GROWING AWARENESS

Abu Dhabi 2019 | ENVIRONMENT & GREEN ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Frank Ackland, CEO of Eaton Middle East, on its growth in the region, meeting top safety requirements, and increased investments in data centers.

Frank Ackland
BIOGRAPHY
Frank Ackland has been General manager of Eaton Middle East since 2013. Prior to this, he was regional executive and general manager for GE Digital Energy in the Middle East & Africa. Ackland began his career in 1982 with GEC in the UK. He moved to the Middle East for the first time in 1998 as regional director for Alstom, and subsequently assumed several positions in both Europe and the Middle East. Ackland has an HNC in electrical engineering from Staffordshire University, UK, and an MBA from the University of Derby, UK.

How have your operations evolved to gain brand recognition in the Middle East?

Eaton has been in the Middle East for 40 years, since we had our first office in Dubai in the World Trade Center. In the past 20 years it has grown significantly through a number of acquisitions that expanded our installed base capacity. In 2013, we decided to double investments in the region, setting up a manufacturing facility in Dubai to get closer to our clients. This process has led us to an approach that establishes support mechanisms for our customers through more tailored solutions, and the growth of Dubai as an Emirate has undoubtedly favored our operations. Indeed, Dubai acts pretty much as the regional benchmark: once we establish a relationship with a Dubai partner, it is then easier to engage in its counterpart somewhere else in the region. This has been the case with Dubai Civil Defense, for example, with whom we have established an excellent working relationship in our life safety division.

What is the level of security and standardization of power equipment plays within commercial construction in the region?

Bringing safety to the construction market, whether in hospitals, houses, offices, or other buildings, remains a key priority for Eaton. One of the key challenges in the region is ensuring the equipment specifications meet the right standards to deliver high-level solutions to a different number of stakeholders. Counterfeit products sold at cheaper prices are another issue our industry always had to deal with, but safety should not come at any compromise. Eaton has more than 10,000 patents, and we are constantly working to develop or evolve products in order to meet specific market needs and safety requirements; however, there has been growing awareness in the market around the importance of security of the generation system, which has allowed for greater innovation in certain niche areas.

What is your assessment on the wave of investments in data centers the region is witnessing?

Investments in data centers, especially in the technology for data protection, and becoming increasingly important in the region, whether it be the server in buildings or big colocation sites. As such, Eaton is proud to supply all the protective equipment and UPS for the Gulf Data Hub, one of the first large data colocation center in the region. Safety and security are absolutely paramount for companies to build strong, well-tested, reliable foundations, both in hardware and software. This enhanced connectivity and higher amount of data presents companies and governments with huge potential, but people need to understand what it actually means. It all boils down to the intelligence of the network, and how we can take the data, turn it into really usable information that people can make decisions on. There are major steps being made in this direction, and overall it is an exciting time.

How do new technologies fit within the push towards a stronger localization of the utility system?

There is a lot of interesting conversation going on in terms of PV, electric cars, and the regulations around them. That being said, localization inherently implies a more case-by-case approach, and when that case happens to be in a part of the region where you have energy poverty, one has to look at what type of resource is available there to put into a generator. In this sense, PV represents a major leap forward in the segment of implementing efficient energy storage solutions at an economically sustainable price. There is a great demand for this area, as witnessed by the implications of our agreement with Nissan to develop a scalable lithium-ion energy storage system. Battery technology has gone up and price of PV has gone down, which leaves us with a bullish sentiment for this segment.