Despite India having the manufacturing capability and the right technology, it still lags behind in the global market and is late in catching up with the global trends in capacitor manufacture
By Richa Chakravarty
Tuesday, March 20, 2012: Being a cheaper product when compared to other components, and with the increasing need for energy efficiency, the demand for capacitors is rising rapidly. According to an Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association (IEEMA) report, the Indian capacitor market registered a growth of 17.3 per cent during the first quarter of FY 2011-2012.
Despite the wide application of capacitors, the Indian capacitor industry has very few manufacturers in the organised sector. One of the major concerns in the recent past has been the rising cost of materials, coupled with the falling market price for the finished product. Prices of imported capacitors are lower when compared to what is available in the domestic market. Although the capacitor segment has seen relatively good growth, year on year, the actual volume of capacitors necessary to bring down the transmission and distribution losses is much below the required level. However, manufacturers are always on the lookout for new
materials or variants of older materials that can be incorporated into passive components. Here’s a quick look at what’s new in the capacitor industry and the latest trends being followed globally.
Current global trends
Demand for ultra-capacitors: Experts believe that electrochemical double layered super capacitors (EDLC), also known as ultra-capacitors, will be in demand through the current year. Ultra-capacitors offer a very efficient, high energy solution, with high performance across a wide range of temperatures and a long lifespan with little to no maintenance. “Worldwide, efforts are being made to improve EDLCs for their high energy density. These innovative capacitors are used in transportation, grid scale energy storage, wind turbines, server memory, consumer electronics applications, etc,” shares SK Jain, managing director, Sumitron Exports Pvt Ltd.
Higher capacitance value: According to A Bali, vice president, Deki Electronics Ltd, the current trend is towards smaller sizes in the high frequency environment along with the use of high capacitance value items. “A large capacitance means that more charge can
be stored. Electrolytic capacitors are capable of providing the highest capacitance values of any type of capacitor. There are two types of electrolytic capacitors in common use—aluminium and tantalum,” he adds.
Low equivalent series resistance: Moving along with the current trend towards lower voltage and higher current circuits, designers are now specifying capacitors with minimal ESR. Higher levels of functionality in today’s designs mean that despite the fall in voltage levels, circuit power levels should not drop. In simple words, a lower voltage means higher current levels. Thus, there is an increased demand on the power management circuit to deliver energy during periods of high current. Therefore, capacitors or capacitor banks that are used in the power management circuit need to exhibit low ESR characteristics.
Multiple SMT electrolytic capacitors: With surface mount technology (SMT) picking up fast, capacitors for surface mount devices (SMD) are used in vast quantities. There are different types of SMD capacitors, ranging from the ceramic variety to the tantalum and electrolytic type. SMT low ESR type electrolytic capacitors are more in demand as they offer a combined solution of high capacitance, to supply energy during high speed load stepping, and low ESR to reduce the output filter ripple (noise) voltage. Where liquid electrolytic capacitors offer high values of capacitance and low ESR that tends to be lower in cost, solid electrolytic capacitors feature reduced ESR, very high ripple current ratings and reduced size at a higher cost.
Miniaturisation of capacitors: Miniaturisation is another new trend that is catching on. Miniaturisation of multi-layer ceramic chip capacitors has not only brought about reductions in product sizes, but also contributes to the efficient use of resources and saves energy in manufacturing, secondary materials, transport and customer processes. It has allowed customers to reduce storage space by about 80 per cent.
Multi-layer ceramic capacitors: Increased adoption among design engineers across many industries has pushed multi-layer ceramic capacitors into the mainstream in the past few years. Certain variants have even replaced tantalum type of capacitors. Faced with the miniaturisation trend, manufacturers are keen to develop smaller yet more efficient products. Shares Aloysius Ang, field application engineer, Murata Electronics (India) Pvt Ltd, “Multi-layer ceramic capacitors of 0201 size are going to be in the mainstream, led by demand from mobile phones and other portable markets. These capacitors are now being used in netbooks, e-book readers, gaming devices and other touch panel applications.”
