Persistence, hard work and determination pay off

January 28th, 2019, Published in Articles: Energize

Growing up in a low-income household, Lindiwe Mkwanazi was determined to get a well-paying job so that she could help to support her family. She worked hard at school and obtained a matric with university exemption. She continued her studies in drafting and passed with distinction. To complete her drafting qualification and be able to graduate with a diploma in technical drawing, Mkwanazi needed work experience. Despite her academic successes, though, finding a job to provide her with drafting experience turned out to be much more difficult than she had anticipated.

Paddy Padayachee and Lindiwe Mkwanazi

She applied for an internship at Revive Electrical Transformers in 2017 because the company is close to where she lives but was told that the company had no vacancies and could not offer her a job. Unperturbed by this rejection, she went to the company every day for six months and worked in the drawing office without pay. Apparently, she drew the design for a new power transformer which is currently in production and selling well. This experience enabled her to graduate. Finally, when the managing director, Paddy Padayachee, was told about the good work Mkwanazi was doing, he gave her a permanent post in the company. Her persistence and determination had paid off.

Padayachee understands the value of persistence, hard work and determination because it is these same characteristics which enabled him to start and build his company. Revive Electrical Transformers, a private, family-owned business was established in 1997 to undertake repairs to Eskom’s power transformers. The company diversified by designing and manufacturing its own line of transformers and now offers a wide range with ratings from 16 kVA to 4 MVA.

According to Padayachee, the company, which employs 285 people and enjoys an annual turnover of R350-million, is now one of the largest supplier of distribution transformers to Eskom. The company has its own fabrication workshop and produces the aluminium conductor it uses in its transformers, he says.

Revive transformer designs use the latest technology.  Most transformers use oil as a heat transfer medium for cooling purposes. However, environmental concerns lead many in the industry to move away from the use of mineral oil, because of contamination. Some have become “dry” – i.e. using no oil at all, while others use natural esters instead of mineral oil. According to Padayachee, Revive’s transformers can use either mineral oil or natural esters. Furthermore, Revive is the only company in Africa to manufacture cast resin dry type transformers, which are particularly popular for solar-PV projects, and installations where environmental and fire hazards are of concern, he says.

Padayachee is determined to keep growing the company and to produce high-quality, efficient transformers. To this end, the company is busy designing and type testing new low-loss and low-cost transformers using new materials, new technology and research. So far, the company has managed to reduce transformer losses by 50% from the SABS specification, he says.

Padayachee is a mentor for students from Vaal University of Technology and the University of the Witwatersrand. He takes 20 interns from these institutions and, at the end of their internship, tries to find places for them in municipalities, Eskom or the industry. He also assists them to register with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE). Some of his current employees are former interns, he says.

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