As spectrometrists we only say what we can do, and always do what we say
Priyadarshan D. Pant, Managing Director, Metal Power Analytical (MPA)
Founded in 1990 with self-funding by Priyadarshan D. Pant, Metal Power Analytical (MPA) entered the field of OES as an Indian agent for an English giant – Hilger Analytical. Over three decades, the company has metamorphosed into a formidable force in spectrometry and become the world’s fastest growing OES manufacturer. In 2018, MPA launched a product to cater to even the smallest units, previously inhibited by OES prices. With a radical redesign across every element of an OES, the company developed MOSS technology to take the market by storm. Today MPA has its footprint in 35+ countries across five continents. Engineering Review speaks to the dynamic managing director P.D. Pant to get a ringside view of the technological innovations of the company which has its roots entrenched deeply in indigenous R&D and holds over a dozen patents in the field of spectrometry, making it the foremost innovator globally. Excerpts:
Q. Metal Power is well-known in the field of analytical instrumentation. What precisely is your niche?
Metal Power designs and manufactures not just the widest range of Optical Emission Spectrometers (OES) in the world, but also ensures that each model offers features that are unique in its class. From entry-level to the top-end models, in each segment, a Metal Power Spectrometer offers something differentiated – from Nitrogen analysis on the entry-level MOSS to single-ppm Oxygen and Nitrogen on the top-end Metavision-10008X, each model has something that no competing model can match.
We also offer some unique and patented features on virtually every model. Our focus has always been to be market-makers and market-leaders and as such, no model or product we make is a ‘me-too’ based on competing offerings.
Apart from the products themselves, we have always prided ourselves on being completely authentic, transparent and honest in our dealings. We only say what we can do and we always do what we say. We routinely go well beyond ‘the written word’ to ensure that we deliver above and beyond customer expectations!
Q. What are your comprehensive offerings for spectrometry?
Our focus is on arc-spark atomic / optical emission spectrometers (commonly called AES or OES) for metals analysis. Within this space, we offer two kinds of spectrometers – stationary spectrometers that are typically used inside laboratories and also mobile spectrometers, which are self-contained trolley-based units that can be easily manoeuvred around yards and open spaces. Within each of these, we offer different models to cater to a variety of needs.
In Stationary OES for example, our range starts with the MOSS. Featuring a ground-breaking design on all counts, this model is the lightest, most compact and also most economical OES in the world. This apart, it also offers Nitrogen analysis capability, which is truly unique at the entry-level. Besides, it is also a completely scalable model, with users having the flexibility of adding a variety of analytical modules at will
Above this, commences our Metavision range. In the Metavision-1008i, we offer a true powerhouse that offers wide elemental coverage and low detection limits. Particularly renowned for its prowess for ferrous applications, this model is equally at ease for non-ferrous applications. Indeed, it is a strong favourite for foundries as well as for the smaller NABL-accredited commercial labs!
For the higher-end users, our offerings begin with the Metavision-1008i3 – a model that broke new ground in the industry – by design! This is the first – and the only – model in the world to offer Oxygen analysis down to 10 ppm (parts per million). Not just that, it does so without being the top-end model! Offering single and sub-ppm detection limits for 55+ elements, this model offers magnificent economic value particularly for pure metal analysis and ferrous applications where users wish to assess low Oxygen and Nitrogen content.
Our flagship stationary OES is of course the Metavision-10008X. Portraying every single feature in the field of arc-spark optical emission spectrometry, this model offers an unrivaled feature-set, headlined by its 1 ppm detection limit for each of Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen and sub-ppm limits for most other elements. Apart from exceptional accuracy, precision and stability, this model is also ideal for wire analysis, foil analysis and so on.
In mobile spectrometers, we offer the entry-level Metavision-108M and the higher-end Metavision-1008M3. The former sets a new benchmark for economic efficiency, battery life and analysis time as well as ease of use, while the latter raises the bar and spectacularly so. Offering exceptional detection limits, it not only matches the battery life and analysis times of its sibling but does so in a nearly identical form factor – making it by far the most compact high-end mobile OES in the world.
Q. Which are the industry segments you serve?
We service just about every industry in which it is important to control the quality of the metals they manufacture, process or consume. From steel plants and metal refiners to casting and forging units through extruders and rolling mills and the end-use industries including battery makers, automotive firms, EPC firms and more. Some of the largest business segments for us in terms of end-use are Steel plants, Copper refiners, Defence, Railways, Aerospace, Automotive and all their suppliers. From fastener manufacturers to those making brass fittings and from investment casting firms to companies making transmission line towers and transmission wires, if there is a firm that consumes metal and values quality, we serve its needs!
Q. You champion in providing customized solutions. Could you narrate one recent example?
We offer a host of customized solutions. The smaller customizations include calibrating a unit for ranges that are unique to a customer’s needs. On occasions though, this can take us into areas that are more esoteric and unique. For example, we recently worked with a customer who makes a very specific (and unique) alloy grade. They procured our spectrometer but soon complained that while our unit was analysing all their raw materials correctly, it was highly inaccurate for their finished goods! Our Service Team countered by proving that all Certified Reference Materials were being analysed correctly. Our study showed that there were some imported master alloys that were being used in the alloy-making process which were added without spectrometric analysis. Instead, coming as they did from a very reputed source, they were accepted as conforming to their manufacturer-certified values. A key reason for this was the believed impossibility of analysing these samples.
