Tower Power

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Power Generation

AMP’s upgraded $5.6 million standby power system incorporates three Cummins 1400 kVA generator sets.

Three Cummins generator sets are at the heart of a $5.6 million upgraded standby power system at AMP’s Australian head office at Circular Quay in Sydney.

The new gensets replace two Blackstone generators that were installed in the Alfred Street building in the late 1950s.

With 27 floors and a 106-metre height, the curved AMP building was Sydney’s first high-rise when it was opened in 1962 and held the title as Australia’s tallest skyscraper until 1965. It was heritage listed in 1996.

Since wealth manager and life insurer AMP operates a number of business critical services from the building, including a data centre, it is essential that a reliable standby power system is available.

FDC Technologies was chosen as principal contractor for the challenging upgrade project which included the installation of new generators, control systems and switchgear.

Cummins was selected to supply and install three 1400 kVA gensets as well as a new fuel supply system, two refurbished 8000-litre fuel tanks and a new 1000-litre day tanks.

The C1400 gensets are powered by Cummins’ venerable 50-litre K50 engine and have Cummins PowerCommand digital paralleling.
Restricted access to the AMP building’s sub-basement (the floor beneath the main basement) threw up several challenges.

“The big challenge was having to dismantle the gensets and then lower them two levels underground through access holes to the sub-basement area,” says David Van Brussel who headed up the project for Cummins.

AMP’s head office at Circular Quay was Sydney’s first high-rise when it was opened in 1962 and held the title as Australia’s tallest skyscraper until 1965

“The gensets have 50-litre V16 Cummins engines so it was no small task.”

Dismantling and removal of the old Blackstone generators was also a complex job for Cummins and FDC Technologies, requiring care because certain components were contaminated with asbestos.

There was also little space to work in: When the Blackstones were installed in the late 1950s they were put in place at the time of sub-basement construction and then the rest of the building went up around them.

Strict criteria were set by Norman Disney & Young Consulting Engineers for the pre-commissioning and commissioning phases of the generator upgrade project.

Cummins had to individually load test each genset for four hours at full load at its Wetherill Park (Sydney) facility before dismantling the generators ready for installation.

Once installed but prior to commissioning, each genset was again individually load tested at full load for four hours. This required load banks to be set up outside the building with electrical leads running down to the sub-basement to connect to the generator switchboard.

During commissioning, a further four hours of testing was performed with all three gensets running in parallel at full load.

“Considering the challenges, the project was a great outcome for all involved,” says Chris Coomas, manager of the projects group for FDC Technologies.

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