Tag Archives: Trafo Power Solutions

TRAFO POWER SOLUTIONS SHOWS ITS AGILITY IN UPGRADING DRC MINE TRANSFORMERS

With its experience in Africa and its agility in executing projects rapidly, Trafo Power Solutions is supplying three mini-substations and two transformers to a copper-zinc mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, says the pressure was on from early in the planning stages to ensure this critical equipment would be available on time – to facilitate the continued  mine expansion. From the date of the contract award, the company will deliver the units to the mine site within just four months – despite most of South African industry taking an annual December break.

“We have conducted projects previously with the end-client and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, so have a good understanding of their requirements,” explains Claassen. “This experience – combined with our history in the DRC and in the mining sector – gave us the edge in expediting the whole process.”

The order was for two 2000 kVA transformers to step down the electricity supply from 6,6 kV to 550V, as well as three dry-type miniature substations. Two of the mini-substations are rated 315 kVA and 6,6 kV to 400 V, while the third is a 630 kVA unit which also steps down from 6,6 kV to 400 V.

“This equipment is an important part of the mine’s electrical infrastructure upgrade,” he says. “Of particular interest were the dry-type mini-substations, which were quite unique in certain respects.”

As a specialist in dry-type transformer applications, Trafo Power Solutions designed the mini-substations in an IP54 configuration – ensuring that the units are completely sealed from dust and water. This level of insulation usually requires a forced air solution to ensure adequate air movement for cooling.

“For this application, the requirement was for natural air cooling – so the installation would not include external fans and related control instrumentation,” he says. “This option enhances simplicity and further reduces any chance of ancillary equipment needing attention.”

The design of the enclosure and the transformer therefore took account of this configuration, allowing enough natural cooling despite the high ambient daytime temperatures in the region. Another demanding aspect of the contract was that the two 2000 kVA transformers are to replace units in the mine’s existing substation. This required innovative design to ensure that the new equipment fits into the available space.

“Our replacement units have a higher power rating than the ones they will replace, so the design was customised to ensure the mine does not have to re-engineer the space,” says Claassen. “This highlights our flexibility in designing solutions to optimise ease of installation.”

Delivery to site will take place after a factory acceptance test (FAT) has been conducted. While the functional commissioning of the units is not part of Trafo Power Solutions’ scope of supply on this contract, the company offers a standard commissioning and assistance service. This is part of its value-add to any of its contracts.

“The rapid pace of this project indicates a growing trend not only in mining but in other sectors, towards fast tracking new developments and expansions,” he notes. “Clients are expecting their supply partners to deliver on shorter timelines, so one of our key strategies is to learn from each project and apply those lessons going forward.”

This keeps Trafo Power Solutions at the forefront of efficient project execution, focusing actively on quality and communication. This ensures first-time accuracy and customised designs, so that no time is lost by unnecessarily revisiting aspects of the project as it progresses.

“Our non-corporate approach means that we can take decisions and act quickly on matters commercial and technical,” says Claassen. “Our proven skill is in achieving these goals without compromising on quality.”

MODULAR SUBSTATIONS POWER SOUTH AFRICA’S DATA CENTRE BOOM

Data centres are experiencing significant growth in South Africa as the digital revolution continues to gain momentum. To keep up with the demand, these facilities must have the flexibility to expand rapidly when needed, as must the substations that provide them with power.

David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, says that modular substations have emerged as a perfect solution for accommodating the expansion of data centres over time. “Typically, data centres start with large structures that are only partially equipped with servers and related equipment, usually about 30% to 40%. The strategy is often to set up a cost effective facility to serve the initial customer base and expand the infrastructure as this base grows,” he says. “Modular substations offer the advantage of scalability, allowing data centres to start with the required number of substations and add more as demand increases.”

Data centres operate around the clock, demanding reliable and uninterrupted power. They employ backup systems like diesel generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure continuous operation. These backup systems can also be scaled up by adding additional units as needed.

