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ENGINEERING: Contract Energy Management Successes


Recent Western Cape Business News

WITH a track record of more than 12 years in the Contract Energy Management Market (CEM) AES has steadily grown its client base, which covers a broad spectrum of industries including food, textiles, metal, paper, timber, chemical and parastatal sectors.

While it is a relatively new concept in South Africa, CEM is well established internationally. The client purchases energy in the form and quantity required so wastage is minimised while focused, professional plant operation ensures that maintenance procedures are adhered to; energy reliability, availability and efficiency improved; environmental risk reduced and plant life extended.

AES’ Dennis Williams stresses the importance of working with a committed specialist where outsourced operations of industrial energy plant is the core focus.

Energy plant outsourcing is an expertise in its own right and it is regrettable that some companies offer it as an optional service, or even sideline, to their main business, which is usually manufacturing, servicing or repairing energy plant and related activities.”

We have spent years on outsourcing as our core business and have built up and consolidated specific skills, expertise and effective management systems, which are essential if clients are to receive optimal solutions. We know who and what to call on for any situation as each client’s needs are so specific”.

For a client in textiles, troubleshooting became a factor when HFO was also used to generate steam on site. AES managed to secure a supply from a bulk merchant and also by investing in two HFO storage vessels. However, when the cost of crude oil increased substantially thus affecting HFO’s prices, it was clear that alternative fuel sources would have to be considered.

The decision to switch to coal for steam generation on site presented a problem as the client was concerned with the impact of a coal-fired operation on its neighbours.

Taking all this into account AES came up with a comprehensive design for the boiler-house layout and plant to be installed as well as detailing the potential environmental impact and the measures it would implement to limit it. This was approved by all stakeholders.

So confident was AES of its recommendations that it undertook to fund the installation at its own risk and remove it should the desired project not meet the agreed conditions. The project has now been running for nearly a year and the client is enjoying the benefits of a risk-free supply of lower cost energy.

A similar change in fuel source was undertaken at a government hospital, HFO being used initially due to the lack of energy skills to operate a coal-fired, steam generation plant.

Although HFO boilers provided a simpler option in operation terms the costs were substantial.

The involvement of AES meant that staff was retrained and additional staff hired. The net result of AES’ input was a saving of R2 million for the client in the first year of its operation on site.

Subsequent contracts have ensured the continued availability of skilled energy plant operations staff and correct maintenance management while steam supply is guaranteed on an on-going basis.

AES is so confident of its energy management skills that it guarantees a specified operating efficiency for the plants managed under its outsourced contracts.

All costs incurred through energy generation are borne by AES thus ensuring accountability for all aspects related to the operation of the energy plant and the provision of energy to the client.

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