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Rand-Air enables sales staff to provide strategic support and solutions tailored to South African customers’ requirements

In the age of the fourth industrial revolution and beyond, customers have ready access to a wealth of technical resources at the click of a button. In parallel with this digital awakening, customers’ requirements have become more intricate, causing astute companies to adapt their communication approach and service offering. The role of the salesperson, for example, has evolved from ‘solution-seller’ to ‘strategic partner’, requiring the adoption and nurturing of an entirely new approach and skills set.

The well-established and forward-thinking provider of portable air and power, Rand-Air, is part of the Atlas Copco Group, a company with a history dating back to 1873. Since its inception, Atlas Copco has placed a strong emphasis on training, a strength that has seen it grow from manufacturing steam engines to the major industrial corporate it is today.

“As a global company, we believe that our strength lies in understanding and embracing the nuances of regional markets,” explains Janne Scheepmans, Sales Excellence Manager at Atlas Copco’s Specialty Rental division in Belgium.

“The South African market differs from other territories like America or Asia. As a Group, we ensure that our training programmes are structured to meet local requirements. This approach equips our sales engineers with the vital skills needed to proactively add value and guide customers through their challenges,” Scheepmans adds.

The value of skills development is echoed by Rand-Air, which has long been known locally for its consistent investment in employee development; as well as its people-centric ethos. During a recent sales excellence training course facilitated by Scheepmans at Rand-Air’s head office in Jet Park, area managers and sales representatives gained fresh insight into implementing a strategic sales approach.

Drawing inspiration from the popular book ‘Challenger Sale’ by Matthew Dixon, the training session explored the mutual benefits of insight selling and storytelling as integral components of the sales and customer support process.

“This vital sales training session has amplified the insight and capability of our local South African teams. By engaging with the course material and learning from the collective experience of participants, the Rand-Air sales team has been very effectively empowered to assist our customers understand their options, and avoid costly errors,” shares Byrone Thorne, Sales and Marketing Manager at Rand-Air.

In the action-oriented training sessions, participants identified strategic approaches for assisting customers to achieve business growth. Thorne reveals that participants focused on how to engage different customer types, based on their industries and product usage frequency. Through practical exercises and idea-sharing, participants were able to acquire the skills required to meet increasingly complex customer needs.

“We tackled subjects such as calculating best-fit solutions based on product knowledge, analysing success stories and scripting commercial insights. One size certainly does not fit all: we were therefore encouraged to consider our customers’ unique and individual needs, and to tailor our sales messaging accordingly. It is not often that we can get the whole sales team together in one place, so by focusing on sharing experiences and ideas, we are able to get the best result out of the training days,” Thorne adds.

He is confident that the insights gained during the training will enable Rand-Air to grow its market share in the manufacturing sector; and to maintain its position as a preferred supplier to the mining, petrochemicals and special trade contractors’ industries.

Rand-Air sales staff have found these timely and targeted training interventions highly beneficial. “These sessions empower us with the insight we need to effectively implement a tailored customer-centric approach. By utilising story-selling, understanding the customer context, and applying superior product knowledge, we are able to identify solutions fit for customers’ particular circumstances,” observes Rand-Air Sales Representative, Natlee Bennie.

Fellow Sales Professional Gavin Croucamp echoes Bennie’s sentiments: “Understanding the customer’s unique requirements and asking the right questions were covered at length during the training. With that knowledge comes confidence and the ability to position ourselves as strategic partners to our customers, rather than ‘just’ sales people,” Croucamp explains.

The Atlas Copco Group furthermore values the insight and experience of its people and draws on the strengths of its business units to craft fit-for-purpose sales approaches.

“Everything we do starts with identifying and leveraging the wealth of experience we have in-house. During the sales excellence training, we focus on group interactions, real-life cases and practical tools. Sales engineers apply what they have learnt immediately after leaving the meeting room, creating more meaningful customer interactions from day 1,” Scheepmans asserts with confidence.

She believes that the success of Rand-Air’s sales excellence training lays in its ability to cultivate a sustainable mindset change in participants.

“What stood out for me was the eagerness of participants to learn and share. Some of the sales engineers have been doing the job for 25+ years; yet they all acknowledged that if they wanted to grow, they needed to improve themselves continuously. This mindset resulted in thought-provoking interactions between the different team members. They challenged each other to truly understand prospect and customer behavior, which resulted in a deeper understanding of what drives customers,” she reveals.

