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Mahindra Powerol: Harnessing the power of technology

March 09, 2015
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Mahindra Powerol, part of the tractor and utility vehicle major Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, is one of the leading manufacturers of generator sets in the country. Besides offering diesel generators (DGs) to power telecom towers, the company offers comprehensive energy management solutions (EMS) at telecom tower sites. By now, it has deployed EMSs at around 1,000 sites.

Mahindra Powerol entered the field of power generation in 2001-02, after the parent company witnessed a slowdown. According to P. Palaniappan, senior vice-president and business head, Mahindra Powerol, “Fortunately for the company, the telecom sector was witnessing a boom during that time. A number of players were engaged in setting up a network of telecom towers across the country. However, owing to the erratic nature of power supply in most parts of the country, the booming telecom industry required adequate backup at tower sites.” Sensing the opportunities that the segment offered, Mahindra Powerol started providing end-to-end solutions to the telecom tower companies.

Apart from the personalised transportation of DG sets and their installation and commissioning, the company also provides annual and comprehensive maintenance of these sets. Since its inception, Mahindra Powerol has sold over 300,000 DG and industrial engines, and has grown into a Rs 10 billion company.

The company has made rapid strides in the Indian genset industry in a very short span of time. Its list of clients includes telecom majors like Indus towers, Bharti Infratel, Viom Networks, American Towers, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, BSNL, Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices and Tower Vision. Besides telecom, the company is engaged in providing DG sets and industrial engines to industries such as banks, building and construction, PSUs, hospitals, hotels, and manufacturing units.

A good product invariably needs good service support. Taking this into account, Mahindra Powerol has created a network of about 160 service dealers called Mahindra Authorised Genset and Industrial Engine Centres which cater 24x7 to service needs of the company’s customers. Efficient and effective service delivery has enabled Powerol to gain 50 per cent share in the DG market for telecom.

Making green strides

Having established itself as a reliable partner for various telecom companies, Mahindra Powerol soon realised that the demand for DG sets in the telecom sector would eventually taper off. To ensure continuous engagement with the telecom sector, the company started providing telecom infrastructure management. Under this it started maintaining towers for the passive infrastructure of tower companies. The company began by offering operations and maintenance (O&M) services for improving the overall management of sites and bringing in operational efficiency.

The next major step was to provide complete EMSs at the tower sites on a turnkey basis. By using the experience gained through O&M activities and harnessing the technical strength of the parent company, Mahindra Powerol diversified into providing green energy solutions for telecom towers. “Telecom companies, going forward, will focus on deploying green energy solutions. Besides, tower companies will be focusing on improving the energy efficiency of tower infrastructure equipment. Active equipment manufacturers are bringing in low wattage base transceiver stations that will reduce load at the tower sites,” says Palaniappan.

In the green solution segment, the company has deployed solar-based solutions at sites across Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The company is also working on a prototype of biogas-based solution and experimenting with lithium-ion batteries. In addition, Mahindra Powerol has developed and installed its electronic fuel saving system (EFSS), which has been fitted on existing DG sets to increase their fuel efficiency. Although EFSS is not a green solution, it offers carbon reduction by reducing diesel consumption at a minimal cost. Palaniappan states, “We have reasonably scaled up our solar solutions. We feel that the market is gaining momentum and are hopeful that this will continue. As far as other solutions are concerned, they will take some time to take off.”

The way forward

To align itself with the goal of the industry, Mahindra Powerol has been constantly introducing innovative solutions. The non-availability or erratic availability of grid power has increased the diesel dependency of tower companies, thereby raising energy costs. Therefore, there is an immediate need to offer products and services that lower power costs. The Mahindra Research Valley at Chennai is the apex centre for all research and development (R&D) activities at Mahindra and Mahindra Limited. The centre is working on a number of projects specifically for Mahindra Powerol. A few R&D projects in the pipeline pertain to developing newer technologies like biogas-based generator sets and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage at telecom towers. “While there is no universal solution that can be applied to all sites, different solutions will have to be designed for a cluster of sites to simplify the deployment of technology and derive maximum benefits,” says Palaniappan.

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