Syed Sajjadh Ali: Eaton to focus on energy transition, EV and digitalization

With industries shifting to work from home and are remotely managing their tasks, UPS industry see a staunch rise with some new features in demand. With the government laying more emphasis on the capacity building and energy transition, Eaton is focusing on building smart products to serve the need. Syed Sajjadh Ali, Managing Director - India, Electrical Sector, Eaton, in an email interaction with Pushkar Oak, highlights recent trends in the UPS industry and digitalization. Excerpts:
Syed Sajjadh Ali: Eaton to focus on energy transition, EV and digitalization

How big is Indian market for UPS in terms of volume and worth?
The Indian UPS market is estimated at INR 3,000 Crore with about 2 million units sold annually. As a country our consumption patterns and industry capabilities are rapidly upgrading to adopt the digital and clean energy technologies.  This is resulting in an increased demand for UPS in e-governance, e-Commerce/retail, manufacturing, and of course in Datacenters. According to various studies India is one of the fastest-growing data center markets worldwide, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 7 per cent and 8 per cent. The growing data center infrastructure in the country, which requires 100 per cent uptime, has created the need for UPS suppliers to offer innovative power backup solutions.
The COVID pandemic led to a small disruption in supply chain, however given the move towards digitisation and business criticality, we are expecting the market to grow faster than earlier expected.

What are some recent trends in the UPS market of India?
The need to have employees working from home led to a sharp increase in the demand for home UPS. However, we feel the industry did a great job in adapting to the new normal and most of the physical infrastructure required for employees to be productive at home has been installed.
A step further, we are now seeing organisations look at their office infrastructure and explore opportunities to unlock value from the same. This is leading to a lot of interest in high efficiency, modular UPS’s which also offer small form factors. UPS’s such as Eaton DXRT & Eaton 93PR are some great examples which facility managers are relying on to unlock capital and reduce opex.
From a long term perspective, the trend of edge computing and hybrid cloud is seeing further acceleration. Today, legacy UPS systems can no longer support the reliability, remote management, and automation required for Edge and Hybrid cloud systems. The trend towards integrating power management as an additional layer of the IT converged infrastructure is fast picking up. We are therefore seeing a lot of interest in Eaton’s Intelligent Power Management software Suite.   

Has remote working factored to the overall growth of UPS in India?
Yes. With remote working, uninterrupted electricity demand has shifted from city centres and office parks to more residential areas. This has resulted in increased demand for UPS at a household level. Also, most organisations have kept cloud-based backups as part of their business continuity and disaster recovery plan to recover data quickly.

What changes do you find in the current time in the buying behaviour? How has it changed over the years?
Today’s consumer is equipped with various means to gain information and insights about a product or a solution before deciding to purchase it. In UPS category also we have observed changes to this effect and most of the customers are aware of the latest in UPS technology and demand for it. UPS buying is a significant capex and customers do take support from independent electrical consultants. Such influencers do make most of the buying decisions for customers. Apart from this the channel partners in the UPS trade are key to sales as they have a much deeper reach within a geography and have strong customer base.

We have also seen good traction with E-commerce sales of smaller rating UPSs (typically home use) as it gives user the flexibility to order unit from anywhere and anytime with door-step delivery. We welcome such trends.

Looking at the fact that the Government is building capacity, how does Eaton look at the renewable energy market in India?
Energy transition is going to be at the heart of government’s strategy to build security as well as improve the nation’s finances. Therefore, we expect India not only to be a very large market for renewable technology, but we also expect many new start-ups and innovations happening from India. 
We expect the energy transition will be enabled by information technology, policy frameworks and market instruments. Eaton has a range of solutions for renewable energy right from small fuses used in rooftop installations to complex Micro-grid infrastructure which are used in defence and healthcare segments to increase energy reliability, redundancy, and reduce cost.

Adaption of new age tech like automation and AI is on rise. Do you believe that this is also another key element driving the UPS market in India?
UPS is a transversal technology and can be used by any power consuming set-up which could be a large data center or a small scale industry. Of course, AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) adoption does encourage use of IT assets (servers, storage, switches etc.) which thereby result in the increased usage of UPS to provide clean continuous power to such critical assets.

Another interesting point here is that with the use of AI and automation, the UPS is itself becoming more ‘Aware’ and ‘Smart’.

What is Eatons R&D team currently working on?

We have a R&D center in Pune who serves Eaton globally across its all range of businesses be it UPS, Switchgear or Aerospace. We are developing new technologies which would help in creating a better for all of us to live. We are focusing on digital solutions (Software suites and intelligent products) which help customers to better manage their businesses.

What are your focus areas in FY 2021-2022?

Focus on Energy Transition (Building as a Grid, Data Center as a Grid solutions), EV solutions and lastly Digitalization.

Describe about Eaton’s ‘giving back energy to the grid’ with EnergyAware.

UPS is often referred to as the heart of the electrical network. Eaton has recently introduced UPS using EnergyAware technology that allows large Data Center operators to give back energy to the grid. The UPS's primary role doesn’t change, but by creating UPS as a Reserve (UPSaaR) through EnergyAware, organizations can enable Energy Transition. UPSaaR organizations can offset both their capital expenditure while reducing the carbon footprint and boosting renewable energy. This is installed along with UPS to regulate demand from the grid i.e, responsible for upstream and downstream charging to discharge the battery back to the grid. It compensates the data center companies/operators for reducing energy consumption when required to maintain the grid frequency and contributing to green energy, thus generating revenue from their UPS investments.

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