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ACTOM Power Transformers has officially opened its recently upgraded test facility as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in business.

This follows the latest expansion of its plant capacity to include production of 315 MVA generation and transmission transformers for Eskom. The new test facility has been established at a cost of over R30-million as an addition to the company’s existing test facility.

“It is probably the most modern test facility of its kind in Africa and is one of most modern in the world,” says Ben Jansen, the company’s test consultant, who designed and commissioned the facility and assisted in procuring the equipment for it. “In addition to fully conforming to international test standards, it meets Eskom’s extremely stringent requirements, which include a unique 30% overload test.”

ACTOM Power Transformers’ new test facility has been installed in a one-bay extension of the high bay that formed part of the company’s most recent plant extensions. Occupying four floors served by a dedicated personnel lift, the facility is used to test transformers of up to 315 MVA at 275 kV – a substantial advance on its predecessor, which tests transformers of up to 45 MVA at 132 kV.

Used primarily to perform dielectric tests, measure no-load and load losses and perform temperature rise tests, it is a fully automated PLC/SCADA-controlled facility. The test instruments are interrogated by the computer, which calculates the test results automatically and produces a comprehensive test report.

The equipment installed comprises a 15 MVA 11 kV alternator driven by a 6,5 MW 6,6 kV synchronous motor, augmented by a 38,5 MVAR 11 kV capacitor bank and a 38,5 MVAR 44 kV capacitor bank. This equipment is coupled to a 60 MVA step-up transformer to increase the voltage from 11 kV to 80 kV. Furthermore, a 2 MVA 2,2 kV 200 Hz alternator driven by a 600 kW 1 kV synchronous motor is installed for induced over-voltage testing.

The facility is also equipped with a 2400 kV impulse generator with an energy capacity of 240 kilojoules, augmented by a Glaninger circuit for lower voltage impulses. This generator is again a big advance on the company’s other test facility, in which the impulse generator’s capacity is 1200 kV and 60 kilojoules.

ACTOM Power Transformers, originally established at a site in Wadeville near its existing premises in 1963 as the local subsidiary of Bonar Long of Dundee in Scotland, grew rapidly as a result of a series of plant expansions and technological advances aimed at diversifying its product offerings and increasing its market share in the local market, especially to Eskom, its foremost customer.

“During the 12-year period since being acquired by ACTOM, the company’s turnover has increased 5,8 times or 600%,” says Andries Tshabalal, ACTOM’s Group Executive Director. “The company has long been recognised as one of the leading local manufacturers of power transformers. It has greatly enhanced its status in this respect through the technological advances and production capacity expansions it has achieved – especially within the past six years.”

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