It only took a small relay to fail at London’s New Cross sub station to take out another station, creating the largest loss of supply from National Grid for over 10 years, leaving about 410,000 homes and businesses without electricity.
But, thanks to Wardpower’s backup generator sets, there was electricity on tap run diagnostic equipment, trace and repair the fault and restart the system in under 40 minutes.
When floods shut down sub stations in South Yorkshire, Wardpower’s equipment kicked in and kept running, so that they, too, could be back online at the earliest opportunity.
Among the biggest challenges the company faces are in places like the middle of the North Sea.
Space is limited, decks move and twist in high swells and winds and the weather comes from every direction, so simply weather proofing a standard product is not an option.
“There are lots of people out there building generating sets. We build unusual sets and the engineering framework that goes around it,” says managing director Keith Marshall – and that includes switch gear and civil engineering.
“We used to describe ourselves as a generating sets company. These days we are a power projects company that also builds generating sets.
“We use a team of consultants to work out what the client wants in the package. We lead the team, do a lot of project management for the client and make it work – without anyone’s lights going off!”
A lot of Wardpower’s work is repeat business, says projects director Vicky Law, a time served electrical engineer who joined Wardpower from a switchgear company six years ago and is the company’s highest qualified employee.
“We are reaping the rewards for the hard work over the years,” says Vicky Law.
“It’s going brilliantly; it really is. We have had a lot of work in over a long period of time and, despite the downturn in the market, we have done very well.”