As part of its intensive customer-focused approach, the Atlas Copco Group has increasingly focused on marketing automation and customer segmentation.

“Adding true value becomes second nature when we start segmenting our customers and seeing things from their perspective – instead of from a product-only perspective. By constantly listening to customers’ needs and requirements, we are able to develop and roll out effective global sales interaction models. As a result, our sales engineers are empowered to detect where we can add the most value to our customer,” Scheepmans concludes.

Simulations generator startup thanks to update to controller

In today’s world, we rely on electricity for just about anything we do. From uploading this post, charging your phone, or even car, to your entire operation. When we look towards the future, that dependence will only increase because we’re all slowly but surely moving away from traditional fossil fuels.

Increased reliance comes with risks. A loss of power can impact your day-to-day operation more than ever before as well. A loss of power is accompanied by a significant financial impact, inefficient production, and even life-threatening situations. Preparation is critical because these events are often not predictable.

One at a time

A traditional backup generator startup takes time. The first unit needs to reach nominal speed and voltage. As the next generator gets ready, that unit, in turn, has to be synchronized with the previously connected generator to prevent irregularities. This process then has to be repeated until the last backup unit is running.

By adding a new feature to the trialed and tested Atlas Copco Rental generators equipped with the QC 4003 controller, we are able to deliver the required power level in less than 10 seconds. This small change allows for the simultaneous startup of all connected units, bringing voltage to the required levels at the speed it takes to push a button. How are we able to do it?

Up and running before you finish this sentence

When faced with a power outage, and the main breakers are opened, the controllers crank the engines but do not activate excitation yet. As soon as the Atlas Copco Rental generator’s engines are running at around 400 RPM, all breakers are closed at once, connecting the generators to the bus bar. At around 900 RPM, the automatic voltage regulation feature of the controller activates excitation for all connected units, driving up voltage to nominal power in a controlled manner. No matter how many generators are connected to the bus bar, the process can be completed in less than 10 seconds.

When faced with an emergency, you can now have backup power quite literally in no time.

Making maintenance frictionless for major Brazilian paper manufacturer

Maintenance is one of life’s necessary evils. We would all like to do without it but at the same time, we know we can’t. What we can do, however, is ensure its done efficiently, effectively and with minimum impact on “business as usual”.

While most people think only of the direct costs of hiring technicians and buying spare parts, when you consider the full impact and risks associated with maintenance operations, the real costs can be significantly higher!

So when one of Brazil’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers needed to conduct a full overhaul of their process-critical compressors, they needed an absolutely failsafe back-up solution. 

A solution that would ensure a seamless transition, next-to-no production downtime, full compliance with health, safety and environmental guidelines and zero impact on the quality or quantity of their output.

Mission impossible? Not for Atlas Copco Specialty Rental’s team in Brazil. They got the full package set up in just 1 day – albeit after months of meticulous planning!

Maintenance matters

Two simple facts capture the constraints of this challenging project:

  1. compressed air is absolutely critical to the plant’s operations, since it powers the majority of the processing, transport and instrumentation over its 1000-metre-long production line, and
  2. while giving both of the plant’s 13,200m3/hour centrifugal compressors a complete overhaul would take up to 2 weeks, interrupting production for even a few hours was absolutely out of the question. The strict demands of the manufacturer’s predominantly export business simply did not allow for any reduction, let alone stoppage in production whatsoever. Needless to say, reliability was going to be a key factor in choosing the right solution.

Quality as well as quantity

delivering 13,200m3 of oil-free compressed air every hour, 24 hours per day and for what turned out to be 10 days of continuous operation – not to mention ensuring a stable supply of fuel to produce it all – is already quite a mathematical equation!

On top of that, the limited floor space at the plant meant that all that air had to be compressed on a tiny footprint.

But it wasn’t just size that mattered in this particular project. In fact, the quality of the air was at least as important as the quantity. Being able to deliver pure air that was 100% free of oil and other contaminants was not only essential for the quality of the final product but also the longevity of the plant’s highly specialized machinery. Any blockage to one or more of its approx. 1000 valves, instruments and other sensitive components could have had disastrous consequences.

