What’s happening inside and outside of your transformers? Will today’s minor problems turn into tomorrow’s catastrophic failures?

As transformers age, the probability of failure increases. With a proper condition assessment and maintenance program, transformers can provide reliable service for years, even decades more than the average life expectancy.

With the right information, you can make the critical decisions necessary to extend the life of your transformers. These decisions could be the difference between planned, cost-effective maintenance and life extension solutions or expensive responses to preventable disasters. Make informed decisions by knowing what is happening with your critical assets. This can be accomplished through a comprehensive condition assessment program. Doble’s proprietary method systematically identifies changes in transformer condition to establish health and what’s needed to extend service life.

How well do you know your transformer? Warning signs can be spotted in the details, but knowingwhat to look for is the key. Doble can help you learn more about your transformers through an asset health review, the first step in our condition assessment program. This preliminary evaluation is a review of existing data, which not only gives an overview of transformer condition, but also helps determine which assets will need further - and what kind of - evaluation.

The asset health review process includes the analysis of a variety of data, including:
• Nameplate
• Design family
• Operating and running history
• Electrical test history
• Maintenance and repair information
• Dissolved gas analysis review
• Loading history
• Abnormal event records
• Existing IR (Infra-Red) and RFI
(Radio Frequency Interference)
survey information

This information is compiled, analyzed and compared to statistical data to determine current condition, prioritize critical assets and develop a strategy for any transformers needing further evaluation.

The evaluation process continues with an on-site condition assessment. This determines a transformer’s “fitness” for continued service through an external visual inspection and a full suite of offline tests, which include:

• Power Factor and capacitance
(over a range of frequencies) -often referred to as the “DobleTest”
• Winding Resistance
• Insulation Resistance
• Sweep Frequency Response Analysis

After this in-depth evaluation is complete, you will have a comprehensive report detailing areas of concern, complete with recommendations for dealing with current problems and planning for the future. Once condition is assessed, attention can be focused on specific problems, which can be managed to minimize out-of-service time.

When you work with Doble, you are accessing the collective knowledge of our experienced engineers who are known throughout the industry for providing unbiased, expert diagnosis and assessments. Their technical knowledge is paired with the cumulative information of the Doble Knowledgebase, which contains nearly a century of trending data. That’s over 25 million test results from over 350,000 types of electrical apparatus – a resource that is growing daily. Decades of data, investigations and forensic analysis are used as a critical, comparative resource in helping determine transformer condition assessment. This database is unique to Doble, making us the knowledge source for the industry.

By understanding the true condition of transformers and how they age, proper maintenance can be used to extend the life of such important critical assets. Advanced and routine testing can be performed by Doble engineers and with Doble’s diagnostic test instruments, which are legendary for reliability in the field. We can work with you to create a cost effective testing programme specifically tailored to your needs.

Find your solution at www.doble.com
Or Contact: Lee Morgan
at +44 (0) 1483 514124
orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What is primary current injection testing, and what are its applications? What kind of test equipment is needed for primary injection testing, and what features should users expect to find in the latest test sets? The answers to these questions and many more are supplied by Damon Mount of Megger

Primary current injection testing is most usually associated with high current and high voltage power distribution systems of the type found in an electricity substation, or in a large industrial installation. The principle it is actually very straightforward: a test current is injected into the primary side of a system – which is often but not always some form of protection scheme – to determine how the system behaves at particular levels of current.
The system under test might, for example, comprise a circuit breaker with an over-current trip relay that operates via a current transformer (CT). By injecting a predetermined current into the circuit breaker, it is possible to determine whether the relay will trip at this current and, if so, how long the current needs to flow before the trip is initiated.

Something similar, of course, could be achieved by injecting a test current directly into the trip relay – that is, on the secondary side of the CT. This is secondary current injection testing and it is widely used, not least because much lower currents are needed than are typically required for primary injection testing.

Secondary injection testing is undoubtedly valuable, but it does not check all of the components in the system. In the scenario discussed, it would not, for example, reveal a defective CT. Neither does it truly mimic the operating conditions – the heating effect of the primary current will not be present and, in some types of test, this can significantly affect the results obtained.

For these reasons, there are many situations where primary injection testing is considered useful if not essential. Because it tends to be somewhat disruptive – the plant under test must be taken out of service and de-energised and then arrangements must be made for the high current connections needed for the test – primary injection is most usually performed as part of the commissioning procedure for new plant or after major modifications have been carried out. In some instances, however, it can also be an invaluable aid to faultfinding.

