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This jugaad resulted in saving millions of rupees for the company and my output of tested meters increased.

I was working with the Ahmedabad Electricity Co. in Ahmedabad. The company had purchased a few CALMU meters from PI Industries. The year, as I remember it, was 1988/89. I was unable to meet the demand for tested meters since we were facing an acute shortage of the Rotary Sub-Standard meters (RSS) used for testing single / three phase meters. Since CALMU meters were very accurate, I wondered if we could use the CALMU meters as a reference standard instead.

I tested the CALMU meter in our standard cell and found it to be much more accurate than the existing RSS meter. The challenge now was to create a jig, so it could be used as a testing meter. I came up with a jugaad*, using some CTs that were available, a CALMU meter, Cine MRI, power supply and a bulky phantom load set. This jugaad resulted in saving millions of rupees for the company and my output of tested meters increased. I showed this jugaad to many visitors from Secure Meters and asked their opinion. To this, they responded, “Our meter can be sold for this purpose also.” I was disappointed since the jugaad was not appreciated by my seniors or the supplier of CALMU meters.

What can we do to help you?

Normally Sanjay Saab and Babel Saab would visit our laboratory often; one day I plucked up the courage to show this jugaad to them with a fear of hearing a harsh comment (Hey what shabby wiring and connections) but knew that I had the courage to tolerate it. Contrary to my expectations, both of them appreciated my effort and asked me “What can we do to help you test meters using CALMU?”

During the discussion and subsequent visits I told them that RSS meters were a rare commodity at the time, and not only that, they were expensive and the indigenous ones were not reliable. Furthermore, testing meters on-site was impossible because during transportation, the RSS meter would get damaged. Hence if this jugaad could be packaged in a more robust way, on-site testing of meters at a consumer’s premises would be possible; this would increase the consumer’s satisfaction also.

In a few days time, Mr Babel came back with a nice package in a handbag, with a calculator to calculate the error percentage etc. I tried this in the laboratory as well as on-site. Over time we found other things that were needed. Mr Babel visited the site to get the first-hand information on the difficulties we faced on-site, how we travelled on a bicycle or a motorcycle (the word bike came later on, we were using the Bullet motorcycle).

A marketable version called Accucheck was born in a vanity bag.

Later, as the need arose, many other changes were incorporated to make the Accucheck of today.

*A jugaad is a solution put together with the materials and resources at hand.

-G K Panchal