Current trends: providing large gensets to the GCC
Andrew Edensor on the challenges of delivering Cat's biggest gensets
PMV: What is your role at Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division?
Andrew Edensor: As territory manager for Investor Projects, I look after the GCC countries and Yemen. My main responsibility is to work with the local Caterpillar dealers and to support them on the projects side of the business. I work with individual gensets that range from 1,000kVA right the way up to 7,000kVA. This is the larger end of the market.
PMV: Who might be a typical customer?
AE: Our typical customer base is driven by infrastructure. We cater to end users such as airports, hospitals, hotels, metro systems, and large-scale industry in general.
PMV: How’s business?
AE: Business is pretty strong at present. Saudi Arabia is a very good market right now, there are a lot of good projects taking place in Kuwait, and the GCC region as a whole is pretty lively at present. Encouragingly, with the large-scale initiatives that are in the pipeline, such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, infrastructure-led projects look set to continue on this upward trajectory. Saudi Arabia also has ambitious plans in place to drive investment in infrastructure, so for the foreseeable future, we anticipate strong demand in the GCC and surrounding territories.
PMV: What are the challenges of providing electric power in this region?
AE: The main challenges that we have to overcome are not necessarily technical in nature. Our primary obstacles tend to be the timescale constraints connected with projects. People need quick deliveries of large-scale products. Also, the market is very competitive at the moment, and not wanting to be too controversial, but I guess the lowest-bid tender system that’s sometimes adopted in this region doesn’t necessarily drive quality.
PMV: How do you convince users that it’s worthwhile investing extra in Cat products?
AE: Generator sets – particularly the ones offered under our Investor Projects business – represent major investments. They’re not the type of products that you might keep for a year and change if things aren’t going to plan. A unit of this size represents a long-term investment; it’s probably going to be used by your infrastructure project for the next 20 years or so. Obviously, you’re going to need to be confident in the reliability and durability of the product.
PMV: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
AE: The most challenging project that I’ve worked on is Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, simply because of the scope and quantity of units and the logistics involved. We supplied 46 7,000kVA gensets for that project in total. Each of those units weighed in the region of 88 tonnes, so – logistically – finding vessel space was difficult. Everybody wants to ship to KSA, but these were large units to get into Jeddah. Even by Caterpillar’s standards, that was a big project. .