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Schneider signs up local manufacturing

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Energy management specialist Schneider Electric has entered into a production partnership agreement with Steelcor Power, a South African manufacturer of electrical products, to produce its Premset smart grid-ready, medium voltage (MV) switchgear.
Built using a shielded solid insulation system (2SIS), Premset lets MV network operators increase safety and efficiency while simultaneously minimising downtime and meeting the needs of the smart grid. 2SIS is a technical breakthrough that protects all the switchgear’s live parts with earth-screened solid insulation, reducing the risk of internal arcing and facilitating top performance in practically any environment.
To prepare for production, Steelcor Power has added 900 square metres to its factory in Boksburg, an area that has been enhanced with a three-ton gantry crane, a new test bay with a partial discharge faraday cage, and specialised equipment to manufacture Premset.
The first unit is expected to roll off the line for inspection by Schneider Electric France at the end of October 2015. A further 14 units are planned for this year, and production for 2016 will scale up to 200 units with an annual increase of 20%.
Two Steelcor Power staff members responsible for the new production have received technical training on the manufacturing process of Premset from Schneider Electric personnel in France, and local Schneider Electric specialists have and continue to offer training in South Africa.
The production agreement has also seen Steelcor Power employ an additional three people this year, with a further seven employees to be appointed next year.
“We are excited about the prospects of Premset – both from a local manufacturing point of view and enhancing the value chain of this product for the benefit of our customers,” says Eric Leger, country president for Southern Africa at Schneider Electric. “Steelcor Power has a long history of excellence in manufacturing of electrical products, and we are confident that through our partnership, we will meet the demand for Premset in the African marketplace.
“We are proud to be the first country in the world to manufacture Premset outside of Schneider Electric manufacturing plants and believe that this ground-breaking partnership presents many new opportunities for manufacturing on the African continent.”
John Farren, CEO at Steelcor Power, says: “Steelcor and Steelcor Power have been business associates of Schneider Electric for the past 25 years. During this time, we have developed products for Schneider Electric locally, and have promoted the organisation’s products for supply within our product range. Today, we are one of the major users of Schneider Electric MV switchgear in South Africa. Premset is a natural addition to our existing product range.”