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Hawaii is an archipelago of islands that rely on cargo barges to help supply island residents and businesses with every want and need, from ice cream to medical supplies.
Reliable refrigeration is critical to keep perishable cargo cool. On one barge, a 250-kWe Marathon generator with a John Deere PowerTech™ 9.0L Interim Tier 4 industrial generator drive engine supplies electrical power to refrigerated containers. The generator set is packaged in custom housing designed and manufactured by MER Equipment in Seattle, Washington.
The unit is part of a new line of industrial and marine generator sets that MER launched two years ago. MER brands its power products with the name BOLLARD — derived from a nautical term hinting at the equipment's rugged, solid design.
"We've learned a few things about how to build equipment that is dependable and provides the lowest possible operating costs," said MER President Bob Allen. "Everything we've learned, and everything we've been taught, has been distilled into our generators. Our goal is to start with the most reliable engines, generators and power transmission equipment we can find and build them into custom products that offer quality performance and an overall low cost of operation."
Allen says 3-D CAD software significantly enhanced MER's overall product consistency and engineering capabilities. With a steadfast commitment to quality, MER has incorporated many features that are improving the longevity and fuel efficiency of generator sets. For example, the company uses torsion vibration analysis and engineered anti-vibration coupling and mounting systems when pairing the engines and generators to help supplement the reduction of engine vibration and to increase longevity.
MER also doesn't skimp on copper — a lesser-known ingredient to better fuel economy and performance. "More copper in the generator means it's more efficient in converting horsepower to electricity," explained Allen. "Copper also lowers the operating temperature of the generator and, as a result, the ambient temperature, which all translates to improved fuel economy. Lower winding temperatures result in extended life expectancy of the winding insulation and electronics, as well as an overall lower cost of operation.
More copper in the generator end also offers a more reliable, quick start. "A lot of our generator sets go into large motor-starting applications, such as for electrohydraulic systems or refrigeration, which can put a strain on a generator. We use a dedicated excitation system to give the generator sets a better response time when starting larger electric motors," said Allen.
Although the BOLLARD generator sets are relatively new, some would say MER's time-tested technologies have already proven themselves both on land and at sea — from the Arctic Slope to Hawaii.
Everything we've learned, and everything we've been taught, has been distilled into our generators.