Test sets used for primary injection are invariably built specifically for this purpose. Their primary function is to supply a lot of current – tests typically involve injecting currents from 100 A or so up to 20,000 A. Equipment capable of delivering these sorts of currents is never going to be physically small or lightweight, but remarkable strides have been made over recent years in making primary injection test sets more manageable.

One way this has been achieved is by using modular current sources, so that for lower test currents only one or two sources are needed, but for higher test currents additional current sources can be added. Test sets that adopt this approach are often assembled on wheeled trolleys that can accommodate the control unit plus up to three or four current source modules. This arrangement makes the test sets much easier to handle.

Test equipment manufacturers have also noted that only a few applications of primary injection testing involve the highest currents – many requirements can be satisfied with test sets rated at no more than 5000 A, which paves the way for smaller mid-range units. In addition, the highest currents are usually only required for a comparatively short time, to test, for example an instantaneous overcurrent relay, so the test sets do not need to be continuously rated for their maximum current output. Once again, this allows size and weight to be reduced.

Weight and size are not, however, the only areas where progress has been made. Another useful development is the introduction of test sets where the control unit can be connected to the current generator by a comparatively long control cable. This allows the current generator to be placed very close to the equipment under test, thereby minimising the length of the high current test leads needed, which makes testing easier and more practical.

To ensure versatility, primary injection test sets need to be able to offer options to cope with a wide range of burdens since, if they do not, there is the possibility that they will not be able to deliver the required test current into the impedance presented by the equipment under test plus the test cables. In the best test sets, this issue is addressed by allowing the output voltage of the current generators to be raised at the expense of output current, so that the total power the test set is required to deliver is not increased unduly. This option is particularly valuable when testing CTs, circuit breakers and busbar joints.

Another option of great value is an integral timer that can be set to inject the test current for an accurately controlled time, preset by the user. This makes it easy to perform complete circuit breaker tripping time tests that encompass both the relay and the CTs, by injecting the actual fault currents. Auxiliary voltage and current measuring inputs facilitate the testing of CTs and good test sets can provide a wide range of data, including impedance, resistance, virtual power, active power, reactive power, and power factor, together, of course, with CT ratio and polarity.

A fast acting hold feature for the measuring functions, which is provided in conjunction with a “stop” input further enhances usefulness, as it allows readings to be frozen by applying a signal to the stop input. This makes it possible, for example, to record data relating to the exact moment that a protection relay operates during a test. Some instruments, when used for circuit breaker testing, can even be configured to automatically freeze the measurements at the instant the breaker trips without the need to use the stop input.

A feature that is just starting to become available on the latest primary injection test sets is zero-crossover synchronisation. This ensures that the test current is turned on only at a zero crossing point, which eliminates DC offset effects and also ensures the best possible repeatability for test results.

One issue that has been perennially troublesome in carrying out primary injection tests has been heating of the equipment under test while setting up and adjusting the test current. This effect has even been known to trip a breaker under test during set up before the test proper has commenced. Work-arounds are available – test engineers can perform the set up very quickly to minimise heating, or they can prevent tripping at least by isolating the trip circuits. Neither of these options is particularly convenient, however.

Fortunately, there is a better solution, in that test sets are now available with a so-called I/30 function. This, as its name suggests, reduces the programmed current output of the test set by a factor of 30. Since this means that the heating effect is reduced by a factor of 900, test engineers using this function can take as much care and time as they need in setting up the test with absolutely no risk of significant heating. And, when they are ready to start testing, the output current can be returned to normal at the push of a button.

Some of the principal applications of primary injection testing, including the testing of circuit breakers and CTs, have already been mentioned in this article. Some test sets can, however, also be programmed for more complex functions, such as testing automatic reclosers and sectionalizers.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that the high-capacity current source at the heart of every primary injection test set is also useful in its own right as convenient way of providing current to carry out heat runs on busbars and other types of switchgear assembly, and for testing ground grid installations where the test set is used to inject current between a reference ground and the ground to be tested. Measuring the voltage drop and the percentage of current flowing through the ground grid then enables an accurate assessment to be made of the ground grid’s performance.

