Meeting continuous power demand while maintaining workforce safety a challenge, says Sembcorp India chief

Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on May 11, 2020 Published on May 11, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic had exposed the world to many challenges, one of them being to ensure enough electricity is maintained so that there are no blackouts. While each player has worked out its own mechanism, Sembcorp Energy India Limited (SEIL), an independent power producer (IPP) in India, has managed to keep its combined portfolio of thermal and renewable -- 4.3 gigawatts in full availability powering about 57 lakh households.

Vipul Tuli, Managing Director, SEIL, meeting the continuous power demand, while maintaining the safety and environmental best practices under these circumstances was the company’s prime objective.

“At Sembcorp, safety and wellbeing of our people and communities are the first priority. Yet, as an essential service, we have a responsibility to continue to generate uninterrupted power for the country… all our sites have been fully operational, with new SOPs implemented in early March, even before the lockdown,” he said.

The SOPs include screening, sanitisation, social distancing and control room isolation, shift pattern changes for split teams, community health interventions, and close coordination with the local administration in nine states.

Elaborating on the split team concept, he said, “we introduced split team arrangements in certain job functions at the power plant that it recognised were not ideal for working from home. All areas and processes where physical contacts are essential have either been exempted or simplified, access to critical areas such as control room has been restricted.”

Internal meetings, all-hands and other essential operations have been optimised for remote participation, he said adding “Our teams are coordinating with the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) in the district and closely monitoring the evolving situation.”

A significant part of Sembcorp’s 30+ distributed site locations in India are under self O&M (Operations and Maintenance), and the remainder are functioning with comprehensive O&M partnerships with OEMs. The sites are located at very remote locations, away from major cities.

“We are monitoring the situation continuously, engaging with all site teams on VCs and working on further improvement measures, as well to ensure that all our Wind Turbine Generators are operated and continues uninterrupted generation. At the same time, we are ensuring that all workforce stays healthy and safe,” Tuli said.

Health, hygiene and sanitisation measures have been put in place at all sites, he said adding that “Virtual Brain Renewables (VBR) is our analytics-based digital asset management platform that enables the operations team monitor and manage turbines at over 30 wind energy sites. The entire VBR team, including the operators, fleet managers, platform developers, analysts and the forecasting executives, was working from home.”

A seamless collaboration within the VBR team is ensured through secured IT systems through which quick actions are initiated to resolve any technical issues of the asset, he said.

While employee wellbeing has been prioritised, the leadership teams have been addressing the groups in regular frequency to instil confidence amongst the teams.

For example, at its supercritical thermal plant located in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, Sembcorp continues to undertake a sanitisation drive in the local villages. “Prior to the nationwide lockdown, Sembcorp also conducted extensive awareness campaigns through posters, pamphlets and briefings in local schools, Anganwadis, govt mandal offices and in prominent places within the local communities,” the company claims.

Published on May 11, 2020

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