Dube AgriZone in Dube Tradeport near Durban is a large-scale producer of short shelf-life vegetables for retail markets in South Africa and for export. The facility is the largest climate-controlled agricultural facility in Africa, growing crops hydroponically using advanced, soil-free processes that require significantly less water than conventional farming methods.

The site covers some 16 hectares – the area of about 30 football pitches – where greenhouses, plant nurseries and laboratories are equipped with sensitive electronic instruments, pumps and fans regulating the hydroponic process.

  Dube AgriZone, Africa's largest climate-controlled agricultural facility.

Faced with frequent voltage dips and variations in the site’s power network causing damage to expensive process control equipment and, in turn, plant outages and production losses, Dube AgriZone appointed Hamsa Consulting Engineers to solve the problem. A power quality study identified the need for voltage conditioning and ABB’s high speed PCS100 AVC-20 Active Voltage Conditioner provided the solution.

Sashlin Govender, Project Engineer for Hamsa Consulting Engineers, which is an authorised partner of ABB South Africa, said: “Our benchmarking work identified the PCS100 AVC-20 as having the speed needed to give the facility the stable power its processes require. Over the first six months since installation, the AVC-20 has reduced equipment failure and process disruptions at Dube AgriZone to zero, protecting production, equipment and profits, and benefitting production efficiency.”

The PCS100 AVC-20 is ABB’s proven inverter-based system for use where an unstable network or utility voltage affects productivity. The system’s advanced control software continuously regulates the voltage, detecting and regulating even major voltage dips in less than 20 milliseconds, to ensure clean, constant power for sensitive equipment. The system allows facilities to use utility power, without the need to install battery systems or captive power plants.

Ivor Becks, UPS and PCS100 Sales Specialist at ABB in Southern Africa, said: “ABB holds a leading role in power protection, providing efficient solutions that ensure industrial processes receive the continuous, high-quality power they need. Our fast, accurate voltage regulation devices protect sensitive equipment to secure productivity, and are backed by local teams of experts who help projects run smoothly, keeping the cost of ownership low.”

At the Dube AgriZone Hamsa Consulting Engineers had to install the AVC quickly and efficiently to keep the plant shutdown to a strict minimum and protect the hydroponic process. Having attended technical training at ABB’s New Zealand factory which qualified the firm to become an ABB Authorised Systems Integrator for the PCS100 range, its planning, engineering and electrical design teams had the skills to carry out the installation and commissioning of the PCS100 AVC-20 at the client’s facility.

The turnkey solution comprised a 500 kVA PCS100 AVC-20, with ABB Tmax moulded case circuit breakers, and an ABB surge protection device. Power quality analysis of the PCS100 AVC-20’s performance has shown the solution is exceeding expectations in solving the power quality issues at the site. Following the success of this project, Dube AgriZone has called for the installation of a second PCS100 AVC unit for the laboratories.

The PCS100 AVC-20 removes voltage fluctuations of about 20% from the power network, preventing equipment malfunctions to stabilise productivity and improve operational consistency. ABB’s solution uses an injection transformer in series with the load, enabling the two converters not on the current path between the load and the utility to either add or subtract voltage as required, and provide continuous, efficient and precise regulation. In the event of an overload or internal fault condition, a redundant internal bypass ensures the load is continually supplied from the utility.

For more information visit: https://new.abb.com/africa

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