Primary current injection tests are among the most valuable tests that can be carried out on power systems as they take into account the performance of every component and are, therefore, the most reliable way of assessing the performance of the system under real world operating conditions. In the past, however, primary injection testing has been fraught with inconvenience, not least because of the size and weight of the equipment involved, and because of its limited capabilities.

Fortunately, things have changed and, as we have seen, the latest primary injection test equipment is much more user friendly – and far less back breaking! For all those involved in the commissioning and maintenance of power distribution systems this could, therefore, be a very good time to take a closer look at how primary injection test sets have changed in recent years, and to look again at the benefits that this form of testing undoubtedly offers.

Ceyhun Sahin of ABB explains how a new range of dry-type distribution transformers can play a vital role in improving energy efficiency in power distribution networks

Transformers in operation incur two types of losses: no-load loss that occurs in the transformer cores due to hysteresis and eddy current losses - which is always present and is constant during normal operation, and load loss that occurs in the transformer’s electrical circuit, including windings and components, due to resistive loss and is a function of loading conditions. Although distribution transformers are very efficient, there is still a large total loss of energy due to the vast installed bases of distribution transformers. Globally, these losses are estimated to account for around 2-3% of all electric energy production – some 25 GW.  According to a 2008 study by SEEDT (Strategies for development and diffusion of Energy- Efficient Distribution Transformers) in the EU alone, there are some 4.5 million distribution transformers, causing 38 TWh of losses each year – more than the entire amount of electricity consumed by Denmark – and 30 million tons of CO2.

Load profile – a key consideration
The growing recognition that transformer losses constitute a significant economic cost is driving programmes to implement energy efficiency standards for distribution transformers. This includes the US, with its DOE (Department of Energy) minimum energy efficiency requirements for liquid-filled and dry-type distribution transformers. The required efficiency is typically quoted for a reference load value – in the case of the DOE this is at 50% of the transformers rating. However the overall efficiency of a transformer in service depends very much on the load profile. Depending on the loading, the effective efficiency can vary significantly from the reference value. This variation requires the selection of transformers to consider the load profile

Distribution transformers are typically custom designed to meet customer specifications and requirements which are normally in compliance with the technical requirements of national or international standards. In addition, the design reflects an optimisation between the cost of materials and labour used in the production of the transformer and the cost of losses.
Some customers look for the lowest possible purchase price, ignoring the cost of losses over the transformer lifetime. These customers are usually not responsible for the ownership or operational costs of the transformers. Customers with operational responsibility seek to reduce losses and specify loss capitalisation, or loss evaluation, values. These capitalised losses reflect the cost of energy consumed by the transformer during an expected economical lifetime. Therefore, when comparing transformer designs it is best to consider the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), which is the summation of the purchase price and the loss capitalisation. Typically, the design with the lowest TCO results in the most desirable unit for each individual customer based on its specific loss capitalisation factors.
An important option for customers seeking to optimise their TCO by specifying ultra high efficiency distribution transformers is amorphous metal. The use of AMDT (amorphous metal distribution transformers) core technology, combined with optimised coil designs, can provide significant reduction in no-load losses, resulting in higher energy efficiency. Amorphous core technology is at the heart of ABB’s new generation EcoDry ultra high efficiency dry-type transformers.

Amorphous metal transformer cores
Historically, there was an initial interest in amorphous core transformers which stemmed from the first oil shock in the mid-1970s when improved energy efficiency in power distribution systems was increasingly desirable. This interest fell away in the mid-1990s when energy costs decreased. Furthermore, the initial costs of an amorphous core transformer are higher than of a crystalline silicon steel core transformer: first, the amorphous material itself is more expensive than crystalline silicon steel and second, the saturation magnetic flux density of amorphous steel is lower than that of silicon steel. This means larger sizes of amorphous core transformers are required, which results in a higher cost per unit. However, the higher initial costs can be compensated by lower operating costs over the lifetime of the transformers due to their increased energy efficiency.
Nowadays, amorphous metal core transformers have become commercially available and are cost-competitive with conventional core transformers. There has also been significant technical progress in increasing the saturation magnetic flux density of iron-based amorphous alloys, resulting in smaller transformers and reduced material costs.
The amorphous metal used in transformer cores is a unique alloy of Fe–Si–B (iron, silicon and boron) that is produced by extremely rapid solidification from the alloy melt. This causes the metal atoms to form a random pattern, as opposed to conventional Cold-Rolled Grain-Oriented (CRGO) silicon steel (a Fe–Si alloy), which has an organized crystalline structure. The amorphous structure, usually associated with non-metallic systems looks like glass - which has prompted the name ‘glassy metal’ widely used for such materials.
The absence of a crystalline structure in amorphous metal allows easy magnetization of the material, leading to lower hysteresis losses. The eddy current losses are also lower in amorphous metal due to a combination of its low thickness and a high electrical resistivity of 130 μΩ-cm compared to the 51 μΩ-cm in CRGO silicon steels. Thus, amorphous metal has a much lower total loss than even the best grades of CRGO steel, by up to 70 percent.
Amorphous metal cores have a proven track-record of over 20 years in liquid-filled transformers and this technology is now being applied to dry-type transformers.

