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India needs to learn from Intersolar North America show!

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Intersolar North America successfully concluded its seventh annual show in the heart of the United States’ largest solar market, California. More than 17,000 visitors from 74 countries visited 530 exhibitors.

Abundant solar radiation in India!

Abundant solar radiation in India!

The show had the latest innovations in the photovoltaic, energy storage, balance of systems, mounting and tracking systems, and solar heating and cooling market sectors.

It just shows how the USA has evolved as a leading market for solar PV over the years. One could feel USA creeping up on China! Which brings me to the other significant news.

Recently, there was news regarding the USA-China solar dispute. USA has won huge anti-dumping tariffs in the US-China solar panel trade case. A preliminary decision by the US Department of Commerce has imposed significant tariffs on Chinese solar modules in the anti-dumping portion of the case.

The decision has also closed SolarWorld’s “loophole,” which is said to have allowed Chinese module manufacturers to use Taiwanese cells in their modules, circumventing US trade duties.

Will this affect the Chinese PV module suppliers? Perhaps, not that much. Why so? China itself has a very huge domestic market for solar PV. They can continue to do well in China itself. It can also sell solar PV modules in India, as well, besides other regions in the Asia Pacific.

That brings me back to Intersolar North America 2014. Why was there such a low presence of Indian companies? The exhibitor list for the show reads only two — Lanco Solar Pvt Ltd and Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd. Where are the others?

If one looks at the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) website, there is a notification stating that a National Solar Mission (NSM) is being implemented to give a boost to solar power generation in the country. It has a long-term goal of adding 20,000 MWp of grid-connected solar power by 2022, to be achieved in three phases (first phase up to 2012-13, second phase from 2013 to 2017 and the third phase from 2017 to 2022).

Well, the MNRE has also put up a release stating complaints received about the non-function of the systems installed by channel partners. Without getting into details, why can’t Indian suppliers get to the ground and work up solidly? Some of the complaints are actually not even so serious. System not working. Channel partner not attending complaint! And, plant not working due to inverter (PPS) burnt down. These should be attended to quickly, unless, there is some monetary or other issue, which, at least, I am not aware of!

The CNA Corp.s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies earlier this week, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

The first report, Capturing Synergies Between Water Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Power Sector, focuses on strategy recommendations based on analyses of water use and CO2 emissions in four case studies, which are detailed in the second report, A Clash of Competing Necessities: Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas.

CNA’s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

“It’s a very important issue,” said lead study author Paul Faeth, director of Energy, Water, & Climate at CNA. “Water used to cool power plants is the largest source of water withdrawals in the United States and France, and a large source in China and India.”

“The recommendations in these reports can serve as a starting point for leaders in these countries, and for leaders around the world, to take the steps needed to ensure the reliability of current generating plants and begin planning for how to meet future demands for electric power.”

India needs to learn from the Intersolar North America show. It also needs to look carefully at CNA’s reports. It is always great and good work that attracts global attention. India has all of the requred capabilities to do so!

Three things in Indian semicon: Vinay Shenoy

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Vinay Shenoy

Vinay Shenoy

There have been a variety of announcements made by the Government of India in the last one year or so. In the pre-90s period, the country showed just 1 percent GDP growth rate. It was adverse to FDI and had a regulated market. All of this led to deregulation under the late PM, PV Narasimha Rao.

The Indian government was averse to foreign investment, which was opened up around 1994. Since then, we have seen 6-8 percent growth, said Vinay Shenoy, MD, Infineon Technologies (India). He was delivering the keynote at the UVM 1.2 day, being held in Bangalore, India.

Around 1997, India signed the ITA-1 with the WTO. Lot of electronic items had their import duty reduced to zero. It effectively destroyed the electronics manufacturing industry in India. We were now reduced to being a user of screwdriver technology. In 1985, the National Computer Policy, and in 1986, the National Software Policy, were drafted. The government of India believed that there existed some opportunities. The STPI was also created, as well as 100 percent EoUs. So far, we have been very successful in services, but have a huge deficit on manufacturing.

We made an attempt to kick off semicon manufacturing in 2007, but that didn’t take off for several reasons. It was later revived in 2011-12. Under the latest national policy of electronics, there have been a couple announcements – one, setting up of two semicon fabs in India. The capital grant – nearly 25-27 percent — is being given by the government. It has provided a financial incentive – of about $2 billion.

