Ongoing loadshedding is leading farmers to seek energy solutions that incorporate customised generator sets able to meet the unique challenges of farmers in the cold chain.
At the forefront of these built solutions is Smith Power Equipment whose brand of Kubota and Cummins generators have been a staple for farmers’ static requirements for years and continue to be so for cold-rooms and other applications. However, the main area of growth has by far shifted to fit-for-purpose customisations.
According to power specialist at Smith Power Equipment, Renier Potgieter, the importance of quality and brand loyalty in the generator segment cannot be overemphasised. He asserts that local farmers have diverse needs and invest in reliable equipment able to operate in the demanding nature of agricultural operations.
Potgieter notes a shift in customer preferences towards specialised builds, marking a departure from conventional off-the-shelf solutions. According to him, these custom configurations are gaining popularity due to their ability to precisely meet the unique requirements of farmers.
“Solar cannot always take the load when needed,” Potgieter states, highlighting a common limitation faced by many in the agricultural sector. He underscores the necessity of a dependable power source that can seamlessly handle the diverse and often unpredictable demands of farming operations.
Smith Power Equipment has responded to this need by focusing on tailored solutions that go beyond the standard generator offerings. One noteworthy example is the recent collaboration with a farmer who constructed 50 offroad trailers for irrigation purposes. These trailers house generators that are transported to the required sites, tapping into underground water sources. The integrated design includes features such as trailing cables, automatic changeovers during power outages, double axles with 15-inch wheels to run in the same track as a bakkie and robust construction capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions.
The innovative use of variable speed drives in farms tapping deep underground reserves for example, allows for efficient startups, enabling water to be pumped from depths of up to 180m in farms located in the North West Province. The integration of technology and practical design is a testament to Smith Power Equipment’s commitment to providing farmers with solutions that enhance convenience and productivity.
While some areas employ solar solutions for water reservoirs, Potgieter argues that a standalone solar system may not always be sufficient, especially in critical irrigation scenarios. He points out that a 350kW solar system for three hours of backup could cost a staggering R16-million, making it a less practical and costly choice compared to a generator.
“We want to be in the bigger end of the market where price is not the overriding factor but rather availability and quality,” says Potgieter. Smith Power Equipment caters to a wide range of power needs, offering generators ranging from 80kVA to 2 000kVA. The company also builds its customised units locally, ensuring quality control and precision through processes such as laser cutting of parts, precision fitment and balancing of rotating parts, and high-quality tools and craftsmanship,” he concludes.
Supplied by Smith Power Equipment