Claassens says speed is of the essence in planning, constructing and expanding data centers since earlier operation means quicker revenue generation. “Modular substations are the preferred choice due to their quick design and construction capabilities, with the repetitive nature of manufacturing facilitating rapid production, and economies of scale in material requirements.”

Dry-type transformers and medium voltage switchgear are typically provided in data centre substation solutions provided by Trafo Power Solutions. These units step down incoming medium voltage power for low voltage servers and ancillary equipment on racks with the substations designed to seamlessly interface with other aspects of the data centre including low voltage distribution, medium voltage switchgear, UPS systems, and the overall control and monitoring system.

Efficiency is crucial for data centre success, as these facilities consume substantial electrical power. Trafo Power Solutions contributes to efficiency by designing and manufacturing energy efficient dry-type transformers with some of the lowest losses globally. These air-cooled transformers require minimal maintenance compared to conventional oil-filled transformers, reducing operational costs and minimising downtime.

Trafo Power Solutions has been involved in various data centre projects, ranging from 1 MW to 60 MW, supplying up to 20 modules for each project. They have also been involved in a  data centre project in the Netherlands, where they are supplying three 22,5 MVA, 50 kV/13.8 kV dry-type transformers being used in the intake substation, demonstrating their expertise in delivering customised solutions to meet unique project requirements.

THE EVOLUTION OF MINING INFRASTRUCTURE AND EPCM COLLABORATION

As the demand for raw material continues to surge, the spotlight has turned to the mining sector, bringing both greenfield and brownfield mining projects into focus. Ensuring these ventures are efficiently executed without compromising on time or budget necessitates a tailored strategy. Often, this means relying on the expertise of an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management (EPCM) contractor.

David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, firmly believes in the importance of partnering with adept EPCM professionals and says the key to successful partnerships lies in comprehending the EPCM domain. Established in 2017, Trafo Power Solutions specialises in dry-type transformers and has established robust collaborations with EPCM contractors globally, especially across South Africa, Africa, Australia, and Canada.

According to Claassen, Trafo Power Solutions’ consistent successes hinge on several principles, which include understanding project complexities, fostering effective communication, flexibility in adjusting to evolving project scopes, access to proven technology and products, and delivering timely results.

“It’s vital to understand that each project has its uniqueness, and our team successfully navigates this by adopting an “understanding strategy”, emphasising the importance of collaboration to manage the complexities,” he says. “Our deep comprehension of the project process helps us pinpoint and provide the most suitable solution tailored to customer needs.”

EPCM contractors handle intricate tasks such as detailed engineering and design. Trafo Power Solutions contributes by suggesting alternate solutions, ensuring efficient procurement, avoiding redundancy and ensuring the best outcomes for every project.

Communication is the cornerstone of successful project execution. With various EPCM entities employing different communication tools and software, Trafo Power Solutions prides itself on its adaptability. “Our flexibility allows us to mesh with any project team, irrespective of their chosen software,” Claassen notes. He emphasises that this adaptability optimises project management processes, contributing to each project’s success.

Integrity and collaboration remain at the core of Trafo Power Solutions’ operations. Their dedication to understanding project requirements and prompt responses ensures minimal risks and streamlined operations. As Claassen aptly puts it, “The collective goal of stakeholders is the successful execution of a project.”

“Trafo Power Solutions, in partnership with TMC Transformers from Italy, offers top-tier dry-type transformers, emphasising quality and reliability. As the world shifts towards rapid infrastructural developments, such collaborations and expertise will only become more invaluable,” Claassen concludes.

TRAFO POWER SOLUTIONS DESIGNS, MANUFACTURES SUBSTATIONS FOR KAMOA

Trafo Power Solutions has supplied 40 dry-type mini-substations, as well as seven standalone ring main units, to one of the Africa’s largest and fastest growing copper operations, situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

“We are immensely proud to be involved in this mega project,” says David Claassen, Managing Director at Trafo Power Solutions. “Considerable design work and planning went into this contract, with very demanding lead times to keep up with the mine’s rapid expansion.”

