The number of new power electronics products launched over the last five years has reached historic levels, placing enormous pressure on manufacturers to innovate in order to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, customers have also turned intelligent and shrewd, desiring the most feature packed and useful products, doubling the competition in the market. In such a scenario, a company’s ability to successfully identify and launch new, innovative products has become one of the most essential criteria for success. In this process, improving upon existing technologies has become imperative and many enterprises have established strong research and development units, into which they pump a fair amount of money every year to innovate and create new and unique products. Epower delves into this sector to find out some of the innovations that have taken place and the changes technologies are going through.
By Rutaksha Rawat
Best innovation: Compact inverter with LCD display and fast changeover; and intelligent charging algorithms
This Meerut based company claims to have been innovating and designing new products for different electronics fields for the last 25 years. “All the company’s designs are implemented inhouse and are later mimicked by competitors,” claims Sanjeev Garg, executive director, Pep Infotech.
Innovation factor: Infotech’s inverters increase backup time with efficient load management. Also, the changeover time in the company’s home UPS is very short, enabling customers to use computers without interruption. “We have designed intelligent constant voltage/constant charging (CVCC) algorithms, which ensure lengthier lives of branded as well as local batteries,” informs Garg. Infotech has also developed various devices, some award winning, for the railways and pay telephony spheres.
The company’s products are widely employed in engineering colleges, defence laboratories and homes. It constantly works on newer technologies and uses state-of-the-art equipment for product creation. The company has constructed various import substitutes for the Indian railways, including a number of advanced pay telephony products and extremely rugged high quality inverters and home UPS with innovative features. “We have realised that inventive products, with new and improved features, yield larger volumes of business. For instance, our liquid crystal display (LCD) feature in inverters has been appreciated by our customers and has led to a healthier revenue,” says Garg.
Current projects: At present, Infotech is working on developing tough, low cost home UPS systems for the common man. Additionally, it is working on high frequency transformerless designs, insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) based digital signal processing (DSP) controlled inverters and low cost solar charging inverters.
Best innovation:Hi-Lite series of high frequency combo UPS with improved features, weighing only 2.5kg at 810 VA. They can be operated with just a one-touch switch, a provision lacking in conservative inverters. They offer up to 15 per cent extra backup and feature autostart, which saves power and is not noisy like other inverters.
Established in 1996, upsINVERTER.com has come up with numerous innovative features for its products, including multistage charging, auto adjustments in batteries (resulting in enhanced battery life), accentuated battery backup, improved power generation and higher efficiency. “Necessity is the mother of invention and the fierce competition and picky customers drive us to constantly excel through innovation. Also, we believe that innovation of product technology is the true and most effective advertisement for products. One doesn’t need to rely on heavy marketing if his products have features that customers desire,” says Yogesh Dua, managing director, UpsINVERTER.com.
According to Dua, the firm has never strictly calculated the output received on investments made in research and development (R&D) activities and terms the returns as “priceless”. “We have proven and established ourselves in the Indian and global markets owing to our R&D and innovations,” affirms Dua.
Innovation factor: “UpsINVERTER.com has given many firsts to the industry through its ingenuity, like surfac emount device inverters,which enhanced reliability and were a totally new technology in 1998, when they were launched,” remarks Dua. The firm has also come up with an interesting and useful device called the combo UPS system, which is a cross between a UPS and an inverter. Itis a high frequency device, which allows multistage charging. It also has battery level display and can be configured to run IT products as well as household ones.
Current projects: The company’s R&D department is currently concentrating on higher capacities of Hi-Lite combo UPS and is also adding advanced features to its prevailing series of online UPS. “It takes time to innovate new products, but new goods always translate into new business. Nevertheless, we keep our old products in stock as well, till their demand dips to 10 per cent of the sales of the new product. Once it reaches that number, we discontinue the manufacture of the old models,” comments Dua.
POWER-ONE MICRO SYSTEMS
Best innovation: The company has recently machinated active harmonic filters, which can reduce the current harmonics generated by load. It has also developed 83.3Hz frequency converters for the railways
ower-One Micro Systems has been upgrading the technology of its products since 1995. Over the years, it has developed a gamut of unique products including transistorised UPS systems, 80KVA UPS systems, 30KVA and 400HZ frequency converters for the air force, 2×40KVA parallel redundant online UPS systems, passive filters for UPS systems to reduce input current harmonics and improved input power factor and solar power systems. “Through R&D, we continuously ameliorate our products and launch new, innovative ones, due to which, we have been able to retain our customers and foray into new areas of business. We also innovate in the pursuit of concocting cheaper products with great quality,” says M R Rajesh, director, Power-One.
Innovation factor: The company’s UPS systems possess the paralleling feature. If a customer wishes to increase the load, he can add another UPS parallel to it and connect it to the same electrical wiring. Power-One’s digital design makes it possible to avoid the usage of analogue circuits.
The active harmonic filter static synchronous compensator can reduce the current harmonics generated by load. Reduction of harmonics is advantageous to the customer as it decreases the chances of machine failures, cable heating and tripping of switch gears and also leads to overall improvement of power generation.
Current projects: Currently, the Bengaluru based company’s R&D squad is working on active harmonic filters and solar power systems.
KEVIN POWER SOLUTIONS
Best innovation: Kevin’s Cyber UPS reduces power consumption by 15-20 per cent and yields 15-20 per cent additional output power. The company has also innovated IGBT based multi-conversion technology products and performance based induction of high frequency systems
Kevin Power Solutions Ltd, whose motto is “imagination to innovation”, attributes customer oriented R&D and innovation as the salient features behind its sustenance and growth. In the past three years, it has created IGBT based pure sine wave home UPS, DSP sine wave static UPS systems, DSP sine wave three phase automatic lift backup systems (ALBS) and inverters for three phase compressors, which are used in air conditioners. “The major thrust at Kevin has always been to provide innovative and unique power solutions to various industries. R&D activities will, therefore, always remain an integral part of our setup,” says K R Bali, CEO, Kevin Power.
Innovation factor: The IGBT based pure sine wave UPS is a high frequency home UPS. Normally, in high frequency devices, metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs) are used that are not very reliable, considering the Indian power and environmental conditions. As a solution, Kevin has developed IGBT technology indigenously and claims to be the sole company to have developed this technology in the country so far. While DSP based UPS are approximately 70 per cent efficient, the IGBT based pure sine wave UPS offers 85 per cent efficiency, yielding 15 per cent more backup. A 150AH battery is requisite for 2.5 hours of backup time, but with the IGBT UPS, a 135AH battery is sufficient, taking the cost of the total solution down by 15 per cent.
In high capacity inverters above 2.5 KVA, one needs computer compatibility to install an online UPS, which is quite costly. In order to overcome this problem, Kevin has introduced the static UPS range, in which a static switch has been used instead of the relay, facilitating faster changeover time and making the system computer compatible as a result. This product has a surge load capacity of up to 300 per cent and low third harmonic distortion less than 3 per cent. It employs state-of-art MOSFET/IGBT based pulse width modulation technology to increase crest factor tolerance and dynamic stability.
Kevin’s DSP sine wave three phase ALBS has been especially designed for elevators. The lift’s motor emits high inrush current, which normal three phase inverters cannot bear. This product offers a solution to this problem as it can withstand extremely high inrush current. Kevin ALBS is a unique combination of a DSP sine wave three phase inverter, a storage battery charger and an electronics changeover module. It offers a comprehensive solution to most critical applications and incorporates an array of user friendly features while keeping in mind the day-to-day needs of clients and long term technical and commercial usage. Unlike other lift inverters, Kevin ALBS uses solid state static switches, resulting in negligible failure.
Current projects: Currently, the company’s R&D team is focusing on the design and development of 800VA, 1400VA, 2500VA and 3500VA high frequency inverters/UPS, based on bidirectional conversion of technology; the design and development of high frequency inverters/UPS, based on the 3TM32 microcontroller; the development and implementation of simple network management protocol for UPS; the design and development of scope meters for inverter/UPS calibration; and the design and development of 1KVA DSP sine wave online UPS systems.
