Photo by Alliance North America
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Interview with ANA Corp: Adding Dynamic Loads

June 24, 2020
RER interviews the Alliance North America president Kevin Day and other ANA staff members on generator technology advancements; the company’s new products; battery storage; dynamic loads; hurricane relief; COVID-19; and more.

RER interviews the Alliance North America staff, Kevin Day, president, with CEO Mike Niemela; power generation sales manager Jack Harris; national service manager Joe Norris; and vice president of operations Alicia Niemela on generator technology advancements; the company’s new products; battery storage; dynamic loads; hurricane relief; COVID-19; and more.

RER: How, in your view, has generator technology improved in recent years? What have been some key advancements and how have they helped the rental company and the end user?

Day: One of the biggest advancements in our industry is the ability for our customers to remotely monitor their generators. We are now able to remotely monitor in real time exactly what the demand is on the generator as well as how the engine is performing. Having this information allows both the rental company and their customer to best utilize the generator on site.    

What are some of the technical advancements to come that you think will be significant?

Microgrids are becoming a common conversation in the world of portable power. Microgrids interconnect loads and distribute power in place of the shore power or “the grid.” Microgrids are now portable and ANA has ventured into this world by providing our Airman prime power generators and Grid To Go power storage units in tandem use. The two units can be mounted on one of ANA’s custom trailers and connected through power cables and an auto start cable. The Grid To Go can be charged either through grid power, generator power or even solar power. These microgrids allow for increased productivity while reducing fuel usage, reducing or eliminating generator light loading issues, reducing service intervals and carbon footprint.

If we were to only focus on prime power generators and the technical advancements in this specific area, adding dynamic loads to the generator is something that is becoming more common. Many manufacturers are offering different types of dynamic loads to help prevent wet stacking and light loading or varying load applications. The requirement to reduce carbon emissions through Tier 4 Final engines has made it more difficult to operate generators in varying load applications. Adding a dynamic load that is automated through the digital control system allows the generator to operate in a wider range power application without the usual wet stacking that occurs without one.

We encourage our general rental customers who are purchasing mid-range sized generators (45kVA up to 400kVA) to consider adding a dynamic load option to help minimize wet stacking and costly service calls. Additionally, the dynamic load option can help increase utilization of fleet, because the need to size the generator perfectly to the customers’ usage is not as critical. 

What are some of your key products you are excited about?  

We just introduced our newest Tier 4 Final generator to the Airman lineup, the SDG40S-8E1. This unit is powered by a 43.9HP Kubota V2403 engine which falls below the 49-horsepower requirement for registration in states like California and New York. At 61 db(A) at full load it is one of the quietest units in its size range. At 30kW the SDG40S-8E1 will be a workhorse in most general rental fleets.

Airman also recently introduced a new 13kVA generator that is unique to our industry in that it provides both three-phase power and single-phase power simultaneously while being powered by an 1800 rpm Kubota D1503 engine. This size generator is great for lower kW requirements and smaller 3-phase submersible water pump applications, where a 25kVA is more power than is needed. The Airman SDG13LAX comes standard with a 24-hour run tank on board as well as auxiliary fuel connections for longer run time applications. Thus far we believe we are the only option in this size range at 1800 rpm.

Lastly, the Airman line range of power increased to 400kVA/320kW late last year. This now means that Airman has a range of 13kVA/10kW up to 400kVA/320kW. We hit most of the requirements needed for portable prime power applications. 

Battery storage has become of much greater interest in recent years. Why is that, what are the benefits of energy storage technology?

Battery power storage is a fast-growing market opportunity. ANA entered into this arena in late 2018 with our Grid To Go products. Battery power storage allows for a green eco-friendly solution for power applications where the demand for power varies. ANA was proud to provide a solution of the Grid To Go in tandem use with an Airman 45kVA generator at the 2020 Super Bowl. The units were supporting IT trailers where the demand during the day was perfectly suited for the 45kVA generator, but the overnight power requirement was significantly less. Working together, the Grid To Go stored unused power from the Airman generator during the day to be used at night where the power requirement was significantly lower. The customer and end user were able to remotely monitor the power use and make any adjustments to the power sharing via an application on their lap top computers and mobile phones. The data at the end of the project showed that the fuel savings alone would have come to more than $42,000 in a year’s time as well as reducing the required oil changes from 18 to five, another huge savings. The set-up was a simple plug and play from Grid To Go to generator that didn’t require any special tooling or cabling.   