A failsafe solution

To meet the customer’s strict demands, Vanderson Lopes, Business Line Manager and his team designed and coordinated a comprehensive solution that covered every aspect of the switch to back-up air: “We proposed an array of 5 state-of-the-art PTS 1600 100% oil-free compressors to take over the job from the plant’s centrifugal compressors as they underwent maintenance one at a time. At the customer’s request, a 6th unit was added to the package to serve as a back-up in case of a breakdown or other failure. However, that scenario never eventuated, and the back-up was never used.”

Reliable equipment is one thing. But even the best compressors in the world can’t run without energy. “Our service went beyond just the rental of the machines. We offered a genuine total solution that included transport, installation, 24/7 operation, comprehensive monitoring and testing and meticulous fuel management,” explains <Cesar Avanci, Technical consult of Atlas Copco Rental>. “We took care of the delivery, storage and constant supply of diesel without any shortages, spillages or leakages. Also important to note is that our solution fit comfortably and safely within the plant’s limited floorspace, whereas most competitor solutions would have required twice the footprint to deliver the same flow rates.”

Speed = profit

The full package of 6 PTS 1600 compressors including auxiliary fuel tanks, hoses and connections was delivered, assembled, tested and commissioned by our local team in just 1 day. And after the successful completion of the project, it was all disassembled and removed with the same level of speed and efficiency.

Given that process speed often has a far greater impact on profitability than most cost-cutting measures, that level of agility should always be an important consideration in any processing or production environment. All in all, it was just the icing on the cake of a flawlessly executed project that resulted in one very satisfied customer.

Atlas Copco Rental Italy delivers oil-free air quickly

Breakdowns always happen when you least expect them. In this case on a late Thursday afternoon. Two of their compressors decided to call it quits. Our Italian team took on the challenge, and everything was up and running again quickly.

Our customer is a large multi-utility company in Italy and operates in a variety of sectors ranging from electricity, thermal energy for district heating and gas, to the management of integrated water services, environmental services, and technological services.

Race against the clock

Of course, everything has to happen as soon as possible. However, in Atlas Copco Rental’s case, our soon is very soon. And, it’s always possible.

In about 20 hours our equipment was on our customer’s site.

100% right solution with 100% oil-free air

The high-end ZT160 VSD uses state-of-the-art screw technology, cooling and pulsation dampers and provides you with the highest reliability.

The ZT offers you 100% pure, oil-free air that complies with ISO 8573-1 CLASS 0 (2010) certification. This means zero risk of contaminationZero risk of damaged productsZero risk of losses from operational downtime. And zero risk of damaging your company’s hard-won reputation.

Even when you have to rely on temporary equipment, you do not have to compromise! Thanks to the coordination between Rental Desk, Sales, Logistic, and Service team, the equipment was delivered on time and we met, and exceeded our customer’s expectations!

Atlas Copco Rental provides large volumes of compressed air – fast!

When a global leader in specialty chemicals needed help generating large volumes of compressed air — with extremely little time available for getting the needed equipment in place — Atlas Copco Rental had a powerful answer, and was able to provide it quickly.

After the company’s chemical facility in northeastern Mississippi suffered a stationary compressor failure, the need for supplemental air was urgent — without it, the plant would have to be completely shut down. Time was of the essence, and only the right equipment could meet the need.

A successful solution

Fortunately, Atlas Copco Rental’s Covington, Georgia, branch had the needed equipment on hand, and could get it to the plant on short notice. Personnel from Atlas Copco Rental delivered and installed a ZH 9000 oil-free centrifugal air compressor within 10 days of getting the call.

Provided as a plug-and-run package, the ZH 9000 was delivered directly to the worksite in its integrated, 40-foot-long, weatherproof transport container to become a stand-alone mobile air power plant, with only electrical and water hookups needed for the equipment to spring into action. Once placed, the high-volume compressor was capable of providing compressed air at 140 psi (10 bar), offering a maximum flow of 9,000 cfm (254.9 m3/min) — and could do so with an energy-saving design and guaranteed reliability. Further, the provided unit was able to meet needs for constant air or could handle processes with fluctuating air demands. And with its ISO 8573-1 Class 0 certification, the 100% oil-free air supplied by the ZH 9000 was guaranteed not to contaminate the plant’s end products.

When the client needed powerful, high-quality equipment in a short period of time, Atlas Copco Rental met the need fast — and kept the plant’s work on track.

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