able to take effective measures to store them temporarily. As for operations, wherever permitted, we extended our operation approvals to the suppliers, which, in turn, enabled them to procure raw material to start operations in a limited manner.
As for the sales and marketing personnel, looking at the ever-present need for technical training, we organised training programmes and seminars for them to build up their technical skills. Almost 10,000 man-hours of technical training sessions were conducted.
Covid has exposed the strategic importance of reaching out to customers instead of waiting for them to arrive. Hence, we came up with a digital model to address customer demand by launching a unique online to offline model, wherein consumers could place orders on the Havells web portal and be serviced by the nearest dealer in real time.