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Making agility count in the power sector: Rand-Air’s rental equipment solutions ensure optimal productivity

Rand-Air, a recognised leader in the provision of portable air and power to the local market, has been supplying rental equipment to the South African power sector for over 20 years. Rand-Air is part of the Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division and an established provider of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions.

Byrone Thorne, Sales and Marketing Manager at Rand-Air, explains: “We assist the power sector with rental equipment for their standby and prime power requirements, including the supply of compressors, generators, lighting towers and more, to utilities and the renewable energy sector.”

Long-term rental and support

Rand-Air’s Industrial Plant Rental (IPR) model enables customers to focus on their core business, without the need for expensive capital investments, while Rand-Air supports their air, power and lighting requirements. 

The IPR model means that Rand-Air covers the cost of machinery, delivery, installation, 24/7 standby service, scheduled inspections, substitute equipment when necessary, maintenance, parts, labour and other related costs, over a period extending between three and five years.

‘Agility rules’: Generating power where it is required 

“Our generators are supplied with all accessories needed for immediate operation,” clarifies Thorne, “and we also provide useful Change over Contactor (COC) kits, supplied when a customer needs a generator to start supplying electricity automatically should mains AC power fail.”

Generators are mounted on trailers (except for the TwinPower, which is containerised) and so can be delivered right to the point where the power is required.

‘In a class of their own’: Class 0 Oil-free compressors  

The company initially supplied ‘technically oil-free’ compressors to the power sector. However, due to technology advances and increased customer education, industry demand today has grown for ‘Class 0 oil-free’ compressors, which provide high-quality, clean, oil-free and totally dry compressed air.

Thorne explains: “With technically oil-free air compressors, oil is injected into the compressed air and then removed afterwards using a filtration process. However, failures can potentially occur. In contrast, Class 0 oil-free compressors are bound by a more stringent industry standard.

“Oil-free compressors and dryers are used for pneumatic control valves in power plants. It is critical that there is no oil or moisture in the air as this could cause unscheduled downtime.”

Assisting with customers’ prime power set-ups

Thorne notes: “Even though we supply standby generators, Rand-Air’s focus, as part of the Atlas Copco Speciality Rental (ASR) division, has always been on the prime power market. To this end, we have offered our customers – including those in the renewable energy sector – an Atlas Copco ‘TwinPower’ containerised generator solution, featuring two 500 kVA generators in each container.”

This containerised generator solution gives a very compact footprint, unrivalled versatility, optimised performance and excellent fuel economy in demanding modular power plant (MPP) applications. The two modules inside the container can be synchronised so that it is possible to supply either 1100 kVA or 550 kVA – a versatile and portable cost- and fuel-saving option for the customer. 

Lighting towers and power generation: a renewable energy case study

“We have been closely involved in supplying rental equipment for the start-up phase of a wind farm in a remote area of the Eastern Cape,” says Thorne. “This wind farm project forms part of a 700 MW wind capacity renewable tender which – when completed and running at full capacity – will generate more than 460 GWh of clean electricity, annually. The project involves the erection of 46 wind turbines.” 

Wind turbines are manufactured in sections or modules and then assembled close to the project site. The contractor on the project responsible for assembling the different components of the massive turbines generally works at night, when the site is cleared of riggers and the wind shear factor is lower. 

Rand-Air supplied 12 QLV lighting towers, as well as portable power for the on-site offices, in the form of four 60 KVA generators, complete with distribution (DB) boards, for use in the on-site assembly of the wind turbines.

‘Masters of knowledge’ for customers’ power-related requirements

“We participated recently in a global Competence Development Programme (CDP),” explains Thorne, “to upskill our own ‘power competence’ – our levels of knowledge and power-related expertise – and our approach to customers’ power-related requirements. 

“The course, also known as Megawatt Masters, was specifically designed to educate Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division’s sales teams worldwide. The training will assist Rand-Air team members to more accurately align our solutions with customers’ current and longer-term power requirements – including in the power sector.” 