Global technological innovations
Technological advancements are taking place worldwide to make capacitors more efficient. For the fast supply of electrical energy, SuperCaps are being used. A SuperCap combines the advantage of conventional capacitors as fast suppliers of electricity with that
of batteries as notable energy reservoirs. These capacitors take advantage of the charge stored in the electrochemical double layer and provide extremely high capacities of more than 1000 Farads. Explains C Satish, managing director, Filcon Electronics Pvt Ltd, “SuperCap modules are developed as a replacement to conventional batteries in a large number of applications. Their energy density is typically hundreds of times greater than conventional electrolytic capacitors. They also have a much higher power density than batteries or fuel cells.”
Harmonics flow to capacitors causes overloading and possibly even premature failure in the production line. There is also a risk of resonance with any of the harmonics present in the system. In such a case, it can damage not only the capacitor but also other equipment in the line. It is, therefore, important to provide properly designed harmonics filters after carrying out an analysis of proper harmonics with different load conditions, eliminating the possibility of resonance, checking transformer fault levels, impedances, etc. Thus, these filters block the harmonics and improve the power factor.
Moving ahead in innovation, Deki has been in the forefront of introducing new products into the Indian market. Informs A Bali, “Lighting being the main area of focus, Deki introduced its PES series and patented polyester self-healing (PSH) series. PES is a unique six film design, which helps to achieve better minimum breakdown with similar or smaller sized capacitors. PSH is yet
another unique patented design that has an inductive construction with self-healing properties.”
A wide variety of materials with dielectric properties that enhance energy density, frequency response, equivalent series resistance (ESR), equivalent series inductance (ESL) and temperature range are registering huge growth. EIA Class 2 dielectrics are being used in various temperatures and tolerance ranges, allowing manufacturers to produce capacitors for particular purposes. Multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) are an excellent example of such passive components that have enjoyed robust growth, through the use of a wide variety of dielectric materials and by making improvements in device design. There are many engineered dielectric materials that have been used in MLCC devices, which allow an array of devices to be built to meet specific design requirements.
R&D efforts are geared towards improving the electrical characteristics covering capacity density per unit volume, frequency response, DC bias voltage and loss coefficient. Increasing the reliability of capacitors is also a priority, especially among suppliers targeting automotive and industrial applications that demand rigorous operating attributes both in the temperature range and in voltage.
Where does India stand?
Despite its shortcomings, the Indian capacitor market—unlike the world capacitor market—is expected to grow by 10 to 15 per cent, annually. Domestic manufacturing lags far behind demand, as a result of which India has to import almost 60-65 per cent of its requirements for capacitors from China, who is the world leader in capacitor manufacturing and a small quantity comes from Taiwan, Korea and Japan. While the manufacturing sector in India needs a big fillip, it is important for manufacturers to follow the many new trends that have emerged in the global markets. India needs to attract more investment in this sector. “India needs to adopt a two-prong action plan—one is to increase R&D efforts to match international quality, and the second is to increase production volumes to meet the demand at lower prices,” shares S K Jain. Adding to this, C Satish feels, “For India to compete with the global players, it is essential that domestic manufacturers pay more attention to price and quality. This can only happen by automating production lines and moving ahead with volume production.”
A major concern in the recent past has been increasing input material costs coupled with increasing price levels. According to Vikram Desai, managing director, Desai Electronics Pvt Ltd, “Worldwide DC plastic films capacitor market is expected to be flat or may even shrink by 5 per cent over next 5 years, provided the world economy does not shrink further. The demand for plastic film capacitors has now flattened out with deliveries matching the demand. The availability of raw material, especially metallised films, has improved with shortening of delivery times. There is a pressure to increase the prices, in light of the devaluation of the rupee.” There has been an upward trend in the Indian prices due to low volume production and increased manufacturing input costs. Hence, major EMS companies in India are generally procuring capacitors from foreign suppliers through their Indian distributors. However, when it comes to quality, domestic companies are doing far better than various other leading countries. Adds A Bali, “Today, cheap film capacitors are flooding the country but the discerning purchaser knows that buying from a domestic player is a much better option, even if the price is 10 to 15 per cent more as there is the assurance of quality, flexibility and service.”
