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Generating enthusiasm

‘Community power’ took on a new meaning for a group of proud Sri Lankan islanders when a new, Perkins-powered, generator arrived to keep their telecommunications mast functioning.

Famously Sri Lanka’s most remote inhabited island, the tiny outcrop of Delft – named after the eponymous Dutch city – is just 50 square kilometres of rock at the country’s north-west tip, poking from the Palk Strait between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

But despite its remoteness, the island is home to a population of some 6,000 full-time inhabitants. It’s also emerging as a leftfield destination for tourists, who – before the COVID pandemic – had been seeking something ‘off the beaten track’, thanks to its wild horses, ancient forts and a photogenic 500-year-old solitary baobab tree, believed to have been planted by Dutch traders in the 16th century.

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Of course, inhabitants and tourists alike share a common need in the 21st century: mobile phone connectivity. Residents need their link to the outside world, as much as the tourist in search of the perfect shot to post to Instagram.

So it’s fortunate that Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata PLC, is committed to reaching every part of the country’s nine provinces with a network of more than 4100 base station sites – including two telecom masts on Delft Island itself.

The problem with masts in such remote locations is the provision of continuous electrical power, whether it’s a reliable stand-by source, to iron-out the inevitable supply interruptions, or a single, continuous power supply where a grid connection is not stable. In these circumstances, for such mission-critical equipment, reliability is the most important consideration. That’s why Dialog partnered with Hayleys Aventura for the supply of its power generators: a contract for 240 Tempest units manufactured by Allam Marine Ltd., a long-term Perkins customer who powered these units with a mix of Perkins® 400 and 1103 Series of engines.

 


 

 
 

“Dialog has used Tempest generators for more than 30 years, with reliability far and away the main reason.” 

- Chamara Adhikari
  Senior manager of the generator sales division at Hayleys Aventura

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Chamara Adhikari

 


 

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Narada Balasooriya

 

“An island like Delft is highly reliant on mobile telephony, so a reliable generator set brings real peace of mind particularly when the unit is intended to be run frequently or in continuous operation.” 

- Narada Balasooriya
  Co-project manager who also oversaw the Delft Island contract

 


 

On Delft, such was the enthusiasm for the new generator’s arrival – improving the mast’s resilience, with a 50 percent increase in generator output – that there was no shortage of help on the day of the changeover and swap-out.

“The thing with Delft is that it’s so remote it has no real infrastructure to talk of,” says Narada. “There’s no unloading equipment at the dock, and we couldn’t even get access to a more suitable boat. We used the island’s ferry to transfer the generator, in less than perfect conditions across rough seas.”

“There was a lot of manual handling required to unload the generator from the boat, and transport it to the mast site,” recalls Thilina Bandara, co-project manager who also oversaw the Delft Island contract. “Given that the unit weighs two tonnes, and we were manhandling it over sandy beaches, it became quite an undertaking.”

 


 

 

“I’m not sure we could have managed it without the islanders’ assistance. It was great to see them so enthusiastic about their new Perkins-powered generator and their recognition of the improved service that the upgraded mast would provide.”

- Thilina Bandara
  Co-project manager who also oversaw the Delft Island contract

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Thilina Bandara

 


 

So too for the tourists, when they start to trickle back after the pandemic. As one five-star TripAdvisor review from a Delft day-tripper reveals, “My Dialog connection worked well.”

Now, with an upgraded Perkins-powered generator set in reliable service, it should work better still.

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