Feature - High hopes for hybrids
By Steve Ducker02 June 2015
Ask a group of people to sum up temporary power generation in one word and the chances are they will choose “hybrid”.
Put simply, it’s a way of combining power generation and energy storage in the same unit. Now, with emissions legislation having an increasingly forceful impact on product development, it is starting to look like the hybrid generator’s time has come.
And if independent verification is the benchmark, look no further than Firefly, MHM Plant and JCB.
The first two go to next month’s European Rental Awards with hybrid generators on the shortlist for Sustainable Product of the Year; the latter already has already won an Innovation Award from the organisers of the UK’s Plantworx exhibition for its Inteli-Hybrid product.
But whatever the form of generator a customer chooses, the overriding factor in their choice is getting a return on their investment.
That is the view of Todd Howe, global generator products manager of Doosan Portable Power.
“It’s the biggest attribute rental companies are looking for,” said Mr Howe.
“So for them to achieve a good return, we offer products that have high utilisation. Our mobile generators feature quiet operation, the capability to operate at a range of voltages and large capacity tanks to maximise operation before refuelling.
“It’s absolutely critical to capture customer feedback to ensure product designs will meet customer needs. As our product is predominantly used in rental applications, we need to meet the expectations of the fleet buyer as well as the end-user. It’s currently a challenging market, with companies coming to grips with the cost of Tier 4 Final technology.”
Recent launches by Doosan Portable Power include the G40-IIIA (40 kVA prime power) and G60-IIIA (60 kVA prime power) generators.
They share a similar design and characteristics to the G150-G200-IIIA and G80-G100-IIIA product platforms launched in 2012 and 2013 respectively and offer a choice of features to meet temporary power applications.
Suited to areas as diverse as construction sites, concert stages and disaster relief efforts, and of particular interest for the rental market, the G40-IIIA and G60-IIIA generators are available with two different frame-fuel tank configurations.
The standard configuration ensures autonomy of at least 10 hours at 75% of the load, but there is also a 24 hour fuel tank configuration. Three natural gas-fuelled generators, the NG160, NG225 and NG295, have been designed for the oilfield services market.
It’s a view that Spanish genset manufacturer Himoinsa, recently acquired by Yanmar, agrees with. The company said: “Profitability is what counts in the rental sector, along with quality, durable equipment. In this regard, rental generator sets demand excellent performance and reliability.
“However, the rental company is not the user of the equipment; rather it acts as an intermediary between the manufacturer and the end user.
“This process makes the design phase more complicated for the generator set manufacturer, because it involves one extra aspect compared with other sectors. Here, the needs of the rental company and those of the end user need to be taken into account together.”
Himoinsa itself manufactures rental generator sets with stage IIIA engines, with power ranging from 30 to 665 kVA. The company also designs generators with higher power and special configurations and connections in parallel that can increase and/or reduce the power by adapting it to meet the needs of the client at any given time.
Rental customers of Himoinsa include Loxam, Ramirent and Atut Rental.
Atlas Copco’s Ben van Hove believes that the company’s roots are important in helping it to understand customers.
“We are a generator company because of the rental industry. We are producing to serve the rental industry with a variety of products. We decided 27 years ago to make generators for rental in Europe and now the USA.
“We’re not a traditional generator company, we didn’t have stationary version and then decided to design for rental. We did it the other way round.
“We’re always asking the customers about what happens next, we’ve just had a rental event with 68 customers present. What’s important is offering the users the highest degree of flexibility. We have a very wide customer base with a challenging range of applications, so it’s all about transportability and the ease of movement.
“When we talk about generators, the industry still at Stage 3A, which will continue for another couple of years. In the US, the market is in transition to Tier 4 final. It’s been very difficult with Stage 3 and Stage 4 intermediate, and engine manufacturers have learned a lot. Everybody’s a bit relieved we’ll be going to Tier 4 Final.“
Having a good product is one thing, but a successful application speaks volumes. Coromatic - one of the 370-strong dealer network of FG Wilson - managed just that when it supplied a Wilson P700-1 genset to Finland’s Solo Sokos Hotel Torni, a 25-storey landmark in Tampere.
