Chairman Emeritus Reconnect 27 – “Thinking Out-of-the-Box”

My dear young friends,

If you are sitting in a class room concentrating on the Board, you may be able to solve some problems going beyond the dots, as explained in my previous letter. But there are some problems which can be solved going out of the class room (box) in which you are existing. Take for example the following real-life story:

President, General Motors receives a complaint one day “Recently I purchased a new Pontiac Car and I am facing a problem. The car is allergic to Vanilla Ice Cream. It doesn’t start every time I buy a Vanilla Ice cream while there is no problem with other kinds of ice creams” Though the President was skeptical about the complaint, he sent a couple of technicians to check it out anyway.

Treconnect 27-1he technicians were surprised to be greeted by a well educated man over dinner at his house. They were told about a little tradition in the family that after dinner all the members vote for a particular flavor of Ice cream and then he drives down to the store to get it. The flavor voted for was Vanilla that night and they went together to fetch it and sure enough after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start. The technicians returned for some more nights to find that there was no problem with other kinds like strawberry, chocolate etc. As technicians they started taking notes like time of the day, type of gas, time to drive back and forth etc.

In a short time the technicians got a clue. The man took less time to buy Vanilla than any other flavor. The reason was that Vanilla being the most popular flavor was kept in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup, while others were kept at the back of the store. So the technicians’ attention shifted from “flavor” to “time”. One of them screamed “Vapour Lock” not getting enough time to dissipate, the engine being still too hot when he brings Vanilla fast. Once the real problem was identified, they fixed it.

Another example is from “Electronic Meters” in Delhi. When DVB (in loss) was privatized, it was a challenge for Tata and Reliance to improve reconnect 27-2on recoveries. They decided to replace the old electro-mechanical meters with modern electronic meters which were supposed to be more sensitive and accurate. Soon they became controversial in the eyes of electricity consumers. They started attributing the higher energy bills to the high speed running electronic meters. Protesting against the authorities, the effigy of Electronic Meter was burnt along with those of Ravana and Kumbhakarna on Dessehra.

Not finding any relief from the Distribution companies or the Regulators, Consumers went to the High Court. A writ petition No. 12328/ 2005 was filed in the Delhi High Court against BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL).
The Petitioners contended that

  1. The unilateral action of the Utility of replacing electro-mechanical meters be declared illegal.
  2. Replace the electronic meters by electro-mechanical meters
  3. Revise all the bills raised on the basis of electronic meters

The company contended that

  1. The electronic meter conforms to the notified standards of BIS.
  2. CPRI has checked the accuracy of the electronic meter and found it to be within permissible error margin.
  3. The company in a phased manner is replacing all existing electro-mechanical meters with electronic meters.

The Delhi High Court Judgment came on 14th December 2005 as follows:

  1. Utility has the power to replace an existing meter even though it may not be determined as a faulty meter.
  2. Subject to BIS specifications, they can determine a particular type of meter to be installed.

There were public protests again.

Problem of Electricity Meters was then referred to Central Electricity Authority. Chairman, CEA deputed a couple of Technical officers to visit the residential complexes and talk to the customers.

  • They were shown bills increasing with the Electronic meters, registering consumption even when residents were away.

While coming out the Technical officers observed that:

  • The electrical wiring contractors, in order to save wires, were looping neighbors to common neutral.
  • In case of Electronic meters, logic is such that higher of the current in phase or neutral is taken into account, whereas in case of Electro-mechanical meters, it is only the phase current which is accounted for.
  • In Single-Phase, the current is equal in the ‘hot leg’and the ‘neutral’.

This explained as to why the meters were registering higher consumption taking full account of the neighbor’s usage.

CEA Notification of 17-Mar-06 was published in Gazette of India (Extraordinary) stating that:

  • In case of Single Phase Meters, the consumer shall ensure that there is no common neutral or looping of neutral of two or more consumers.
  • If such common neutral or looping of neutrals comes to the notice of the Licensee, it shall suitably inform the consumer through “Installation Report” or ‘Meter Test Report’ or regular ‘Electricity Bills’, as applicable.

Everyone was searching for solution within his own box

  • BRPL: within their specifications, efficacy of imported meters, modern technology etc.
  • BIS: within conformity of their specifications
  • CPRI: within their sophisticated test laboratory
  • High Court: within the documents submitted to them and arguments in the Court Room

No one went to the field of application; No one went to the Ice-cream Shop !!!


Satyamev Jayate !!!

Best wishes and Regards,

Dr. B.S.K.Naidu

M.Tech., Ph.D., CBI Scholar, D.Engg.(Calif), FNAE
Hon.D.WRE (ranked amongst 30-most eminent scientists in the world)
Chairman Emeritus, Great Lakes, Gurgaon, NCR, New Delhi, INDIA
Former Director General (NPTI & CPRI / REL), Ex-Director (REC)/ Executive Director (IREDA)

No job is small or big, the way in which you do, makes it small or big (c)

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