Looking Ahead: The future of the Panel Building Industry by 2024!

Ramani Mani MD Modutec

By Ramani M

Managing Director

MODUTEC Ready Panels Private Limited

The standard IEC 61439, replaces IEC 60439 and describes the design and the test specifications for low voltage switchgear and control gear assemblies. This standard describes the design verification for control gear assemblies and the responsibilities of the manufacturer and switchboard manufacturer.

The updated IEC 61439-1 provides general rules for this entire standard series, and it seeks to correct the lack of clarity in three significant ways:

  1. Clearly defining the respective roles and responsibilities of original manufacturer, assembly manufacturer and specifier.
  2. Replacing the concepts of TTA and PTTA with verified assembly.

Clarifying and reinforcing tests and their requirements

The outcomes desired from this IEC 61439-1-2 Standard are:

  1. Guarantee of operation of the electric installation downstream of the assembly
  2. Electric current conducting capacity
  3. Resistance to short circuits
  4. Electromagnetic compatibility
  5. Protection of persons against electric shocks
  6. Protection of persons and the assembly against fire
  7. Resistance to mechanical and climatic environment
  8. Protection of the assembly against power surges
  9. Maintenance and modification capability
  10. Ability to install on site

Now, like all Tests, there are a lot of challenges in successfully passing all the 13 Tests that are prescribed therein, to understand the extrapolation possibilities and the associated ISO by which various Laboratories and Certifying bodies are governed by.

Future of Panel Builder - Modutec switchboard manufacturers

For most of the Panel Builders to afford not just the money, but also the time and focus to pass this Type Test is a huge distraction from his main business, which he can ill afford.

To get this Type Test done, for say a 4000A Switchboard in a Laboratory like CPRI or ERDA in India, will cost him around Rs 25 Lacs not considering the cost of distraction and the risk of failure. On the same lines for him to get it done by a Certifying Body like say Intertek ASTA would cost Rs 44 Lacs and can go way up based on the trials and errors.

ABC Category:

India is very different from the world Panel Building markets. Here we have close to 4500 Panel Builders across the Country. If we segregate them by annual revenues into A (>Rs 60 Cr), B (Between 20 & 60 Cr) & C (< Rs 20 Cr) category, I assume we will have only around 50 Panel Builders in A Category, 1000 nos in B Category and the rest of the Panel Builders in C Category!

Upgrade your game:

For the Country and the world, what is important is that safe, reliable and convenient Electrical Distribution cannot wait! It is thus paramount that we have more number of Panel Builders rise in their category and for this they cannot afford to say “No” to an IEC 61439 specified tender. They will have to participate as, here is where profitable growth is. They will then need this IEC 61439 Certificate, which will help them upgrade their game to take part in such quality opportunities. But can he afford it?

Industry perception of present market trend:

In India as in many parts of the world, Schneider, ABB & Siemens are growing inorganically. Schneider has acquired L&T, ABB has absorbed the electrical LV division of GE and Siemens has annexed similar parts of C&S. Here are the IEC 61439-1-2 offerings from these players:

  1. Schneider Electric
    • Blokset for fixed & withdrawable versions, with Internal Arc, Seismic Tests etc. Modeled on technology transfer.
    • Prisma for fixed versions and up to 4000A only. Primarily for the Building segment. Modeled on the Hub & Spoke philosophy.
    • L&T Ti for fixed versions again follows the technology transfer model and now under the basket of Schneider Electric.
  2. Siemens
    • Sivacon which is the equivalent of Blokset as above.
    • Siepan which is the equivalent of Prisma above only that it too follows the Technology Transfer model.
  3. ABB
    • MNS the equivalent of Blokset again, but not yet in the Panel Partner segment.
    • Artuk the equivalent of Prisma but again follows the Technology Transfer model.

There are about 150 to 200 Panel Builders in India under Panel Partner arrangements with such Switchgear Companies as above. Slowly, there are other Switchgear Companies, coming forth to compete in this arena like Legrand, C&S and also Eaton, Mitsubishi & LS Electric. Worldwide, Schneider Electric has the maximum number of such partners at a staggering 43,000 Panel Builders!

Further, there is competition for the Panel Builder from Switchgear agnostic IEC 61439 Type Tested Enclosure Manufacturing Companies. However, these solutions are expensive and beyond the reach of most Panel Builders.

And then there are many Switchgear Companies, who do not have a Type Tested Panel enclosure for their Switchgears, like Havells, Hager & Panasonic in India and many more overseas like Himel, Fugi, Terasaki, Westinghouse, Allen Bradley & so on. This handicap, increases the gap between the market leaders and the followers!

What’s more the trend in specification for projects is growing in geometric proportions in regard to IEC 61439 being a qualifier for the Panel Builder. If he does not have the Certification, he regretfully has to abstain from even quoting for the enquiry. In Countries like Australia, Middle East and so on, the IEC 61439 Standard is mandatory for supplying Panels for such LV Electrical Distribution.

