Mpho Motloung, a
contracts engineer for
Actom electrical machines,
checks over some of the
motors produced for
Eskom’s power stations
 
5 July 2013 – Intense competition for a major contract by South Africa’s national electricity supply company Eskom for the manufacture and supply of medium voltage motors to replace most of the aging units operating in its coal-fired power plants was aroused globally when the utility invited tenders for the contract in mid-2010.

A combination of factors in local manufacturer Actom Electrical Machines’ bid for this sought-after contract resulted in it winning it in August 2012. Chief among these were the fact that the company, as a longstanding major local manufacturer and employer, is geared to satisfy the skills development and localisation (SDL) requirements of the contract and has broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) credentials, in addition to fully meeting the contract’s technical, quality and procedural requirements.

The contract, dubbed the motor upgrade programme (MUP), is worth R130 million and encompasses design, manufacture and supply of a total of 125 motors for 10 of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, namely Arnot, Komati, Camden, Hendrina, Kriel, Matla, Duvha, Lethabo, Grootvlei and Kendal. The company commenced is scheduled to complete deliveries of the new motors in mid-2014.

The motors, consisting of a mix of Actom Electrical Machines’ Unibox and MS4 series customised units, range in power from 200 kW to 10 MW and are for use in a variety of applications that include ID fans, FD fans, PA fans, mills, conveyors, boiler feeds and cooling water pumps.

Tony Teixeira, Actom Electrical Machines’ general manager, says an important factor forming part of the technical qualifications that counted in the company’s favour in being awarded the contract was the care taken by its engineering team in ensuring complete mechanical interchangeability between the new and the old motors. “This is a key requirement of the contract, for which we as the supplier carry the responsibility. It involved a lot of painstaking and time-consuming work visiting all the sites to confirm that our dimensions and other parameters for the existing motors were correct to ensure that the new ones would be fully interchangeable with them.

“We also had the advantage of having produced and supplied the majority of the original motors in conjunction with our international technology partners at the time, so we were already familiar with their performance and load characteristics.”

He also notes that new motors supplied under the present contract that have been put into operation have proven to be substantially more energy efficient than those they have replaced.

Most of the existing motors have been in operation for over 30 years.