The mini-substations include units of between 630 kVA and 1,600 kVA capacity with primary voltages of 11 kV and 33 kV. The secondary voltage configurations are 400 V, 690 V and 1,000 V – and some units have dual-ratio secondaries. Protection against the ingress of water and dust was also designed into the units, with an IP54 ingress protection rating.

Fully designed and manufactured in South Africa, the mini-substations were completed in a streamlined production process that facilitated a fast track delivery in batches of five to six units every 10 days. After the manufacturing and assembly process, each unit went through a programme of intensive testing before it was ready for dispatch.

“The units are designed to be as compact as possible,” he explains. “While many will be used for surface infrastructure, the design had to ensure that they could be used underground, where space is limited.”

The underground environment is governed by stringent safety regulations and standards, making the dry-type transformer an ideal choice. This technology uses air rather than oil to cool the windings, making it safer with less risk of fire, explosion or environmental contamination through leakage. The windings in dry-type transformers are also encapsulated with cast resin, protecting them against humidity levels up to 95%.

Undertaking both the electrical and mechanical design, Trafo Power Solutions has ensured a limited footprint through the use of air-to-air heat exchangers. Air is channelled through the transformer windings and flows over the aluminium tubes of the heat exchanger, while a fan blows air through the tubes to cool the air on their outer surface. 

“The substation design also includes arc protection, which will shut the unit down in the event of an arc occurring – before any further damage can be caused,” he says. Each mini-substation is equipped with a control system that will allow the protection functions to be monitored remotely.

The contract was conducted through a leading South African engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) firm, and Trafo Power Solutions ensured that all units were delivered by the end of 2023. 

“Our early engagement with the EPCM was important on this project, as it allowed our team to understand the project requirements and develop a cost effective solution,” Claassen says. During this process, all documentation was strictly managed within an online system, including designs, specifications and test certificates – to which the EPCM and end-client had easy access. In this way, designs could be uploaded, shared and signed off using this platform, further streamlining activities for the fast pace of the project. 

“The ring main units are fully motorised and controlled externally by remote pendant switching,” he says. “This enhances safety and ease of management, so that personnel seldom have to open the panel doors which requires the necessary safety equipment and protocols.”

The transformers are rated for Class H insulation – for temperatures up to 180 degrees – while the dual-voltage boards are sizeable for a relatively complex voltage distribution system on each mini-substation. 

“The detailed design and variety of solutions within the complete contract package really highlights the technical capability of the Trafo Power Solutions team,” says Claassen. “This can be seen in the mini-substation from the medium voltage side and its control and protection functionality, through to the low voltage distribution and the customised transformer design for these applications.”

He emphasises that the standard attributes of dry-type transformers allow them to operate reliably with very little maintenance. With air rather than oil for cooling, for instance, they do not require any regular oil testing or oil changing. 

The robust nature of dry-type transformers makes them well-suited for mining applications, whether surface or underground. Claassen notes that Trafo Power Solutions’ extensive experience in Africa reflects that dry-type technology is becoming more popular in the mining sector. The reasons for this trend include their inherent safety, their reliability and their ability to operate without much maintenance.

MODULAR SUBSTATIONS AND DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS PAVE THE WAY FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY GROWTH IN AFRICA

The growing renewable energy generation sector in Africa is realising the value of modular substations in solar and wind projects, as well as the suitability of dry-type transformers in these installations. 

According to David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, solar photovoltaic and wind farms have an important characteristic in common: they both have to deal with multiple sources of generated energy. At a solar plant, for instance, there is a large area of solar panels – especially when the project is of utility scale – that require many individual substations at different locations within the project. 

“Depending on the output of the plant, it could require 30 to 100 substations to service the generation capacity,” says Claassen. “This means that there is a large volume of essentially identical substations, which lends itself to factory-based production. In this way, projects gain the quality benefit of dedicated workshop conditions, as well as the cost benefits related to economies of scale when it comes to sheet metal, structural steel and other components.”

