ACTOM Power Transformers celebrates 50 years!
To mark the celebration of its 50th anniversary this year, ACTOM Power Transformers held a cocktail party at its Wadeville, Germiston, premises on August 28 to which it invited a number of its customers, including Eskom, municipalities, consulting engineering companies and project management contractors.
Other guests who attended the function included Willi Felber of Felber Engineering of Austria, an internationally renowned company of power transformer design consultants that ACTOM Power Transformers uses regularly to assist with designing new products, as well as Ben Jansen, a high voltage test expert who is a director of an international electrical and industrial management consultancy and assists in the design of ACTOM Power Transformers’ advanced test facilities.
The 50th anniversary function coincided with the official opening of the company’s recently upgraded test facility, following the latest expansion of its plant capacity to include production of 315 MVA generation and transmission transformers for Eskom. The new test facility, established at a cost of over R30-million as an addition to the company’s existing test facility, is the most advanced facility of its kind in Africa and one of the best in the world.
ACTOM Power Transformers was originally established at a site in Wadeville near its existing premises in 1963 as the local subsidiary of Bonar Long of Dundee, Scotland. The company, then named Bonar Long National Trading Company, began with the manufacture of distribution transformers and within a few years extended into power transformers. It moved to its present site in 1970. After the NEI group acquired it in 1996 the company concentrated exclusively on manufacturing power transformers.
After ACTOM took over ownership of the company in 2001, ACTOM Power Transformers grew rapidly as a result of a series of plant expansions and technological advances aimed at diversifying its product offerings and increasing its market share in the local market, especially to Eskom, its foremost customer.
Addressing guests at the 50th anniversary function, ACTOM’s Group Executive Director Andries Tshabalala said: “During the 12-year period since being acquired by ACTOM, the company’s turnover has increased 5,8 times or 600%.
“The company has long been recognised as one of the leading local manufacturers of power transformers. It has greatly enhanced its status in this respect through the technological advances and production capacity expansions it has achieved – especially within the past six years.”
To illustrate this, Tshabalala pointed out that the company’s highest rated transformers have progressively increased from 40 MVA at 132 kV in mid-2007 to 315 MVA at 275 kV today.
Ronnie Russell, ACTOM Power Transformers’ Divisional CEO, is by far the longest serving of the three CEO’s who have headed up the company since its inception, having served for 28 years in this capacity. “He has also been with the company for almost as long as it has existed – 47 years,” Tshabalala commented in his speech.
“In fact there are quite a number of other senior executives, as well as other employees, who have over 40 years’ service with the company – as has been the case in the past. This demonstrates the high level of expertise that has been retained within the company over the years, which has contributed significantly to its success.
“It also shows that the company is a model of staff loyalty and stability, which is what most companies seek to achieve, but few manage to do as successfully as ACTOM Power Transformers has done,” Tshabalala concluded.
Other speakers at the function included Willi Felber of Felber Engineering and Charles Kalima, Eskom’s Senior Manager Commercial.
In his speech Felber explained how, with his assistance, ACTOM Power Transformers has upgraded its technologies and manufacturing capabilities over the past 10 years to produce transformers of world-class quality. To start with, it upgraded to produce standard power transformers for Eskom of up to 80 MVA, from 40 MVA previously.
To further indicate the progress the company has made in upgrading its capabilities, Felber said that it has since supplied four 60 MVA transformers with oil directed and oil forced cooling for Cape Town’s Steenbras power station, two 120 MVA transformers for a copper mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and some of the first three-winding 110/55 + 55 MVA unit transformers with oil directed and oil forced cooling for Kusile power station, while 315 MVA auto-transformers for eThekwini Municipality are currently in production.
Kalima of Eskom reaffirmed Eskom’s commitment to actively encourage local manufacture of the electrical equipment it requires. Eskom has formulated a policy framework for localisation in which 42 items of power generation equipment have been identified for local manufacture and for creation of jobs over the next five to 10 years. These items, which include transformers, would require a minimum local content of 70%. He said that for locally manufactured transformers alone it is envisaged that R10-billion, equivalent to a current value of 1-billion US dollars, will be spent during that period.
New test facility
ACTOM Power Transformers’ new test facility has been installed in a one-bay extension of the high bay that formed part of the company’s most recent plant extensions. Occupying four floors served by a dedicated personnel lift, the facility is used to test transformers of up to 315 MVA at 275 kV – a substantial advance on its predecessor, which tests transformers of up to 45 MVA at 132 kV.
Used primarily to perform dielectric tests, measure no-load and load losses and perform temperature rise tests, it is a fully automated PLC/SCADA-controlled facility. The test instruments are interrogated by the computer, which calculates the test results automatically and produces a comprehensive test report.
The equipment installed comprises a 15 MVA 11 kV alternator driven by a 6,5 MW 6,6 kV synchronous motor, augmented by a 38,5 MVAR 11 kV capacitor bank and a 38,5 MVAR 44 kV capacitor bank. This equipment is coupled to a 60 MVA step-up transformer to increase the voltage from 11 kV to 80 kV. Furthermore, a 2 MVA 2,2 kV 200 Hz alternator driven by a 600 kW 1 kV synchronous motor is installed for induced over-voltage testing.
The facility is also equipped with a 2400 kV impulse generator with an energy capacity of 240 kilojoules, augmented by a Glaninger circuit for lower voltage impulses. This generator is again a big advance on the company’s other test facility, in which the impulse generator’s capacity is 1200 kV and 60 kilojoules.
Ben Jansen, the company’s test consultant, who designed and commissioned the facility and assisted in procuring the equipment for it, said: “It is probably the most modern test facility of its kind in Africa and is one of most modern in the world. In addition to fully conforming to international test standards, it meets Eskom’s extremely stringent requirements, which include a unique 30% overload test.”
ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is the largest manufacturer, solution provider, repairer and distributor of electro-mechanical equipment in Africa, employing about 7 500 people with an annual order intake in excess of R7.5bn. It is a black empowered company with 42 operating units, 43 production, service and repair facilities, and 36 distribution outlets throughout Southern Africa.
ACTOM holds numerous technology, distribution and value added reseller agreements with various partners, both locally and internationally.
For further information contact Ronnie Russell, ACTOM Power Transformers
PO Box 14575, Wadeville 1422
Tel (011) 824-2810 Fax (011) 827-5116
Press release compiled by Julian Kraft, J Kraft Public Relations
PO Box 2826 Wilropark 1731
Tel (011) 472-6686 Fax 086-613-9657
Date: September 3, 2013
Caption: ACTOM Power Transformers’ Divisional CEO Ronnie Russell (right) and Quality Manager Mohamed Alli stand beside the 2,4 MV impulse generator in the company’s new world-class test facility