The Zest WEG Group, a significant player in the African transformer market, has delivered 18 auxiliary transformers to Eskom’s new Kusile coal-fired power station about 15 kilometres north of its Kendal Power Station near Witbank, Mpumalanga. This is part of an order placed in 2011 for a total of 42 auxiliary transformers, from 3 MVA to 20 MVA, which will be supplied in consignments until 2016. It is also one of the biggest orders Zest WEG Group has received for a single power station at one time.
Kusile is the second most advanced coal-fired power plant project in Eskom and will be the first power station in South Africa to have state-of-the-art Flue Gas Desulphurisation technology installed to remove oxides of sulphur from the exhaust flue gases. The first unit is planned for commercial operation in 2014, with the last unit expected to be in commercial operation by 2018. The construction of Kusile Power Station will have a major impact on the lives and the economy of the community of the Nkangala District, as homes and social infrastructure are being developed to serve the thousands of contractors working on site.
This transformer supply contract will run until 2016 and Russell Finch, power division manager at the Zest WEG Group, believes that the Kusile contract was awarded partially as a result of the group’s ability to prove itself as a reliable vendor to Eskom.
“It’s possible that we secured the contract to supply the auxiliary transformers to Kusile based on the successful deliveries accomplished to date within the older Eskom contract,” he says. “Factors such as service, quality, delivery times and price may have positioned us with Eskom as the best vendor for this category of transformers.
Through a different contract awarded by Eskom in 2007, Zest WEG Group is supplying distribution, generation and transmission transformers ranging from 2.5 MVA to 160 MVA to the power utility as part of its infrastructure upgrade programme to boost capacity and meet growing local demand for power. “Auxiliary transformers are a vital element of the Kusile plant and we’re so confident in the reliability of our product that we’ve extended the guarantee on these units to a period of five years from delivery.”
The units are being manufactured and tested at WEG in Brazil, the largest transformer manufacturer in Latin America, with Eskom representatives present to witness and approve the test results for each subsequent consignment. After testing, the auxiliary transformers are partially disassembled and packaged for sea freight to the Port of Durban, South Africa, whereby they undergo an initial quality inspection conducted by Zest WEG Group technical personnel, before being transported by road to the company’s Middelburg branch. Final assembly and oil filling is conducted followed by cold commissioning of each unit prior to final delivery to its temporary plinth at the Kusile site.
“This project is not just about delivering a quality product,” Finch says. “Having a presence in the area of the power station has allowed us to receive each consignment of transformers a little earlier than required, ensuring that delivery times are met consistently. In fact, for the 18 units supplied to date, we’ve actually ahead of our delivery commitments. The next batch of four units will be completed ex-works by the end of August 2013 in Brazil.”
Zest WEG Group’s holding company, leading Brazilian motor and controls manufacturer WEG, is experiencing major growth in the wake of a strategic plan to accelerate its ever expanding global network of businesses and manufacturing plants. To this end, the WEG transformer factory in Blumenau, Brazil, is undergoing an extensive upgrade that includes extending the assembly plant and upgrading the test bay facilities. “These developments will continue to ensure that our customers in Africa enjoy world class quality transformer technology,” Finch comments.
As part of its contractual obligations to Eskom, Zest WEG Group has made a significant commitment to local content to the extent that 33% of expenditure associated with the contract will be earmarked for local content in the form of procurement from Large Black Suppliers, Black Women Owned Enterprises and Small Black Enterprises. Skills development also forms an important pillar in Zest WEG Group’s operating philosophy and due to the awarding of the contract fourteen candidates are being groomed, of which two are candidate professional engineers enrolled for bachelor degrees, seven are technicians, and five are electricians.
Demonstrating Zest WEG Group’s strategic decision to extend the geographic reach of its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects to ensure it participates in projects where it has branches and customer footprints, the company is also planning to roll out an education-focused CSI initiative in the geographic region where Kusile is being constructed.