A ‘powerful partnership’ for the future

“We aim to continue supplying the energy sector’s ongoing power requirements needs,” says Thorne, “and remain in close contact with this key industry segment as its first choice of rental when it comes to any compressor, generator, pumps, or lighting tower enquiries. 

“In this way, we will continue playing our part in helping to create and maintain a more stable and reliable national power supply in South Africa moving forward,” he concludes. 

In good taste: Rand-Air’s agile service ensures smooth production process for household name food and beverage customer

In the demanding, 24 x 7 food and beverage sector, where production schedules are very tight and standards meticulously high, any downtime in production can prove to be disastrous, resulting in lost time and having a financial impact too. 

So when a household name in the local food and beverage sector recently took some of their Atlas-Copco oil-fee compressors offline for maintenance at their Johannesburg plant, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of portable air, power, flow and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division – acted swiftly to ensure uninterrupted, seamless production could continue unabated. 

The customer, which Rand-Air has supplied with rental equipment since 2016, hired two Atlas Copco ‘Class 0’ oil-free compressors for their plant over a seven day period: namely, the PTS 800 and the ZT132. 

The food and beverage manufacturer required the machines at short notice, as their own machines had been taken offline to be serviced. 

“The customer has their own Atlas Copco compressors, so is familiar with and likes the brand and technology,” points out experienced Rand-Air sales representative responsible for the hire, Benita Oosthuizen. 

The PTS800 is a diesel compressor and the ZT 132 is electric. Hoses from the two compressors were placed externally, running into a manifold and then into a production feedline in the plant. The volume of air supplied was 1,500 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) with eight and a half bars of pressure, thereby ensuring that that the correct air volume and pressure were consistently supplied. 

“The Class 0 oil-free compressors eliminate the risks of oil contamination and the accompanying product spoilage, brand damage and delays that represent extra costs. Preventing oil from entering the compression process is a necessity for the generation of consistent, 100 percent oil-free air,” Oosthuizen explains. 

 She says that the company’s ability to provide quality service in such a quick turnaround time speaks to its agility:

“We have a large fleet of compressors and could supply two to the customer at relatively short notice.  We had already discussed and planned ahead with the customer, and due to this, could provide the required equipment speedily – in line with  our ethos of ‘making agility count’ and delivering on our promises quickly, efficiently, safely and with quality.” 

Oosthuizen adds that the delivery of the Atlas-Copco compressors was a smooth process, with both compressors quickly and easily offloaded and installed – and the customer expressed their delight with the speed and quality of service provided by Rand-Air.

“The customer indicated to us that they were very happy with the hire and the service provided, as they did not have to stop production, and the entire process – from placing the order to delivery and installation – flowed very smoothly. Ultimately, the fact that we provided equipment which ensured their uninterrupted operations was crucial – as any downtime would have affected production times, efficiency and ultimately, revenue and the company’s bottom line,” Oosthuizen notes. 

All of the Atlas Copco-manufactured compressors that Rand-Air supplies are ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001-certified; and feature the latest compressed air technology. Further, their  design allows for economical fuel consumption and efficiency; while their portable nature ensures easy transportation and convenient on-site installation.

Oosthuizen concludes that this hire demonstrates that the company is well-equipped to  service a wide variety of customers in many different industry sectors – and is adaptable in its approach, recognising what is important to customers in their respective sectors: such as the fast supply of equipment which meets the stringent quality standards of the food and beverage sector. 

“In delivering on this order, we adhered to our standards and offered the highest levels of quality and service.  This allowed our well-known food and beverage sector customer to solve their operational challenges, and keep producing their delicious, popular product for the public – truly a hire ‘in good taste’!” she concludes.

Rand-Air’s Megawatt Masters: power product training for value-driven solutions

Rand-Air, part of the Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division and an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, has recently participated in a Competence Development Programme (CDP) aimed at upskilling sales and marketing teams, product specialists and sales engineers across the division globally, in the field of power-related products. 

