‘Our focus in India is more on the design capability’
An interview with Helge Huerkamp, President Energy Business – Vibro-Meter Products, Meggitt Energy; Richard Coughlin, Vice President, Energy Sales & Marketing, Vibro-Meter Products; and L J Swaminathan, Director, MSS Energy-Middle East & India.
From keeping aircrafts flying safely to running power plants smoothly – what exactly is Meggitt?
Helge Huerkamp: If you take Meggitt as a group, we do smart engineering for extreme environments. Our vision is enable the extraordinary to fly, to power and to live. The technology we use is something so special, it protects people like in aircraft; and protects machines like in power generation. The technology is used in specialised applications like brakes of aircraft, and that is something very specialised, very unique to help perform better and with safety.
The vision about 100% predictability – how near or how far are we from this?
L J Swaminathan: That is a very ambitious statement we have made and it is certainly far away. We are taking one step at a time, but if you take the technology available today – the sensor platforms, the monitoring platforms, the software – this is ever evolving. What predictability means is not just to say a machine is healthy or not, but also the ability to pinpoint the exact problems. So as machines and technology evolve, this will be a continuous process.
Richard Coughlin: Predictability starts with us, with our equation, it is 100%, it always works with the sensors working. We also help the customer in predictability of their equipment, so they know when it is working correctly, and they know when to have a shutdown. It started with our equipment, but it also works with our customers’ equipment.
India is often seen as a place with a different work culture. Does Meggitt subscribe to this view?
HH: With my experience of seeing Meggitt in different parts of the world I would say India is different in the aspect that it is very fast moving in some areas, it also requires a lot more creativity in the way we approach the market or service the customer. We see in other regions there are more requests for standardised things, whereas in India we have to be very close to the customer to understand their requirement. So from the Meggitt perspective we take this quite seriously because we have here one of our largest teams and facility and we invest in the whole service, engineering and customer support and in the sales organisation, so we really have a team that has all the capabilities, and that is actually quite rare in Meggitt, in any country other than India.
How long has been Meggitt present in India directly with own operations?
LJS: We started Meggitt operations in India in September 2008, so it has been 10 years, but prior to that we have had Meggitt systems in India supplied as part of OEM equipment.
What are the main customer segments in India for the company?
LJS: For large part of these 10 years we have mainly served the power industry. If you look at the installed base in last 10 years our equipment is supplied to generate 50GW of power, most of it in new power generation plants or super critical plants. In this specific segment we have 60% market share. We are also strong in hydro and nuclear – having equipped 13 nuclear power plants in India thus so far, some of which date back to the period before Meggitt formally came to India.
RC: Our heritage comes from aerospace – we really secure almost every aircraft that flies, which is secured by our technology today – a standard of quality and safety that we are very proud of. This is also reflected in our products for the nuclear segment and condition monitoring.
How many manufacturing facilities does Meggitt have globally and what are the prospects of one in India?
HH: Meggitt totally has around 45 factories across the globe spanning all continents. What we are focussing in India right now is more on the design capability to build an engineering team for designing products, and the other area is we are also building a service and installation team. This is because we are moving into high end, high value addition, designing products and also working with Indian companies, initially building the final product and configuring it here in India, with the Indian team.
RC: We are working with the Indian team as a centre of excellence for back office engineering, as well as working with other companies to develop the software, so that is important to us.
LJS: We are also investing with other major companies in India, e.g., Meggitt is working with HCL for the last 7 years. Nearly 250 engineers are working within HCL for Meggitt full time to support our global operations, developing new products, software and hardware designing, etc. That particular HCL team is fully integrated into the Meggitt design and software systems with access to our servers – it is a satisfactory arrangement. Also for the Asian region, the entire back end is at Bangalore.
Meggitt is about sensing and sensors that generate a whole lot of data in the IIoT era. How do you make sense of all this data?
RC: We process the data and the important data is stored on software and we continuously develop our software. We are working on improving predictability with a couple of clients with pilots and there is a pilot project going on right now with a major hydro project in Switzerland. We have a dedicated teams for this and a big pilot team is working on data analytics.
HH: What we realised is that our hardware and software has the capability as the backbone. We need very robust and solid systems for predictability that factor into all possible causes of failure. So we have this infrastructure. The next step is about algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence – that is something we are still exploring, because even for customers it is not sure what the value it brings, so we have to be very sure about that. Because when you do that the customer may ask what do I gain in terms reduced downtime, improved service time, increased uptime, etc. The pilots Richard mentioned has shown that we came within six weeks anticipating a trip or an event, and the customer is very happy with that but says right now I am not sure I can use that as my team has to be skilled. So there are lot of competencies involved in this, as it is anticipated and one must trust the data. So we are exploring, we do not have a solution yet, but we are ready to work with customers.
Where does all the data reside – is there a cloud or does it reside on the server?
HH: That depends upon the customer on how they want it. We provide the servers for data storage and compacting, we also provide system that have full remote monitoring of assets. For example we have a mega project in Egypt with one large European OEM where they actually monitor 24 turbines from Germany that are sitting in Egypt. So we can provide both services. Today there is some reluctance to go to the cloud for many customers as they want to hold and protect their data, but we can offer both.
Any message to Indian customers?
HH: Meggit believes in India, and our local Indian team is one of the most dynamic and customer focused within our business. I am confident we can deliver excellent value for the Indian PowGen and Oil & Gas industry.