MSME , MICRO Companies

The backbone of the Indian economy are the MSMEs or the Medium, Small & Micro Enterprises. These industries are generally proprietary, partnership or LLPs. Largely controlled by 1 to 3 owners and hence, absolutely difficult for them to dilute their focus due to largely lack of systems & processes and strategies to manage the teams to scale. This is largely a matter of culture, clarity and competence to grow their business. So what should be done to specifically upgrade Panel Builders here and help them thrive in such a competitive environment?

Looking at the need for safe, reliable and convenient electrical distribution, should this be the purview of only a few? When a Consultant has to differentiate the men from the boys in his tender, he generally specifies IEC 61439 as a qualifier and where does this leave the rest of the 4000+ Panel Builders in India?

One good thing about the Standard is that it introduces several progressive perspectives, ways of thinking and appreciation of factors that makes space for trust. The Specifier and the End Users are peaceful that the basic tenets of electrical distribution methods are known to & adhered by such Panel Builders. So, what happens to the rest of such manufacturers?

Modutec has an answer for such questions. Modutec Ready Panels Pvt. Ltd. is part of the Mani Group of Companies, who have been serving the Electrical Industry since 1983 ( a good 38 years now). Having been a Panel Builder too since 1990, and gone through the sine wave of market fluctuations, this Company Load Controls found its panacea largely in graduating from the welded panels to the greener, faster & smarter modular enclosures. Hence since 2007, the idea picked up momentum and today, Modutec is a switchgear agnostic, type tested, flat pack, modular switchboard enclosure system.

When a Panel Builder wants to grow, apart from consistent Order Booking, he generally has the following constraints.

  1. Electrical Switchgear and accessories availability in time.
  2. Enclosure manufactured in time and defect free with predictable quality.
  3. Infrastructure availability to assemble the Panels.
  4. Machinery to take care of the various requirements &
  5. Engineering Design to take care of Customer Specifications & so on.

Now, it is generally found that the most challenging of these bottlenecks is the Enclosure availability on time, every time with expected workmanship & finish.

Generally, when a mid-sized Order has to be executed, and the fabrication of the Enclosure is done either in-house or outsourced, the delivery lead time required could vary from a week to 2 weeks, sometimes more. Now, the reason why Panel Builders repeatedly come back to Modutec is that within a day, in most cases, the skeleton profiles with accessories are despatched to the Panel Builder. Which means in quarter of the time taken conventionally, he is able to advance the populating of the Switchboard. By 5 to 10 days’ time, the Doors arrive and this helps the Panel solution to get delivered in just 3 to 4 weeks!

3 Brand Promises of modutec

In Modutec, we define being FASTER as our first Brand Promise. The next Brand Promise is FLEXIBLE. Here, as is normally the case in the Panel Building industry, change is the only constant. To cater to these and delight the Customer, we have loads of such features thrown in like

  1. Hinged Doors reversibility from LHS to RHS and vice versa.
  2. Bolted Doors adaptability from vertical to horizontal fixation & vice versa.
  3. Merging of multiple compartments in a vertical to a single one & vice versa.
  4. Versatile accessories like eustachian doors, variety in bus bar arrangements & so on.
  5. Adaptable to any make of Switchgear and Control gear.

And the third Brand Promise is being FAIR PRICED! What we mean is that take any of the IEC 61439 accredited solutions from Switchgear Manufacturers as above, we would be 10 to 40% cheaper, based on whom you are comparing us with.

Further in Modutec, we are on a mission to Simplify Panel Building for the Panel Builder. We do this through educational assembly videos as in https://youtu.be/hXFmrMThRQc and working closely with Panel Builders to help them transition from the conventional to a world class modular technology. We inculcate the habits of thinking standardization, systematization and simplification. We introduce the MODSIM software to them, which is a 3D approach to first preparing a GA Drawing as per requirement and then converting it into a mechanical Bill of Materials, each have a unique catalogue number and a price. We further hand hold them through the familiarization, functional exploration and myriad possibilities within this meccano-block in XYZ directions.

To serve the Panel Builder to his custom requirements wrt enclosures, we have 3 offerings in the market:

  1. MODUTEC: which is the IEC 61439-1-2 type tested flat pack, modular switchboard enclosure solution with our standard bus bar supports etc. We also supply standard bus bars for both Main horizontal bus bars, vertical droppers as well as MCCB bus bar extensions and connection pieces. This comes with our signature branding elements too on the face of the Enclosure.
  2. ESSNTEC: which focuses on the essentials; like the signature components of the profiles, tripods, joiner pieces, hinges, locks etc. along with the doors, both bolted and hinged. Then the Panel Builder makes his own internal partitions and base plinth as required. These are non-type test enclosures and help keep the prices low, while largely retaining the elegance and integrity of the Modutec design.
  3. PARTTEC: which focuses on supplying just the modular enclosure parts in suitable kits that when put together, forms the skeleton of the Panels. This is the essence of the modular switchboard. Once this is available, then the Panel Builder makes his own doors, partitions and base plinth to complete the enclosure in a modular design. Here, he has better control of the custom needs of Customer as well as cost, as he is able to avoid the additional costs wrt packing and freight.