India not only has the manufacturing capability but it also has global technology available within the country. “But electronics manufacturers are not using the latest capacitors—the capacitor sizes being used in India were in vogue 10 years ago. Indian manufacturers are still commonly using capacitor sizes of 0603, 0805, etc, which are usually more costly. Local manufacturers should speed up the progress to MLCC usage downsizing into 0402 size or smaller,” informs Aloysius Ang.
India’s power sector is growing at a healthy rate and with the increase in the megawatts of electricity generated capacitors play a very important role in improving power utilisation. It is well known that India’s transmission and distribution losses are very high. Indian manufacturers must invest in the latest technology to cut these losses and meet the rising demand for capacitors in the country.
What’s on offer in India?
Desai Electronics Pvt Ltd is among the leading manufacturers of plastic film capacitors. Its product range covers interference suppression—Class X2 with UL approval and Y2 capacitors, plain (inductive and non-inductive) and metallised (polyester and polypropylene) capacitors. Informs Vikram Desai, “Although the worldwide market for plastic film capacitors would remain flat, the sale of plastic film capacitors in India has increased owing to the demand from the lighting industry (CFL and LED).” The application areas for plastic film capacitors constitute lighting (CFL and ballast), fan regulators and dimmers, energy meters, automobiles, instrumentation, LED lamps and drivers, power electronics, telecom, etc.
Sumitron Exports Pvt Ltd, a major distributor of capacitors, is a supplier for NIC Components Corporation. NIC in association with Nippon Industries Co Ltd is a designer, manufacturer and worldwide supplier of passive components. NIC offers 175 product series which include aluminium and tantalum E-caps, ceramic capacitors, DC film capacitors, thick and thin film resistive products and a growing line of power inductors, chip inductors and ferrite chip beads. “As technological upgradation is happening on the high energy density front, with low ESR that remains stable over a wide range of temperatures and frequencies, we have to offer technologically advanced capacitors; we are able to do this through our principal, NIC,” adds SK Jain. Moving with the trend, Sumitron offers all types of technologically advanced ESR capacitors including film capacitors, tantalums, aluminium electrolytic capacitors, solid polymer aluminium electrolytic capacitors and multi-layer ceramic chip capacitors.
Filcon Electronics Pvt Ltd is yet another key player in this segment. The company manufactures metallised polyester, metallised polypropylene, polypropylene film and foil capacitors of high stability and close tolerance. It also offers mixed dielectric capacitors for railway signalling and defence applications in round and box-type variants. “The capacitors manufactured by us have various applications including wave-traps and diesel locomotives. We have automatic lines for winding and testing; hence, our products meet international standards, with assured in-time delivery and competitive prices,” informs C Satish.
Deki Electronics Ltd, one of the largest manufacturers of DC plastic film capacitors, has been highly focused on developing new products and has filed a patent for one such product. Its wide range of capacitors include the Ultima range of safe fan regulator capacitors, mixed dielectric capacitor plain polypropylene and plain polyester film (PEP) capacitors for high stability and switching in CFL ballasts; polyester extra strength (PES) capacitors which give better minimum breakdown voltage in reduced sizes, and inductive self-healing capacitors.
With over 20 years’ experience, Power Palazzo Pvt Ltd has been supplying high quality active and passive components for the electronics and semiconductor industry. The company offers a complete range of superior quality electrolytic capacitors under the brand name Aishi to satisfy various customer needs by continually investing in R&D and manufacturing facilities.
Murata Electronics Singapore (Pte) Ltd, a subsidiary of Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd, Japan, one of the largest MLCC manufacturer in the world, offers wide range of capacitor line-up in both low and high voltage that include consumer grade and automotive grade MLCC. It also manufactures disc lead type capacitors, aluminium polymer capacitors and EDLC.
Says Aloysium Ang, “Murata offers high capacitance value (above 1µF) capacitors from 4-50 V, which can be used at a maximum temperature of 85°C. The miniaturisation and large capacitance of these capacitors makes them ideal for the decoupling and smoothing applications of mobile devices.”
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