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“Telecommittment” in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

When AJ Power commits to assist their end customer with genset training and commissioning, it usually involves safe scheduled flights, a stay in a safe, warm, dry hotel, food prepared by a chef and served at a table, and sometimes it doesn’t…!

Recently a training and commissioning trip for a telecoms customer involved 10 fixed-wing flights, 2 helicopter flights, 3 different hotels in 3 locations and 5 nights in a tent beside a genset on top of a mountain.

Warehouse facilty at Port Moresby
Warehouse facilty at Port Moresby

Invariably in the Telecoms market the location of the radio base station masts is usually dictated by the signal range and catchment area – meaning they are usually up at the top of mountains in remote areas. With advances in the Hybrid radio base station design there are now 3 methods used together to power the mast - diesel gensets, battery banks and solar panels. In March, Stephen McGrath, AJ Power After-sales Support Technician set off for Papua New Guinea to install and commission the first of several gensets at radio base station for a local Telco. The brief was that training work, commissioning work and installation duties would take place. They could be in several locations and may happen in any order. Stephen arrived in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby with the multi - meter, mosquito spray and machete, ready for action.

How are we getting all this in that?
How are we getting all this in that?

Stephen began product familiarisation training with the local technicians in the Port Moresby warehouse before the sets made their way to each remote site in PNG (Papua New Guinea) and the surrounding islands. Training on the operation and maintenance of the genset and automatic transfer panel was carried out and a demonstration of the control panel/electrical connections and signal inputs/outputs given.

Captain' McGrath ready for take-off
Captain' McGrath ready for take-off

The following day a trip was made to Lae, PNG’s second city, to carry out repeat PDI training for the technicians in that region. Stephen met with personnel from the Telco to liaise about the new product and address any queries/issues about integration with the radio base station equipment.

On returning to Port Moresby the plans were put in place for the first commissioning in the Fife Bay region. First a commercial flight to Alotau, followed by a helicopter journey to the site located at 2000 metres above sea level and 5 days camping.

The base station at Fife Bay, the first one to be commissioned in the region.  Pictured are some of the team who helped with the installation.
The base station at Fife Bay, the first one to be commissioned in the region. Pictured are some of the team who helped with the installation.

All the equipment on the site had been delivered by helicopter due to its remoteness. The generator had already been delivered in sub assemblies due to weight restrictions.

Stephen proceeded assemble the set and then install it. After completion of the wiring interconnections and pre - start checks he demonstrated the machine to local technicians. A problem with a flat genset battery was quickly overcome by temporarily using a 12v cell from the battery pack to get the genset started initially thus avoiding a 5 hour trek down the mountain.

Stephen and the team camped close to the generating set...inside a LOCKED compound.
Stephen and the team camped close to the generating set...inside a LOCKED compound.

Stephen made his own security precautions on the first night padlocking the compound, the spiders, cockroaches, tarantulas and snakes didn’t concern him but a nocturnal meeting with local tribesmen did!

Genset and ATS installed.
Genset and ATS installed.

Progress was made over the following days commissioning the set in situ. Electrical schematics clarified and integration with the battery and solar array. Additional maintenance, completed trouble-shooting activities and the automatic transfer panel were demonstrated.

Living on the mountain took it's toll on Stephen, eating wild roosters, taking water from local streams and showering with rain water run-off.
Living on the mountain took it's toll on Stephen, eating wild roosters, taking water from local streams and showering with rain water run-off.

On the final day they were to be collected by the helicopter. But the mist made it hard for the pilot to land. Stephen could hear the helicopter but couldn’t see it and the collection had to be aborted for several hours. All in all a wonderful experience.

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