The training – referred to as ‘Megawatt Masters’ – comprises of a range of  modules on different levels: basic knowledge through online training; in-depth regional virtual classroom sessions; and masters sessions, where an international network of experts consults as a team.

Rand-Air’s Western Cape Area Manager Cindy Ross was recently selected to attend the training.  

“The course was specifically designed to educate Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division’s sales teams worldwide, boosting their technical competence and knowledge of the company’s power products range, applications and related market opportunities,” Ross explains.

“The training therefore empowers us to do real ‘value-selling’ of power products, helping our customers to more effectively address their operational challenges,” she adds. 

Power prevalence 

In light of the global trend towards sustainability and decarbonisation, which has driven companies to search for fuel-efficient solutions, power products are rapidly gaining prevalence – and momentum – in many vertical industries across the world.  

“In terms of the rental industry, a comprehensive power fleet comprises more than just generators. Cables, distribution boards and transformers are also part of our power portfolio sales solution – as are ancillary products such as batteries, load banks and fuel tanks,” Ross points out.

Power competence

Ross adds that power competence is therefore the new way forward, and knowledge in this field is essential, as customers wanting generators – or indeed any electrically-driven equipment – require the right advice, based on high levels of knowledge and power-related expertise. This competence must be driven by the sales, service and operations teams.  

 “Rand-Air therefore motivated for me to participate in the Megawatt Masters training, recognising that we needed to upskill and improve the way in which we approach – and advise on – our customers’ power-related requirements,” Ross advises. 

Power sharing

The training kicked off online in April this year, with Ross aiming to share her newly-acquired power products knowledge:  

“The idea is for me to cascade and share the power products knowledge I have gained with the rest of our team across the country,” Ross explains, adding: “Evidence has shown that a knowledgeable and skilled team are significantly more successful when selling power-related products.”  

Powerful reductions

New legislation and current market requirements are driving a national reduction in carbon emissions across industry, along with improved energy efficiency and lower fuel consumption.  As part of Atlas Copco and bearing these stipulations in mind, Rand-Air’s operational and product drive is focused on being as green and sustainable as possible going forward, for the benefit of its customers and industry as a whole. 

“As good corporate citizens, it is essential that we align ourselves with the global long-term vision for decarbonisation,” Ross advises. 

“However, we cannot just offer our clients a lower carbon-footprint product. We need to go further, and educate them about how they can save money by reducing their overall fuel consumption too.” 

Powerful solutions and tools

Ross remarks that the Megawatt Masters training is exceptional, because it teaches salespeople how to reinvent their approach to ‘solution-solving’ when selling to a customer. 

“You cannot just rent out a generator, without looking at the whole picture on a customer’s site. As sales people, we need to come up with ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions and practice ‘predictive analysis’ – analysing customers’ requirements in order to better predict these moving forward, which ultimately saves long-term costs. 

By customising solutions according to the customer’s needs, we aim to differentiate ourselves from the market and ultimately become a meaningful strategic partner for our customers.”  

The Megawatt Masters training includes analysis of power-related rental strategies, different applications and scenarios; as well as the use of the online fuel consumption and sizing tool. This has been developed to help sales teams accurately calculate the exact specification requirements from customers’ operational sites. 

“The calculation tool can for example be used to analyse and compare the fuel consumption of a generator based on the customer’s load profile. This is extremely helpful, because it helps us to quickly and correctly assess the customer’s fuel demands for a specific project,” Ross explains.  

Powerful value

Participants from all over the world are taking part in the Megawatt Masters training.  When it has finished, all participants have to present a business plan, which will be shared across the Specialty Rental division globally. The idea would be that each business plan will assist in upskilling sales teams’ power products knowledge, going forward.

Ross says that she has gained enormous value from her participation in the Megawatt Masters training:  

“This has shown me a more effective way of approaching our customers and their power-related needs and enquiries. By obtaining an accurate load profile from a customer – through analysing their power peaks and dips – looking at their fuel costs and generally questioning the output of their equipment, we are able to give our customers the best and most cost-effective solutions,” says Ross.  