For the discerning Panel Builder, Modutec can also do a technology transfer, at a price, should the IEC 61439 test certifications be required, post audit of the Partner’s manufacturing infrastructure, processes and team. In these cases, only the signature components get supplied and hence the techno-commercial advantage to the Panel Partner is huge and truly value adding.

In order to make it easy for the Panel Builder to buy any of the Modutec options as above, we have also defined the various types of Enclosure solutions as would be frequently required. These will be made available in kit form in either Modutec, Essntec or Parttec methodologies to a readily available price list with a Bill of Materials. For more details on this write to [email protected]

It would help to get started if you fill in this Google Form, seeking to know from you certain inputs that would help us serve you better. ___________

We basically supply our enclosures as flat pack product solutions either as Type Tested MODUTEC, or Essential ESSNTEC or Accessory Kits PARTTEC to

  1. Panel Board Manufacturers supporting them to upgrade to modular & type tested enclosures. MODDIS, MODDRW & MODMED are the fast moving range which moves here. Check out more details in modutec.net
  2. Distributors who apart from the above would generally like to stock and sell products from the range of MODBOX, MODONE, MODPAN and so on. These traders would necessarily have to have a modification center to cater to the value add of making door & partition cutouts for the Panel Builder.
  3. Switchgear Manufacturers who would want a modular & type tested Panel Enclosure solution to help move their switchgear products to Project Installations.

Now, going back to the dire need of most Panel Builders who want to grow, they primarily need to think differently. They resolve to nurture a progressive culture by applying right methods, right manpower and right standardization to help them scale their business revenues profitably. For them we have a limited period offer of a WINDFALL SCHEME, wherein we can offer them this “Entry Ticket”. This is the IEC 61439-1-2, Edition 3 Certificate in the name of the respective Panel Builder.

Further, on the first page of this Certificate which will be issued by Intertek ASTA, only the Panel Builder’s name will appear. In the inside pages, the Enclosure being Modutec will be mentioned with the engineering detail therein. Now, this first page is what you would need to submit to Specifiers, publish on your website as well as print on your brochures. And this is a nearly 200 pages beautifully bound Certificate which to display in your cabin too will be a matter of pride.

This specific IEC 61439 accreditation is being offered with ABB Switchgear. All details of the Windfall Scheme is also elaborated in the attached PPT which carries info on the Engineering Drawings as well as the Certification look and feel.  We have also attached the Application Form wherein the payment terms for the Rs 5 Lacs payment is also mentioned. Mind you this will cost you just Rs 5 Lacs plus GST (GST may be offset against your sales) as against the otherwise ASTA certification cost of Rs 44 Lacs not considering the associated risks of failure and the cost of distraction from your regular business focus.

So, here is what we predict as the future of the Panel Building Industry by 2024:

  1. There will be the Panel Builders who embrace change, adapt to the trending needs and transform their Companies by upgrading to the IEC 61439-1-2 type tested, modular switchboard enclosure systems.
  2. They will be inculcating into their team the features, advantages and benefits of the modular system with software, that helps them leverage such technology to scale their Panel business profitably.
  3. They do not miss opportunities to participate in significant tenders and therefore are always at the cutting edge of technology that serves electrical distribution that much more efficiently.
  4. Their inventory turns in business goes up, thanks to the standards adopted, speed empowered in execution and consistent quality that gets empowered. All this leads to higher levels of profitability.
  5. Culture, competency and clarity gets set in their way of feeling, thinking and acting that sets them apart from the conventional Panel Manufacturers.
  6. Panel Builders will essentially come from a competence on the electrical side of the business, while they would outsource to their chosen partners the mechanicals or enclosure systems. Such focus brings with it core-competency value adding capability that delights their Customers.
  7. The IEC 61439-1-2 Standard by virtue of its requirements could force the Panel Builders to align with specific makes of Switchgear and get more loyal in this relationship and collaborate in market approaches.
  8. Switchgear Companies with Type Tested Enclosure Solutions will far outshine the ones without this offering in revenues, profitability and market share.
  9. The overall awareness of the 13 Type Tests and how its diligent execution helps build trust among the End User, the Specifier and the Panel Builder would help upscale the industry & electrical installation quality levels.
  10. Those who fail to embrace this change will be left behind, will remain majorly local players and likely to be playing the game of survival, year after year.

Often, the purpose of the Company, defines the decisions it takes. The vision of the top management drives the strategy, values and co-creation-partners they choose to work with. Every other outcome is normally sub-servient to this context that is like the bottom of the iceberg.

Aim high, aspire to not just be a History reader, but a History maker. Here’s wishing the Panel Builders, worldwide to Simplify Panel Building, as in Modutec, we truly believe that it really isn’t complicated, unless it has our permission to be so!

Do not get left behind! Catch the trend, take the help being offered and fly with the eagles. Transformation does not take time, it takes action! And it’s all about a mindset! Choose well and fast as good offers do not last forever!

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Ramani : +91 98450 40837
Prashanth Nadiger : +91 99014 59624

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