Executive Hire News › Archives › September 2013 › Market Report: Power Generation : Hi-tech trends
Market Report: Power Generation : Hi-tech trends
EHN considers some of the innovative technology that is being used in modern power generation equipment, and the benefits that it can provide.
Some end users might regard generators as just being rather mundane steel boxes, but many machines now incorporate a great deal of sophistication under their panels and canopies, bringing operational benefits and enabling hirers to offer customers a more efficient solution.
A good example of this latest technology is Firefly Solar Generators which, faced with the inexorable increases in fuel prices, developed ways of harnessing the sun’s rays, using solar panels to store power in batteries for use with generators. “People are increasingly aware of having to preserve finite resources, and fuel costs have risen by an annual average of 14% during the last ten years,” MD Andy Mead told EHN. “It is true that some hirers are resistant to change, as they make additional revenue from supplying fuel with generators, but customers are increasingly cost-conscious and there will come a time when the greener option becomes the most frequently requested.
“Indeed, interest is increasing from hirers, many of which have customers such as large contractors who need to be seen to be environmentally aware in their product procurement. We have developed hybrid systems that can be fitted quickly to different conventional generators, enabling them to benefit from using stored solar power, and allowing hirers to use their existing fleets. We have hired units ourselves to people like event organisers, so we have experience of their capabilities, and we can re-hire to other companies who are interested in trying them.”
Optimisation of resources is also uppermost in the thoughts of manufacturer BGG UK, which launched its RFM (Remote Fleet Monitoring) system at the Executive Hire Show this year, enabling operators to monitor and adjust equipment fitted with Deep Sea controllers via a laptop or smartphone. “Managers can be alerted to any anomalies, and hirers can avoid making unnecessary site visits for refuelling,” said MD Chris Archer. “Generally, the market is buoyant. End users wary of the National Grid’s capabilities are seeking backup power, and there is huge growth in the event industry. With music being easier and cheaper to download, many artists are spending more time touring, and a considerable amount of power generation equipment is needed at each venue for the sound and lighting systems.”
Phil Winnington, Commercial Director of Morris Site Machinery, also highlights the strength of the events market as driver of product development. The company has just added a new 60kVA version of its Eventa ‘utlra silent’ generator, in a range that extends to 100kVA. “The machines have compact dimensions to make them unobtrusive, and as well as giving reduced sound levels - similar to the background noise level in an office - they provide extended running times. They are ideal for use for powering catering equipment and heaters at events, for location filming and for construction activities in residential areas where noise is an issue. Equipment like this can also enable hirers to win business in new markets.”
More generators are also being fitted with engines designed for low emissions and better fuel economy. “The latest engines meeting the European Stage 3 emissions regulations can also give more efficient fuel usage and reduced noise,” said John Day, General Manager of the E.P. Barrus Industrial Engine Division. “Many have electronic engine control units (ECU) with common rail fuel injection to optimise operation and facilitate integration with remote control systems. These also help with troubleshooting and servicing: increasingly, a technician will plug a laptop into a port on a machine to read diagnosis reports, rather than reaching for a spanner.”
Josh Llewellyn, Chairman of GenSet and MHM Plant, agrees that such developments will gain wider acceptance. “More national contractors are aware of having to meet environmental obligations and others will follow them, with hirers having to change their fleets accordingly. For many this is inevitably a gradual process as they want to maximise the life of their existing product. One of the reasons we launched the MHM Plant re-hire operation was to give hirers easy access to the latest machines to meet demand. Currently there seems to be an insatiable demand for generators, for backup provision and events, and we are seeing more infrastructure construction projects starting.”
As well as offering modern equipment, hirers can also benefit from reducing their own carbon footprint. Parker Merchanting offers the Measure My Energy system that monitors a building’s real-time usage of electricity over the internet, as well as water consumption. “We have installed this at our own locations as a trial, and we will be showing it again at the Executive Hire Show to promote the concept,” said Business Development Manager, Jason Malt. “It allows companies to identify where savings can be made, such as turning off unneeded appliances, and it enhances their green credentials, an area which is increasingly important throughout the supply chain.”
Even from this brief foray into the subject, it is clear that new technological developments like these will become the norm. Hirers need to be aware of them. •