In 2016, Eurotherm by Schneider Electric’s growth plans led to the appointment of Seetharaman Jayaraman as Glass Business Development Manager for the Asia Pacific region, excluding China. Together with Global Glass Business Leader René Meuleman, he spoke exclusively to Glass Worldwide about their successful involvement with the Indian glass industry.
Eurotherm by Schneider Electric provides complete glass plant automation and power systems with global support. The company delivers innovations that can help glassmakers make their businesses more sustainable, efficient and profitable. Solutions include power distribution, power supply and drive systems, process control systems with plant information, energy monitoring and management, thermocouples and oxygen probes etc.
Based in Bangalore, Seetharaman (Raman) Jayaraman brings over 22 years of industrial systems experience to the business, including eight years working on international projects. His technical knowledge, which covers a vast range of control applications in architectural, automotive, container and float glass further strengthens Eurotherm’s global team of glass experts.
Raman’s career in glass began as a maintenance technician at Guardian Glass in India. After gaining experience in the steel industry, he joined Asahi India Glass, starting in maintenance before being transferred to production. “AIS has a very good machine building division in India” he explained, “with 46 GLASS WORLDWIDE > issue seventy one 2017 To download content and subscribe, visit www.glassworldwide.co.uk capabilities to build tempering and lamination lines, CNC drilling machines and grinding equipment… all made in India for in-house use. I was part of that AIS design team and was managing the localisation of the batch house and cullet return system project at the float plant in Roorkee when I had my first dealings with Eurotherm. We worked very well together on that project and successfully overcame all technical challenges.”
He also engineered and commissioned the plant restart system to enable the restarting of motors in priority order after a power shutdown. Other Eurotherm projects co-ordinated on behalf of AIS involved the windscreen glass furnace heating systems.
On completion of these projects, Raman accepted a role with Pony International, a process innovation provider to the glass industry, based in Jakarta and part of the same group that owns PT Mulia Glass. He gained further invaluable experience in the glass industry during his eight years with Pony, working on several projects in China, on PT Mulia’s container and float lines in Jakarta, as well as at Arabian United Float Glass Co in Saudi Arabia, where Pony was turnkey supplier for the furnace, tin bath and utilities, including heating systems and furnace control.”
In 2015, he returned to India and joined Eurotherm by Schneider Electric last year.
Local Support Focus
Prior to Raman’s latest appointment, Eurotherm products and solutions were available in India but there was no one directly accountable for selling these solutions to the glass market. “Customers needed to be contacted and informed about the value our solutions bring” he explains. “With the help of Eurotherm’s global team, key customers were identified and we are now actively building relationships with them, not only promoting our products and systems but also our support services.”
Global Glass Business Leader René Meuleman recalls that when he attended glasspex India exhibition eight years ago, the company had an excellent local engineering team in place and could basically fulfil any job, with engineering and manufacturing conducted in India. The economic crisis that followed led to the postponement of several furnace repairs and during this challenging time, business revenue in India was maintained more by product sales than systems.
Since the subsequent improvement in business conditions, customers have increasingly asked for systems that are built in India and are supported locally. “We have one of the finest teams in our global engineering group located in India – equal to their counterparts in Europe and the USA” says René Meuleman. “The engineering quality is superb and we are in an excellent position to meet customer needs from here. As a globally supported team, it also works well because we can communicate with everyone locally in English. Customers understand our technology and have a good understanding of what we can bring – it’s a huge advantage.”
According to Mr Meuleman, India is one of the less conservative sectors of the glass industry! “We have a business strategy for Eurotherm and India is absolutely a part of that. With the combination of an extensive Schneider Electric and Eurotherm portfolio, along with glass industry process, engineering and installation expertise, we are increasing resources in India and other areas of Asia because we believe the growth market is in this region of the world. Sectors such as pharmaceutical glass are really expected to kick-off and investments are taking place in container, tableware and float as well.”
When Raman joined the company last year, there was evidence of increased investments by local glassmakers, including rebuild projects by Asahi India Glass, as well as important Saint-Gobain and Owens Corning projects. “Things are moving in glass in India and it was the right time for me to join. For the next couple of years, we expect this upsurge to continue in line with normal cycles but the dynamics may change because 2019 is an election year and the market may be unclear based on policy changes.”
Raman has observed that 10 years ago, many glassmakers in India were buying furnaces and technology from China and elsewhere based on price rather than longevity. Now, however, he says many are striking a balance and looking to long-lasting technology originating from Europe. Glassmakers still buying from other parts of the world also often come to the realisation that there is no support for them in India and are looking to companies like Eurotherm that have a local presence. “It definitely adds value for buyers and Eurotherm is very well positioned to demonstrate to Indian glassmakers how we are redefining the way power and process control are applied in the glass industry to help meet future sustainability demands” Seetharaman Jayaraman comments. “Mindsets are changing, with the government keen to promote solar energy, for example. There is the prospect of new lines and investment in this sector” he concludes. “A lot of solar-related R&D is underway that could create an important market in India.”