Master Power’s R&D Department Stresses Innovation

Eskom Power Station

South African electricity supplier, Eskom recently announced intentions to reintroduce load shedding as South Africa is experiencing winter.

The detrimental factors to this course of action are obvious, including the disruption of business and income generating activities. Therefore, continuous power management solutions are essential.

Master Power Technologies, with operations in South Africa and Zambia are specialists in the supply, installation and servicing of generator and UPS Systems, as well as a wide range of  secure power and data centre solutions, manufactures power solutions to ensure businesses are not impaired by power outages or an inconsistent power supply.

In a competitive market however, simply manufacturing UPS’s, generators and supporting products does not guarantee happy customers. To ensure it remains at the forefront of power management solutions, Master Power Technologies launched its Research and Development (R&D) department four years ago.

Headed by Ruan du Toit, and manned by six skilled engineers working full time, the R&D department is responsible for ensuring Master Power’s products and services remain at the forefront of power management on the continent, creating innovative hardware and software solutions.

The department’s first goal was to develop Master Power’s testing centre. The testing centre was built to ensure the company’s UPS’s met IEC (International Electro technical Commission) standards. Du Toit explains that the tests are fully automated to ensure consistency and accuracy every time.

The R&D department then went on to develop both the hardware and software for Master Power’s Universal Controller (UC). The UC’s primary function was to ensure a reliable changeover between utility power and generators.

“It is critical to manage the changeover reliably and repeatable to maintain a stable power supply to the whole facility/data centre to eliminate data loss or equipment damage,” says Du Toit.

The UC was then expanded to include Building Management System (BMS) functionality, which constantly monitors the status of electrical equipment, such as fire alarms and panels, batteries, generators, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and more. Clients’ equipment is monitored and reports are sent to a remote site to provide a constant overview of the status of their systems and warn of impending or existing failures.

“We then extended this to produce our Battery Module Management System (BMMS),” says Du Toit. “This allows clients and Master Power to continually monitor the status and health of batteries and manage corrective actions if needed.

“We are able to tell if a single battery or a string of batteries are failing well before the situation turns into an emergency. More importantly, by identifying and replacing a single failing battery, we can extend the life of the UPS battery significantly.”

On the software side, the R&D department has developed an Android app that allows for the management of the UC. In keeping with the company’s sustainability commitment, the R&D department is in the process of developing a solution that will monitor solar panels to ensure they perform optimally. The testing centre will be expanded to include generator testing in the near future. “The R&D department boasts a range of engineering skills that allow us to design and develop both hardware and software innovations that provide our clients with better control over their power management systems,” notes Du Toit. “Effective monitoring and management means a longer system life, and greater system reliability which means more value for the customer and an increased return on investment (ROI).”

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