Two, electronics manufacturing per se, unless it is completely an EoU, the semicon industry will find it difficult to survive. There is the M-SIPS package that offers 25 percent capital grant to a wide range of industries.

Three, we have granted some incentives for manufacturing. But, how are you going to sell? The government has also proposed ‘Made in India’, where, 30 percent of the products will be used within India. These will largely be in the government procurements, so that the BoM should be at least 30 percent from India. The preferential market policy applies to all segments, except defense.

Skill development is also key. The government has clearly stated that there should be innovation-led manufacturing. The government also wants to develop PhDs in selected domains. It intends to provide better lab facilities, better professors, etc. Also, young professors seeking to expand, can seek funding from the government.

TSMC promotes small IP companies. Similarly, it should be done in India. For semicon, these two fabs in India will likely come up in two-three years time. “Look at how you can partner with these fabs. Your interest in the semicon industry will be highly critical. The concern of the industry has been the stability of the tax regime. The government of India has assured 10 years of stable tax regime. The returns will come in 10-15 years,” added Shenoy.

The government has set up electronics manufacturing clusters (EMC). These will make it easy for helping companies to set up within the EMC. The NSDC is tying up with universities in bringing skill-sets. The industry is also defining what skills will be required. The government is funding PhDs, to pursue specialization.

India’s evolving importance to future of fabless: Dr. Wally Rhines

February 3, 2014 2 comments

Dr. Wally RhinesIf I correctly remember, sometime in Oct. 2008, S. Janakiraman, then chairman of the India Semiconductor Association, had proclaimed that despite not having fabs, the ‘fabless India” had been shining brightly! Later, in August 2011, I had written an article on whether India was keen on going the fabless way! Today, at the IESA Vision Summit in Bangalore, Dr, Wally Rhines repeated nearly the same lines!

While the number of new fabless startups has declined substantially in the West during the past decade, they are growing in India, said Dr. Walden C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, during his presentation “Next Steps for the Indian Semiconductor Industry” at the ongoing IESA Vision Summit 2014.

India has key capabilities to stimulate growth of semiconductor companies, which include design services companies, design engineering expertise and innovation, returning entrepreneurs, and educational system. Direct interaction with equipment/systems companies will complete the product development process.

Off the top 50 semicon companies in 2012, 13 are fabless and four are foundries. The global fabless IC market is likely to grow 29 percent in 2013. The fabless IC revenue also continues to grow, reaching about $78.1 billion in 2013.  The fabless revenue is highly concentrated with the top 10 companies likely to account for 64 percent revenue in 2013. As of 2012, the GSA estimates that there aere 1,011 fabless companies.

The semiconductor IP (SIP) market has also been growing and is likely to reach $4,774 million by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 10 percent. The top 10 SIP companies account for 87 percent of the global revenue. Tape-outs at advanced nodes have been growing. However, there are still large large opportunities in older technologies.

IoT will transform industry
It is expected that the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform the semiconductor industry. It is said that in the next 10 years, as many as 100 billion objects could be tied together to form a “central nervous system” for the planet and support highly intelligent web-based systems. As of 2013, 1 trillion devices are connected to the network.

Product differentiation alone makes switching analog/mixed-signal suppliers difficult. Change in strategy toward differentiation gradually raises GPM percentage.

India’s evolving importance to future of fabless
Now, India ranks among the top five semiconductor design locations worldwide. US leads with 507, China with 472, Taiwan with 256, Israel with 150, and India with 120. Some prominent Indian companies are Ineda, Saankhya Labs, Orca Systems and Signal Chip (all fabless) and DXCorr and SilabTech (all SIP).

India is already a leading source of SIP, accounting for 5.3 percent, globally, after USA 43 percent and China 17.3 percent, respectively. It now seems that India has been evolving from design services to fabless powerhouse. India has built a foundation for a fabless future. It now has worldwide leadership with the most influential design teams in the world.

Presently, there are 1,031 MNC R&D centers in India. Next, 18 of the top 20 US semiconductor companies have design centers in India. And, 20 European corporations set up engineering R&D centers in India last year. India also has the richest pool of creative engineering resources and educational institutions in the world. The experience level of Indian engineers has been increasing, but it is still a young and creative workforce. There is also a growing pool of angel investors in India, and also in the West, with strong connections to India.

So, what are the key ingredients to generate a thriving infrastructure? It is involvement and expertise with end equipment. Superb product definition requires the elimination of functional barriers. He gave some examples of foreign “flagged” Indian companies that produced early successes. When users and tool developers work in close proximity, “out-of-the-Box” architectural innovations revolutionize design verification.

Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech

November 28, 2013 Comments off

Suresh Nair

Suresh Nair

Leaptech Corp. was established to help the electronics and semiconductor manufacturing companies in India achieve global standards by adopting the latest technologies available worldwide. It represents the world’s leading companies offering automation equipment for PCB assembly, semiconductor, automotive and final assembly automation.

Suresh Nair, director, said that Leaptech is helping the electronics, semiconductor and automotive manufacturing companies in India by bringing in world class technologies from across the globe in assembly automation, the technologies, which are state-of-the-art.

“We provide both pre-sales and post-sales support to all the systems and solutions that we offer, complete post-sales support includes installation, commissioning, training, production support and process support through our factory trained engineers strategically located in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.”

Leaptech provides audit and reconditioning services to enable customers improve productivity and uptime on their existing automated through hole and SMT assembly machines. Nair added: “We do provide audit and reconditioning services to customers where the machines were sold/supported by us. We may not be able to handle machines sold by other suppliers since that will be a breach of contract with out own principals.”

As for the training on operational and maintenance aspects of through hole insertion and SMT machines, Leaptech also provide complete training on machines for operation, periodical maintenance, trouble shooting as well as preventive maintenance.

Leaptech offers consultancy services for new electronics setup as well as for new projects in the existing facility, which includes all detailing as well as knowhow on the process of assembly/production. our expert team is upto date with all latest trends in this industry.

Connected mobile devices
It will be interesting to get Leaptech opinon regarding connected mobile devices. Nair said that connected mobile devices would grow for sure in the immediate future. Growth in the long term may depend on the contents of this segment and how interesting it is to the users.

With regard to automotive electronics driving energy efficiency, he added that Leaptech mostly sells automation equipment and the scope for these equipment toward energy efficiency for automotive sector is limited.

Indian electronics scenario in 2014 and beyond
According to Nair, the Indian electronics scenario is still dull and this may continue in the next year as well. Things could improve once the new manufacturing policy announced by the government starts seeing some investments.

To boost electronics manufacturing in India, it requires a simple action plan: make all finished electronics products imports more expensive and give incentives to local manufacturing.

However, he felt that nanotech will not emerge as a disruption in India, at least, not in the near future. It may make some impact in the long run.

Yet another electronics policy for India?

October 26, 2012 6 comments

India has once again announced an Electronics Policy, and frankly, I’ve lost count, how many times! Nevertheless, one hopes that this policy somehow takes off, and helps India get off the ground!  There are certain points in the policy that are worth a relook.

One, the setting up of electronic manufacturing clusters. This has been time and again stressed and re-stressed. Will it come around, this time? Let’s wait and watch, if it happens this time!

Two, as per the policy, there is a proposal for setting up two semiconductor wafer manufacturing fabrication facilities. Where? As far as one knows, there is hardly any infrastructure around to support even one semicon fab! Some people may say, Bangalore, but well, they are welcome to say that! As for people buying more of ‘domestically manufactured electronic goods’, it remains to be seen!

Three, back in 2007, when the SIPS program was announced, there were great expectations! If you recall some time ago, I mentioned that the Indian semiconductor policy, announced back in 2007, had supposedly expired on March 31, 2010! Then, the Indian industry came up with recommendations that included extending the Indian semicon policy up to March 2015! So, what happens to that? Or, is it dead and buried?

Four, back in 2007, the ‘ecosystem units’ were clearly defined as units, other than a fab unit, for manufacture of semiconductors, displays including LCDs, OLEDs, PDPs, any other emerging displays; storage devices; solar cells; photovoltaics; other advanced micro and nanotechnology products; and assembly and test of all the above products. What’s happening now?

Five, does all of this mean that the role of India-based semiconductor companies as a percentage of the semiconductor market globally, will improve? Or, do we take India as a system/gadget maker and thus, as a percentage of that market??

Six, fabrication is increasingly expensive, much involved and the actual global fabrication players are declining and will be about three to four companies. There is talk of 450mm fabs across the world! Have we even heard a word from India?

