Powervamp is a relative newcomer to the world of aviation ground power supply, but it has been quick to punch above its weight
James Ackland, Powervamp’s sales director, explains that the Weston-super-Mare, England-headquartered company is little more than 20 years old (it was incorporated in 1994), but is now an important player in the ground power provision segment of the aviation industry.
And Edward Roller, Powervamp’s marketing manager, notes that Powervamp is starting to beat the “big boys”, having quickly built up its share of the aviation ground power market.
It began life under – then and current – owner and founder Richard Roller as a supplier of vehicle battery parts but soon also diversified into the aviation business, initially with static frequency converters. Its ground-based power systems now include 400Hz AC ground power units (GPUs), transformer rectifier units, the successful Sidewinder cable carrier system, 28V battery carts, portable DC air starter units (ASUs) and various other power supply systems.
In 2012, Powervamp acquired Effekta, a German company specialising in battery-based and other power systems, and this offered a significant one-off boost to its aviation sector footprint. Indeed, Powervamp has more than doubled its turnover since 2012, and is growing at a rate of about 20% a year right now.
Much of the growth has stemmed from the popularity both of its Sidewinder cable carrier system that facilitates the transfer of power from converter to aircraft, and of its PV90-3 frequency converters. The demand for the latter system was illustrated recently by the award of a tender to Powervamp to supply 22 PV90-3 units into London Heathrow. The first tranche of frequency converters has already been delivered and installed, while the second batch of PV90-3s is expected to be installed in March next year.
The company’s battery carts – its Coolspool 130, 260 and 410 ranges – are also proving their worth to a growing customer base, Ackland informs, being particularly well suited to powering the growing fleets of ATR aircraft in many parts of the world.
Powervamp’s hangar-friendly diesel-electric 28V Coolspool Hybrid 300 power provider is well suited to ATRs, as well as many other aircraft types such as Q400s and helicopters. It is probably the world’s most powerful, versatile and compact hybrid unit, Powervamp asserts: it uses a specially developed Power Boost System (PBS) that maintains the starting wattage and thereby allows fast cool starts on big turboprops while also offering good economics compared to other diesel or hybrid units.
In fact, Powervamp’s wide range of GPUs and related power delivery equipment can support aircraft from the smallest helicopter to the giant A380 (Powervamp is on the ramp at many airports supporting A380 operations; for example, Birmingham’s Emirates A380 requirements are supplied by Powervamp).
And, while aviation remains the main driver of Powervamp’s recent growth, the company has interests in many other markets. For example, it supplies emergency lighting systems for various pieces of ground infrastructure and facilities – including Liverpool Football Club’s famous Anfield stadium.
As to the future, Ackland says that the export market offers the primary focus of further proposed expansion for Powervamp. The firm has a US distributor based in Boca Raton, Florida, that is tapping into the North American market, for example. That distributor was active at the recent National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) event in Las Vegas in America to further drive interest in Powervamp products in a market in which the company already has an existing footprint at locations as exotic as Hawaii (in the Pacific, Powervamp also has its battery carts at work in Tahiti). Europe (beyond the UK) and South-east Asia are other geographical markets being targeted by Powervamp, Ackland confirms.
Finally, Roller, points out that Powervamp is investing in its service and support infrastructure, a vital aspect of the company offering as it grows its product range and its market share.