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Schneider signs switchgear production agreement with local manufacturer

PREMSET
The first Premset unit would be completed at the end of October

PREMSET The first Premset unit would be completed at the end of October

25th September 2015

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

  

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Global energy management specialist Schneider Electric has entered into a manufacturing partnership agreement with local electrical products manufacturer Steelcor Power to produce Schneider’s new Premset smart-grid-ready, medium-voltage (MV) switchgear.

Schneider Electric Southern Africa country president Eric Léger signed the licence agreement with Steelcor Power CEO John Farren-Handford at a ceremony in Midrand, earlier this month.

The first Premset unit will be completed by the end of October in preparation for inspection by Schneider Electric France. An additional 14 units are planned for manufacturing this year.

Steelcor will increase output to 200 Premset units in 2016.

Between 40% and 45% of the units’ parts will be sourced in South Africa.

Farren-Handford pointed out that Steelcor Power had, as a result of the partnership with Schneider, expanded its manufacturing facility in Boksburg by 900 m2 to accommodate a 3 t gantry crane, a new test bay with a partial discharge faraday cage and specialised equipment to manufacture the Premset.

The partnership is a world first, with South Africa the first country to manufacture Premset units outside Schneider Electric’s France-based manufacturing plants.

The manufacturing agreement will see Steelcor Power employing an additional three people this year and a further seven people next year.

Two Steelcor Power employees, who are responsible for the new production, have received technical training on the manufacturing process of the Premset from Schneider Electric personnel in France and local Schneider Electric specialists will continue to offer training in South Africa.

“The agreement forms part of the company’s plan to increase the local manufacturing content of our business and for South Africa to be the hub for Southern Africa and to service neighbouring countries,” said Léger.

The local manufacturing of the Premset will serve customers better with improved lead times. Further, local adaptions of the switchgear will be made easier to better suit clients in their respective local project needs.


Schneider Electric product manager Roland Bartle revealed at the signing event that the new units would include Shielded Solid Insulation System technology, which protects all the switchgear’s live parts with earth-screened solid insulation, reducing the risk of internal arcing, while facilitating top performance in almost any environment.

The Premset increases the safety and efficiency of MV network operators, while reducing downtime and meeting the needs of the smart grid.

The new Premset units will have a 30% greater life expectancy.

The Premset range comprises compact, smart, modular units of up to 17.5 kV, with a complete interlocking system.

It uses vacuum switches and vacuum circuit breakers and also features interlocked cable testing from the front of the unit.

Léger revealed that Schneider Electric spent about €1.5-billion on research and development each year and added that it was important to keep up with modern technology.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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