September 22, 2017

Staying online despite extreme lightning hazards

Jenny Internet tower

DEHN Africa keeps internet solutions provider up and running in all weather conditions

The subtropical climate of the greater Johannesburg area brings with it regular rain showers during the summer and this, in combination with its high elevation above sea level, makes the city particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes. Internet solutions provider, Jenny Internet, had a newly developed site in Constantia Kloof on the West Rand, an area that is notorious for having a good deal of lightning activity throughout the year. In such a consumer-centric industry, where being able to provide a reliable service to customers is critically important, the challenge was to mitigate the lightning risk for the entire site and also protect the electrical system from surges that would put the business into down-time.

Werner Stucky, MD at Jenny Internet, says, “We had a newly developed site on a position known for lots of lightning during the year, and needed to erect costly equipment on the tower. Bearing this in mind, we had to be sure that the equipment was not at risk. We had met DEHN Africa at the AfricaCOM telecommunications conference and, after testing some of its products, were convinced that implementing DEHN products and solutions was the way to achieve an acceptable risk profile for the site.”

Stucky says that, following a site assessment visit, DEHN Africa drew up a detailed plan, a process which took a few weeks. He adds, “The site was already half built, so DEHN had to come up with a solution that suited the layout. It was very difficult to put the grounding system in, as there were lots of rocks. However, the approach was planned well and took everything into consideration. Once the planning was done, we could be certain that the implementation, if done correctly, would give us the results for which we were looking.”

Jenny Internet has been most pleased with the results following the implementation of the DEHN solution, Stucky states, clarifying, “We don’t have lightning statistics for the site before the solution was implemented, as it was a new build, but we do have anecdotal evidence from the site owners, who advised that they had experienced lightning damage and loss of electronic equipment at least twice every summer season. In our case, since the DEHN solution has been in place for the past 20 months, no losses have occurred.”

Kirk Risch, sales and marketing director at DEHN Africa, comments, “Lightning strikes to unprotected structures and buildings can cause great damage to a company’s assets and systems and procedures, resulting in costly delays and service interruptions, which ultimately has a negative effect on a company’s bottom line. We were very pleased to be able to assist Jenny Internet’s Constantia Kloof operation and help to protect the business assets from lighting strikes into the future. There is, of course, a further advantage in that our systems give additional protection to Jenny Internet’s employees on-site as well – when looking at lightning protection systems, it is imperative to look at the human safety angle also.”

Stucky adds that the DEHN equipment that Jenny Internet placed on site has already proven its value. He explains, “Over time, the company’s savings on insurance and downtime will improve the financial picture even more. In addition, we can see a further value-add to the business going forward, in that our sales department has already been able to accommodate customers that require higher service level agreements on the site, and the success of this DEHN lightning solution in Constantia Kloof has given them the confidence to sell these solutions in the market. Knowing that we can provide a reliable service to customers is very important for an internet

service provider, as it could mean the difference between a customer that stays for just a few months, or one that remains with us for years.

“In addition to placing our trust in German quality and reliability, DEHN provides a solution rather than only selling products, and its engineers are extremely knowledgeable about their field. This allowed us to trust that the planning, products and implementation all fitted together to create a solution. DEHN’s employees really know what they are talking about when it comes to lightning and electrical damage. They clarified a few myths about lightning for us and helped us to understand the science behind lightning protection.”

Risch adds, “From a technical perspective, the earthing and lightning protection solution (LPS) included DEHN Africa’s market leading product, High Voltage Insulation cable (HVI®). The installation of the LPS was carried out by Pontins, one of DEHN Africa’s accredited installation partners.”

Stucky concludes, “I would recommend that any business owner with costly machinery and equipment that is prone to lightning and electrical damage should talk to DEHN Africa. You should be able to offset likely insurance costs against a solution price, and will have less downtime and claims stress in your business going forward.”

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