Rand-Air ‘goes like the wind’ to provide lighting and power in the Eastern Cape

Rand-Air is the recognised leader when it comes to the provision of portable air and power in the local rental market. Based on an entrenched ethos of exceeding customers’ expectations and through the regular training and development of its people, the company services a wide variety of sectors including the renewable energy industry.

Located in a remote part of the Eastern Cape province, there is a wind farm project that forms part of a 700 MW wind capacity renewable tender and – 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 in one of the remotest and most inaccessible areas of this traditionally windy province.

As wind turbines are so immense, they must be manufactured in sections or modules and then assembled close to the project site.

The assembler/erector 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.

“Delivery of these massive turbine components is handled by abnormal load vehicles; and, in the absence of defined roads or any infrastructure, the underfoot terrain on-site is often unpredictable and hazardous,” says Liesel Johnson, sales consultant at Rand-Air responsible for this contract.

“In addition, given that the project is in a territory widely known as a snake-infested habitat, this operation required an adequate, reliable, and efficient light source to illuminate the work area.”

Through its Durban branch, 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.

Johnson outlines how the relationship with the contractor and Rand-Air developed: “Parts of the Eastern Cape are incredibly remote and inaccessible, and the wind farm project is located approximately a six-hour drive from Durban. Following up on a referral received, the consultation phase was therefore via email and telephonic contact, before the contract was agreed upon and the equipment supplied.”

The safety standard on wind farms is extremely high, and Johnson emphasises that Rand-Air more than complied with all requirements in this regard: “The customer was very impressed that Rand-Air is fully ISO-certified; and also by how seriously we take safety, conducting intense and in-depth safety inductions with the entire turbine assembly crew – and our own Rand-Air technicians. The customer was also very satisfied with our team’s technical qualifications and competency levels,” she adds.

Johnson says that part of Rand-Air’s standard protocol is to check and double-check every item of equipment that leaves its premises before being despatched to a customer.

“In this way, we are confident that all our equipment is fully compliant and in perfect working order to fulfil not only our contractual obligations, but our customer’s requirements – with little to no chance of anything unexpectedly going wrong,” she explains.

Negotiating an equipment rental contract on a project of this magnitude – without the benefit of face-to-face engagement – is testimony to the quality of Rand-Air’s training, which has equipped Johnson with the industry sector knowledge and technical skills to offer the correct solution, without even meeting the internationally-based customer in person.

“Also counting in our favour was the availability of our equipment, and the speed with which we could meet the customer’s criteria and find a solution, averting any downtime,” she adds.

Johnson maintains that maintaining a transparent line of communication was instrumental in Rand-Air securing the contract, ensuring the customer was kept updated and informed every step of the way.

“The incredible remoteness of the project entailed really understanding the customer’s challenges and requirements; and I explained that, while we pride ourselves on the value-added service of offering 24/7 technical support, the location of the project and distance from Durban would however mean between 24 and 36 hours’ turnaround time if a technician was required on-site. I also assured the customer that nevertheless, there would be regular checks conducted by a technician and I would also travel to site regularly,” she advises.

Johnson believes that a thorough understanding of the customer’s requirements, coupled with her in-depth product knowledge, stood Rand-Air in good stead.

“When we look at lighting, along with operational criteria, we also consider emissions standards, measured in lux, and on this project, the criterion was 200 lux per unit. Rand-Air was able to supply LED lighting to meet the standard, which worked in our favour to be awarded the hire contract,” she says and adds: “My absolute faith and trust our products and technology meant I had no hesitation regarding my equipment recommendations and which products to suggest.” 

She adds that the solid trust which has developed between Rand-Air and the contractor is also a team effort all-round: “While I am the direct contact within the Eastern Cape region, I could not have successfully concluded this contract without a supportive team having my back. The result was that a profound level of trust and an excellent relationship has developed with the customer,” she points out.

Johnson says that the hire has been in place since February, and has been extended indefinitely owing to the CV-19 pandemic, with an unspecified completion date as a result.

In summary, this rental has fulfilled every requirement that the customer specified, and the contract remains ongoing.

“Rand-Air will be there until the wind farm is up and running, giving the customer the benefit of our technology and service excellence – whichever way the wind blows,” she concludes.