Jam busters drive hire service set to take off

Control and automation specialist SoftStart UK has build a fleet of variable speed drive control cabinets that it is making available for hire, to address a growing need across many sectors of industry.

The company’s managing director Stuart Harvey says that in recent times there has been an increasing demand for prompt solutions to immediate situations.

“We have always been able to respond quickly to technical enquiries, but during a recent bout of extreme weather our phones were red hot with calls from water pumping stations needing to step up their capacity and pump companies trying to cope with major flood incidents,” he explains.

“With our weather patterns looking to become increasing volatile, we began to think that having some panels ready and waiting would be a good idea.”


Some further thought identified other potential hirers. The most obvious is the breakdown scenario, where critical plant must be brought back online as soon as possible. A small step on from this is scheduled maintenance of hardworking plant, where hiring in a variable speed drive unit will enable production to be maintained while control panels are out of service.

They can also be used for evaluation purposes, say to assess the energy savings or productivity improvements achieved by introducing variable speed capabilities to a system.

There are also many possibilities with conveying and materials handling, air conditioning, ventilation and air handling, and non-emergency aspects of the water industry.

“The more we thought about it, the more opportunities we unearthed,” says Stuart. “We floated the idea to a few regular customers, who were all very positive.”

SoftStart has built cabinets to cover from 22kW to 220kW, which it says will cover 90 percent of the applications they have identified. They expect demand for larger units to follow. All the cabinets are built to IP56 environmental standard, with techniques in place to upgrade this if required. They are configured to be ready to roll – users just wheel them to the location, plug them in and switch them on.

“Recognising that they may be going into emergency or stressful situations, we have deliberately designed them to be as simple to use as possible,” Stuart explains. “We have looked at all the incompatibility issues and designed them out almost completely.”

“The response from the market has been very encouraging, with many potential users taking the time to discuss their likely needs in depth. Its almost enough to make me want a prolonged heat-wave followed by another atrocious winter this year!”