Diagnostic Technologies India Pvt Ltd, popularly known as Diatech, is a Mumbai-based testing house offering its services to critical electrical equipment like cables, transformers, switchgear, generators, etc. We have Diatech’s Managing Director Aditya Korde discussing his company’s activities and also the electrical equipment testing sector in India. Korde is confident that Diatech, with a successful stint across India, is soon make its mark in key global markets where it has newly entered.
Let us start by understanding the various types of electrical equipment for which you offer testing services.
We focus on assessment of critical power equipment such as cables, switchgear and transformers, generators and motors.
We understand that Diatech specializes in onsite and online monitoring. Tell us about your main services.
The very nature of cables, switchgear, transformers, etc requires testing to be done onsite. Cable testing is our biggest sector, wherein we do both online and offline testing to identify incipient defects. Technologies such as online partial discharge, VLF tan delta and LIRA enable us to pinpoint the defective sections of MV and HV cables well in advance of failure.
Online testing of MV switchgear is another fast growing field. Off-line testing of transformers using tan delta, partial discharge, SFRA, DFRA, etc to determine incipient defects is a very important requirement during commissioning and outages. Finally, we carry out RLA assessments of motors and generators, which along with cables form our core competency.
Tell us more about your technological partners, whom you represent in India.
We represent b2HV Austria, HVPD UK & Areva USA in India. b2HV is the world leader in the field of VLF technology. They make the world’s lightest 28kV VLF tester as well the only 200kV VLF tester worldwide. They also make specialized sensors for online oil quality monitoring of transformers. HVPD is a pioneer in the field of online cable partial discharge. They offer a range of instruments from basic portable testers to continuous multi-asset monitors for both MV/HV cables & switchgear. Lastly, Areva offers specialized instruments for online monitoring of motors.
We appreciate that state power utilities would form your major clientele. Who are your major clients? Do you also work with private utilities?
Actually, our biggest clients are in the Oil & Gas sector. These include BPCL, HPCL, IOCL and Reliance Industries. Other major clients include Tata Power, Reliance Infra, NTPC, NPCIL, Aditya Birla Group, etc.
What is the overall approach of equipment owners towards testing and diagnostic services as a means of preventive maintenance?
The industry has always been a great believer towards diagnostic testing, with the oil & gas sector being the first to adapt new technologies. The high success rate of these technologies (especially VLF testing & on-line PD) led to rapid penetration with maintenance engineers directly responsible for these equipment realizing the benefits. Utilities too are seeing the advantages of these technologies and have begun implementing them, as the cost of power failures & outages is very high. The focus is thus shifting from preventive maintenance to condition based maintenance.
We understand that Diatech is also in the business of repairs of critical power equipment. Please discuss any challenging case of repair in recent times.
A key case which we undertook recently was the in-situ repair of a 220-mw turbo-generator. Its rotor failed during operation and OEM as well as other generator manufacturers stated that the 100-tonne rotor would have to be sent to their works for repairs. This would have led to a prolonged outage when the utility was having maximum power demand. The complex repairs included dismantling the generator, removal of rotor retaining rings, in-situ replacement of the defective insulation and reassembly. All of this had to be achieved without OEM support, drawings or technical specs. We were able to complete the work within three months (OEM had indicated over six months) and the generator runs satisfactorily to date.
We appreciate that testing is a highly-specialized activity. What is the situation with respect to availability of skilled manpower?
This is one of the most challenging aspects of our business. Students are not exposed to these technologies in college. Also, the work is of a specialized nature and performed by very few agencies (or none). Hence, we have to train all of our engineers from scratch and it takes around a year to get them up to speed.
What is your view on India’s overall competency in the field of diagnostic testing of electrical equipment?
There are several companies who have entered this field in recent times, which helps in generating awareness. CPRI and ERDA were pioneers and continue to lead the way. Indian engineers are second to none and are quick to absorb new technology. We need to focus on R&D now, so that we can start developing new techniques instead of just absorbing them.
Are there some sophisticated tests that are not yet performed in India?
Non-destructive testing of long cables as well over-voltage partial discharge testing of HV/EHV cables is not yet available. Utilities still rely on soak testing and DC hipot for these, which are either not useful or actually harmful. The only option was to bring in agencies from abroad. We have just brought in the LIRA technology from Norway, which will be a great solution for testing of long cables.
Please discuss your growth plans for Diatech India in the coming years, in terms of expansion of operations, widening of your portfolio of services, etc.
We are expanding our operations internationally, having started some years ago with a branch office in Saudi Arabia. We are now entering new markets in Egypt, Oman, Qatar and UAE. Within India, we are speedily growing in terms of engineers, testing instruments and turnover; of which over 10 per cent is annually invested in new equipment. We are already the largest service provider for MV cable and motor testing, with HV/EHV cable testing solutions being our next target. I see DIATECH being a premier international testing agency in the years to come!