S. K. Ray Chaudhuri is the managing director of G.P. Tronics Pvt Ltd (GPT) and Pulse Power Technologies Pvt Ltd (PPT). A graduate in engineering in electronics and telecommunications, Chaudhuri has 30 years experience in the field of solar technology and industrial electronics. He is a leading manufacturer of inverters, electronic equipments, high efficiency solar power inverter and charge controller.
Friday, February 18, 2009: The company GPT was founded in 1978 and has its well designed stateof-the-art factory in its own premises at Salt Lake Electronic Complex, the hub of industrial development in resurgent West Bengal. GPT has established large and regular domestic sales as well as export sale of its entire range of products. GPT is a channel partner of Emerson Network Power (India) Pvt Ltd for marketing various capacity UPS system and also distributor of British Consol Solar Water Heating System in India and neighbouring countries. PPT manufactures various higher capacities solar power plants ranging from 5KVA to MW capacity, technical collaboration with Optimal Power Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Australia. Moumita De Das spoke to Chaudhuri to find out more about the company.
EB: What was the stepping stone are also exporting our products for the which shaped GPT? What are your past endeavours before GPT?
We started our business in 1978 in power electronics innovation. We pioneered in designing and developing inverters in the Indian market. Subsequesntly, we diversified into other activities like Emerson UPS distribution; commissioing and maintaining it has become a major company turnover. We are also exporting our products for the last 12 years. In 1997, we developed our indigenous soalr power equipment having high efficiency in the tune of 92-93 per cent, which is one of the highest in this continent.
Before I ventured into GPT, I held a senior rank in a government department of telecommunications. There, I had an opportunity to be a part of an innovative concept, which helped the government to earn more revenue. We developed a circuit which facilitated in the enhancement of innovative telex service between the US and India.
EB:What electronics products do you manufacture? What’s your marketing strategy?
We are into power electronics with manufacturing inverters of various capacities and solar inverters which are charge controllers and hybrid from 0.6-5 KVA. Our strategy is to market it globally and offer a state-of-the-art product with high efficiency, which is essential in solar application due to high cost of module used for harnessing solar energy.
EB: What are the challenges and issues you face in your business?
Well, this is one of the most challenging arenas, especially, when we talk about manufacturing electronic products in Kolkata or as a matter of fact in India. It is due to the low cost and high volume production from China that is already dictating the market. Further, the price they offer do not meet the basic criteria of our raw material because of various low factors in the cost of embedded products. If these factors are not addressed in a proper manner, I apprehend power electronics products manufacturing in India will be a lost proposition.
EB: Are all your business conducted through channels or do you do direct business with clients?
We have two diverse channels—one through distribution network and the other one directly through the clients where they need solution for the application of our products. So, in the process, we have created a number of OEM customers for many years.
EB: How do you envision India evolving as a manufacturing base for electronic components?
Perhaps this is an intricate proposition because Indian manufacturers fail to understand that in order to compete with the Chinese counterparts one must have a different vision altogether. In India, we generally start off with local vision within the local market and move on to regional then to national and finally cater to the global market. But in China, before they decide to launch a product they first analyse the global market demand, its pricing and then try to offer a better product with a competitive price, which no country can match. So they can think in terms of producing million pieces of a product at one go, which is yet a dream for an Indian manufacturer, especially of the electronic components. So, unless we change our vision it will be a hard task for us.
EB: With your close interaction with the international players, what are the flaws that you identify in Indian business? What are the lessons you’ve learned from them?
In 1997, we associated with an Australian company to manufacture solar power inverter to meet the Indian market demand and also that of Australia. During the process, we could identify our lack of knowledge to manufacture such products both in terms of layout of various components, cabling, termination and drafting. This process of improvement for adoption of technology is still on but recently we have started getting recognition. One of our 30 KVA inverter manufactured and delivered to the US navy this year was appreciated as “wiring is an art and performance can only be compared with the product of a developed country”. I feel that unless we keep our mind open to adopt innovative methods from our international counterparts we will surely lag behind in the process.
