Havells plans to stay ahead in the race with its latest PoE technology
The Indian lighting industry has progressed considerably over the past three years, aided by improved technologies and intelligent systems. After transiting from conventional lamps to LEDs, the Indian lighting industry is now asking, ‘What’s next?’ To fin
EB: How much does your LED product portfolio contribute to your overall turnover?
Our LED products account for about 75 per cent of the turnover in the lighting division. Our lighting revenue comes from consumer lighting and professional lighting. The consumer luminaires section generates 55 per cent of the revenue from lighting. This business is purely through trade. Of the 45 per cent that comes from the professional category, the majority is institutional sales. We have indoor and outdoor lighting solutions, which include commercial, street lighting, retail, area and façade lighting, etc. Of all these product types, 40 per cent of our revenue comes from street lighting.
In façade lighting, we have recently launched a range called Colorscape, which is architectural RGB lighting. The range includes RGB colourchanging facade lighting. Currently, we are lighting up monuments of national repute with the Colorscape range. Leading designers and specifiers have patronised Colorscape and soon major projects across India will be using this intelligent range of lighting.
EB: What growth do you foresee in the LED lighting segment over the next three years and how does Havells plan to be a part of it?
We are living in the most exciting times in human history. ‘Disruptive technology’ was our slogan in the recently concluded ELECRAMA. Today LEDs have become more robust and reliable. In lighting, the next five years look very bright. The trend of using LEDs has now picked up pace, mainly because of the savings in energy. Following the mantra, ‘Energy saved is energy gained’, the government and private players are also seeing the change in energy consumption and the payback period, too, is now not very long. We predict that this trend will continue, and with the government pushing LED street lighting through EESL, there will be a further surge in the next five years. The number of streetlights in India is so high that it will take another five years to completely switch to LED lights. By that time, the fixtures installed today will require replacement. So the process will continue.
EB: Is there a capex plan that you are working on?
We have taken a test order from the NDMC (North Delhi Municipal Council) that is worth `4.5 billion. We will get paid in seven years. The initial investments are ours, so whatever energy savings accrue, 80 per cent of these will be given to us and 20 per cent will be retained by NDMC. This is the kind of investment model that is being tested with the companies.
EB: What has motivated Havells to completely stop CFL production?
We stopped CFL production six months back. The good news is that none of our plants got affected due to that. We have switched the CFL SMT lines to LEDs and our employees are still working in that plant. Making the switch from CFL to LED does not require a complete change in equipment, as is the case when switching from incandescent to LED.
First of all, CFL has the mercury issue. One spoon of mercury can contaminate one big lake. Second, the prices of CFL and LED bulbs are today the same. On top of that, the LED lumen output is more and energy consumption is less.
There are still many companies making incandescent and CFL lights, and there are people buying them. Since those producing incandescent lamps have manufacturing lines that are completely different and cannot be easily changed for CFL or LED production, they are continuing with those lamps to keep their plants running.
Moreover, as per the Havells corporate strategy that was formulated 15 years back, when we came into lighting itself, we never got into making incandescent lamps or fluorescent tubes, because these are the most energy inefficient. Wasting the country’s energy by using these lamps does not make sense. If companies produce them, people will buy them – it’s a chain reaction. Because of the government’s emphasis on reducing mercury levels, we have taken the cautious decision of not producing CFLs too.
We continue to make similar sales from LED lights, and our bucket size remains the same even though we have stopped making CFLs.
EB: What do you think about the issue of obsolescence in lighting?
The rate is very high. That’s the biggest challenge for us – that the life cycle of a product is very short. More and more similar products are launched – there is a very thin line separating which ones sell and which do not. The business does take a hit because of obsolescence, every year. It is not that the product’s quality is bad, but once the next generation of products comes in, the earlier products, by default, are obsolete.
EB: Going forward, will Havells’ investments in infrastructure decrease or will third party outsourcing prevail?
We are the only company in India with its own state-ofart manufacturing plant. Our core philosophy is linked to manufacturing, so all the products sold by the company are entirely manufactured in-house. Going forward, we will continue to manufacture products in-house rather than outsourcing the production, but the ratio will be 60:40. Although our desire is to manufacture 100 per cent of our produce internally, keeping in mind the limitations, we will make 60 per cent in-house while outsourcing the remaining 40 per cent.
EB: What existing challenges can the new PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology solve?
PoE lighting refers to the ability to use an Ethernet cable to power light fixtures (luminaires), and transmit data between the luminaire and the control software. Intelligent LED lighting solutions are driving the digital transformation of the lighting industry, which has become the foundation for smart building automation. PoE technology will be used a lot more for indoor lighting. Its major benefits are energy savings, space optimisation, productivity enhancement and security alerts.
