Year 2009 News

We commissioned 6 generator sets this year on 5 sites and provided technical support and
maintenance at many other sites at home and abroad.  We visited Belarus, Ghana, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Norway and Spain.

At the waste water treatment works for Athens, on an island called Psittalia, we commissioned the N package  13.4 MW Cyclone turbine generator from Siemens, Lincoln, shown here.  This was the first to be installed anywhere in the world and is quite novel in the amount of control implemented in software.  The generator control panel is integrated on skid and it contains many microprocessor based modules which make it state of the art.  The two prominent CACA fans on top of the generator provide cooling air for the heat exchangers behind, which take cooling air from the generator, the rectangular module below it. Hence the name. The gas turbine is enclosed, furthest from our engineer, and the  air inlet filters for the turbine are the assembly above.

It is now 20 years since we set up our company and in reviewing that time we are reminded of the many changes in the industry we support.  The electricity supply industry has changed not only in the way it is organised with many company mergers and takeovers, but in the way it is staffed with personnel taken from a national, but shrinking pool of engineers and managers.  This contrasts with the old days when the UK electricity industry trained huge numbers of engineers recruited at a young age.  The most striking consequence is that UK Universities are no longer training graduates in power subjects except at a few places such as Strathclyde in Scotland and to a lesser extent at half a dozen universities elsewhere in the UK.  Many of the manufacturers of plant and companies of project engineers have shrunk or closed altogether.  Most of the manufacturers that remain are using factories in the Far East to make some of their goods and, with this, expertise moves to the Far East too.  The technology has changed as well, not so much in the actual plant,- generators, transformers, switchgear and cables, but in the way it is controlled – almost everything is now computer controlled.  When we visit a site these days, we always take a laptop computer.  This is used not only to hold the huge amount of manuals and other documentation, but a laptop is needed to communicate with the various protection and control modules that every installation must have.  The days when a current setting on an overcurrent relay could be changed by moving a metal shorting pin from one tapping position to another, are gone!  Lastly, we have growing concern about standards of work in HV installations, especially overseas.  Whether this due to a shortage of experienced engineers everywhere or reduced levels of engineer input from UK and other developed economies, we do not know.  Sadly, standards of construction for High Voltage are not regulated as they are for Low Voltage.

We are often asked how is your company doing? which is code for are you surviving the recession?  The answer is that we are surviving very well though not prospering to the same extent as 5 years ago.  We could pour over economic matters every day but we don’t.  We mention the industry woes in our annual newsletter, as now, but then get back to our mission which is to become better at what we do and to become better engineers.  We hope and expect to write our news letter at this time every year
for the next 20 years … but then the writer may well be someone else!

The directors of the company thank all our staff and our clients and consultants and friends for their loyalty and trust during 2009.

We wish them all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

John Sanderson, Director, 5 December 2009