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Gen sets locally manufactured to meet African demands

13th June 2019

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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Starting as an importer of small household generator sets from China, Pretoria-based commercial and industrial diesel generator supplier Maverick Generators has grown into a local manufacturer, offering the African market products designed to withstand the continent’s harsh operating conditions.

“I saw a gap in the market when South Africa started experiencing load-shedding. From there, demand for our generators grew, especially our bigger generator units,” says Maverick Generators MD Gerardo Cammarata.

Started in 2007, today the company specialises in 50 kVA to 2000 kVA industrial generators, which it has exported extensively into Africa, experiencing equal demand across its product range.

“We export as far north as Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria. So our units are exposed to various operating conditions, not just that of the South African market.

“We probably have more insight into African operating conditions than any other generator manufacturer in the world,” says Cammarata, noting that many projects in Africa have called for a 24-hour-a-day power supply.

Subsequently, the company specialises in synchronisation systems, with Cammarata believing that it has pioneered the delivery of this solution in Africa.  The solution involves synchronising several smaller capacity units in parallel instead of having one large unit of the same capacity. Compared with the larger units, synchronisation reduces capital expenditure and price per kilowatt, improves fuel consumption and provides greater redundancy, as the other units in the system will continue to generate power when another unit has failed or has been taken offline for maintenance.

The company is on its second-generation generator design, which was introduced in 2012 to better address African weather conditions.

“We found that spray painted canopies don’t last as long as canopies that are powder coated and have also introduced stainless steel exhausts, which are highly durable compared with mild steel.

“Our current design is the best in terms of durability,” Cammarata says, adding that Maverick Generators’ first-generation design was used from 2008 to 2012.

Depending on demand, the company manufactures between 200 and 300 units a year, having supplied about 2 500 units to date.

Maverick Generators’ first manufacturing plant opened in 2011. Previously, manufacturing was outsourced to third parties. Its in-house manufacturing capabilities have enabled the company to offer high-quality generators that are competitively priced, with Cammarata highlighting that many companies claiming to manufacture generators locally rely on third parties, resulting in inflated prices.

The high quality of its after-sales service is also believed to provide Maverick Generators a competitive edge on its competitors. Cammarata says this is sadly where many of the company’s competitors are lacking.

Compared with imported equipment manufactured outside the Southern African Development Community, Maverick Generators’ products offer companies operating in the region the benefit of duty-free imports.

The only imported components in the generators manufactured by the company are the engine and the alternator, but the largest components of Maverick Generators’ products – the canopies, base tanks, panel enclosures and control panels – are manufactured in South Africa. Raw material is purchased from various South African steel suppliers for in-house fabrication.

Components and aspects of its generators that are outsourced are the stainless steel exhausts, which are manufactured by custom-made performance exhaust manufacturer F1-X, in Isando, Kempton Park, and powder coating, which is contracted to powder coating specialist Ultimate Powder Coaters, in Koedoespoort, Pretoria.

The mining industry is one of the company’s largest clients, followed by hospitality, retail and farming industries in Africa, where power supply conditions are far worse than those of South Africa. “Although we do struggle, Zimbabwe, for example, is currently without electricity for ten hours a day, with many other African countries experiencing similar issues,” Cammarata concludes.

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