We therefore developed – for the first time in India – customized analytical programs to analyse master alloys, and this helped the customer trace the root cause of the issues. Today, we are the only firm in the world that offers a comprehensive range of master alloy programs across various manners of non-ferrous metals. We have supplied instruments with master alloy calibrations to a number of customers – both makers of master alloys as well as users, all of whom have appreciated our commitment and dedication to develop such applications that go well beyond ‘standard solutions’ and cater to specific and pressing user needs.
Q. You are an R&D based organisation. What are your strengths and credentials epitomizing your wherewithal, vast experience and intensive research?
Our strength lies in not just our research capabilities – but the guiding vision behind our R&D team. From the very outset, our Managing Director PD Pant’s vision has been absolutely clear. We must always offer something unique – and must always have designs and applications that are not just differentiated but based on hitherto unmet user needs. While reams could be written about the efforts made and how ideas are formed and then taken to fruition, the best way to highlight our strengths in this area is simply through the results. Today, Metal Power has the following research firsts to its name:
- The first OES in the world to offer C, O and N analysis down to 1 ppm
- The first (and still the only) firm in the world to offer Nitrogen analysis on entry-level OES
- Patented application for wire analysis down to 0.1 mm diameter wires
- Patented application for foil analysis down to 0.02 mm thickness
- Patented product for analysis of Hydrogen in molten Aluminium
- Patents on optics for improving system resolution in integer multiples as compared with standard optics
- Patents on specific fiber optic designs
- First accredited manufacturer of solid metal reference materials in all of Asia
- Other patents for applications and designs, including for various safety panels
- Indeed, Metal Power today holds more than a dozen patents in the field of spectrometry, making us the foremost innovators globally!
Q. You seem to have an enviable export performance. Could you throw some light on your market penetration, and global footprints?
While we continue to focus on improving our exports performance, we have indeed made inroads in multiple export markets and export an increasing share of our production. Today, we have established our presence in 35+ countries across 5 continents – spanning the Americas (North and South), Europe, Africa and Asia. We cover most parts of Asia – including the Middle East, Far East, ASEAN and also the SAARC countries. In all countries that we service, we ensure that customers continue to enjoy not just the quality and economy we offer, but also get the same seamless service support enjoyed by all our Bharatiya clients.
We spend time, effort and money to design and make our spectrometers not only work well but also make our customers’ laboratories look good and smart.
Q. What makes you the first choice for those seeking time-tested and enduring solutions in analytical instrumentation?
Ultimately, what matters for any OES buyer can be simplified to, “What product can I buy which assures me performance as good as or better than my needs – while not busting my budget?” This is the question that we answer with our models in literally every segment of the OES market. We go by the credo of “A model for every application and every budget”. This has seen us develop not just the widest range of models – but also the strongest suite of applications. Underpinning this is our firm commitment to never compromise quality in the search for economic value. Hence, the platform, viz. the architecture, electronics and software, that the MOSS is built on is the same as that of the Metavision-10008X! While the optics, analytical capabilities and applications obviously differ, we believe that no OES buyer should ever be made to compromise on the quality of the product he procures.
We therefore have a multi-pronged approach to ensure customer delight. First and foremost, at the risk of being repetitive, we ensure that our products themselves are unique in offering customers better performance than any competing product. We ensure we deliver accuracy, precision and stability that beat any and every other model in every product segment we operate in. Without this at the core, everything else would be moot.
Secondly, we take an end-to-end view to Quality. Our ISO certification is not merely for our Production, but spans every single department including Customer Service. We deliver service across models – telephonic, online and also in person. Indeed, we don’t outsource service at all! Each Service Engineer is a highly-qualified engineer who is recruited, trained and managed by our team. Today, our Service team has 30+ engineers based across 18 different locations in all parts of the country.
Thirdly, we consider the delivery of robustness and longevity as our dharma. Efficiency and frugality are the core of Bharatiya sensibility and culture and we embrace these. Consider this – our very first OES models, made and sold in 2004 and derided by our foreign counterparts as mere toys are still working, still supported and still under AMCs from us! Even in our infancy, we ensured that there was no compromise on quality – and even now, we ensure that those customers continue to enjoy the best quality of service. Indeed, we continue to ensure backward-compatibility of all our software upgrades too! This ensures that no MPA customer is ever punished for the ‘crime’ of being conscientious and good enough to take good care of his instruments and not wanting to waste his hard-earned money!
Finally, we have developed a full range of allied instruments that every OES user needs to have, in order to ensure he gets the optimal value from his OES. From sample preparation machines and Argon purifiers to sampling moulds, adaptors and even Certified Reference Materials, we offer customers a complete solution to every spectrometric need, with products designed by spectrometrists for spectrometric applications! We also advise our customers on how to set up their Spectrometer Laboratory. We spend time, effort and money to design and make our spectrometers and accessories not only work well but also make our customers’ laboratories look good and smart.
Q. How far have you come in your quest to achieve your set vision and dreams?
We believe that there is no end to dreams – and our journey has only just begun! Our vision is to span into as many fields of spectrometry as we can and lead each one of them with innovative and path-breaking products of the highest quality. And not just to do these within Bharat, but to do this at a global scale. In that sense, while it would be nice to say that we have come a long way from where we were when we began, the perspective we prefer taking is perhaps best summarized by the immortal words from the Aitareya Upanishad, Charanvaimadhuvindati, Charanswadumudumbaram. Suryasyapasyashremanam, yonatandrayatecharan. Charaiveti, Charaiveti
Thus they would read when translated:
By moving one gets nectar,
By moving one gets sweet fruit,
Look at the Sun, whose legs never tire, even while moving ceaselessly
Keep moving; keep moving!