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John Thompson secures additional order for Rand-Air containerised boilers

7th December 2023


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On the back of the successful delivery of two 3 t/h TR300 containerised boiler models this year, industrial rental solutions provider Rand-Air ordered two additional containerised boilers from boiler manufacturer John Thompson in October.

The company received the first order in July 2022 and finalised delivery in May this year. Upon delivery to Rand-Air, the boilers went straight to a customer’s site, says John Thompson packaged boiler sales manager Simon Boiskin.

The new boilers will have three main differences compared with the first order. Firstly, they will be set up to accommodate for 72-hour unattended operation between inspections, requiring additional equipment and monitoring.

“This is one of the significant changes from an operational aspect that will allow the customer more freedom to focus on their process. We have also enabled preheating of feed water to further improve the boiler’s performance.”

Secondly, John Thompson will equip the new boilers with economisers to improve the energy consumption. Economisers reuse heat from the combustion gases  that would otherwise have been wasted when leaving the chimney to instead pre-heat the incoming feedwater to the boiler.

The third significant difference involves CE certification, allowing these boilers to be shipped and used in Europe, or any other country that requires the CE mark.

“We comply fully with the European Standards, as well as the South African Pressure Equipment Regulations. However, if you want equipment to be usable in Europe as well, there are additional certification requirements to which we also comply on request,” highlights Boiskin.

Why Mobile Boilers?

“Rand-Air has a long and successful record in the mobile, compressed air rental market. And, with the two primary products required by most factories being compressed air and steam, the inclusion of boilers was a natural progression for the company, especially owing to the benefit of an overlapping customer base,” he explains.

The concept was not new to Rand-Air, which already offers containerised boiler rentals in Europe. However, the South African market presented a gap to supply rental steam to help limit the impact that boiler breakdowns have on a factory’s production.

Steam is a critical component for production of many items, with applications in the food and beverage industry, textiles, tyre manufacturing, mining and timber, emphasises Boiskin.

A 3 t boiler was the largest capacity John Thompson could physically accommodate in a standard 20 foot shipping container to supply a fully containerised system that can be easily transported across the country.

“If you start going out of gauge in a transport sense, you add additional complexity in terms of moving equipment around, where you will require permits, and at times patrol vehicles, to assist and escort the abnormal load from the point of origin to the destination.

“The lifting dimensions of a standard shipping container are known, making it easy to move as well as load and unload. It has existing lifting points, which many trucks and cranes can easily handle. The securing of the points around the equipment of the pipe work was also well considered to ensure that it would be suitable for regular loading and offloading,” advises Boiskin.

Transport is a subject John Thompson understands well, as the company is accustomed to the challenges of moving equipment around the country.

“Our largest boiler is in excess of 5 m in diameter and weighs up to 70 t. And this really has some very specific transport requirements. During school holiday periods,  a roads embargo is implemented whereby anything out of gauge is restricted from moving on our national  roads,” says Boiskin.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to use a standard shipping container rather than making a more customised boiler housing.

When creating a containerised solution, allowing for easy access to the boiler for operating and maintenance purposes is also vital.

“When you start installing a boiler into a very constrained area, you have to think carefully about how the operator can gain access to the necessary and critical parts to be able to effectively operate the boiler, as well as to conduct maintenance. While minor modifications were made to the layout of the boiler fittings, these had a large impact on their accessibility inside the container,” adds Boiskin.

Further, Rand-Air also required a second container comprising some of the ancillary plant for rental separately or with the boiler.

A boiler does not operate in isolation, highlights Boiskin.

“It includes certain support or ancillary equipment. The ancillary equipment includes a water storage tank, a blowdown vessel to safely deal with hot water discharge from the boiler and water treatment equipment to protect the boiler’s pressure parts.”

He adds that interoperability between the containers needed to be considered, including the compatibility of feedwater pumps, owing to the nonstandard boiler house setup.

The Logical Choice

“When a customer commissions this type of equipment, they're looking for something that's going to be reliable, of a high quality and robust,” he advances.

Established in England in 1870, John Thompson has been manufacturing boilers in South Africa since 1954, and was Rand-Air’s logical choice.

“However, we don't see ourselves as a product manufacturer but rather a solutions-based business. Since we've been manufacturing, especially in South Africa, we've always been involved with solutions and innovative ideas around specific customer requirements. We have a strong engineering base and together with our years of experience and intellectual property, we can offer effective customisation,” concludes Boiskin.

Address: Sacks Cir, Bellville South, Cape Town, 7530

Phone: 021 959 8400

Web address:

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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