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Rand-Air is ‘pumping’ in the agricultural sector!

As the established leader in the local portable air compressor and generator rental market, Rand-Air maintains an excellent reputation, based on its ethos of exceeding customers’ expectations and through the regular training and development of its people.

Henry Fourie, Business Development Manager at Rand-Air, explains that when it comes to rentals, the company provides TUV-certified oil-free, diesel or electric air solutions; as well as power and lighting solutions, and more recently, pumps.

“Although we have full access to the entire equipment range of our international parent company Atlas Copco, as part of Atlas Copco Power Technique in the Speciality Rental Division, our focus is on serving specific vertical target and also niche market sectors,” Fourie says.

Rand-Air therefore hires to specialist contractors within the oil and gas, mining and manufacturing industries; as well as the food and beverage, and some construction projects.

“We are very excited to announce a new pump range from Atlas Copco Power Technique, which is very well suited for use in the agricultural sector,” Fourie advises.

“There are two types of pumps in the new range: the Weda electrical submersible pump, which features low to medium heads. The other type of pump is the PAS/VAR diesel-driven variety,” he explains.

“The impellers on the pumps are coated and highly durable, making them able to withstand corrosive materials, to a point. They also offer good high and low flows, with high heads which enable easy evacuation of material up an incline. This makes them very appropriate for use in agricultural and chemical applications.”

Fourie adds that Rand-Air’s customers will most likely require pumps ranging from 20 kW to 75 kW; and that multi-stage pumps can also be provided.

“These diesel-driven pumps are ideal for the agricultural and construction sectors, in areas where power is not available if, for example, there is a requirement to pump water into sludge or storage dams. These hard-wearing, robust pumps can be taken to site, off-loaded with a crane truck and the customer can start pumping immediately.”

With excellent solids handling, the pumps can be used in a variety of applications. “In the past, pumps would typically break down and need to be replaced or repaired, meaning that there was downtime in agricultural operations.

Fourie points out that, particularly in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic-induced national lockdown and concerns around food security, any downtime can have disastrous implications for agricultural production.

“If, for example, a farmer cannot get water to irrigate a field, this could potentially impact his crop yield very negatively.

“Our new range of pumps is an excellent value-add to the agricultural sector, and we can supply the equipment on-demand, at any time,” Fourie points out, emphasising that the benefits of easy access to these products is immense, regardless of the size of the farm.

“In the scenario where a pump has gone in for repairs, we can hire out a durable temporary replacement pump that can run 24/7, ensuring that crops are not impacted or lost. Designed for continuous operation, these robust pumps can run uninterrupted as long as there is fuel in the system,” he says.

In conjunction with Atlas Copco’s Power Technique business division, Rand-Air will be hiring the new range of pumps locally.

Also of relevance to the agricultural sector is Rand-Air’s diesel generator range, available from 20 KVA up to 1.1 MVA for a single unit; and up to 4 MVA when in parallel, according to Fourie.

He points out that in both the wine and citrus industries during harvest, packing houses require uninterrupted, additional power to ensure smooth production.

“They are limited by the amount of grid-based power available, and if they need to expand their supply to run more production or packing lines, we can add on a generator to their existing mains supply to meet their demand.”

He adds that the same applies to the refrigeration facilities: “With cold storage units, if there is a power outage, the produce will deteriorate. We can literally plug in a generator and save a consignment, ensuring the safety of the produce. This is therefore an excellent contingency option for the agricultural sector,” he says.

“Notwithstanding the recent national lockdown, we have been busy. Given our service excellence and innovative technology – and additions such as the pumps we now offer – Rand-Air is strategically well-positioned to serve our customers as the market demand increases – including in the agricultural sector.”

Rand-Air’s TwinPower generator hire to Diva Nutritional Products: a doubly powerful solution!

Rand-Air’s long-term rentals give customers peace of mind, by providing a turnkey solution that keeps costs predictable and downtime minimal. Featuring only the best products and round-the-clock service, many companies prefer this rental option instead of taking on the cost and responsibility of capital equipment ownership themselves.

Cindy Ross, Rand-Air Area Manager for the Western & Northern Cape shares some insights into a recent Industrial Plant Rental (IPR) hire of the company’s popular TwinPower generator:

“Diva Nutritional Products, a supplier of therapeutic nutrition for malnourished and immune-compromised individuals, has been serving global and local markets for over 27 years. In October 2019 they were referred to us by an existing long-term rental customer, familiar with the benefits of our long-term rental offering.

Word-of-mouth referrals such as these are a very dynamic testament to the quality of our products, as well as a demonstration that our commitment to service excellence is both recognised and appreciated,” Ross advises.

She adds that a common concern among customers when deciding between outright purchase of equipment – or the long-term rental thereof – is cost. However, when comparing the real costs associated with acquisition, maintenance, downtime and other ancillary expenses, long-term rentals provide significant savings.

Prior to contacting Rand-Air, Diva’s maintenance manager did a substantial amount of research on actual costs at the suggestion of an existing Rand-Air customer.

