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Madagascar blackout averted with quick action

Madagascar blackout averted with quick action

Jan 23, 2015

26 January2015 ~ A total power blackout in one of the most densely populated areas of Madagascar has been avoided, thanks to the fact that Cummins Power Generation was able to source, assemble, and deliver a fully-integrated 7 500 kVA standby power solution within just three weeks.
In November 2014, the east coast town of Toamasina was faced with an energy shortfall and the risk of imminent blackouts. However, proactive action from local stakeholders and unrivalled turnaround times from Cummins Power Generation’s global offices eliminated any threats of a regional power grid shutdown.

Cummins Power Generation General Manager for dealer development in Southern Africa, Darryn Scheepers,notes that the company worked in close collaboration with its regional distributor Madagascar Automobile (Madauto) and state power utility Jirama to ensure that 7.5 MW of power was urgently supplied and readily-available to Toamasina by mid-December 2014.

“Following in-depth talks, the order wasplaced on 25 November, and the fully-integrated solution – consisting of five individual generator sets –was delivered by 13 December. This is a considerable achievement that was only made possible by our excellent working relationship with Mad auto, and the highly-efficient synergy of Cummins Power Generation branches based in South Africa, the UK and Dubai,” he states.

Scheepers explains that the solution was immediately available from the Cummins Dubai distribution facility. “Dubai’s central location and trade-friendly policies made it the most cost-effective and logistically-sensible choice,” he observes.

The solution was upfitted in Dubai to withstand the high humidity of Madagascar’s east coast.“If the generators stand idle for an extended period there, the moisture builds up on the alternator wiring, which runs the risk of complete failure. The major components that had to be upfitted were sourced from the Cummins UK factory in Kent, which successfully met all deadlines too,” adds Scheepers.

Air travel – the only viable transport solution
The Cummins generator sets have a dry weight ofover 16 tons each, and are 6058 mm in length, 2438 mm wide and 2591 mm in height. They were installed in special 20-foot containers that were transported from Dubai to Antananarivo on one Antonov aircraft operated by specialist French aviation charter company Air Partner.

“The Antonov carried a total of five 20-foot containers, which stored the generator sets and all associated equipment. As a result, we had to get special clearance by the relevant authorities to air freight the cargo. What’s more, all fluids had to be drained and batteries disconnected, in order to reduce any hazardous risks related to leakages and sparks,” says Scheepers.

After landing in Antananarivo, the cargo was directly loaded onto flatbed trucks to complete the final 500 km leg of the epic journey. Each generator set was transported individually by truck, with the last stage of the journey lasting 8 hours. A special ceremony featuring a number of high-ranking dignitaries from the Madagascan government was held in celebration of the swift arrival of the precious cargo.

Setting itself apart  
According to Scheepers, a competitor was also invited to quote on a power generation solution, but was unable to deliver according to the strict deadlines. “The fact that we were the only supplier able to successfully meet all urgent deadlines and product specifications without compromising on quality or integrity is proof that Cummins is a world leader in power generation solutions.”

Scheepers does admit that this project was immensely challenging. “Conference calls were held daily between Cummins SA, Cummins UK and Cummins Dubai in order to ensure that nothing was lost in translation and that everything ran according to plan. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who made this near-impossible feat a reality. This certainly bodes well for future contracts,” he concludes.

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