On Friday, 12th April 2019, the Eket branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers embarked on an industrial visit to Metering Solution Manufacturing Services Limited (MSMSL) Awa Iman, Onna, Akwa Ibom State. The NSE team, which was led by the Branch Vice chairman, Engr. Hassan Natala, MNSE, arrived at the company premises at about 10:35 am. The team was welcomed by Ms. Erica Ebong who led them to the production unit, where they met with the General Manager (GM) Manufacturing, Mr. Tolu Ogunkolade.
Mr. Ogunkolade in his welcome speech, started by stating that even though the firm is barely two years old, it has been making tremendous efforts in meeting up with the requirements of having registered engineers in line with the regulation of COREN. He mentioned that the number of registered Engineers had increased to about nine (9) and that their target is to increase it to fifteen(15) before the end of the year. Engr. Paul Okon, MNSE requested for more clarification on what exactly the company does. In his response, the GM said that the company assembles prepaid electric meters for homes, companies, industries, hotels and other facilities. Engr. Paul expressed concerns about the level of distribution of the products noting that even the immediate environment where the company is located records insufficient supply of these meters. Mr. Ogunkolade replied that the company only produces based on demand by the distribution company because the products are not sold directly to individuals. However, he revealed that the issue will be taken thereof by a new reform which is expected to kick off by 1st May 2019. He added that there will be a new regulating body that will act between the distribution companies and the consumers called Meter Asset Providers (MAP) and their work is to make sure that every building has a meter. He then stated that with the advent of the MAP, the vendors will have more demands which will increase production, and will equally erase the perpetual mutual distrust between meter vendors and the discos.
Engr. (Prof.) Umana Itaketo, FNSE inquired about the type of meters produced, whether analog or digital. He also asked if any individual has right to claim ownership of an energy meter that he/she purchased but was issued by the distribution company. In response, the GM said the company produces pole mounted digital meters and that no individual owns an energy meter.
After quite a long introduction/brief session, the facility tour commenced and was led by the company’s test engineer, Engr. Ntewo Ndifreke. He started off at the test lab, where he explained that the test for the meters where in various forms. A validation test is carried out, which involves taking 12 out of every 1000 meters produced and subjecting them to a destructive test for 72 hours. The validation tests include; dust test, humidity test, rain test, and glow wire test. He explained that the glow wire test is the most destructive test in which the cable is subjected to a temperature of 960 degrees. Engr. (Prof.) Itaketo expressed his dissatisfaction in the number of products that are tested. He argued that for every 100 to 500 production, at least 2 will be defective, hence 12 products taken from a batch of 1000 for the test is not conforming to the standard. The test engineer, in response said that the validation test is the final test conducted after series of other tests have been conducted on the products. The several other tests he mentioned include: Aging test, high voltage withstand, surge test, accuracy test, high pulse, and low pulse tests.
Engr. (Prof.) Itaketo also asked if there was any automation in their factory, but the test engineer replied that they are yet to have an automation but that there are plans to include it soon. When asked by Engr. (Dr.) Babalola about the possible lifespan of the meters produced, the test engineer responded that the life span is between 15-20 years.
The team went on to the final assembly unit where the meters are coupled and the session was led by Mr. Aniefiok Stephen, the production engineer. Engr. Okon inquired about the pole mounted Microcontroller Unit (MCU) which communicates with the distribution company in a case where someone tampers with the device. In response, the production engineer said that the device has an anti-tamper unit, such that when the device is tampered with it communicates to the distribution company via an app.
The team was also led into the molding section, this is where the container and the device pack are produced. The machinery used includes the lathe machine, granulator, vertical batch mixer, etc.
After the tour, the team gathered in the conference room for a feedback session. Engr (Dr.) Babalola commended the company and stated that despite his tight schedule he had to come along to be part of the visit. He asked to know if the company was owned by the state government, what percentage of their product goes into the local content, where they get their raw material (polycarbonate) from and what is their customer satisfaction rate. He also asked the production capacity and how they treat independent power plant (IPP). In response, Engr. Ndifreke said 10% of their products go into the local content and that the firm is completely a private firm. Meanwhile, their raw materials are imported from China. For the customer satisfaction rate, he said that 1247 energy meters are produced in a shift of 8 hours. He added that the production is purely based on demand.
Engr. Natala gave a closing remark and appreciated the firm for the work done. A group photograph was taken and the NSE Eket team departed. Some members of the NSE Eket branch team that joined for the visit to the company were:
Engr. Hassan Natala - Vice Chairman, NSE Eket Branch
Engr. Paul Okon - Treasurer, NSE Eket Branch/Vice Chairman NIEEE Eket Chapter
Engr. (Dr) Rasheed Babalola - Member, National Executive of NSE
Members of the Young Engineers’ Forum of Nigeria (YEFON) were not left out as the coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Sam, MNSE and other exco members were in attendance.
The NSE Eket team had the opportunity to meet with members of the company’s staff before the tour started. They included:
Mr. Tolu Ogunkolade - General Manager, Manufacturing
Mr. Felix Ekanem - Quality Inspection Engineer
Mr. Clement Isemin - Assistant Process Engineer
Mr. Francis Udoh - Assistant Quality Inspection Engineer
Mr. Iniobong Edidaha - Inventory Officer
Mr. Aniefiok Stephen - Production Engineer
Engr. Ntewo Ndifreke - Test Engineer
Ms. Erica Ebong - Administrative staff
Mr. Etuk Effiong amongst others.