[ Harish Agarwal gives an insight into the power T&D business of the company,its growth plans and shares his suggestions on how govt. utilities can help in making the crucial power T&D sector more competitive so as to hasten india’s socio-economic development . An interview by Venugopal Pillai]
Q: We understand that Supreme has entered into an agreement with national utility power grid corporation of India for EHV transmission equipment. Tell us more……….
Ans. Yes, we have entered into an MOU with power grid corporation of india Ltd to establish 1,200-kv UHVAC test station at Bina in Madhya Pradesh. Besides, We have strengthened technical capabilities and upgraded infrastructures to cater global requirement up to 400-kv transmission line hardware and towers and its accessories. We are really proud of being associated with PGCIL, NTPC and electricity utilities in the country and many global T&D utilities for more than three decades.
Q: Supreme is India’s largest exporter of overhead equipment in the power T&D sector.What has been your export performance in the recent past?
ANS: We have increased our penetration in global market in terms of product range and geographical reach and also moved up the value chain by offering integrated solutions. we expect our export turnover to be over $30 million in the current year.
Q: Supreme has an impressive line up of 2,000 products, including customized ones? What have been key product launches in the recent past in the power T&D segment?
ANS: We continuously strive to cover ever widening range of products and solutions so as to provide one stop shop to the customers.We envisage to offer to customers in future High Strength low span conductor hardware and accessories,GIS services PLC based automation systems, system integration of Fiber Optic and wireless communications.
Q: Supreme emerged as a T&D contractor in early 2009 with village electrification orders in West Bengal worth Rs.142 crore. How are these projects faring ,and what has been the new order inflow of late?
ANS: Project execution after initial hiccups is now on schedule to the satisfaction of our customer. We are likely to generate new orders totaling to Rs.500 crore in 2010.
Q: What typical challenges do you face while executing T&D contracts, particularly village electrification works?
ANS: Village electrification is a challenging job.Residents for decades without power now have a tantalizing glimpse of life with electric power.Understandably , they are impatient and apprehensive. Contract scope does not adequately cover the amount of coverage required, and there is no budget for increasing scope.When the question of choice on who to leave out comes, it inevitably leads to political pulls and pressures.So much business activity in their area makes local suppliers and contractors feel entitled to preferential treatment in getting sub contracts without realizing the need to meet cost , quality and safety parameters.
Q: As an emerging turnkey contractor in the power T&D sector, what are your growth plans?
ANS: Offering retrofit solutions by installing Fiber Optics live line in electrical T&D corridor is one of the thrust areas.We are looking at acquisition of pre-qualified companies to enter EHV turnkey contracting.We have obtained a contract to build on turnkey basis a complete mobile cell site.
Q: In your current revenues, what is the share of the power T&D segment? what is the contribution of the other major streams -railway, telecom and engineering?
ANS:Current revenue reflects 65 per cent of the power T&D segment.About 25 per cent is contributed by telecom sector, balance 10 per cent is constituted by railways, oil & gas and construction segments.
Q:Supreme is a reputed exporter with a global footprint of at least 40 countries. what characteristics could india imbibe to streamline and expedite the equipment procurement process?
ANS: One of the most important characteristic which a distribution utility can imbibe from the ones overseas is low tolerance threshold for outages.Even poorer countries like Bangladesh and sri lanka have overhead distribution lines strung with better quality fittings and accessories than what can be seen in India.
Q: We understand that Supreme had acquired land at Howrah in West Bengal for a capacity expansion project.Tell us more.What is the current status?
ANS: Yes,We have acquired vast land at Howrah in West Bengal with an idea of expansion of T&D products like Towers & Hardware up to 1200kv, power and distribution transformer,polymer insulators and control panel to provide complete solution to global T&D utilities.We currently have 20 acres of land spread over four factories.We are in negotiation for augmenting ,this by another 10 acres.By 2010, we shall be having 60,000sq.mtr. of covered space for our various manufacturing and storage requirements.
Q: Indian power sector suppliers are deriving significant export revenues from African nations. What has been supreme’s experience?
ANS: Presently we are catering to at least 15 per cent requirement of the T&D sector in few countries in the (Africa) continent. Considering rapid growth, the power requirement is ever increasing different goverments in the continents are striving to provide power supplies to local industries and interior villages through rural electrification projects. We being an established unit hope to provide complete T&D solution to those utilities with wide range of our products and capacity added technical service.
Q: What would be the key growth drivers of Supreme’s power T&D business in the coming years?
ANS: Key growth drivers will be quality, innovation and maintaining time lines.Always be focused on value addition and bottom line and top line growth will come automatically as a matter of course.
Q: Given India’s big ambitions in the power sector, supportd by a Rs.10trillion outlay for the xi plan, procurement of supplies by goverment utilities is expected to be a huge activity.What measures would you recommend to make the procurement process more transparent and efficient?
Looking to massive requirement for the xi plan, we have taken step for quantitative and value added qualitative capacity addition, up-gradation of technical efficiency in material handling and quality system procedure from the raw material stage to finished goods.We hope utilities will design projects considering cost control without compromising quality and maintain transparency in procurement.