When production is streamlined in this way, the completion of the units is also quicker, he says, and is likely to be accomplished by a smaller team than would be required to build brick-and-mortar structures on a distant site. He noted that the locations chosen for these renewable projects – especially for wind farms – are invariably in quite remote areas, making logistics challenging. 

The usual inputs for on-site construction such as water, sand and aggregate are often difficult to find nearby, and can be costly to transport. The best places to generate energy from wind turbines are frequently to be found in hilly or mountainous areas, and there is usually little infrastructure to support the early on-site operations. 

“We have seen many of South Africa’s solar and wind power projects already incorporating this modular approach to inverters,” he says. “As a supplier of modular substations, we also specialise in dry-type transformers which are well-suited to these applications.”

He highlights that dry-type transformers fit easily into compact modular substations along with the inverter, switchgear and ancillary equipment. Perhaps most importantly, the design and operation of these transformers aligns closely with the sustainability philosophy that underpins the promotion of clean, renewable energy. 

“It makes sense for renewable energy projects, who are leading the charge to supplement and eventually replace fossil fuels, to employ technologies that do not rely on oil,” explains Claassen. “Unlike conventional transformers, which are cooled by oil, dry-type transformers are air-cooled and are much more environmentally friendly.”

The absence of oil as a coolant means that there is no risk of oil contamination through leakage, and much higher levels of safety. The safety ranking of dry-type transformers allows them to be situated close to human traffic and even indoors – as there is little danger of fire or explosion. 

With most of these renewable energy projects being driven and funded by independent power producers (IPPs), the cost per kilowatt-hour is paramount to their success. They are generally selling their electricity at a pre-agreed price to a utility or customer, so they need to carefully control their capital and operating expenditure. 

“While the manufacture of substations in a modular format saves them on the upfront capital, the dry-type transformers require minimal maintenance and save on the plant’s running costs,” he says. “In contrast, oil-cooled transformers need to be regularly inspected and the oil must also be changed; on renewable projects where there could be 100 of these units to be maintained, there are substantial costs involved.”

There are other important technical reasons why dry-type transformers are the best choice for renewal power applications. Claassen explains that it is vital for transformers to be purpose-designed, and in the case of solar plants especially, there are high ambient temperatures to be considered in the design. The cooling system must be capable of managing the heat, so that the performance and service life of the transformer is optimised. 

“Within our design for modular substations in the renewable energy space, we have multiple options for cooling, depending on the prevailing conditions,” he says. “This includes naturally ventilated air, forced ventilated air or cooling strategies using heat exchangers based on either air or water.”

He notes that Trafo Power Systems’ transformer units for these applications are rated as Class H on both the low voltage and medium voltage windings. 

“Another key aspect of the design is the fact that transformers in a photovoltaic application experience a daily cycle of full load and no load, so there is frequent expansion and contraction of the windings that needs to be accommodated,” he says. “Further to that is the non-linear supply from the inverter, so the transformer has to be designed for high harmonic content, which also translates into a temperature consideration.”

He emphasises that Trafo Power Systems has extensive in-house design experience to meet these requirements, and project management expertise for engaging effectively with clients, engineers and other stakeholders on each project. 

“In summary, it is crucial that wherever substations and transformers are supplied to renewable energy projects, the designers have a thorough understanding of thermodynamics,” says Claassen. “There is a considerable risk of poorly designed units overheating due to operating outside of their design limits; if all the project parameters are not fully considered, the results can be catastrophic.”

MORE DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS FOR BISIE FROM TRAFO POWER SOLUTIONS

It has been five years since Trafo Power Solutions supplied Alphamin’s Bisie tin mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo with two dry-type transformers; they have performed so well that another three of these modular substations equipped with dry-type transformers will soon be on their way, to keep up with the mine’s expansion.

“This latest order is testament to the operational performance of our dry-type transformers at Bisie mine over the past five years,” says David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions. “There were numerous challenges that our design had to accommodate, not least of which is a very arduous section of road in the journey to the mine.”

