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LTL going great guns with transformer exports

LTL Holdings (pvt) Ltd, better known in its old name, Lanka Transformers, is one of the very few examples of a private public partnership that has gone right in this country. CEB is the major shareholder of LTL.

The Company was set up thirty years ago to manufacture an annual transformer demand of just 700 for CEB, now has expanded to more supply than 2000 transformers. What is more striking is that they have made great strides in exports so that "LTL transformers" have today become another internationally known brand for quality transformers.

LTL's transformer factory at Angulana, Moratuwa today looks like a battle zone. Transformers destined to be installed in many countries are being produced almost round the clock. Some major buyers of LTL Transformers are Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Mauritius, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Australia etc.Factory Manager, Mr. Rukshika Pathberiya says this year is the most hectic year in his entire career. In month of June, 30 container loads of transformers will be shipped to Jordan and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's state owned power utility EEPCO early this year signed up LTL for supply of two electrification projects funded by World Bank and African Development Bank. These orders are for more than 1,800 transformers in less than 6 months of production time.

This order alone accounts for sale of Rs 1,100 million and sales to CEB now accounts for less than 50% of its turnover.

Jordan Electricity Company is a customer of LTL since 2004. LTL is a regular participant in the international tenders and is a consistent supplier to them. In this month, largest capacity transformers produced in Sri Lanka for export, 1500kVA capacity, set sail to Jordan.

Dammika Nanayakkara, Chief Technology Officer of LTL says that success achieved by LTL in penetrating transformer market of not less than 30 countries within a decade did not come easy.

"At the beginning when we participated in some tenders, they did not know where Sri Lanka is. Sri Lanka was not a name for high tech products and they were hesitant.

We had to try very hard, including allowing them to install trail transformers in very harsh conditions to prove ourselves. Today we have overcome all such challenges and LTL is a very well known global brand for transformers. We have exported more than 4500 transformers during last 5 years and no single in field failure has been reported during operation so far and this is a direct indication of high quality of our transformers" says Dammika.

LTL has to face tough competition in tenders. Typically there are 30-40 bidders mostly from India and China. LTL rely on better quality although its prices are higher than Chinese or Indian. LTL transformers are produced to the designs of ABB, a global electrical giant, through a technology transfer agreement.

To outwit low labour costs of their competitors, LTL has managed to improve productivity of its factory employees. "They are very happy when we get export orders since they all get productivity bonuses" says Rukshika.

"We have faced many difficulties, challenges and criticism and for my team that is the best motivating factor, together we will make LTL a global player not only in transformers but in power generation and transmission as well. We can use the talented engineers coming out of universities more and more to give them meaningful employment as real engineers" says U D Jayawardana, the proud CEO of LTL.

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