“The Megawatt Masters training will therefore assist me going forward with more accurately aligning our solutions with our customers’ current and longer-term power requirements.

In terms of my own interaction and consultations with customers, I have a new-found confidence when it comes to advising them on any power-related project. This speaks to the value of the training,” she emphasises. 

Power disruptors

“The Megawatt Masters training has equipped me to find well thought-out power product solutions for our customers. And, with the knowledge this training provides, as a company we are well-positioned as positive ‘power disruptors’ – challenging our customers to think laterally and consider different potential solutions – with the aim of supplying their power requirements for many years to come,” Ross concludes.

A clear pipeline of innovation: Class 0 oil-free air for petrochemical pipelines

Rand-Air, part of the Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division and an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, recently took a bold decision which has changed the way its customer – and Rand Air – will approach future hires of a similar nature.

Working in the petrochemical sector requires critical attention to detail, with absolute safety at all times imperative. When Rand-Air was approached by a long-standing customer in this sector for equipment to clear a sulfuric acid pipeline bound for decommissioning, they approached the task at hand in an innovative and agile manner, coming up with a different solution from those previously applied.

“The project undertaken was unusual by nature. Our customer required the use of an air compressor which could perform optimally in a high-risk, volatile environment. We therefore decided that this particular project demanded a fresh solution – and a departure from the way in which it had previously been approached,” explains Rand-Air seasoned petrochemical industry sales representative Melanie Lake.

Oil-free air versus nitrogen

“Acid cannot come into contact with any moisture – whether it be water or oil – due to its extreme volatility. Contaminants can cause hazardous chemical reactions and potentially even combustion,” explains Lake.

The clearing of the first sulfuric acid pipeline – undertaken in 2020 – was intended as a once-off project.  Rand-Air therefore took the decision to go with the Class 0 oil-free compressor due to its production of high-quality, clean, oil-free, and totally dry compressed air.

“Multiple consultations and analyses preceded this project, to ensure that the Class 0 oil-free compressor would produce air which was sufficiently pure, contaminant-free and dry, at a pressure dew point of minus 40 degrees,” she adds.

Prior to Rand-Air supplying the oil-free compressor, this particular customer had always used nitrogen to clear their pipelines. By providing the Class 0 oil-free air solution, Rand-Air was able to prove that this was the better solution in this case: able to offer a more efficient solution in a shorter time, and with significantly less potential contamination or safety risk.

Ultimate efficiency with multiple uses

The first pipeline clearing project using oil-free air turned out to be so successful that the estimated five day compressor hire, was completed in just one. This incredible achievement further highlighted the operational efficiency of the oil-free compressors selected.

Following the success of the initial pipeline clearing, four more projects took place during the course of the year, and another is set for October.

“Efficiency and air purity are the reason that this particular compressor is the best and most viable solution for clearing pipelines,” says Lake.  Compressors hired by the customer this year include the PTS1600 compressor with a dryer which produces 1600 cubic feet of compressed air per minute.

“Oil-free compressors are able to be effective over tremendous distances. For example, some of the pipeline projects have required air to be pumped through pipelines of between 2.5 kms to 5 kms.  When compressing air over this distance, pressure drops – which affects the flow. It is essential that air is pumped into the tanks at below 4 Bar,” Lake explains.

Oil-free compressors have multiple uses.  Customers usually only hire them for instrumentation, fermentation and aerating containers which are standard uses for these machines.

According to Lake, the fact that these compressors can also be used in applications such as clearing petrochemical pipelines, demonstrates their diversity: “The oil-free compressor is even capable of moving an 80 ton transformer, thanks to its ability to blow up industrial pillows which are then placed underneath the heavy transformer and floated,” she remarks.

All other capabilities aside, the most compelling reason for the hire of the Class 0 oil-free compressor was because of its ability to produce clean, pure, contaminant-free dry air.

Making agility count

Rand-Air attributes its high degree of customer success and repeat business to an around-the-clock service and strong team effort: “We have made ourselves indispensable to so many customers, due to our extremely high standards and substantial industry experience. Whenever there is a need for rental equipment, customers insist on using our solutions and services – thanks to our stringent safety audits, impeccable service and superior technical assistance,” says Lake.

True to its reputation in many industries including petrochemical – Rand-Air has remained true to its ethos and tagline of ‘making agility count’ and providing effective solutions to customer’s operational needs.

“We are a team which works together and supports each other no matter the task. Our technicians and staff are on call 24/7 to ensure customer service and support. We will always be prepared to go above and beyond for a customer, looking at their problems from fresh angles, to find them the best solution possible – ‘clearing the way’ for innovation and improved productivity,” concludes Lake.

Rand-Air shines a light on service excellence for new customer in Kathu

Amid changing times and with economic demands driving companies to operate as rapidly and efficiently as possible, the need for swift solutions to achieve this has become essential.

Rand-Air, part of the Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division and an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, recently made the most of an opportunity to ‘shed some light’ on a customer’s operations in the Northern Cape:

“When a new customer walked into our Kathu depot, with the request for an efficient lighting solution, we were able to provide him with a fitting – and immediately available – solution: the Atlas Copco QLB 60 lighting tower,” says Rand-Air’s seasoned sales representative Denise Olivier, who assisted the customer in this hire.

“This new customer, who is involved in security services for the mining industry in the Northern Cape, required a durable, robust and mobile lighting tower which adhered to stringent safety and environmental-friendly requirements,” Olivier explains.

“With this in mind, Rand-Air’s supply of the 6.5 kVA QLB 60 lighting tower – with its combination of cost saving features, energy efficiency and exceptional luminous coverage – ‘brightened the customer’s day’ for smooth operations,” Olivier says. 

Internal sales representative at the Cape Town Branch, Racine Jacqui Colwell, who collaborated with Olivier on the hire, agrees, noting that by pairing speed – a valuable component of Rand-Air’s service – with the company’s supply of quality equipment, they could execute the hire with agile and professional efficiency. 

“By being responsive, swift, and staying ‘on top of things’ through continuous awareness and careful attention, we not only achieved a positive service result, but demonstrated the ability to exceed customer expectations,” Colwell points out. 

This approach has been rewarded by the customer’s utmost satisfaction in dealing with ‘a great team and a good experience’ – and the further positive feedback of a rewarding excellence rating.

Services Spotlight

“At the flick of a switch, the company’s service technicians provided a full demonstration of the tower’s capabilities and functionality,” Olivier advises, noting that she liaised with the customer to gain a comprehensive understanding of their requirements. This allowed Rand-Air to appropriately advise, and supply the customer with the correct information, quotation and application. Supported by the customer’s proactive contribution, Olivier and Colwell were able to quickly execute a smooth and professional hire.

Complementing the efficiency of this one-month hire are the QLB’s striking advantages, with features including sealed-off components for optimal operation in the dusty conditions of the Northern Cape, fuel efficiency (using only 0.5 ℓ/hour), lower exhaust emissions, a spillage-free frame with internal filling inlet and easy, clean drainage of all liquids; as well as ease of use with a manual and automatic switch and remote start functionality. 

Furthermore, as the tower is fully roadworthy, allowing for easy transport to and around the operations site.

“While 24/7 technical assistance is available for this hire, we also have good stock availability at the depot should spares be required for the equipment during an unforeseen breakdown,” Olivier adds. 

Highlighting Rand-Air’s guiding ethos of making agility count for customers, Olivier, in a proactive and energetic manner, demonstrates her passion and commitment to quality service by consistent site visits and follow-ups.

“It is vital to give our best in every hire by personalising each interaction, taking genuine interest in the customer, and adding value,” she emphasises.

As such, there is substantial satisfaction derived from fulfilled commitments and delighted customers, she says. 

“Notably, in providing the customer with a swift, tailored solution, we enabled the establishment of trust and confidence in the reliability in our services; as well as the creation of the company as ‘first in mind, first in choice’ to forge a bright future with – and for – this customer,” she concludes.

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