Rail infrastructure investment leads to new transformer factory

May 3rd, 2017, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize


ABB South Africa opened a new transformer factory near its Longmeadow headquarters, east of Johannesburg, recently. The 2450 m2 factory will produce specially designed traction transformers for Bombardier which has been awarded a contract to supply new locomotives to Transnet for its freight trains.

The company’s group CEO, Ulrich Spiesshofer, and Lionel October, the director-general of the Department of Trade and Industry, cut the tape, officially opening the new facility.

Lionel October, DTI and Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB

October said that South Africa welcomes and appreciates the company’s involvement in the country’s big rail upgrade programme, adding that the investment the company has made with this new factory will help to realise the government’s desire to re-industrialise, rebuild and revive the country’s manufacturing sector.

He used the opportunity to assure investors that the South African economic fundamentals are extremely resilient and that the country has strong technological and industrial capabilities.

The company, October said, by working with local suppliers and training staff, is building a local industry, developing local research and development skills and creating jobs.

Lionel October and Ulrich Spiesshofer cut the tape to open the factory.

Spiesshofer says the new factory, which houses state-of-the-art coiling wing equipment, a world-class workshop and high voltgae test bay, has created 60 direct employment opportunities, specialised skills training, as well as technical and manufacturing knowledge transfer from Switzerland to South Africa.

The factory has the capability of producing between 12 and 15, 25 kVA traction transformers per month for Transnet’s new freight train locomotives. Each oil-filled transformer has a mass of 10 t. The transformers will be manufactured using locally sourced components with the exception of the oil and reactor, both of which will be imported. The locomotives will be build by Bombardier, ABB say, using the company’s specially designed traction transformers which will be mounted underneath the driver’s cab.

Although Spiesshofer did not divulge the value of the investment in currency terms, he said that this new traction transformer factor, and the fact that the company has operated in Africa for over 110 years, demonstrates that it is committed to Africa and will continue to invest here as opportunities arise.