The mine’s location in the Walikale Territory of DRC is remote, being about 180 km north west of Goma, and more than 30 km from the national route linking Walikale with Kisangani. Like the initial order, the three 3000 kVA, 400 V/11 kV substations will be supplied in standard six metre containers to facilitate transportation. However, specialised steel bracing is required – to withstand the challenging road conditions, especially over the last part the journey.

“These conditions make the road almost impassable by any vehicle other than a six-wheeled Unimog,” says Claassen. “There is intense vibration and tilting of the cargo on these trailers, so our design and bracing is done with this in mind.”

He notes that the mine had considerable foresight in specifying the first dry-type transformers, especially given the relative novelty of this option at the time. At that stage, it tended to be standard practice to use oil-filled transformers for this type of application. Apart from the logistics, the substation solution also had to withstand the equatorial climate and frequent lightning strikes.

“The region where the mine is located is ranked in the top five most vulnerable to lightning strikes, so there is a high risk of damage to equipment related to electrical surge,” he says. “We therefore designed robust surge protection solutions on both the medium voltage and low voltage sides of the substations, and for the transformers.”

Given the warm climate, Trafo Power Solutions designed a fully redundant N+2 cooling system for the transformers; this means that each transformer is cooled by two fans, with another two fans on standby. Among the advantages of dry-type transformers in this climate is that the MV winding is completely cast in resin, so is highly resistant to humidity. 

More Dry-type Transformers for Bisie From Trafo Power Solutions

It has been five years since Trafo Power Solutions supplied Alphamin’s Bisie tin mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo with two dry-type transformers; they have performed so well that another three of these modular substations equipped with dry-type transformers will soon be on their way, to keep up with the mine’s expansion.

Another three modular substations from Trafo Power Solutions, equipped with dry-type transformers, will soon be headed to the Bisie tin mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Another three modular substations from Trafo Power Solutions, equipped with dry-type transformers, will soon be headed to the Bisie tin mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“This latest order is testament to the operational performance of our dry-type transformers at Bisie mine over the past five years,” says David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions. “There were numerous challenges that our design had to accommodate, not least of which is a very arduous section of road in the journey to the mine.”

The mine’s location in the Walikale Territory of DRC is remote, being about 180 km north west of Goma, and more than 30 km from the national route linking Walikale with Kisangani. Like the initial order, the three 3000 kVA, 400 V/11 kV substations will be supplied in standard six metre containers to facilitate transportation. However, specialised steel bracing is required – to withstand the challenging road conditions, especially over the last part the journey.

“These conditions make the road almost impassable by any vehicle other than a six-wheeled Unimog,” says Claassen. “There is intense vibration and tilting of the cargo on these trailers, so our design and bracing is done with this in mind.”

He notes that the mine had considerable foresight in specifying the first dry-type transformers, especially given the relative novelty of this option at the time. At that stage, it tended to be standard practice to use oil-filled transformers for this type of application. Apart from the logistics, the substation solution also had to withstand the equatorial climate and frequent lightning strikes.

“The region where the mine is located is ranked in the top five most vulnerable to lightning strikes, so there is a high risk of damage to equipment related to electrical surge,” he says. “We therefore designed robust surge protection solutions on both the medium voltage and low voltage sides of the substations, and for the transformers.”

Given the warm climate, Trafo Power Solutions designed a fully redundant N+2 cooling system for the transformers; this means that each transformer is cooled by two fans, with another two fans on standby. Among the advantages of dry-type transformers in this climate is that the MV winding is completely cast in resin, so is highly resistant to humidity. 

TRAFO SERVES GROWING DEMAND FOR MODULAR SUBSTATIONS

Dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions has broadened its offerings to include modular substations – leveraging the company’s depth of experience in designing and providing custom engineered electrical solutions.

“Since our entry into the market supplying dry-type transformers, we noticed an increasing demand for complementary systems related to their application,” says David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions. “Our evolution began with customer recognition of the level of our in-house expertise, and requests for packaged solutions which included our dry-type transformers.”

Dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions has broadened its offerings to include modular substations.
Dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions has broadened its offerings to include modular substations.

Customers needed a reliable supply partner with the competence and experience to understand the specific demands of each project and application, says Claassen. Trafo Power Solutions has proven itself in this role, right from the concept and design stage of a project through to facilitating the manufacture, delivery and on-site commissioning.

He notes that modular substations, often referred to as E-house, are prefabricated or modular structures that house electrical equipment and systems. They are designed to provide a centralised and secure environment for critical electrical components and infrastructure. Often used in industrial settings, power plants, mining operations, oil and gas facilities and other applications where reliable and efficient electrical power is essential, an E-house would house a variety of electrical equipment such as switchgear, transformers, motor control centers, distribution panels, and other power distribution and control devices.

“Most significantly, modular substations are built and tested in controlled workshop conditions, making the process more streamlined and cost effective, and ensuring optimum quality,” he continues.

“Dry-type transformers are perfectly suited to the philosophy of modular substations, as they can be safely accommodated inside the compact structure enhancing the benefits that modularity brings,” he says. “The attraction of the modular structure is that it can be more easily transported and installed on site – and having a built-in transformer just makes sense.”

Traditional oil-cooled transformers must be installed in a purpose built structure for safety reasons, as there is a risk of leakage, fire or explosion. This often means extra civil engineering construction on site, adding time and resources to the project. The cabling arrangement between the external transformer bay and the substation must then also be accommodated.

“The inherent safety of the dry-type transformer allows it to be installed close to the switchgear inside the modular substation, so there are shorter cable runs and easier installation,” he explains. “The extra cost and management of on-site civils work are also avoided this way.”

Increasing its solutions offering has bolstered the standing of Trafo Power Solutions in the market, as it no longer supplies just a single component, he continues. The company now provides a packaged and integrated solution that minimises its customers’ points of contact during their projects – be they an end-user or an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) company.

“Not only does this save them time, but it also considerably reduces the risks associated with integrating the different aspects of electrical projects,” says Claassen. “There is certainly a trend in the market where customers are looking for more integrated solutions, which allows better quality control and ease of installation.”

He notes that the transition to a broader offering has been quite natural as Trafo Power Solutions has never just provided standard off-the-shelf transformers. It has always customised this equipment for each specific application, requiring an in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs before tackling the design process.

“Within our company, we have strong engineering expertise and experience so it was a spontaneous transition into dealing with the other aspects of modular substations,” he says. “We were always well acquainted with these broader elements in any event, as they informed the design of our transformers.”

This has opened up opportunities for Trafo Power Solutions in a range of industries, many of which may not previously have considered the modular substation concept in their project planning. Increased interest is evident in sectors such as data centres, oil and gas, food and beverage and renewable power generation.

The company has in recent years designed and supplied containerised transformer solutions for mining customers including the remote Bisie mine in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. So successful were these units that the mine recently ordered three more substations, again equipped with dry-type transformers.

“We expect the trend towards modular substations to continue strongly,” says Claassen. “We have, for instance, delivered multiple modular substations to a large data centre in Johannesburg. Here, we have provided a full medium voltage modular solution including switchgear and transformers, complete with cooling and control systems.”

Trafo Power Solutions is also engaged in the manufacture of almost 40 mini-substations with dry-type transformers, following a large order from a copper mine in southern Africa. In all its transactions, the company is able to design and provide the required equipment with a quick lead time, ensuring customers of on time delivery and on budget, he concludes.

FOOD, BEVERAGE SECTOR SEES ADVANTAGES OF DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS

The absence of oil in dry-type transformers make them attractive to the food and beverage sector, where the focus is on hygienic working conditions. 

David Claassen, Managing Director of dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions, says there has been growing demand from food and beverage companies in South Africa. Among Trafo Power Solution’s recent customers are two of the world’s largest brewers – who have sought to reduce the risk of oil leaks or environmental contamination by opting for dry-type technology. 

