The global company’s participation in Middle East Energy 2020 indicated further efforts put by Perkins for predictive maintenance and remote control. Shall we start the second part of our interview with Karan Ohri, Global Marketing Manager of the Electric Power Business at Perkins, from such a hot topic. The first part, posted last week, is available here.

Perkins for predictive maintenance
Perkins 4008 PG engine on display in Dubai

Perkins for predictive maintenance. Are concepts like this or remote control truly becoming a standard in power generation?

Digitalization is becoming indeed a huge part of the market. It’s slowly taking off but now we see this technology is moving quite fast and that’s majorly because the cost of installing such devices is coming down dramatically.

Also, the cost of managing a big fleet of engines remotely is decreasing. Technology may drastically reduce operating costs for servicing because it’s not mandatory to go to the engine and check every time. Perkins is also looking at digital solutions and the advantage we have over standard third-party solution manufacturers is that we make the engines, we know them inside out. It means we are able to go in-depth with the predictive maintenance that users cannot get otherwise.

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Are customers willing to spend a bit more money to have these benefits?

It’s a sector-based project right now, so it depends on the idea of digitalization and remote monitoring in the various sectors. In telecoms, for example, the typical customers, so genset manufacturers or service operators, usually manage a fleet. We see that if this fits a customer’s business model, it is perceived as a good add-on and is then heavily used in the rental fleets in Europe or the US because the value of the engine itself is higher and justifies all these additional services.

The second market is made of applications like data centres, which are in the other end of the spectrum. Here, we talk about big engines. This market carries on some relevant risks – due to possible malfunctioning – so remote monitoring is convenient and is sometimes built into the infrastructure. As andengine supplier, along the whole supply chain we can help by offering the best value solutions so that the risk is reduced even further, basically.

What’s in the middle between these two markets?

In the middle there are residential, industrial applications or commercial buildings, where there are not fleets to manage. Remote monitoring initiatives are less required, then. If they don’t make revenues, they’re not worthy.

Perkins for predictive maintenance
Perkins 1003 engine for telecommunication towers

MEE is a very important event for a crucial area like the Middle East, often also related to Africa. How do these territories welcome technology as for genset applications?

Of course, we consider Middle East and Africa as a unique region, even though they are quite different from one another. From a technology perspective, the Middle East is definitely growing, with people becoming more aware and demanding lower emissions from the diesel gensets. We have in our range what they’re looking for and this is one of the reasons why we’ve invested in increasing our flexibility. As soon as people start quoting emissions among the primary requirements, then maybe the market will see a better shift.

Africa, on the other hand, is a very different market. The major problem is the lack in capacity and stability of the main power grids. Therefore, the market still depends a lot on diesel engines, which have to be affordable and reliable, above all. Technology is right now in the back seat, but with the new engines we are indeed pushing towards more efficient solutions, with lower fuel consumption, doing our best also to reduce carbon footprint.

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