The one thing that is certain about COVID-19 is its uncertainty. It has shaken the foundations of governments, corporates, and institutions and has caused extraordinary volatility in markets and economies, writes John Lewis, Managing Director, Aggreko Africa.

As the world moves towards a new future, a new normal as defined by the virus and its implications, there is an urgent need for organisations to invest in agile and capable foundations that will allow for them to adapt to what lies ahead. In South Africa, organisations are facing the crisis on multiple fronts, not least of which being the ailing power utility and its volatility in terms of power provision and management.

Many other African countries face a similar situation, with aging infrastructure and unreliable power provision. So, what happens if the lights also choose to go out? In uncertain times power has to be reliable. Organisations across multiple verticals and industries need power to ensure that those critical operations reliant on temperature control, climate control, and humidity control remain operational during the national shut down.

Food and beverage industry

Power is critical to the sustainable and manageable success of the food and beverage industry. Temperatures must remain consistent, moisture must be monitored correctly, the air must flow properly, and humidity must be measured precisely. Any variations beyond the normal ranges in these areas can fundamentally affect production and product quality. This is an expensive problem, one that few companies can afford, particularly now.

If the power goes off or equipment fails, getting the systems back online has become incredibly complex. The shut down affects access to premises and time spent resolving problems can mean loss of product and revenue. The industry needs reliability and control now more than ever.

Companies in the food and beverage industry require relevant solutions that they can rely on during the crisis. One way to achieve just this is to invest in equipment that is customised specifically for this industry – equipment that can be remotely monitored and managed to reduce personnel movement and risk of exposure.

Companies such as Aggreko allow for both instalment payments or long-term rentals that help organisations manage their systems with absolute precision. Aggreko’s as-a-Service solution adds on an extra layer of security by providing 24/7 remote equipment monitoring that catches issues before they become real problems.

Recently, Aggreko designed and installed cooling units for a European cheese processing company. The system replaced more than 1600kW of cooling capacity at -8C within 24-hours, and it now handles five zones that range from 29000 to 39000 m3 at multiple temperature ranges. This took less than two days to implement. The company specialises in uninterrupted refrigeration during equipment breakdowns or power failures to ensure that your produce is stored and secured.

Healthcare industry

One industry that absolutely cannot afford downtime or power cuts is the healthcare industry. Always a critical service, healthcare is under incredible pressure to ensure the safety of its employees and the survival of its patients during COVID-19. If power fails, the impact would be significant and the cost would be in human lives. It has become essential for the industry to invest in solutions that meet the specialised requirements of healthcare – solutions that take its demanding environments and specifications into account.

Solutions designed for healthcare need to be planned, designed and executed within tight parameters. There’s no one-size-fits-all here – everything needs to have rapid response and safety in mind. Emergency cooling, redundancy power systems, failsafe systems, and temporary measures need to be planned and implemented with the worst-case scenario in mind.

The loss of cooling can stop emergency theatre procedures, the loss of power can affect ventilators and chillers, and a lack of backup power solutions can knockdown systems for longer than anticipated. Power in healthcare has to be reliable, include redundancies, and be capable of handling the most extreme circumstances.

Aggreko has worked with numerous hospitals across the world to develop power-relevant solutions that ensure energy is always on, no matter what. This has included redundancy power systems for hurricanes and rooftop chiller systems to ensure ongoing theatre operations during a system failure.

Planning for tomorrow’s emergency

Contingency planning has moved from a nice to have to an immediate measure for most companies across the African continent and the world. The unexpected has happened, and now there have to be solutions that reduce the risks of production loss or service downtime and that keep the economy flowing during the crisis. This makes power the next big focus for the industry right now. From critical environments in the financial sector to healthcare to pharmaceutical and food and beverage companies, redundant energy supply should be on everybody’s minds.

Aggreko has partnered with multiple companies in Africa and the rest of the world to reduce downtime, risk, and costs. In this new normal, it is time to make reliable power something the business can expect. After all, if everything else is changing, why not change how the country sees power at the same time? As one of the most important foundations for sustainable business in uncertain times, power does not have to be a variable anymore.

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