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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.

Service stars: Rand-Air women focused on agile service excellence

As a long-standing yet progressive industry pioneer, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division – concertedly invests in gender equality and diversity, ensuring professional training and development opportunities for improved productivity, increased growth and innovation for greater economic potential.

The company is confidently led, managed and supported by many strong women across  various departments – from sales and finance to service.

Forging a strong and secure link in the value chain of customer experience, the efforts and contribution of women within the Rand-Air service department contribute to exceptional customer service excellence.

In particular, Rand-Air service department team members Service Administrator and Support in Jet Park, Denise Moodley, Yard Service Technician in Jet Park, Felicia Masango and Service Co-ordinator and Fleet Support at Jet Park and the Sasolburg depot in the Free State Charlene Maharaj, share the passion to make a transformative contribution through optimal, customer-centric service.

For Masango, Moodley and Maharaj – who have more than 30 years’ combined service experience – their respective passion is firmly embedded in a culture of customer service: “It is within this area that we aim to thrive,” Maharaj asserts.

Moodley echoes this sentiment, adding that while dealing with the daily technical service requests – an essential part of ensuring the company’s fleet is always in premium condition for customers – “we try our best to ensure our customers experience the type and level of service never experienced before!  To achieve this objective, we not only continuously work on, build, and maintain – but also improve – our level of customer service,” she says.

For Masango, the resulting success of a diligent and immersive service interface is achieved from sincere interaction, teamwork, encouragement and motivation.

“By working together as a team, we can communicate effectively, share information, skills and gain knowledge to offer trustworthy, reliable and respectful service to ensure satisfied customers,” she emphasises.

Maharaj further observes that the successful synergy, motivation and joint collaboration of all departments within Rand-Air – working as a cohesive value chain – further reinforce the cornerstone of service success.

“As we cannot succeed if any links in the value chain are broken, we work hard to achieve smooth, integrated service within all departments. By drawing on self-motivation, we each know what role we play, what our tasks are and which goals need to be achieved to increase efficiency and come up with innovative solutions to enable our customers to meet their daily operational challenges in the best way possible,” Maharaj explains.

Vested in the Rand-Air value of ‘doing things right the first time’, Maharaj’s strategic service approach includes providing immediate assistance to customers as and when required.

“The buck stops with me, and I always like to assist then and there – therefore I try to address any query or challenge immediately and effectively,” she adds.

Masango and Moodley are similarly aligned in their actions to practice Rand-Air’s guiding corporate ethos of making agility count in each quality interaction.

Aspire to inspire

For Masango, Moodley and Maharaj, notable enablers in achieving service excellence include the unwavering motivation and continuous encouragement from “the inspiring and demonstrative leadership of our General Manager Kim Coetzee”; as well as from their respective managers, including Industrial Plant Rental Account and Communication Manager Mpho Ngamlane – “for not only a shared vision of customer service excellence, but a confidence in each team member.”

“Our buy-in and output are always taken into consideration,” Maharaj says, while Moodley adds that, “you are afforded the freedom to make the most of your strengths, and the independence to make decisions, while being individually recognised for your skills, abilities and contributions.

Importantly – as women within the local industrial rental sector and across industry have the ability to either encourage or discourage others – we focus on always complimenting, acknowledging and believing in one another. In this way, we grow and succeed together,” Moodley enthuses.

To elevate the motivation and enthusiasm among fellow Rand-Air team members, and women across industry to achieve success, Maharaj, Moodley and Masango draw on several guiding principles for inspiration. These include a good attitude, self-confidence, perseverance, hard work, and the willingness to learn from mistakes; as well as the commitment and motivation to follow their own path and strive to achieve their goals – to ultimately be the best they can be.

“If we adhere to these principles, we are capable of almost anything we put our minds to,” Moodley points out.

Masango and Maharaj agree, highlighting that this capability requires careful determination and the visualisation of attainable goals. “Once you have invested the time in visualising goals – to see, touch, feel, taste and even smell them in your mind’s eye – you can, with planning and determination, achieve them,” Masango enthuses.

The acknowledgement of your limitations, planning for potential obstacles, understanding every failure and investing in growth and self-improvement are all important elements which contribute to ultimate success.

Nevertheless, all three women advocate the notion that before you can inspire others, whichever belief you nurture must first inspire you.

“A woman’s strength lies in her beliefs about – and faith in – herself and her abilities. Once we confidently believe in and respect ourselves, know our strengths and work on our weaknesses, we are able to motivate others to accomplish their dreams and achieve agile success,” Moodley concludes.

Excelling through service: Rand-Air’s brand values realise agile sustainability

Amid increasingly competitive industrial and fluctuating economic environments, quality and service excellence has not only become a significant advantage, but also a vital performance differentiator, defining and enhancing long-term business success. 

Notably, service excellence is paramount in ensuring sustainable financial and operational management; as well as facilitating and securing all-important customer relationships – and in creating new business and organisational growth opportunities.

As such, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division consistently incorporates service excellence, along with its other guiding brand values of partnership, care, action and passion, in every interaction with customers and suppliers to ensure long-term, sustainable value.

“In particular, excellence signifies a dedicated and continuous improvement of ourselves, our solutions and our processes to deliver what is required – and what has been promised – with nothing but the best quality service the first time, every time to all our customers – both internal and external,” says long-standing and highly experienced Rand-Air Business Controller Ahmed Badat.

Incorporating the company’s five brand values in the strategic financial management of Rand-Air and within the greater Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division, Badat explains that his team works hard to achieve strict financial deadlines in the most professional manner. This includes adhering to systems and processes, managed on a daily basis and featuring specific tasks to ensure customer service is never delayed.

“By adopting this approach, we respond to customers immediately, while remaining up to date with all tasks – thereby providing a seamless, professional service,” he points out. 

“Customer relationships are therefore greatly enhanced, as they can rely on Rand-Air to meet their requirements for an optimised, easily accessible, appropriate and trustworthy rental solution in a timeous manner,” Badat explains. 

Excellence – as an invaluable merit and one of the company’s five brand values – significantly impacts on success, particularly for Rand-Air as a specialty rental company:

“Despite Rand-Air being a rental solutions provider – and therefore producing no tangible end-product or asset – we are always remembered for our service excellence, and for solutions which help our customers to meet their daily operational challenges. 

To ensure and sustain lasting and positive customer impressions, we always aim to be ‘one step ahead’ and ‘go the extra mile’ in service. With this strategy, we strive to become ingrained as ‘first in mind, first in choice’ – and ultimately the preferred local rental equipment solutions supplier,” Badat points out.  

‘Growing’ in excellence

A recent example of the company’s continuous improvement ethos is the digitisation of some of its administrative and financial processes, to achieve increasingly paperless operations and efficiencies. 

To achieve the utmost service excellence, however, continuous improvement  – not only through service and technology, but through personal and professional growth – is essential, Badat believes.

Complementing Badat’s belief is Rand-Air’s firmly embedded culture of employee development; which sees the company place strong emphasis on regular training, development and upskilling to not only add value, but to grow passionate people to take on future roles and become future company leaders.

“In the finance department, I firmly believe in the value of development, and follow an approach of allowing staff to grow. I encourage staff to work independently yet also cohesively – and to make their own decisions – for the benefit of the company and to make agility count for our customers. Furthermore, they are encouraged to develop, and grow their careers – be it academically or practically, with excellent training and learning opportunities,” he enthuses. 

Badat believes that in this manner, employees can enhance their own confidence to address new or different challenges in the future, and develop the most optimal product and service solutions for customers.

“By combining growth opportunities with the Rand-Air brand values of care, passion, action, partnership and excellence, we ensure that our people – tomorrow’s leaders – are passionate, caring and accountable in what they do – taking action to develop themselves and excel in their work,” he comments. 

In turn, Rand-Air demonstrates the brand value of partnership and support by partnering with staff and customers to grow, he adds.   

“Consequently, customers can benefit from the advantage of interacting with motivated employees, who possess a differentiated approach and aspire to create and deliver  successful, ‘out of the box’ solutions to exceed expectations and satisfy customer requirements,” Badat says.

This innovative approach further aligns with Rand-Air’s ethos of flexibility, agility and adaptability: not only in sales and operations, but in financial management and administration.

“As each customer and supplier has different needs and varying expectations, we strive to be flexible enough to adapt and appropriately meet their requirements; while always adhering to high ethical standards, within the bounds of legality and compliance and with no compromise on quality or safety,” Badat emphasises. 

Milestones of success

For Badat, as a highly experienced Chartered Accountant (CA) with more than 20 years’ experience in operational and strategic positions and as a long-serving Business Controller and custodian of the Rand-Air financial services department since 2007, the company’s excellence is exemplified in key milestones:

These include the passion of the Rand-Air team in achieving ultimate company objectives through shared mutual support and to exceed customer expectations; as well as the company’s exponential growth, resilience, agility, swift flexibility and proactivity over the years.

“Underpinning the company’s success as a reputable market leader in Africa and leading brand in South Africa, is our leadership within the specialty rental sector and contribution to sustainable profitability within the Atlas Copco Group; as well as the production of exceptional financial and also non-financial returns, such as high targets of gender equality, diversity and more,” Badat advises.

To build on this success and continuous service excellence, Badat envisions future plans such as organic and potentially acquisitive growth – and a greater diversification of the company’s product portfolio. 

“These objectives, when effectively linked with consistent partnership, care, action, passion and excellence, will unlock even more market and growth opportunities where Rand-Air can realise our ethos of making agility count through exceptional service,” he concludes.

Rand-Air: 48 years of ‘refined’ service to South Africa’s pivotal petrochemical sector

A substantial economic contributor to South Africa, the petrochemical sector produces refined oil products and chemicals, which provide the foundation for manufacturing industries to drive the downstream production of thousands of end-use products.

As such, the highest considerable care – combined with the most stringent safety, quality equipment and operational continuity – is non-negotiable for ensuring smooth operations at the country’s many large and highly complex petrochemical plants and operational sites.

With 48 years of operation, and extensive rental experience in this sector, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division – has become one of the preferred and long-standing rental equipment supply partners to South African petrochemical sector.

“Due to the nature of the petrochemical sector, its ‘zero-tolerance-for-error environment’ and stringent industry regulations, customers are particularly conscious of safety, quality, time and cost. Extensive and dedicated care is therefore a top priority,” says seasoned Rand-Air sales representative Melanie Lake, who is also the company’s key account manager for a long-standing customer in the petrochemical sector.

“Rand-Air considers it a vital responsibility to mitigate any damage or risk by paying thoughtful attention to our customers, carefully listening to their requirements, and gaining a thorough understanding of these, so we can provide the optimal solution,” she emphasises. 

According to Lake, sincerely connecting and engaging with customers includes interactive communication: it is imperative to ‘dive deep’ through concise questions and constant feedback to achieve utmost clarity about the best solution to provide.

“When pairing this understanding with Rand-Air’s equipment  rental options, our service excellence and solutions-orientated approach enable customers to have the peace of mind to focus their energies and time on completing their projects or running their operations cost-effectively – rather than worrying about which equipment they may need in order to do so,” Lake points out.

As a significant supplier to the petrochemical sector – which is based on trust and the company’s intimate understanding of the industry – Rand-Air provides strategic rental solutions ranging from Class 0 oil-free compressors, and generators, to lighting solutions and more. 

“Among the most popular favourites, our Class 0, oil-free compressors have achieved preferred status, thanks to their production of high-quality, clean, oil-free, and totally dry compressed air,” Lake points out.

These rental solutions are all supported by swift, responsive and 24/7 technical assistance from qualified Rand-Air technicians.

Rand-Air’s dedication to this high degree of care is demonstrated by the company’s keen motivation to exceed requirements and surpass service expectations at all times. 

Referencing a petrochemical sector customer project, Lake notes that: “Rand-Air was proactively involved in the project, fully participating in all safety discussions. When asked for proof-of-concept to demonstrate how our compressors would function under certain industry conditions, we could provide satisfactory test results in line with the customer’s request. 

With commitment to all the steps in this process – from beginning to end – we could ensure safety and quality will be the foremost outcome,” she enthuses.

As such, Rand-Air upholds its guiding ethos of making agility count and its brand value of investing care in each customer interaction. In this way, and by remaining flexible and able to adapt to each customer’s needs, the doors of new opportunities – for greater involvement in more projects – are opened, Lake believes. 

“This not only creates new revenue streams, but customers have access to the best advice, and a streamlined, optimal course of action through the provision of the best solutions,” she points out.

Reflecting on Rand-Air’s continuous service strategy evolution to accommodate the changing needs of the petrochemical sector, Lake highlights the company’s commitment to regular fleet investments in the latest fleet – which are constantly renewed to ensure a comprehensive portfolio of solutions.

This ‘360 degree’ complete product offering, premium technology and service excellence enables Rand-Air to proactively anticipate future industry needs and adapt accordingly, Lake says.

“Underscoring our solutions-driven approach within the petrochemical sector are the cornerstones of customer care, reliability, visibility, accessibility – and the tenacity to consistently find an appropriate solution. 

It is these qualities and capabilities which offer our petrochemical sector customers the assurance that no matter the hour or the request – be it an emergency, shutdown, or new project – they can trust in Rand-Air – ‘fuelling up’ customer care with a reliable, appropriate and swiftly-delivered solution,” Lake concludes. 

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