Power equipment company Barloworld Power has replaced the University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits’) Faculty of Health Sciences’ almost 40-year-old generator, which provides the school with its standby power, with a much larger system.
Consultant to the Wits property and infrastructure management division David Slater says the Faculty of Health Sciences’ ongoing expansion and the rapid advances in technology and information technology infrastructure have resulted in a shortfall in the faculty’s standby power requirement.
“The situation was further exacerbated by random and extended grid power failures, which sometimes lasted about 12 hours, compromising research projects and general information system integrity,” he adds.
Barloworld Power was awarded the contract to upgrade the standby system, which, in line with the faculty’s research and academic programmes, took about two years to complete.
The faculty’s 650 kVA unit was replaced with two Cat 1 000 kVA generators operating as one synchronised system. The first unit was installed in the university’s basement where the original Rolls Royce was housed, and the second unit was installed as an external Cat containerised module.
The Rolls Royce 650 kVA unit was relocated to the Wits Education Campus. “As an interim measure, we installed the Cat containerised unit first and ran it simultaneously with the Rolls Royce to allow for the continuation of essential ser- vices,” says Barloworld Power specialised projects sales engineer Matthew Fredericks.
He adds that the company then removed the Rolls Royce unit and replaced it with the new Cat standalone unit. The new switchgear installed in the generator is designed to cater for three 1 000 kVA transformer loads.
Fredericks notes that the second phase of the project proved to be the most challenging, as all systems had to be disconnected briefly pending the installation of the changeovers and the main panel. During this period, a Cat 1 000 kVA unit, supplied by Barloworld Power’s rental division, provided a temporary backup power solution for the entire faculty.
Slater explains that this was undertaken over four days as they had to ensure that all the cables were in position and that the changeover contactors and motorised switches had been tested and commissioned.
“The transition from utility to standby power needs to be seamless to protect sensitive electronic equipment from factors such as notching, harmonic distortion or voltage increase, which are managed through a programmable logic controller interface,” he adds.
Further, as an added contingency for extended outages, Barloworld Power installed a 9 000 ℓ bulk diesel tank with an SMS messaging system, which automatically sends out alerts on the fuel levels and engine diagnostics of the generator.
“For more than 350 academic and research staff and for the students who will later become leaders in their chosen fields, this assurance of uninterrupted power on demand will continue to help ensure that the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences remains at the forefront of health and medical institutions,” Fredericks concludes.