Exclusive | CEL’s CMD B N Sarkar speaks to Saurabh Sinha on Products, Projects & Progress

CEL CMD BN Sarkar
CEL CMD BN Sarkar

Central Electronics Limited (CEL) was established in 1974, when the world of electronics was rarefied. This public sector enterprise made continuous losses for many years, but for the few years it has turned the table and started making profits. Its Chairman & Managing Director Shri Bhola Nath Sarkar speaks with Saurabh Sinha , our Editor, about this transformation and the future plans.

SS | How has CEL embarked on a journey, request to explain in detail what was achieved by you in one year?

BN Sarkar | CEL was founded in 1974 under Ministry of Science and Technology for bringing to the market new technological products developed in laboratories of the country and provide import substitutes in the field of electronics besides taking lead in developing new products. CEL is the pioneer in many fields but the most known one is in the area of the Solar Photovoltaics. CEL has the distinction of manufacturing India’s first solar cell in 1977, India’s Firstsolar module in 1978 and setting up India’s First solar plant in 1992. Since then, we have been executing various projects in the area of rural electrification, Solar Power Plants, Water Pumping Systems, Solar Mini Grid, Solar Power Packs, etc. CEL has the distinction in providing import substitutions. You would be surprised to know that the first Indian colour TV and LCD projector was manufactured in CEL. CEL pioneered in developing and manufacturing ferrite cores which are heart of many electronic devices. In the past 46 years the company has seen many ups and downs but it has grown and always been first to introduce new products in field of Solar PV, Railway electronics, Mircrowave&Peizo Ceramic areas for defense application, etc. We have strengthened our country’s defense system by our innovative and indigenized products and contributed to the growth of solar industry in the country.

CEL solar products

In the areas of Solar Energy, we have focused on our traditional strengths in Rural/ Remote area electrification as well as on development of new applications such as Architectural Use of Solar (Building Integrated Power Plants) and  a range of smart city applications including Solar Trees, Solar Shelters,  Solar Rickshaws, Centralized battery energy storages systems   etc.Our performance in last one year has been very good. We installed 38.7 MWp cumulative capacity solar power plants in Maharashtra out of an order of 170MWp from EESL and have supplied, installed and commissioned more than 20, 000 street lights, 300 plus solar water pumping systems pan India, solarized platforms of Indian railways at various locations, installed advanced security systems in various Govt. buildings and universities. We have done exemplary work by installing cumulative 9MWp Solar Power Plants in Maharashtra and 1.15 MWp solar power plant in a remote location in Himachal Pradesh during the Covid-19 period. We have installed state of art solar trees in Raj Bhawan, Delhi.

We have achieved major growth in other business areas including railway signaling, Security & Surveillance systems as well as strategic electronics.  The company is working on a range of new products for the strategic sectors, in collaboration with various laboratories and institutions, under ‘Make

CEL railways

in India’. We have done MOU for defense items with DMRL/DRDO, LASTEC/DRDO, IIT Delhi, ARDE Pune etc. We developed alumina based bullet proof jackets and this is under testing. We are researching for lighter bullet proof jackets. We have started making and supplying radome for defense application. We are also indigenizing various imported items for fighting Covid-19 and similar viral diseases. We are manufacturing DivyaNayan and Drishti, state of art vision related products.

SS | What are Drishti and DivyaNayan? Please tell us more about these.

BN Sarkar | Drishti is first of its kind, made in India product.  We have started manufacturing Dristi, night vision technology, after TOT from NAL.It is mandatory equipment required for safe landing and take-off operations at the airport. Our product meets standards of ICAO and WMO. It measures visibility as low as 4m and as high as 10km. It  is suitable for all categories of airports. We have already installed 104 systemsat various airports in India.

DivyaNayan is a portable handy equipment for helping the visually impaired to read the written matter. Our engineers and scientists worked with CSIO for developing this product. CSIO has transferredthe technology to us for manufacturing.

SS | What is the scope of renewable energy in a fast developing nation like India and what are your future plans?