Okay, so let’s say, India will have two fabs? By when? What process technology? If it is a 450mm fab, India can very well kiss goodbye to this decade, at least. And, India continues to slip back in having a ((proper) fab!
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IT in smaller companies need help too!

April 21, 2012 Comments off

According to Steve Bailey from CommVault, IT managers are said to be walking on a tightrope between resources and data growth! Conversely, the resources for CIOs are much lesser, compared to the data growth, which is explosive!! Find all of this hard to believe? Well, ask around!

IT storage professionals are actually considered to be somewhat of ‘tightrope walkers’, given the fact that they have to perform tremendous balancing acts while driving projects — all along with the budget allocated to them.

As per a survey conducted by CommVault, the IT organizations are prioritizing managing data growth (i.e., data reduction) first, followed by network and equipment, disaster recovery, applications/software, data backup and recovery and backup of virtual server environments. Managing data growth remains a major budgetary priority for the IT managers. Besides, all of the data has to be managed by organizations without the benefit of adding IT staff!

There’s hardly anything that anyone, let alone the IT staff, can do to curtail the data growth. And now, the advent of mobile devices, virtual servers and the increasing use of social media have added to the creation of even newer and massive data!

By the way, have you visited media houses, small IT shops or companies, small retail stores, and so on? IT protection is, most of the times, way of the mark. Why, there are even media houses that have poor IT infrastructure! In fact, some of the offices even had their web site spammed quite often in the past. I have little idea right now, but I do hope they have improved their IT defence. Some commentators have even expressed the need for next-generation firewalls as the need of the hour!

Apparently, managing the IT side of things or the IT infrastructure is considered not so important by many of the small organizations. Don’t you think that it is necessary that they too protect their organizations? Forget about the absence of IT storage professionals in such organizations!

If one may add, vendors either seem to charge these companies exorbitantly, or, they are least bothered if such companies get into ‘IT trouble’. The fact is: such companies are small in nature, and do not have that much money to spend on IT. Or, at least, that’s not their main game! It takes a great deal of convincing on part of vendors, I am sure, to get such companies to protect their IT infrastructures.

So, how do the CIOs and the IT managers manage all of this exploding data (and devices, of course)? Certainly, this calls for a seamless process — from backup to recovery to archiving data. There is a need to develop and have a single platform to manage and protect data. This needs to be done across heterogenous applications, hypervisors. operating systems and infrastructure — from a single console.

Well, how do you help the smaller companies, especially those located in smaller and sometimes, remote areas and cities? The answer is simple: vendors really need to take upon themselves the trouble of going down to such places, meet companies, and at least, sound them out on the IT solutions on offer. That will be a start!

Sachin boldly goes where no man has gone before! Hail, King Sachin!!

March 16, 2012 Comments off

Sachin Tendulkar, India.

Sachin Tendulkar, India. Courtesy: ESPNCricinfo.

When I was giving up playing the game of cricket in 1989, my focus was drawn toward a snap on the cover of Sportsweek (now closed), which had the faces of two newcomers to the Indian team that was chosen to tour Pakistan. One was Salil Ankola and  the other – Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!

Today, in the league match vs. Bangladesh, Sachin Tendulkar reached his 100th international century!! Sachin has boldly gone on to where no man has ever gone before! Hail, King Sachin!! I could not locate the photograph that I spoke about earlier. Here’s one from Ben Radford / © AllSport UK Ltd, from ESPNCricinfo.

Wow! What a feat!!  Don’t think that this stupendous world record of 100 international centuries will ever be broken!!!

The nearest international cricket player to Sachin Tendulkar on the list of players with the most international tons in a career is Ricky Ponting of Australia with 71 hundreds! South African Jacques Kallis, is further down at 59 tons!! Off the other batsmen with over 40 international hundreds in cricket, only two – Sri Lankans Mahela Jayawardene with 45 tons and Kumar Sangakkara with 41 tons, respectively, make the list.

I remember Sachin came close to his maiden test hundred vs. New Zealand at Napier in Feb. 1990, and the excitement surrounding that! I first saw Sachin Tendulkar play for West Zone at a Duleep Trophy game in New Delhi’s Ferozshah Kotla ground in the early 1990s.  Since then, I too have followed his career very closely. It has been a real pleasure following you all of these years, King Sachin!!

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