Leading local manufacturers and suppliers of medium voltage switchgear ACTOM MV Switchgear (formerly Alstom Switchgear) has gained entry into the power generation market after winning a R275m contract for the supply of all the medium voltage switchgear for Eskom’s Medupi Power Station currently under construction near Lephalale in Limpopo Province.
“In addition to being the first contract we have won in the utility power generation market, it is by far the largest single contract we have ever won,” commented David Geldart, the company’s general manager.
“There are already two established suppliers of medium voltage switchgear to Eskom and our entry into this market as a third adds to the choice of suppliers available to Eskom and other utilities in the region.”
The contract, awarded at the beginning of August 2009, is for a total of 640 switchgear units, comprising around 280 x 12 kV and 360 x 17,5 kV units. Of the total, 390 will be installed in the power station’s six generation units – 65 per unit – and the remaining 250 will be installed in the common plant serving all the generation units. The first delivery of the switchgear is scheduled for October 2010 and the final delivery is due in 2013.
Medium-voltage switchgear refers to the assembly into panels of 12 kV and 17,5 kV circuit breakers along with the associated control, measuring and protective equipment.
The primary distribution medium voltage switchgear for Medupi, known as PIX, is designed and manufactured by ACTOM MV Switchgear’s technology principal, Areva T&D of France.
PIX, which is already well proven abroad, is an advanced air-insulated range of switchgear that conforms to the international IEC 62271 Parts 100 and 200 standard and is internal arc classified up to 50 kA for 17,5 kV. It is compact, requires minimum maintenance and has a number of built-in safety features.
“Besides being ideally suited to the generation market, PIX is also suitable for use in industrial applications with high prospective fault levels,” Geldart stated.
He emphasised that ACTOM MV Switchgear enjoys an excellent relationship with Areva T&D. “An important element that has contributed to our successful introduction of products like PIX is that we have had a lot of co-operation and assistance from them in maximising the localisation of these products.”
Geldart explained that as an integral part of the contract ACTOM MV Switchgear is committed to the government’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGI-SA) programme, whereby it will contribute towards training local people in new skills.
“Instead of simply importing the switchgear from our principals, we will maximise opportunities to localise assembly and component manufacture. It is anticipated that up to 20 new positions will become available as a result of this contract and Areva T&D will provide specialised training where necessary.
He added that local manufacture of the current and voltage transformers is envisaged, while the wiring of low voltage cabinets has been earmarked for local black women who will be given the necessary training for this work.
As part of its preparation for the Medupi contract prior to winning it, ACTOM MV Switchgear started construction of a dedicated plant for assembly of the PIX switchgear at its Knights, Germiston, premises in March this year. The facility, due to commence operation by mid-2010, covers a floor area of 1000 sq m.
The company has spent around R21-million over the past two years in establishing the PIX assembly plant, extensions to its indoor switchgear plant and an additional mini-subs plant.
“Apart from the PIX assembly plant, the new extensions have been undertaken to meet rapidly growing demand for our established products. This has resulted in an increase in our indoor switchgear production by about 45% on a units produced basis and our mini-subs capacity by 30%,” Geldart said.
ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is a black empowered electrical engineering company that employs over 6 000 people and has an annual order intake in excess of R5bn. It has 27 operating units, 22 production facilities and 25 distribution centres throughout South Africa.
ACTOM partners Alstom France for environmental equipment and in serving the maintenance, upgrade and retrofit market for larger boilers, as well as for railway transport activities.
ACTOM holds exclusive distribution, technology and representation rights for Areva T&D in Southern Africa and maintains management, technical and commercial links to Areva T&D business units in Europe.
ACTOM formerly traded under the name Alstom South Africa and re-branded to ACTOM in September 2009.
For further information contact Greg Whyte, ACTOM MV Switchgear
PO Box 13024, Knights 1413
Tel (011) 820-5140 Fax (011) 820-5212
Date: November 27, 2009
Caption: A PIX installation at a power plant in Europe.