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an “above normal” 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. What should rental companies be doing to prepare for hurricane season in areas that are vulnerable to hurricane activity, and what are manufacturers such as yourselves doing?

For rental companies who supply power for hurricane disaster relief it is critical that they have their current fleet serviced and ready for rent when the calls come. That is one aspect of support and another is partnering with your generator supplier to know what sizes and inventory are available and where that inventory is staged. ANA strategically places generator inventory in areas that can be delivered to a hurricane zone within 24 hours from time of order. Additionally, rental companies should be certain their suppliers provide 24-hour service support during a disaster. Having West Coast-based suppliers can be an advantage as their window to ship parts is much later in the day allowing for next day air shipments to arrive on site.   

What advice do you have for general rental companies that want to expand both their fleet and their involvement in power gen rentals? What are the key areas of knowledge they need to emphasize? 

This is a great question and one that is often overlooked. Partnering with your customers is key to having the right product in your generator fleet. Asking your customers what they are powering, and their load requirements will help you pick the right product for your fleet. Many general rental companies have the basic small gasoline generators and prime power diesel generators of up to 45kVA/36kW but don’t know where to go up from there. By knowing what your customers are powering, it will help you determine how many of a certain size you should have in your fleet and what range you should go up to in kVA/kW. We highly recommend adding some sort of dynamic load to your larger sized generators of 65kVA/52kW and up to help with possible wet stacking and light load applications as end users often oversize the generator compared to what their actual need is on site.  

Obviously COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on all of our lives. What are the primary effects on the power-generation market? Obviously, events have come to a standstill, but how about the construction market, the rental market, the industrial market, the residential generator market?

There is no denying that the impact of COVID-19 has been significant for the power-generation market. Many of our biggest customers saw the utilization of their fleet drop dramatically when the pandemic hit, especially those supporting the entertainment and event sector. Many of our customers needed to adjust their business immediately to support the construction trades because, while that sector saw a lag in revenue, it never quite stopped. There were some short-term opportunities with COVID-19 support such as mobile testing facilities and makeshift tent hospitals but those were short-lived rental opportunities.

Many of our customers are suggesting they are seeing an uptick in utilization of their generator fleet, primarily for construction. As we prepare for the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic and fire season out west, we know there will be a need for generators. Some of our customers have already placed orders for equipment in anticipation of needing product ahead of the season. 

Anything special your company has done to contribute to anti-COVID efforts?

ANA provided no-charge personal assistance to our customers and independent sales representatives who needed a little help with how to access the Payroll Protection Plan and Economic Injury Disaster Loan under the Cares Act. We lent our time and knowledge on how the process worked to ensure that our business partners were given the best opportunity to be solvent during this unprecedented time. The comments from customers and business partners after the fact was gratifying and it is nice to know we were able to help.

The oil and gas markets have been hit hard. Do you have any expectations for this market area going forward as far as power generation needs? 

Day: The oil-and-gas market will come back at some point and it is just a matter of when. With oil trading at roughly $34 a barrel at present, we do not expect to see a fast rebound in sales in this sector. ANA does not provide specialized or specific fueled engines for the oil-and-gas market, so it does not impact us as much as companies who specialize in natural gas-powered generators. We continue to stay in contact with our customers in this market and many of them are using this time to repair and service their equipment.  

What kind of impact has the developments in telematics had on the power generation industry? 

Telematics have become commonplace in many of our customers’ rental fleets. Since prime power diesel generators moved from analog controls to digital controllers it has allowed greater access to the engine controls and generator demand. The digital controllers are constantly providing information on the unit and the telematics help our customers better manage their fleet. The information allows our customers to right size machines by seeing the power demand over a period of time, which can help minimize a potential issue arising from having the wrong unit for the application. Additionally, telematics helps with billing, since generators are often placed into applications where it is not easy to access the unit. The telematics or remote monitoring provides simple insight as to how many hours the unit is being used and at what power requirement.