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Making agility count in the power sector: Rand-Air’s rental equipment solutions ensure optimal productivity

November 17, 2021


Rand-Air, a recognized leader in the provision of portable air and power to the local market, has been supplying rental equipment to the South African power sector for over 20 years. Rand-Air is part of the Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division and an established provider of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps), steam boiler, and lighting solutions.

Byrone Thorne, Sales and Marketing Manager at Rand-Air, explains: “We assist the power sector with rental equipment for their standby and prime power requirements, including the supply of compressors, generators, lighting towers, and more, to utilities and the renewable energy sector.”

Long-term rental and support

Rand-Air’s Industrial Plant Rental (IPR) model enables customers to focus on their core business, without the need for expensive capital investments, while Rand-Air supports their air, power, and lighting requirements.

The IPR model means that Rand-Air covers the cost of machinery, delivery, installation, 24/7 standby service, scheduled inspections, substitute equipment when necessary, maintenance, parts, labor, and other related costs, over a period extending between three and five years.

‘Agility rules’: Generating power where it is required

“Our generators are supplied with all accessories needed for immediate operation,” clarifies Thorne, “and we also provide useful Change over Contactor (COC) kits, supplied when a customer needs a generator to start supplying electricity automatically should mains AC power fail.”

Generators are mounted on trailers (except for the TwinPower, which is containerized) and so can be delivered right to the point where the power is required.

‘In a class of their own’: Class 0 Oil-free compressors 

The company initially supplied ‘technically oil-free compressors to the power sector. However, due to technological advances and increased customer education, industry demand today has grown for ‘Class 0 oil-free compressors, which provide high-quality, clean, oil-free, and totally dry compressed air.

Thorne explains: “With technically oil-free air compressors, oil is injected into the compressed air and then removed afterward using a filtration process. However, failures can potentially occur. In contrast, Class 0 oil-free compressors are bound by a more stringent industry standard.

“Oil-free compressors and dryers are used for pneumatic control valves in power plants. It is critical that there is no oil or moisture in the air as this could cause unscheduled downtime.”

Assisting with customers’ prime power set-ups

Thorne notes: “Even though we supply standby generators, Rand-Air’s focus, as part of the Atlas Copco Speciality Rental (ASR) division, has always been on the prime power market. To this end, we have offered our customers – including those in the renewable energy sector – an Atlas Copco ‘TwinPower’ containerized generator solution, featuring two 500 kVA generators in each container.”

This containerized generator solution gives a very compact footprint, unrivaled versatility, optimized performance, and excellent fuel economy in demanding modular power plant (MPP) applications. The two modules inside the container can be synchronized so that it is possible to supply either 1100 kVA or 550 kVA – a versatile and portable cost- and fuel-saving option for the customer.

Lighting towers and power generation: a renewable energy case study

“We have been closely involved in supplying rental equipment for the start-up phase of a wind farm in a remote area of the Eastern Cape,” says Thorne. “This wind farm project forms part of a 700 MW wind capacity renewable tender which – when completed and running at full capacity – will generate more than 460 GWh of clean electricity, annually. The project involves the erection of 46 wind turbines.”

Wind turbines are manufactured in sections or modules and then assembled close to the project site. The contractor on the project responsible for assembling the different components of the massive turbines generally works at night, when the site is cleared of riggers and the wind shear factor is lower.

Rand-Air supplied 12 QLV lighting towers, as well as portable power for the on-site offices, in the form of four 60 KVA generators, complete with distribution (DB) boards, for use in the on-site assembly of the wind turbines.

‘Masters of knowledge’ for customers’ power-related requirements

“We participated recently in a global Competence Development Programme (CDP),” explains Thorne, “to upskill our own ‘power competence’ – our levels of knowledge and power-related expertise – and our approach to customers’ power-related requirements.

“The course, also known as Megawatt Masters, was specifically designed to educate Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division’s sales teams worldwide. The training will assist Rand-Air team members to more accurately align our solutions with customers’ current and longer-term power requirements – including in the power sector.”

A ‘powerful partnership’ for the future

“We aim to continue supplying the energy sector’s ongoing power requirements needs,” says Thorne, “and remain in close contact with this key industry segment as its first choice of rental when it comes to any compressor, generator, pumps, or lighting tower inquiries.

“In this way, we will continue playing our part in helping to create and maintain a more stable and reliable national power supply in South Africa moving forward,” he concludes.