“We have nearly 150 man years of experience in R&D activities. Our biggest strength is our ability to swiftly transport ideas from the mind to the market—like our motto suggests. We believe whatever can be imagined, can be made real. This metamorphosis of an idea into reality is made possible with the help of efficient methodology of technological absorption, design realisation, proving and freezing,” concludes Bali.
SU-KAM POWER SYSTEMS
Best innovation: Sealed maintenance free batteries, which do not pollute the atmosphere and are valve regulated to provide safety Pwave inverter, which doesn’t have a higher order of harmonics and provides clean power to sensitive and sophisticated electronic equipment. The firm is responsible for creating software to monitor and control output power. With this software, the user can set the output voltage and monitor the power quality with a button. This product has been successfully installed in many locations as it is field upgradeable, making maintenance very simple.
Innovation factor: The company maintains that it introduced India’s first MOSFET based inverter. Su-Kam also claims to be the first in India to invent an inverter with a plastic body, which was composed to eliminate the risk of electric shock. “Our R&D team worked closely with GE Plastics to design this product, which is completely shock proof and can withstand temperatures up to 120 degree centigrade,” says Rajaraman.
The enterprise also developed high frequency inverters to suit Indian conditions. “Su-Kam engineered pure direct current (DC) chargers with extended power, resulting in extended battery life and lower maintenance cost,” states Rajaraman. This product is believed to protect against spike surges and its design is based on high end microcontrollers.
According to Su-Kam, it has designed India’s first high capacity inverter (5 KVA and above). It has achieved power factor correction of close to unity (0.99), resulting in huge savings in power bills as well as improvement of overall energy efficiency. It also claims to have invented the fuzzy logic controller (FLC) technology to extend the life of batteries, due to which, water topping frequency has dipped to once in six months in lead acid batteries as against once every month, which was the norm earlier.
Su-Kam also introduced the pure sine wave inverter, which doesn’t have a higher order of harmonics and provides clean power to sensitive and sophisticated electronic equipment. The firm is responsible for creating software to monitor and control output power. With this software, the user can set the output voltage and monitor the power quality with a button. This product has been successfully installed in many locations as it is field upgradeable, making maintenance very simple.
The company’s R&D body has also developed solar inverters, solar charge controllers and solar power conditioning units for efficient conversion of solar power into electrical energy. The business house has acquired 30 patents for its products, spanning automatic failure detection systems for inverters/UPS, triple conversion online UPS systems, remote monitoring systems, bidirectional converters, battery chargers with power factor correction, equalisers and many more. “Our target is to file a 100 technology patents before the end of the financial year 2009-10 and we are labouring towards the fulfilment of this target,” declares Rajaraman.
Current projects: The R&D team of Su-Kam is currently concentrating on renewable energy products and focusing on conceiving technologies to tap alternative energy sources, such as solar power and wind energy. Efforts are also being made to architect high capacity inverters (200 KVA+). This product category is the ideal solution to tap the 10-15 per cent power, which otherwise goes waste during the usage of DG sets in industrial establishments. These high capacity inverters offer an effective mechanism to store the same wasted electricity. “Considering that petroleum products have a finite supply, each drop should be put to efficient use. The birth of this product will have huge positive implications on the future of mankind,” asserts Rajaraman.
Su-Kam is also working on next generation high frequency inverters and high frequency online UPS. “A majority of these products are currently being imported from China because India has complacently handed over the UPS market to China on a platter. Su-Kam is striving to take the market back from China as there is a vast potential for these systems. Our R&D has ventured to develop these machines inhouse, at prices which are very competitive compared to those of the Chinese products, with much better features,” reveals Rajaraman.
The firm’s R&D band is also paying attention to telecom inverters to cater to the future needs of the telecom industry and has already supplied these units to many telecom businesses. These systems manifest hybrid solutions, involving grid supply inverters, generators, solar and wind power.
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