The BIOX circuit at Golden Star Resources' Bogoso Bogoso mining and processing operations, in Ghana

Efficient Power, a division of Efficient Engineering, has created an industry defining solution to address the challenges of building self-contained modular plants in remote regions.

This process, the first of its kind for plants of this scale, offers a complete off-site construction solution with abnormal buildings leaving the factory with all internal equipment already installed, fully integrated, tested and cold commissioned, resulting in the bare minimum of site work – an unheard of feat that is set to revolutionise the time, risk and cost involved in these large and complex projects.

Mobile substations are not a new concept, but according to Warwick Jackson, MD of Efficient Power, these were previously built largely for the wrong reasons and in the incorrect types of structures.

As the construction of brick substation buildings in remote locations comes with a slew of challenges, including stringent health and safety regulations, access issues, poor productivity, high costs and other logistical concerns; Jackson realised that the answer to the challenges of building traditional substations on site was to create fully integrated structures off-site.

“Traditionally, substation construction is always going to be complicated, costly and time consuming, requiring a large team of expensive specialists to be brought to the site to complete the fitting and testing of all equipment. This comes at great cost and risk, and completion of the project hinges on the reliability of each of these specialists,” says Jackson.

In contrast, the Efficient Power solutions are bespoke products designed and built according to exact specifications, around all the equipment they house. The highest standards are upheld throughout, resulting in complex mega buildings that will actually outlive the equipment they were built to house.

The launch of the new mobile industrial solutions was made possible through Efficient Power’s alignment with Efficient Engineering, allowing it to utilise specialist skills from several unrelated industries, bringing together heavy engineering and fabrication with a project execution and technical team to custom design each element of the structure.

By working with a trusted design and engineering house on a 1 800 m³/hour pump station, the company could consult with professional engineers who understood both vibration and thrust issues, and could design solutions to accommodate them.

“This approach genuinely makes it possible to have a large pump station or substation – equipped with medium voltage switchgear, a motor control centre, and a control and instrumentation room – fully operational within a week of arriving on site.”

“Once fabricated, the mobile building needs to be equipped, with every possible piece of equipment commissioned in the same facility, and test-integrated so that the building is 100% operational before being relocated,” explains Jackson.

The completed structures are then transported to site, where they are hydraulically lifted and positioned onto custom-built plinths where racking and cable work can simply be connected, resulting in a substation ready to provide more than thirty years of service. The entire process is accomplished in a fraction of the time it would take to construct on-site.

“Efficient Power believes that convention has to be continually challenged in order to make a tangible and sustainable difference to the industry in which we operate,” says Jackson. “For this to be successful, we need to ensure that we are truly innovative in our thinking and focus on being a solutions driven company as opposed to simply churning out what has already been done.”

Efficient Power, with a highly specialised staff of 35, has already achieved a turnover of more than R100-million in its first 18 months of operation. Jackson expresses his positive outlook for the company’s future, saying, “We look forward to showing the industry what can be achieved when the right group of people and skills are put together to find a better way of doing things.”

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