PoE uses sensors mounted on light fittings for the predictive analysis of energy consumption. Thus, if a room is not occupied, intelligent analytics can switch the particular area’s air conditioning to latent mode. In addition, other features such as automatic on/off, movement detection, occupancy alarms, daylight harvesting and other essential features can save a lot of energy and increase productivity. And let’s not forget the precious money that is saved— which otherwise could have been drained in energy bills.
Very often, we book a conference room and, if we do not use it, we forget to cancel our booking. In a room where PoE lighting is used, sensors will note that despite the booking, the place is not occupied and will send an alarm to the admin. And the same room can then be allocated to the next person who needs it.
EB: How far have you progressed in implementing PoE in your solutions?
We are thinking about this on an exponential scale—more as a solutions provider rather than being just an electric lighting provider. We are working towards that goal steadily. Understanding the pain points of customers in connected spaces, we realise that our technology should be robust, reliable and most important, scalable. Thus, the transfer of technology is what we are looking for. To enable this, we are in active talks with a European solutions provider.
EB: How will the cost of the end product differ with the implementation of PoE technology? What will the ROI be?
Just as no one buys a smartphone based on just its ability to make phone calls, future buyers of smart lighting will not be doing so purely for its ability to produce illumination.
We have to keep in mind that, in the future, customers will not be buying a set of light fixtures but buying into an ecosystem of applications and services that have absolutely nothing to do with light. You will find lighting intersecting with adjacent sectors like security, sensing, Big Data, and even advertising.
However, to answer your question—yes, the price of the end
Just as no one buys a smartphone based on just its ability to make phone calls, future buyers of smart lighting will not be doing so purely for its ability to produce illumination
product in the case of PoE technology will be higher than that of products that use existing technology. This is because of the additional cost of the intelligence embedded in the dumb light fixture via a sensor and the thermal relays. So, the price of the fixture is the same but the price of the ballast, sensor, etc, will add up to make the overall cost much higher. But if we look at the overall business proposition and the long term payback period, then the cost savings will also be much higher than what customers get now. Besides, all the technical benefits will play a big role in helping India meet its energy efficiency and sustainability goals.
EB: How are the small and medium players across the country adapting to the newer lighting technologies, given the costsensitive nature of the market?
We are living through a period marked by fundamentally disruptive opportunities. New technologies, product obsolescence, AI and IoT have rewritten the rules of the game in the lighting industry. Creating new products should be the priority of every company. We understand this and have invested a lot in R&D, over the past decade. We are among the few lighting companies in the world manned by more than 200 R&D engineers.
Fly-by-night operators will have a difficult time proving their mettle in the long run. The customer is now more information enabled. Thus, only companies like ours, that have taken care to invest in manufacturing lines and in building a factory backed by strong R&D and a robust distributor network will survive.
At Havells, innovation is a way of life. Also, we should remember that more than our capex, taking care of the consumers’ opex needs is very important. Thus, a strong after-sales network, experiential showrooms, warehouses and branch offices generate trust among discerning users, customers and end users. The industry is set for a massive transformation and its CAGR is growing at a double digit pace.
EB: Is Havells gearing up for the smart city mission?
We are among the active players in the smart city domain. To enable this, we have invested in home grown technology, after understanding the needs of the Indian market. We help cities use information and communications technology (ICT) to gain insights on how to enhance livability, workability and sustainability. Havells is making sure it complies with all the major relevant standards, globally. As a responsible and sophisticated technology company in India, we focus on solutions that are tailor-made for Indian requirements. StreetComm, our patented intelligent street lighting system, is a solution designed by us, keeping in mind the sensitivities and requirements of Indian cities, city authorities and ultimately, the citizens.
The solution is highly modular and flexible, and can be easily integrated with any existing technology infrastructure of the city. It has been engineered with just the right level of technical sophistication needed to address the citizens’ pain points. As it is designed and manufactured in India, it is affordable and its price is justified easily by the value delivered in terms of energy efficiency, operational efficiency, smartness and the collection of Big Data. The solution is intelligently designed, keeping in mind local operational demands and thus the total cost of ownership is low—a fact that is often ignored in many IoT solutions. We have a dedicated R&D division backed by a sales force to cater to smart lighting opportunities.
We have bagged a major smart city order, and are in the process of negotiating and bidding for more.
Anil BhAsin, president, Havells India Pvt Ltd