A family business offering quality generator solutions

CGM Italia has produced 52,000 generators in the last 38 years and continues to innovate

Read this article to learn:

  • About CGM Italia’s background and global footprint
  • Key customer demands
  • The relative merits of different fuel options
  • How CGM Italia is reducing maintenance cycles to improve efficiency

With two production facilities in Italy, and a range of generators produced to the highest standards, CGM Italia offers generators of all shapes and sizes, related products and hybrid solutions which enable tower owners in rural areas to reduce maintenance cycles and cut costs without compromising on reliability. We spoke with Stefano Chilese, Managing Director of CGM Italia, to find out more about the origins of their offering and plans for growth.

TowerXchange: Please introduce CGM Italia, your history and footprint.

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

CGM is an Italian family company, founded in 1980 producing generators across the spectrum of sizes, not only small but up to 3,000 KWH. We also supply secondary products like PTO, welding and lighting towers, all of which are produced in Italy on two sites, one where we have our technology and admin office and another not far away where we produce the smaller range. The good thing about CGM is we can offer all the products under the genset umbrella, including petrol, diesel, gas, PTO, 2-3k KWH – it is all produced by us, we don’t buy and resell products. We employ around 60 people and produce 2,500 generators per year. There are approximately 1,800 units in the industrial 20KWH range and the rest of what we produce is for the domestic market. In the last 34 years we have produced 52,000 generators.

The majority of our work is in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. We are also in Asia and South Asia but to a lesser extent. We have 51 certified distributors who all carry stock and parts and tech support for warranties etcetera and we export to 128 countries. We have around 11,000 square metres of production space and we are also ISO 9001 certified.

TowerXchange: Tell us more about your offering in your key markets?

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

In the Middle East and Africa our offering is more related to very simple and standard machines, with a focus on availability of spare parts and support in commissioning and installation. We offer generators which are simple, easy to use, have a long maintenance cycle and for which it is easy to find spare parts and technicians. We use Stamford or Perkins to help the final customer to use our distributor network as well as their networks.

In Europe and South Africa we tend to find the opposite, they prefer good quality generators with high standards, and electronics and features are a plus, not a minus. Customers tend to prefer manufacturers to arrange the correct alternators and electrical parts to use and we use our own network, not distributors. In Europe there are different emissions requirements compared to elsewhere – the requirement for Stage III and the forthcoming Stage V solutions has already started and emissions will be tightly controlled.

Generators will become bigger in size, be much more delicate to use and will have more sensors and more maintenance in order to reduce emissions. It’s a big and difficult step but will be good for the European market. From next year you will only be able to buy a Stage V solution for mobile application. 

TowerXchange: Tell us about your telecoms customers – MNOs, towercos and ESCOs are all buying generators, do you see much difference in their requirements or the way they operate?

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

We are seeing that more and more of our customers are much more fuel sensitive but still we see the highest demand for the standard generators with a long maintenance cycle and big tank. More and more hybrid solutions are required and tested, mostly in off-grid situations. Hybrid is coming more and more popular – if petrol prices continue to stay low the demand will stay as it but if the prices go up hybrids will boom. We are ready with some products here.

We are testing some hybrid solutions which will be ready soon and we are ready to sell some as prototypes. In 2019 we will offer standard telecom solutions without hybrid and we won’t remove this solution, but we can add support to our customers with batteries and solar or both. We have three or four different models of application: all-in-one or split out, which we have built as a constant evolution of our hours in the field in Africa to check and improve the fuel consumption and battery life. In 2019 we will be much more ready to support hybrid solutions.

TowerXchange: You manufacture generators which run off a variety of fuels. Can you talk to us about the relative merits of each, and where each is appropriate?

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

The petrol for telecoms is not good – consumption is high, we never recommend this in telecoms. Diesel is the most required at the moment, because it is much more available and the price is quite good in MEA. LPG is not so available in MEA, you will find only a few countries with an extensive LPG supply chain and certainly not everywhere. Diesel, however, is everywhere. It’s very difficult to access the LPG supply chain, only a few sites can handle it and hard to do but if LPG is available it can be a good alternative to diesel as the price is lower and it has a lower price per KW, so it could be used in future. Hybrid is another story – it has a higher higher starting price but you have a lot of hours less of maintenance and less time needed on site which helps in remote areas. If diesel prices hike like 10 years or so ago the hybrid will boom in city centres as well. So right now I’d say diesel is the clear winner, hybrids close behind and LPG is a third option in some scenarios.

TowerXchange: In MENA we’re seeing tower owners (mostly MNOs) starting to really challenge their operational costs. What would you suggest are the key changes they could make to reduce fuel costs for off-grid towers?

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

For off grid solutions, in our opinion, the best product is our 48volt DC which will start with hybrid solutions with fixed speed of 1500, that charges batteries, when they’re full the generator stops and the site will run on the batteries at the same rate. This is the best for consumption and long maintenance cycles, you start the generator automatically 3 times a day for one hour and the other 21 hours you work with the batteries. You can also add in off-grid applications and long free maintenance programmes, or you can double fuel and oil to increase up to 1,000 hours maintenance. Using this solution you can work for approximately 10 months without maintenance. To this you can add a bigger fuel tank, so for example you can put in 1,000 litres which is five months’ worth of fuel. With these fuel and maintenance solutions you only need to go to a site every five months, compared to the current standard where you go monthly or so. The upfront cost is more as you pay for batteries and the hybrid system but you can forget about it for months at a time and it pays off quickly.

TowerXchange: Our readers will always want to know: who is using your solutions – can you share some success stories?

Stefano Chilese, Managing Director, CGM Italia:

I will share the countries, but I can’t share client names. Our most successful work has been in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin and Rwanda – in these four countries we are highly successful. In these countries we are making our partners more and more CGM friendly. We sell 5-600 generators a year in these markets and maybe 8,000-10,000 units across telecoms globally.

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