The standby power solution was designed to secure the operation of the building’s fire protection system, refrigerating equipment and customer and service elevators, as well as providing power for some of the hotel’s heating and lighting.
The unit was placed in the immediate vicinity of the building, inside a container, which was landscaped to blend with the exclusive setting and to meet the colour specifications provided by the architect Sampo Valjus.
Coromatic’s Martin Arhippainen said: “From the initial blueprint stage it was very clear that safety would be one of the key design criteria and a top-class generator with the proven pedigree of FG Wilson was required to help meet the safety standards and legal requirements. We worked closely with the contractors to ensure we found the optimum design.
“Our highly skilled and experienced team also took great care to ensure that full account was taken of environmental concerns, as the hotel’s city centre location meant that the generator set’s noise levels must be kept low.”
Phil Winnington, managing director of UK-based Morris Site Machinery, has found his company being able to benefit from a range of rental scenarios.
“Companies are looking to thwart the rising costs of power with energy efficient, low cost products whilst at the same time turning to temporary power sources as demand on the traditional grid rises, with looming threats of blackouts,” he told IRN.
“This trend is expected to grow particularly in developing countries where there is an increasing demand for power generation, due to constraints on the electricity supply which cannot withstand the pace at which these countries are being developed - and the rate at which business needs to be sustained.
“We found that developing countries require reliable, fuel efficient, economical and robust machines suitable for the environments in which they operate. Yet many do not have the budgets to import and buy brand new stock.
“This creates opportunities for us, as a leading distributor of power generation equipment in the UK, as it opens up new territories for the distribution of our ex-rent to rent generators.”
New from Kohler Power Systems is two models for its range of diesel-powered mobile generators offering customisable options for most applications.
The two new units - Kohler’s 145REOZT4 and 175REOZT4 diesel mobile generators - offer quiet and reliable operation while delivering dependable power wherever it’s needed. Built to withstand the elements and run long hours in prime and standby applications, the new generators meet all emissions standards.
Features include a heavy-duty air cleaner with restriction indicator; fuel tanks sized for 24-hour runtime; external emergency stop; stainless steel door latches and hinges; 110% environmental containment for fuel, oil and coolant; and a two-way fuel valve to easily switch from onboard to external fuel source.
Europower has also expanded its rental range, which is now available from 10 to 250 kVA and in Stage IIIA. The company said this makes it one of the few manufacturers who can offer a complete rental range in Stage IIIA version. Stage II versions are available for emergency power, stationary generators and for the non-EU market.
The company’s rental genset range includes 1500 rpm models from 14 to 250 kVA and a 3000rpm unit of 10kVA.
Europower added that with 3000 rpm gensets, customers are able bring into action smaller and more compact, but nevertheless highly reliable machines. The Kubota engine has a life span of at least 7500 hours at 3000 rpm, of course on condition that maintenance is carried out according the planned intervals. For smaller applications, there is no need to rent a heavy machine.
For the rest of 2015 and beyond, suppliers to the rental industry are expecting further opportunities, Sergio Salvador of Chicago Pneumatic, which aims to expand the portfolio of its 60 Hz portable generators later in the year, is a case in point.
Mr Salvador said: “We are witnessing strong demand from the rental sector, as many contractors are choosing the rental option as a means to cope with fluctuating demand across construction markets. We believe we will see this trend continue throughout 2015, mainly driven by Western Europe and North America but also being becoming more prevalent in other markets.
“We expect this will be a good year for the rental market, and have already seen growing demand for our new portable generators in South Africa, where consistent electrical power supply can sometimes be a problem, and the Middle East, where there are lots of short-term projects requiring the use of portable generators.“
And with the recent Intermat exhibition in Paris including the Polish company Fogo’s launch of its first mobile generators for after concentrating on permanent generators since its launch in 2002, the European market also looks set to offer opportunities of its own.
The company’s is so called, incidentally, comes from the words “focused on generators only”. The name may be unique, but the sentiment is becoming increasingly common.
This is a feature from the April-May issue of IRN. For the full feature, including extra images and box stories, or to see other features from the issue, please subscribe to the magazine: http://www.khl.com/subscriptions