Photo by Atlas Copco Power Technique
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Interview with Angel Nieto: Outstanding Evolution of Technologies

June 27, 2020
RER talked with Angel Nieto, product manager power & light, Atlas Copco Power Technique about the benefits of T4F engines, the growing usage of telematics modules, battery storage technologies, hurricane response, knowing your rental strategy; and more.

RER recently talked with Angel Nieto, product manager power & light, Atlas Copco Power Technique about the environmental benefits of Tier 4 Final engines, the growing usage of telematics modules, battery storage technologies, hurricane response, knowing your rental strategy, 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? 

The introduction of Tier 4 Final meant a huge environmental benefit. As a reference you will need 25 T4F generators to produce the same level of exhaust emissions as just one Tier 1 generator. Definitively a benefit for us all and the coming generations. The use of full electronic engines able to communicate with more advanced and friendly human machine interface (HMI) devices has meant a great benefit to rental companies and end users. Generators are now much easier to operate. They are much safer and easier to service since, in most cases, the controller itself will be able to provide the info to diagnose potential issues that may be happening with the equipment.   

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

The use of telematics modules is spreading really fast. The basic benefits are self-explanatory (geolocation, continuous monitoring of the generator’s performance, preventive warnings, etc.), but I see great potential once big data and AI technologies are applied to large rental fleets.

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

Atlas Copco is working to launch a compact 1 MW generator to attend to the more frequent demand of large power units.

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

The outstanding evolution of battery technologies over the last few years has made it possible to store a larger amount of energy, deeper discharge levels and a larger number of useful cycles compared to traditional lead-acid technology. Energy Storage Systems are now efficient ways to adjust energy unbalances in any grid or micro grid. When it is combined with generators, it allows the generator to work at a more efficient load level, saving fuel and avoiding the low-load issues that are inherent to diesel engines.  

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?

Being ready for the hurricane season means having enough generators available, in good condition, ready to be used, strategically stored in areas likely to be hit by the storm and having the ability to deploy the fleet ASAP before roads are affected. Once the generators are running, you will need to make sure you keep the usual consumables and spare parts so the equipment can be efficiently serviced, limiting downtime as much as possible. Manufacturers take into consideration the hurricane season when calculating their yearly forecast, increasing stocks and production capacity to attend sudden market demands. Availability of the equipment is crucial in those critical moments.

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?

Rental companies will need to clearly define what their business strategy is. The U.S. has the largest rental market in the world. With that, comes a great deal of competition. The general rental segment is even more tough since it is more difficult to find a key differentiating argument. When it comes to rental fees, larger companies can leverage to beat competitors. However, being able to provide a good assessment when selecting the correct generator size for each application, good equipment availability (limiting downtime by performing proper service), keeping equipment in good condition, and providing a fast and efficient 24/7 technical support. This can all make a difference and attract customers not just looking for a lower rental fee. 

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?

During the first weeks of the pandemic we saw a sudden increased demand for generators for temporary sanitarian facilities, such as field hospitals. Most of the ongoing construction projects have not stopped nor slowed down. New projects are now being delayed and so are some of the related investments, but we feel confident they will soon step up as soon as we get through the critical moments of this unseen pandemic situation. 

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

As a company, from the first day Atlas Copco has taken all the measures needed to ensure the safety of their employees and partners and followed all the governmental guidelines in every state where we are present. It is everybody’s responsibility to stop the spread of this pandemic. Safety is always been at the forefront of our company.

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?

On top of the well-known inherent variability of the oil & gas business, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought extra level of uncertainty. However, we have no doubt this bad cycle will come to an end sooner than later. As an example of this, Atlas Copco is about to start a new development project for a specific project for the oil-and-gas industry, regardless of the current situation. 

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

It will have a very positive impact in the management of the fleet in terms of efficient fleet sizing, optimization of its geographical distribution, efficient servicing, prediction of future needs, and more.