BN Sarkar | India’s has an ambitious target of India 100 GW of solar power by 2022 and is well on route to achieving this. We are amongst the top countries as far as solar installation is concerned and are soon likely to be in first or second spot.

The company’s traditional focus area has been remote/ rural area solar projects.  I believe that this is a critical area for the country, especially given the fact that almost 200 Million people in the country lack access to clean energy.  Solar, as a distributed source of energy, with its ease of installation, is ideally suited to meet this requirement.

We have taken up MW size plants on RESCO as well as CAPEX models.  We are presently executing a more than 100MWp solar power plants in various locations and are quite bullish about future growth in this area. We have orders for solar street lighting systems and solar water pumping systems in rural India. We are focusing on developing products for innovative use of solar PV in security and surveillance arena, Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV) and smart city applications etc.

SS | What projects have you undertaken in the Railways?

BN Sarkar | CEL has been working with IR for many decades for supply of various signaling equipment as well as solar power plants.  In recent years, we have executed a range of projects for Indian Railways. Guwahati Railway station has a become the  First 100% Solar Powered  Railway Station in the North- East, the solar power plant at Guwahati Railway station was installed by CEL under CSR program of CONCOR. We have also executed another project for Indian Railways for 40 x 50 KWpsolar power plants on the roof topsof various railway buildings across the country.

Recently, we have developed & manufactured flexible crystalline solar modules for the first time in the country, especially for use on train roofs.  With this, we were able to reduce the weight and size of the power plant on train roof resulting in huge reduction in drag caused.  We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Railways for development of systems for meeting specific requirements of IR.  Under this , we are also solarizing one train, under an IRFC funded project,with a view to evaluating performance of different technologies for such  applications  with a view to optimizing  performance of solar power plants on train roofs. We have installed flexible solar panels on the roof of two coaches of Rewari-Delhi-Sitapur passenger train.We have also developed BIPV solutions for railway platforms and have already solarized Sahibabad railway platform.  Railway has a very ambitious solar power plan and we are making all efforts to support the same.

We have developed new generation multi-section Digital Axle Counters and state of art VOIP communication system for the railways.

 SS | What are the R&D activities of CEL in Railway Electronics?

BN Sarkar | CEL has a dedicated R&D section. The company is continuously upgrading its products with respect to RDSO Specifications as well as customer requirements. The product upgrades are carried out to cater to the component obsolescence. Recently R&D team has offered their upgraded range of axle counters meeting the latest IEC guidelines for EMI/EMC to RDSO and become the first to make such an offer to RDSO. The R&D department in the past year has carried out the major technology upgrade from 8-bit microcontrollers to 32-bit microcontrollers, adoption of FPGA technology to gear up for future.

railways cel products

 The R&D team ensures that the new design not only meets the functional requirement but also meet the stringent European CENELEC standards for railway signaling system. These products, both hardware, and software meet the highest level of Safety Integrity level – 4 (Lowest being SIL-0).

 Our R&D team is currently working on products like Fail safe Digital Multiplexer that will reduce the usage of cables and other innovative product like relay-less output card which can be interfaced directly to signaling control equipment without any external interface. This will reduce the number of electromechanical relays.

SS | what is your vision for the company, going forward?

BN Sarkar |  The company is operating in some very strong business segments, with unique strengths as well as long associations with various R&D institutions including CSIR as well as DRDO labs.  It has also been a reliable supplier of high quality and custom built solutions for a range of customers including Railways, Defense, PSUs, and State Nodal Agencies etc.  We have a number of technology acquisition projects in advanced stages. We are looking to leverage these to expand our product base as well as volumes. Weare targeting to cross Rs. 1000Crore top line mark in the next two years and to become a major player in segments we operate in. We are looking to add new products in strategic electronics by import substitution through our Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.I believe our targets are doable target and our company would grow many folds in the coming years.

For more details on Central Electronics Limited (CEL) :  http://www.celindia.co.in/drupal7/

2 Comments

  1. Very exhaustive interview. Has gone through each and every aspect of CEL. This draws an excellent picture of CEL’sahibabad unit.

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