EB: In domestic spectrum of electronics market, Chinese goods tend to pose a threat to local business. How do you see the issue?
This is an alarming issue and due to this factor many local power electronic players have already made their exit from the market. So the need of the hour is to embrace latest technology and volume gain of the products to sustain in the market. The market of quality product that can meet the export requirement is always preferred for better dividend and better commercial proposition. The volume gain is imperative for a company’s growth. Many a times it adversely affects the domestic market for non-availability of a quality product.
EB: What has been the impact of WTO’s zero-duty regime so far on your business?
In India the distribution system is very typical and to get the real benefit at the point of OEM is not tangible.
EB: Electronic components form the largest chunk of electronic exports from India, while the domestic market is being fed by imports. Why so?
The market of quality product that can meet the export requirement is always preferred for better dividend and better commercial proposition. The volume gain is imperative for a company’s growth. May a times it adversely affects the domestic market for non-availability of a quality product.
EB: What is the kind of support you expect from the Indian government to enhance the base of electronic components in India?
Being in the protective market we were asked to compete. Though we could survive, but when the market opened we were unable to show our skill to combat. So many were forced to wither. Now the situation is gradually taking a positive turn as we are better equipped with advanced technology, proper orientation and use of stateof-the-art equipments. These tools are helping the Indian companies to grow globally and compete with the international players.
EB: Recently GPT inaugurated India’s first 100 per cent green factory with a zero carbon emission. Share your views on the project.
As energy conservation is a burning issue, our energy per capita is increasing rapidly and inadequate supply of power is looking for a solution to meet both the requirements. As on date, LED luminaries are escalating at a rapid speed due to performance reliability and energy efficiency. While solar power is expensive to harness, LED gives higher luminary in an average—more than 40 per cent compared to CFL or CCFL. This was an adoption of technology, transferring it to power generation using high LED showcases solar renewable energy to use both for domestic as well as office purposes or any other lighting requirement.
This is a landmark project and first of its kind in India. The power consumption of the entire lighting load is about 1200 Watts as against the originally envisaged 4200 Watts with traditional CFLs. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency allows a max 11.5 W/sq m of lighting load to be termed as energy efficient. We have achieved the same in merely 3 Watts. So this has allowed the factory lighting to be 100 per cent solar operated. This endeavour makes us viable with both energy conservation and cost efficiency.
EB: What is the present market share of GPT both regionally and nationally?
With our holding company we share more than 90 per cent of the Indian solar power market. We are the only exporter of solar power plant in the country. Our annual turnover is Rs 40 crore as a group. Also, value-wise, our export share is about 80 per cent of our value production. We are exporting to Bangladesh, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the US.
EB: How do you see the future of electronics industry in the eastern region?
The competition seems to be decaying unless there is massive change of scenario with the Chinese manufacturing.
EB: What are your future plans for both GPT and PPT?
We are trying to step into the market of solar hybrid with solar and wind energy combined, which may be an appropriate solution as power generation will become cheap in the process. In 1992, we started our work with wind with a German company but then time was not viable as wind mapping was not ready. Further, technology was not that advanced. Then threshold velocity/cut-in velocity were only 8 m per second. Now many companies are making 2 m per second. Windmill is much cheaper compared to solar. But reducing the solar part and increasing the wind would be the solution of the future energy generation. Such potential, i.e. solar and wind combination can be used for generating rural electrification, which would be commercially more viable than solar without polluting the environment. We are working on the project and will soon get a positive impetus.
EB:What is your message to prospective young entrepreneurs in India?
Young entrepreneurs should remember that it is an alarming signal for the resource crunch like petrol and coal, which are going to last for a few more decades. So the need of the hour for young entrepreneurs is to realise this fact and take appropriate steps forward for embracing renewable source of energy in order to save the Earth.
Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine