PacB Group // Industrial Generators Are Vital to South Africa’s Economy


Industrial Generators Are Vital to South Africa’s Economy

From buttons to bombs, and from teaspoons to tanks, every item manufactured in our factories and workshops relies on the use of tools that are powered by electricity. While much of that electricity is generated by the many power stations dotted around the country and distributed to end users by means of complex power reticulation systems, even under normal circumstances, this is insufficient to fully meet the needs of many industries. And as a result, they must rely on installing on-site industrial generators to make good the shortfall. Unfortunately, today’s circumstances are anything but normal, and with Eskom’s failure to cope with the current demands of consumers, this is forcing more and more of them to seek independent power solutions.

Large or small, these devices rely on an effect first applied by the English scientist, Michael Faraday in 1831. Known as electromagnetic induction, he observed that when a coil of copper wire was exposed to a moving magnetic field, a flow of electrons, the basis of an electric current, was induced in the wire. His work led to the invention of both the electric motor and the dynamo, a direct current producing device, which would eventually evolve into the powerful industrial A/C generators in use throughout the world today.

These machines are a combination of two main components that, together, convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The actual generating component, which is known as an alternator or “genhead”, consists of an iron core encased in a conductive wire coil, which forms the stator and the rotor or armature, responsible for producing the magnetic field. To generate a current requires the magnetic field to move, which calls for the second component – some form of engine. In the vast majority of cases, it will be a diesel engine that is used to provide the mechanical energy needed to drive industrial generators.

Utility companies and other service providers must also rely on mechanical means to power their alternators and most still rely on steam to drive turbines using water, oil, and even nuclear fission to boil the water. In areas with suitable waterways, the action of moving water on turbines in hydroelectric schemes results both in a more cost-effective operation and a more eco-friendly means to generate that cheap electricity.

On the factory floor, consistent levels of productivity are essential to preserve profitability and, in the scramble to maintain production in the face of the growing risk of power outages, understandably, the sale of industrial generators has been increasing. Where once their main purpose might have been to augment the Eskom supply at times of peak demand, their function has been changing to one of providing a source of emergency power when the mains power fails.

There are, of course, situations in which mains electricity is simply inaccessible. On remote mining sites, for example, electricity is essential for lighting, operating headgear, and dewatering pumps, as well as for the processing of mined ore. Also, construction companies must often operate compressors and other equipment without the benefit of mains power. Both, therefore, must rely solely on the use of industrial generators.

The future of power generation in South Africa remains uncertain with plans to segment and privatise the industry. What is certain is that, in the interim, the power requirements of manufacturers must be effectively met, especially in those strategic industries whose continued productivity is crucial to the nation’s economy. A reliable supply of power is equally vital to maintain our hospitals and schools, at the dockside, in airports, and in the hotels and resorts that are the foundation of our tourist trade.

While solar panels, wind farms, tidal barrages, and geothermal energy may one day provide all the electricity we need. Until then, industrial generators remain the best option at our disposal. PacB Group is South Africa’s leading manufacturer and supplier of world-class gensets.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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