Understanding a generator’s function and specific application is pivotal when determining whether critical standby power or basic standby power is required, says sustainable, productivity solutions provider Atlas Copco South Africa business line manager David Stanford.
He tells Engineering News that, when it comes to generators, Atlas Copco focuses more on the critical standby market than the basic standby market, but highlights that the company’s generators are used extensively in critical standby and basic standby applications.
“Our range of generators is comprehensive enough to meet our clients’ standby, critical power and prime power requirements” states Stanford.
He explains that a mobile generator is generally regarded as a prime source, as it is the only source of power available on site and designed to run for a certain number of hours over a specific period.
“This insight stems from mobile generators tending to be costlier than what would be classified as standard standby industrial generators. These units are designed for maximum mobility and often feature smaller units with larger tanks to reduce refuelling downtime,” he adds.
Stanford highlights that, typically, an industrial generator is regarded as a standby generator but a mobile generator can be sized accordingly to perform this application as well.
“A standby generator functions under the assumption that there is a stable power grid that supplies power to an operation, and when that grid shuts down a certain number of times a year, the standby generator unit kicks in to bridge the power supply gap,” he explains.
If the power grid outages become more frequent, the standby generator becomes a critical standby application, instead of just a basic standby unit, Stanford adds.
This is where build-up, performance, sizing and maintenance and reliability start impacting on the generator.
Stanford further tells Engineering News that, as a result of increased power outages and power reliability issues in South Africa, there is a growing interest in alternative forms of power, including critical standby power in the generators market. A generator, therefore, becomes more critical to an operation, as it forms part of the routine maintenance and operational strategy of a plant.
Subsequently, a generator previously considered a standby generator becomes part of the plant’s installation operational equipment profile, particularly in the industry sector.
“The criticality of whether you need a power source or not will always refer to what the risk is of not having it in the first place,” states Stanford.
Atlas Copco’s Power Approach
Highlighting Atlas Copco’s extensive range of generators, Stanford notes that the company is in the process of expanding its range of generators from the smallest 2.3 kVA petrol units to the largest 1250 kVA diesel containerised single-box unit.
He further explains that, while the company fully imports all the generator units in its range, the company’s philosophy is to provide clients with a complete package that encompasses a holistic approach to supplying a generator.
Atlas Copco considers design, ultimate performance and application when providing a generator for a client, says Stanford. “We also select the best engine alternator that forms the best combination for the range or power node for that generator.”
He notes that this also ensures the best combination and lowest cost of ownership for a client.