FACING THE SUN: PART 2
“Cables and connection solutions from LAPP help us to make our products higher quality and therefore unique.”
Most of them are not supplied directly to the construction site by LAPP, but rather through HellermannTyton. Change of location. Back in Johannesburg, Milky Way Ave 34 in Linbro Business Park. Alan Mulder has swapped his jeans and blue shirt for a suit, white shirt and orange tie. Chad Andrews, Managing Director of LAPP Southern Africa accompanies him. Both of them are visiting the customer HellermannTyton, who have opened the door to the solar industry wide for LAPP. It’s an industry that has also become an important growth market for one of the biggest producers of electrical cable connections and components in the world. HellermannTyton is active in 39 countries and employs 5,000 workers. “We have a very special relationship with LAPP,” explains Claude Middleton, Managing Director of HellermannTyton South Africa. “Their cables and connection solutions help to make our products higher quality and therefore unique.”
During the tour of the production facility, Middleton grabs a cable protection hose from LAPP. The SILVYN® EMC AS-CU is a symbol of the partnership between the two companies; this partnership has stepped up over the past two years in connection with the construction of solar parks.
The protective hose with a diameter of 17 millimetres consists of a metal helix which, thanks to the profiles that hook onto one another, is extremely flexible yet very resistant to external forces and mechanical movements, making it ideal to protect the solar and motor cables installed inside. They connect control boxes, each of which are 80 centimetres wide, 60 centimetres high and 30 centimetres deep and are made of steel plate, with motors and sensors. They’re little boxes of mystery, because what they contain is strictly secret. On average, 250 components are installed inside them to form a kind of “brain” that controls the plant intelligently later, and therefore also guarantees efficiency. The most important quality criterion for the SILVYN® EMC AS-CU is optimum protection against electromagnetic interference.
In an extreme case, this could paralyse the entire park. Middleton explains what this means. “I’m not scared of many things, but I wouldn’t want to be at a solar park like that when the thunder and lightning hit during a summer storm,” he explains. The control technology in the distributors would not withstand the overvoltage that then briefly occurs. The SILVYN® MSK-M BRUSH nickel-plated brass conduit fittings from LAPP have hundreds of fine copper wires that ensure optimum 360-degree shielding and therefore keep unwanted overvoltages away from the inside of the boxes. “When we looked around on the market, we couldn’t find anything comparable. We construct high-quality components for the solar industry and, for this, we need the level of quality that the connection solutions from LAPP provide.”
Maximum possible service
HellermannTyton builds customised control boxes for each project. By hand. It is a detailed job that requires the utmost precision at every stage. “We assemble the cables, install them, test each individual box and deliver them – almost every one is different,” explains Middleton. “In the end, the customer receives a product that is tailored specifically to their needs; they simply have to connect it as with a plug-and-play solution from the IT industry – and it works.” In terms of the overall project, it is a relatively small product, says the Managing Director, but safety, quality and high value are important sales arguments. Particularly in terms of the extreme requirements when it comes to the technology. Only twelve employees will be responsible for subsequent operation and maintenance of the solar park.
Product quality is one thing, service and consulting are a completely different matter. When Andrews learns that HellermannTyton requires larger connections for another test project, straight away he assures them that they will be able to provide six SKINTOP® ST-M cable glands with a diameter of 50 millimetres. “And we’ll also supply a four-and-a-half metre cable as well,” announces Andrews. In the afternoon, Mulder makes a trip to HellermannTyton and hands over the samples.
Middleton appreciates the commitment. “There’s a huge risk that you forget something when you are constructing such a big plant. You can only hope that it’s a LAPP product,” jokes the Managing Director. “We always feel that we are getting the maximum possible service.” The SILVYN® EMC AS-CU has recently been supplied in longer lengths, reducing the waste for HellermannTyton in subsequent processing. The mutual exchange of information with the aim of continuously optimising the product and processes is what is behind this measure. The trusting cooperation with the customer holds even when there are apparent complaints. For example, after water penetrated into a control box on the roof of a shopping centre in Pretoria and, according to initial indications, this was down to the connection, Middleton and Andrews climb up there together without further ado to take a look. It soon becomes clear that the problem has nothing to do with the boxes from HellermannTyton and the connection solutions from LAPP.
YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE FOUND THE LIGHT
It’s hardly conceivable to most people that entire villages live without electricity. This is reality in the community of 4,500 people, Chitondo, in Mozambique. Because light and education are vital to a good life, the non-for-profit association solar learning from Stuttgart comes into play in both of these areas. The aim is to bring electricity in the form of solar energy to African villages like Chitondo and train young people locally in the field of solar technology for six months after their official schooling.
“Our pilot project is currently running in Chitondo,” explains Michel Sinn from solar learning. A solar unit will be installed on the roof of the local school this year. Each of the 32 pupils receives an LED lamp which they can charge during their lesson at school with the solar energy generated. The association has already trained local teachers who can impart knowledge in subjects such as electrical engineering, cabling technology for solar units, as well as sustainability and waste disposal to the 14 to 16 year olds. “After the lesson, the pupils take their charged batteries home with them. The family has light in the evening and can also charge a mobile phone,” explains Michel Sinn. In the ideal scenario, after their training the young people personally decide to use a solar unit instead of a diesel generator one day because they have mastered the technology and know the benefits.
LAPP is also involved in the project. The company has donated 1,500 metres of ÖLFLEX® cable for the lighting systems in households for the pilots in Mozambique. “We are happy about the support,” states Sinn. On the one hand because the association has gained a local partner with LAPP. But particularly because the robust cables withstand the demanding environmental conditions.
Continue reading the article here
|FACING THE SUN:
|FACING THE SUN:
|FACING THE SUN: