Electric equipment manufacturing major HPL Electric & Power Ltd is leveraging IoT to add intelligence in its product range. The company has completed the smart city lighting project in Bhopal and installed over 20,000 smart LED lights and 400 CCMS there. In an interview with Subhajit Roy, HPL’s Joint Managing Director Gautam Seth gives an overview of the LED industry in India and the technology trends. Excerpts:
Could you brief us on the present demand-supply scenario of the lighting business?
We find that the lighting industry to be at a much better level compared to last 3 to 4 years. In terms of demand, it is going to pick up. The awareness levels of LED at a very high level so people know what are LEDs and the inherent benefits what LED is providing. But the LED industry has seen an influx of lot of new players coming in and the prices diving down. Also, at the same time, there have been lot of changes in technology that are happening. And players like us who have been backward integrated in manufacturing and who have their own R&D, design including electronic manufacturing for drivers stand to the end. In the current scenario, the demand is picking up, there are much more serious players, the competition is much more serious. The players who were disrupting the market are not seen around today. Prices are stabilised. So, on the whole ecosystem is better today for players including for traders because in falling prices it is not beneficial for trade to participate. Government purchasing is at a good level. So, the overall industry scenario is very good and we definitely see a lot of demand coming in.
In terms of products, we are seeing an all-around growth right from the LED bulbs are growing in trade segment in a very large manner. This is despite the government also participating in distribution of LED bulbs through EESL. Apart from that, we are seeing a good movement in all luminaires whether its consumer, industrial, commercial or even on the street lights. So, I would say there is an all-around demand coming and although every industry is competitive and so is the LED industry. At HPL Electric because of our inherent strengths in our design and development into backward integrated manufacturing, we have an edge over competitors.
How is the performance of HPL in the lighting business?
Last year, we have seen the trade had slowed down due to the GST implementation. Now the LED lighting has been growing. In second half of the last year, we have seen double-digit growth and that is continuing in current year also. We have been expanding our channel network and we have increased our promotional spend in last 2 years. That is aiding our growth in the trade segment. Mostly we have seen a lot of growth in LED coming in through the dealer and distributor channel segment.
What about technology? How Internet of Things is driving the lighting segment?
IoT is here to stay and grow and we are seeing that integration happening in our products. Today we are able to integrate the communication and electronics into street lighting and office lighting systems where we are having much smarter solutions.
In fact, this year we completed one of the first smart city lighting projects in Bhopal where we have installed over 20,000 smart LED lights and 400 CCMS (Centralised Control Monitoring System). Here each and every street light is connected to centralised server and can be centrally monitored using 6LoWPAN communication technology. This is something which is good and we are seeing more and more cities adopt same kind of technologies. We had earlier done the Ujjain Kumbh Mela on a larger scale.
Do you see that Connected Lighting or IoT will be the prime mover for lighting segment in times to come?
Yes, in times to come, IoT will drive the lighting innovation though it is still too early for mass adoption. For people to actually operate smart lighting and have equipment to monitor their homes is very easy thanks to smartphones. So, technology adoption will take some time but it is moving in that direction.
How is the preparedness of Indian manufacturers in the IoT front?
I would say, it’s very good. Since last 4 years when government started giving a push on LEDs the Indian manufacturers have come up in a different way. Earlier we were seeing industry dependent upon imports. But today the overall industry right from making the components to the finished goods, the manufacturing has improved. So, I would say companies like us because of our manufactured products, are looking to export LED lighting to many countries and that is where our focus both on consumer side and also on a project basis for our street lighting and other areas of lighting products.