“When a prospective customer knows the benefits of the long-term rental offering as well as the sales representative does, concluding the agreement is swift and effortless,” Ross observes.

The customer was initially looking at a 1000kVA generator, but ultimately opted for the TwinPower, which houses 2 x 500kVA generators in one unit.

“The benefit of the split approach is that capacity can be adapted to suit the customer’s needs. If demand is low, and they do not need to run the whole plant, one generator can be used. If the plant requires additional power on start-up, or if they need to top up power thereafter, they can run the second generator. This approach yields a significant saving in fuel consumption – and provides a flexible power solution, tailored to the customer’s requirements,” she explains.

Fundamental to Rand-Air is the ethos of ultimate customer convenience. To this end, Rand-Air offers Atlas Copco TwinPower generators, the benefit of this arrangement being that there are 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 addition, the two modules inside the container can be synchronised, so that it is possible to supply either 1000 kVA or 500 kVA – a versatile and portable cost- and fuel-saving option for the customer.

“The TwinPower generator is a good fit for Diva, because it provides a solution which can easily be adapted, based on the customer’s power requirements and production peaks,” comments Ross, noting that many customers prefer to have one self-contained unit on site, as opposed to two individual 500 kVA generators in sync.

“This is because the footprint of the container is smaller than two individual 500 kVA generators; and having the generators in containers protects them against extreme weather conditions.

Security of power supply post-lockdown and during the phased re-opening of manufacturing going forward is a real concern for our customers. We are confident that the TwinPower will give Diva peace of mind and a ready source of power when they need it,” she adds.

Rand-Air’s turnkey solution furthermore relieves its long-term rental customers of the concern about finding suitable temporary power. The units are delivered to site and Rand-Air technicians make sure they are working to the customer’s complete satisfaction.

Rand-Air is aware of the critical nature of supplying the right size and the correct level of service backup too, which is available 24/7/365. In fact, the company has its own in-house Safety Health Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Manager, who ensures that SHEQ compliance meets all required standards.

“In an emergency, where a customer might need replacement power generation immediately, Rand-Air is able to respond very promptly to customer emergencies. We will either supply from our own fleet; or, if that is not possible, we are able to source temporary air or power from other highly reliable sources at short notice.

Rand-Air’s TwinPower containerised generators will give our customers – particularly those in remote locations – the peace of mind and convenience of having reliable, versatile temporary power just a phone call away,” Ross concludes.

Recognising skilful sales and brand ambassadorship: Rand-Air’s Salesperson of the Year award

Winning the prestigious award of Salesperson of the Year, took recipient Liesel Johnson, a seasoned sales consultant at Rand-Air’s Durban branch, by surprise at first.

“I was initially really shocked – albeit pleasantly! After a while I gathered my thoughts and realised what a privilege this award is,” Johnson says.

She adds that as a salesperson, recognition is “very important”, and she is therefore most appreciative of being acknowledged in this manner for her hard work.

She believes her passion for the company and belief in its technology and products give her a significant competitive edge.

“I am a huge ambassador for Rand-Air, simple. Not only do I know the intricacies of my products, I also believe in them, unwaveringly. I cannot sell what I do not believe in, and I cannot sell value where I don’t value the products and technology I am selling,” she states.

Johnson believes that customers hire from her before they hire the products because, as the adage goes: ‘People buy from people they know, like and trust’. Her deep technical understanding of  the Atlas Copco technology and products which Rand-Air hires – such as their compressor and generator ranges – has been assimilated over several years, “providing our customers with a sense of reliability and trust,” she says.

Johnson also goes the extra mile to make herself available on email, WhatsApp and on video chats, at any time suitable to her customers – including after office hours, which strengthens her relationships.

“My accessibility doesn’t stop at five o’clock. I keep contact with customers to assure them that I actually care, not only contacting them for sales.”

She believes that true sales ability is an innate and natural skill, which can only be taught to a certain level: “You get those born with a natural acumen, ‘peoples’ people’ with real passion, whose abilities can be harnessed and developed. I believe that a good salesperson does not sell a customer something they have no need for, they listen and assess, ensuring they supply exactly what is required. This involves ‘learnt’ skills to a degree; but also ‘getting’ the customer’s personality and displaying the empathy and understanding required to really connect with them – that cannot really be taught.”

She emphasises that one of the most important qualities of being a successful salesperson is the ability to tailor one’s pitch to a customer, dependent on the customer and industry.

“This involves – as far as possible – adapting your manner, even the way you speak, the wording you use, and your ‘reading’ of that customer, all to put them at ease and connect with them.

No two customers are the same, no two requirements are alike, and a good salesperson realises this, listening and assessing what their needs are and finding solutions accordingly.”

She adds that regardless of the circumstances, she always puts herself “out there” to ensure the customer has an experience that exceeds their expectations.

“This is, after all, the cornerstone and essence of Rand-Air’s values and operational ethos, and has been for the past 47 years. I am so proud to be a sales consultant and ambassador for such an iconic company and brand!” she concludes.

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.

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