“We have also installed equipment in factories where food is processed and where soft drinks are made, where the hygiene concerns are all similar,” says Claassen. “Dry-type transformers are also Class F1-rated, signifying the highest level of safety in relation to fire risk.”

He notes that Trafo Power Solutions does not only supply the transformers, but is also responsible for control and protection systems – to protect against risks such as over temperature  and voltage surge. The transformer and related equipment are designed to suit each specific application. In a recent project for a leading brewer, Trafo Power Solutions also supplied the low and medium voltage switchgear, which included Low Voltage (LV) distribution boards, fully type tested to IEC61439 as well as IEC61641 (Internal Arc Fault) customised Ring Main Units along with transformers.

“This demands extensive consultation with all other stakeholders in these projects,” Claassen points out. “We engage with the client and consulting engineers, as well as architects and contractors if the project involves any new build aspects.”

Similar work has been conducted in various parts of Africa, where the company has demonstrated its capability to achieve the highest standards of quality in its projects. The capable project execution team, combined with considerable flexibility from the manufacturing facility, means that design changes can be readily accommodated. 

“Our priority is that, at the end of a project, the customer will have a solution that fits their operational environment and that meets their exact requirements,” he says. “This also ensures optimal performance of the electrical equipment, supporting a long life span while ensuring minimal maintenance.”

He emphasises that after sales support is focused on getting any issues resolved without delay, drawing on the expertise of Trafo Power Solutions engineers and technicians.  

GOOD REASONS BEHIND GROWING POPULARITY OF MODULAR SUBSTATIONS

Modular substations are fast becoming the format of choice in many applications from industrial sites to data centres to mining and the oil and gas sector, delivering benefits such as quick deployment, lower installation costs and more flexibility.

“The trend towards modular substations is now well established in many sectors – and for good reason,” says Trafo Power Solutions Managing Director David Claassen. “There are many different options and designs, from shipping containers to larger or more purpose-designed E-houses.”

Standard shipping containers – in either 20 foot or 40 foot configurations – provide an economical and compliant format for substations that must be transported via land or by sea, he notes. The dimensions facilitate cost effective logistics, and generally ensure quicker availability of on-board space when arranging shipping on container vessels. Indeed, the containerised concept was where the modular idea originated, as it could be moved around easily.

“More recently, though, we have seen the concept develop into much larger substation sizes – but the benefits remain,” he says. “These can generally be constructed quite simply with structural steel with fire-rated insulation to enhance the safety rating of the installation.”

When compared to constructing a normal building on site, with all the related civils work, the modular option quickly shows a range of benefits. Especially in remote locations, any building work can become complex, costly and time consuming. These costs include transporting various building materials to site over long distances, as well as finding and employing scarce skills and supervision. 

“This traditional route also involves taking all the electrical components to site – and then installing, testing and commissioning them in conditions that are often less than ideal,” he explains. “By contrast, a modular substation can be constructed for the most part in a fully-equipped factory, which is more conducive to quality and speed.”

Once shipped to site, there is minimal work to be done before the modular substation can be commissioned and put to work. Modular substations can also be designed with state-of-the-art technology for improved reliability, easier maintenance and reduced running costs.

He highlights that dry-type transformers add considerable value to the modular substation concept, as these can be installed inside a container or e-house. Claassen explains that the safety levels intrinsic to dry-type transformers mean that they do not need a separate enclosure outside the modular structure.

“Effectively, the dry-type transformer is just another aspect of the electrical arrangement in a substation that can be readily modularised,” he says. “For safety and other reasons, an oil-filled transformer would still need its own infrastructure due to the risk of fire, explosion or oil spills.”

He highlights that this is counter-productive to the modular philosophy which makes this format of substation so popular. By using a dry-type transformer instead, the installation can avoid having a separate transformer bay, fire protection and suppression facilities, and outside cabling. With a dry-type transformer inside the substation, there is also a reduction in the overall footprint size.