Exclusive interview with Craig Brown, Managing Director Sub- Saharan Africa at Eaton Electrical – Eaton is a platinum sponsor at African Utility Week
What are you most excited about currently in terms of Eaton’s products and solutions?
Eaton Corporation has a 100 year heritage of providing innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest power management challenges. With annual sales in excess of US$13.7 billion and a worldwide staff complement of over 70,000 employees Eaton sells to customers in more than 150 countries.
Eaton has a focus on assisting government as well as the private sector to build or rebuild infrastructure and in so doing stimulate economies through business growth and the creation of job opportunities. With a strong focus on regional development Eaton is a diversified power management company that assists customers to manage power in a way that consumes fewer resources. An important part of Eaton’s business focus is to develop products that help customers protect the environment by conserving energy, reducing emissions and managing resources.
What is on the calendar for Eaton for 2012?
2012 is going to be a very busy year for Eaton South Africa. Products and technologies that were previously unavailable will be introduced during “Technology Day” presentations and product shows, countrywide.
Eaton’s Electrical Sector comprises power distribution (PDC), power quality (PQ), industrial automation (IAB), power control products (ICD) and services (ESS). Products include circuit breakers, switchgear, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) systems, power distribution units, panelboards, loadcenters, motor control, meters, sensors, relays and inverters.
In particular, industry leading energy efficient UPS equipment, vacuum interrupter based medium voltage breakers and switchgear, arc flash circuit interrupters and cooling equipment for more efficient datacenters.
What opportunities do you see in Africa?
We see Africa as an area of phenomenal growth, with South Africa as the gateway to the rest of the continent. Eaton South Africa is now in a perfect position to add value to its customers by being able to offer internationally acclaimed technologies, products and solutions.
Eaton South Africa is active in mining, petrochemical, steel, power generation, power quality and heavy industry sectors. Given this wealth of experience and expertise, Eaton is well placed to serve the burgeoning demand for expert technological project partners. With the insatiable global demand for commodities and the commensurate projects available, Eaton is well placed to offer a competitive solution.
What do you think makes Eaton competitive in this market?
Eaton’s product portfolio fits perfectly into most project requirements, thus eliminating the need to outsource. This in itself is a big cost advantage. Eaton currently has the single largest switchboard and panelboard manufacturing facility in South Africa. Manufacturing locally brings a host of advantages including reduced costs, quicker turnaround times and the agility of reacting swiftly to engineering changes. In-house manufacturing also allows Eaton South Africa to absorb more of the international financial fluctuations and gain a general advantage over our competitors. Eaton prides itself with delivering excellence in design and engineering, on time.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the South African/African energy market?
The challenges facing South Africa/Africa include the dearth of qualified engineering staff and the spinning capacity of electrical utilities. For the immediate future, electrical users have to consume electricity in the most economical way possible. To this end, Eaton has products and solutions that can assist production facilities to manage their electrical power economically.
What surprises you about this industry?
What is surprising about the industry is that there are numerous new suppliers entering into the African market. What is very disconcerting is that these suppliers offer products of dubious specification and often at a very attractive price. Gray products are prolific in countries north of the South African borders and are a real threat to the health and safety of personnel. Eaton has a legal department relating to gray products and will follow up on all leads relating to this scourge no matter where it’s reported in the world.
Why do you keep returning to African Utility Week?
This is the fourth year in succession that we have exhibited at African Utility Week. We have been impressed with the quality of delegates that attend the exhibition and have seen the event grow in popularity.
What will be the main message that Eaton has for the African Utility Week delegate and visitor?
Eaton’s message at the Africa Utility Week is twofold:
- That we are a leading supplier of power quality, low and medium voltage products and engineered solutions.
- Eaton has a recognized commitment to corporate responsibility in that we have been ranked among Fortune magazine’s world’s most admired companies as well as being ranked 16th overall in Newsweek’s green rankings 2010 and first in the general industrial category. The company is also ranked among the world’s top sustainability performers in the NASDAQ global sustainability 50 index. Eaton is one of Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine’s 100 best corporate citizens, 2007 – 2011 and one of Ethisphere magazine’s world’s most ethical companies, 2007 – 2011.