Ferranti Computer Systems is present in India through a group operating company. Ferranti, the maker of MECOMS end-to-end solutions for energy utility markets is a member of the Nijkerk Group, an Industrial Information Technology group. In this interview, Richard Nijkerk outlines the company’s role in providing technological solutions to discoms under the R-APDRP.
When you talk of end-to-end solutions for energy utility market, what does that mean?
We deliver a meter-to-cash solutions that focus on all major elements of the energy utility markets, including the regulated and deregulated utility industry covering gas, water, electricity, city e-distribution systems. These involve the process of creating efficient invoices out of metering data for both large-scale systems and small-scale systems and are developed on top of the Microsoft technology stack. Our solutions enable integrated functionality with one master database, have a short implementation time and incorporate a user-friendly interface. Further, by working with Microsoft technology stack inside a dynamic environment, our clients can customise the applications.
Who typically are your customers?
Our operations are in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Middle East and India. Our clients are leading utility companies, national grid operators, load balancing parties and market interaction parties. A major part of our customer base includes the energy distribution companies.
How do you see the market developing in India, where it is only now that some deregulation of the market is taking place?
We think the challenges that lie in India are no different than from anywhere else in the world because the eventual goal is to have gas or electricity in every household in the country. The Indian government has correctly taken a long-term view on upgrading infrastructure. We think that there will be a significant change in the coming years, with more parties entering the market, significantly changing the landscape of the utility industry. As regards the power sector, the days of smart grids are here and it is likely that a whole different set of dynamics will soon govern the market. On its part, Ferranti too has taken a long-term view of the Indian market, one in which a local company will deliver solutions to the utility industry, serving the Asia-Pacific market with an extension to the Middle East.
How do you view the restructured APDRP? Is this a good framework for utilities to upgrade technology?
R-APDRP represents a major step forward in getting more efficiency in the business process of the discoms and reducing the transmission and distribution losses that currently exist. It is probably the first generation of multiple initiatives over the next 20-30 years that will help make the Indian infrastructure very advanced. It is a very good programme because this will introduce a lot of technology in very efficient way in the discoms.
What are the challenges that India is going to face in implementing R-APDRP?
Every client that wants to implement an IT system needs to have strong project management skills in order to make it a success. Commitment from the top of the discoms and also engagement from the top in order to have the right staffing and right skill sets are also important. I think managing capacities, not in the sense of quantity but skill sets, is going to be the most significant challenge for R-APDRP.
What is your opinion about the SRS document prepared for R-APDRP?
The SRS document gives a very good aerial view of what is needed. But it is the discom itself that has to decide what is necessary to upgrade its current systems. This is likely to lead to a lot of hybrid systems within the discoms. The SRS is a very good document because it is not specifying in too great a detail, or laying down hard prescriptions for technology. It has room for creativity and innovation..