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Jul 13, 2012

Company targets renewable-energy sector

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Cable specialist Lapp Southern Africa plans to promote its Ölflex solar cables and accessories range in the South African market to cater for the growth in the country’s renewable-energy power generation capacity.

Lapp Southern Africa MD Mark Dilchert tells Engineering News that the group has analysed the local content quota outlined in government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and has invested in a product range to support the renewable-energy sector.

Through the programme, government plans to secure 3 725 MW of renewable-energy capacity by 2016.

As a subsidiary of Germany-based cable manufacturer Lapp Group, Lapp Southern Africa has more than 12 years’ experience in the renewable-energy sector, especially in the solar photovoltaic (PV) market, and Lapp Group is the original developer of PV cable, he says.

Meanwhile, Lapp Southern Africa has developed a renewable-energy division to gain an understanding of the needs of the South African solar energy sector, not only to enable it to become the only solar experts, but also to share that knowledge with the local industry and develop local competence in the industry.

“We conduct in-house training to educate our customers and clients about the renewable- energy technologies, especially in the electrical sector,” says Dilchert.

Lapp Southern Africa is often involved in the construction of solar PV power plants as an original-equipment manufacturer with international technologists.

Although it is supported by a multimillion-euro group, Lapp Southern Africa understands the importance of partnering with skilled and experienced organisations to offer a complete solution when constructing a renewable- energy power plant.

The Lapp Group manufactures Ölflex solar cables, Epic MC4 solar cable connectors and Lapp/FPE solar module junction boxes, besides other accessories.

Renewable-Energy Sector Projects
Lapp Group has been involved in local and international renewable-energy projects.

It was asked by international engineering firm ABB to participate in a social development programme near Port Shepstone, in KwaZulu-Natal, to provide solar PV power, solar water pumping equipment and a solar geyser for the Noah Project’s kitchen and classroom, in November 2011, says Dilchert.

The Noah Project is supported by ABB and the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) and aims to feed 200 orphans from its kitchen.

With the involvement of Lapp Group, ABB and the WWF-SA, the Noah Project now has electricity.

Meanwhile, internationally, Lapp Group has been involved in projects such as the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, where it provided technical assistance for local clean-energy projects to five Alaskan indigenous tribes; and the 24.7 km2 Spain Solar Park, in Bovera, which used more than 20 km of Ölflex solar cable and 5 040 solar modules to generate 1 440 MWh of electricity.

It also supplied numerous ultraviolet-, weather- and temperature-resistant solar PV components for the Preschen solar park, in Germany.

Value Brands
Besides its focus on the renewable-energy sector, Lapp Group offers eight brands of cables and accessories to form a complete connection solution for process automation.
This includes Ölflex power and control cables for use in machinery, systems and appliance engineering; Unitronic data communication cables for machine electronics and bus systems; the Etherline range of industrial Ethernet cables and components; and the Hitronic glass and plastic fibre-optic cables for transferring large volumes of data.

It also includes the Epic range of industrial cables for secure industrial connections; the Skintop range of polyamide compression glands with an ingress protection 68 rating against vibration; Silvyn protective cable conduit and cable carrier systems; and the Flexi-mark cable, core and component marking systems.

Warehouse Upgrade
Lapp Southern Africa recently contracted a Europe-based material planning firm to redesign and automate its warehouse facility. This investment forms part of the company’s expansion into sub-Saharan Africa.

The firm conducted an analy- sis of Lapp Southern Africa’s past product supply in Africa to develop a product-planning solution that would support the needs of its clients on the continent.

The 1 200 m2 and 5-m-high warehouse space, which has doubled the storage capacity, now features stock barcoding, bin location, customer history records and a product database.

The only manual operation is the forklift pick-and-place system, says Dilchert, adding that the company’s clients now benefit from shorter lead times.

He estimates that the company will have sufficient storage space for another 18 months before further expansions are needed.

“As a group, we hope to settle into the sub-Saharan Africa cables and accessories market, providing international direction with a localised thought pattern,” says Dilchert.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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