Switchgear.
John Farren, CEO at Steelcor Power (left) with Eric Leger, country president for Southern Africa at Schneider Electric (right).

In Johannesburg, Schneider Electric, a specialist in energy management, has entered into a production partnership agreement with Steelcor Power to produce its next generation medium voltage (MV) switchgear.

To prepare for production of the Premset switchgear units, Steelcor Power, a South African manufacturer of electrical products, has added 900 square metres to its factory in Boksburg.

The area enhanced with a three-ton gantry crane, a new test bay with a partial discharge faraday cage and specialised equipment to manufacture the product.

Switchgear production set for Q4

The first unit is expected to roll off the line for inspection by Schneider Electric France at the end of October 2015. A further 14 units are planned for this year and production for 2016 will scale up to 200 units with an annual increase of 20%.

Two Steelcor Power staff members responsible for the new production have received technical training on the manufacturing process of Premset from Schneider Electric personnel in France. In addition, local Schneider Electric specialists have and continue to offer training in South Africa.

The production agreement has also seen Steelcor Power employ an additional three people this year, with a further seven employees to be appointed in 2016.

Manufacturing opportunities

Eric Leger, country president for Southern Africa at Schneider Electric, at the signing of the licence agreement with Steelcor Power, stated: “We […] believe that this ground-breaking partnership presents many new opportunities for manufacturing on the African continent.”

Speaking on the company’s 25-year association with Schneider Electric, John Farren, CEO at Steelcor Power, added: “[…] Today, we are one of the major users of Schneider Electric MV switchgear in South Africa. Premset is a natural addition to our existing product range.”

Medium voltage switchgear

According to a company statement, the product is built using a Shielded Solid Insulation System (2SIS). Premset is claimed to allow MV network operators increase safety and efficiency while simultaneously minimising downtime and meeting the needs of the smart grid.

The product protects all the switchgear’s live parts with earth-screened solid insulation, reducing the risk of internal arcing and facilitating top performance in practically any environment, states the company.