"You have a wide range of engineers in India"
Indian engineers are interested in understanding the latest technologies available to help them design solutions more quickly.
Companies like Vicor have found that the engineering talent pool in India is vast and diverse, as opposed to the West where the power engineering pool is ageing, since new talent is opting for the digital engineering or software spaces. For power supplies in particular, India’s dynamic talent has developed local solutions, moving on from the days when products were merely imported from the West. In order to understand this market’s requirements better, Rahul Chopra and Sneha Ambastha from Electronics Bazaar spoke to Andy Gales, VP, Vicor—a global veteran of power electronics. Here are some excerpts… EB: Are there any new trends that you have seen in India?
Indian engineers are very knowledgeable about power. They are also very broad minded and they react quickly if they see an advantage in doing things a different way. It sometimes takes a bit longer in other countries to see the adoption of new ideas. We enjoy working with Indian engineers, to help them optimise their solutions. I have been working in the Indian market for several years and find the engineers here interested in understanding the latest technologies available to help them design solutions more quickly.
EB: What scope does your business have in the Indian defence electronics space?
The business has been growing for many years. We started out in India in the defence market because our products are particularly attractive for engineers who develop challenging applications, where performance is key. Today we are also talking to customers in the communications, industrial and automotive markets, all with a demand for high performance.
EB: Are there any particular defence applications for which your products are ideal?
Over the last 30 years, our products have been used in a wide variety of defence applications, from the traditional to the latest products enabled by the plethora of new technologies available. And what’s really exciting is that our products are helping companies to develop them. For example, one relatively new application is UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), where our new high-power, lowweight and small-sized products are critical to success. The unique capabilities of our products are also enabling advances in other airborne applications like radars, as well as in ground vehicle and naval applications. In the latter two cases, our products are used in surveillance, monitoring, communications or in command and control systems. In short, we power a broad array of defence applications.
EB: How does the Indian market compare with the Chinese market?
China is an important market for Vicor, and there are some similarities. In terms of market size, India’s is probably one-tenth that of China. But the Indian market is growing faster.
EB: Have you ever encountered the problem of counterfeit components in India?
Yes, we have had some experience of counterfeiting. The safest thing
to do is to buy the products from a reputed dealer.
EB: What were the primary findings of your recent survey?
We were surprised by the results of our survey. We expected that meeting cost targets would be the biggest challenge. But we found that adapting to changing specifications during development was the biggest issue. Change is difficult to manage. The goalposts are constantly shifting during the development process.
At the start of a project, an engineer is given a specification to meet. But specifications change, which is like moving the goalposts. Further into the development cycle, the engineering team may be asked to change the processor rail from one voltage to another, or widen the input voltage to allow operation under unforeseen circumstances.
EB: Does Vicor handle this challenge better than other vendors?
Yes, it does, because Vicor has a vast product portfolio covering a wide range of requirements and providing a good deal of built-in flexibility. What this means is that if the specification changes
We expected that meeting cost targets would be the biggest challenge. But we found that adapting to changing specifications during development was the biggest issue.
during the development cycle, it is often possible to replace one power component with another to align with this change. This often means that you do not need to redesign a transformer or a circuit board. You simply swap one part for another with modular power component solutions; it is very easy to change the solution to meet the requirements of the market.
EB: The survey also indicated that there is a shortage of experienced engineers or resources in power electronics. What’s your take on that?
In the West, the population of power supply engineers is ageing. This is not as much a problem in India as it is in the US and Europe. Today, analogue engineers are becoming a scarce resource; more people want to become digital engineers or are focusing on software development.
EB: Does this mean that there is an opportunity for Indian companies to become global players?
I think it’s already happening and ‘Make in India’ is the primary example. You have a wide range of engineers in India. Previously, countries like India used to procure power supplies from the US and Europe. However, now they have started designing solutions here themselves.
Andy GAles, VP, Vicor