In Malaysia, SP Energy occupies a key position in the country’s energy infrastructure, as the suppliers of gas engines to many manufacturing, agricultural and power generation companies across the country. The company recently moved to further increase the efficiency and timeliness of its service offering, and this led to its decision to adopt ABB’s Turbo UptimeCare. We talked to SP Energy’s managing director, Mr. Syed Kebir, to find out more.
“We are dealers for MWM Gas Engines, part of the Caterpillar Energy Solutions Group,” says Kebir. “Our role is in the sale, installation and after-sales care of these engines. They’re used in many different sectors in Malaysia, such as plantations, industrial sectors, the electronics industry and the palm oil industry.”
In particular, there is a strong interest in power generation from biogas around the palm oil industry and from landfill operators, who want to harness methane gas, which is classed as renewable energy. The power generated is then sold to the national grid. SP Energy is especially committed to supporting the growing need for alternative energy to ensure economical and environmentally friendly “green” energy.
“We build biogas or natural gas power generation plants for our customers – predominantly in the plantation, landfills and Industrial sectors, where renewable energy and energy efficiency has been a focus,” Kebir says. “We build these plants and also establish long-term service agreements with our end customers, taking care of the maintenance, troubleshooting and other after-sales service for the engines, which are primarily running 24/7 – in continuous operation.”
With great power
The business is growing, and while each new customer brings financial rewards, there is also additional responsibility: “It’s after-sales that ensures whether I sleep well at night,” Kebir tells us. “It’s a very important part of my business: all of these engines are revenue-generating and it’s important that we keep them up and running.”
“SP Energy has installed more than 75 Megawatts of power generation equipment across various industries in Malaysia, in around 46 installations spread out across the country. The challenge is to ensure these installations operate satisfactorily. Hence, good after-sales support is an important part of our ability to deliver customer satisfaction. We currently have around 15 people devoted to after-sales support and service.”
The financial impact of one of these engines failing is considerable. “If they are connected to the grid, customers are paid a fee per Kilowatt-Hour generated,” says Kebir. “To give a ballpark figure, one engine going down, of a typical size of 1-2 Megawatts, would create a loss of revenue somewhere in the region of 20-25,000 ringgits [$5-6000 USD] per day.”
SP Energy started working with ABB ten years ago. The MWM gas engines it sells come factory-fitted with ABB turbochargers by the manufacturer, and so, “Over the years, we’ve established a good working relationship with ABB for the service and overhaul of the turbochargers. This has historically been on an ad-hoc basis, whenever the need arose. But now we’re trying to step-up our level of service.”
Service level acceleration
Offering an increased service level to customers can be instrumental in winning and retaining customers. But these service levels involve guarantees that minimise downtime during overhaul and repair operations. Moving towards a mutual commitment ensured by ABB Turbo UptimeCare was an important ingredient in making sure SP Energy could deliver on its guarantees to customers.
“We normally perform turbocharger overhauls concurrently with the overhaul of the gas engine,” says Kebir. “Depending on the size of the installation, the complete maintenance might require two weeks’ downtime. With this agreement in place, we know any necessary turbocharger parts will be available and can commit to this timeframe.”
The key advantage of Turbo UptimeCare is having replacement turbochargers available at the customer’s site prior to work being done. “Any downtime for our customers is expensive and we strive to eliminate any possibility of delay in overhauling the turbochargers for any reason – perhaps because additional parts are needed from further afield.”
“Given this combination, the deal makes commercial sense to us,” says Kebir,
“We’ve got a good working relationship with the ABB team,” Kebir concludes. “Our service team are in constant communication with their team in Singapore, planning for upcoming work, so we can ensure the turbochargers are available and delivered to site, prior to the work being started.”