Advantages of dry-type transformers
Dry-type distribution transformers offer significant practical advantages, including: no fire risk; no risk of escape of pollutants or fire-hazardous substances; long lifetime; high mechanical strength; ability to cope with load changes, overloads, short-circuits and over-voltages; and reduced installation footprint. This means they can be installed near their place of use – saving on cabling and reducing losses in cables and terminals on the low-voltage side.

EcoDry range
ABB’s EcoDry range includes transformers that reduce no-load losses by up to 70%, and by more than 30% at full load, when compared with international reference standards such as the European CENELEC HD538 standard and the US Department of Energy energy conservation standard for distribution transformers introduced in 2010.
For each GW saved, there is the potential for an annual reduction of five million tonnes of CO2 emissions – a single 1,000 kVA unit can save 7 tonnes of CO2  a year. Lower losses also generate less heat, so there is a reduced aging effect on the transformer insulation.
EcoDry transformers achieve higher efficiency levels through the use of state-of-the-art materials and components, including amorphous metal as the core material, as well as the latest simulation methods for loss-optimized design. They are available in ratings from 100 to 3,150 kVA, with operating voltage up to 36 kV.
The EcoDry range includes three models, each designed to meet the different needs of applications where losses are either predominantly ‘no-load’ losses (caused by fluctuating magnetization of, and eddy currents in, the transformer core), or ‘load’ losses (which occur in the conductors due to ohmic loss and eddy currents, and increase quadratically with the load), or a combination of the two.

EcoDryBasic – low-load efficiency for power utilities
Distribution transformers at power utilities often see only a low mean load in actual operation. With low load profiles, it is the no-load losses that account for the major proportion of total losses and they are three to five times higher than the load losses. This means a significant reduction in no-load losses is one of the paramount considerations for the EcoDryBasic transformer,  a high-tech product, based on 30 years of experience, and developed using the very latest simulation methods for a loss-optimised design.
The EcoDryBasic transformer is specifically designed to meet the needs of power utilities by providing low-load efficiency that enables losses and CO2 emissions to be reduced by more than 50%.

EcoDry99plus – full-load efficiency for industrial applications
In an ideal world, industrial plant is operating at or near full capacity, and mean loading of the distribution transformer of 60% or more is not uncommon. The costs of load losses, and their reduction, can be significant.
In a typical industrial application, an EcoDry99Plus transformer rated at 1,000 kVA, with 10,000 V primary voltage, would reduce annual power losses by more than 30,000 kWh, and cut CO2 emissions by some 18 tonnes per year. At full load, the transformer operates at over 99% efficiency.

EcoDryUltra – efficiency across the load range
EcoDryUltra transformers combine the advantages of the EcoDryBasic and EcoDry99Plus to minimise no-load and load losses simultaneously. This transformer type is ideal for variable loads – such as renewable energy applications – and in applications where the supply is fed through two transformers at the same time (for redundancy) and so each is continuously operated at medium load – such as in pumping or ventilation systems.

Distribution transformers have a vital role to play in helping power utilities and general industry meet targets for reducing carbon emissions, as well as boosting efficiency and cutting running costs. The next generation of low-loss dry amorphous distribution transformers can effectively reduce overall losses, contributing to energy savings, lower operating costs and reduced environmental impact.

It seems our politicians can do no right as far as our grumpy old man is concerned. The launch of the electric vehicle subsidy in January has only served to fuel his ire

Sometimes our legislators make me laugh, albeit usually before I burst into tears. This time it’s yet another environmental initiative. On 1 January 2011, the Department for Transport introduced individual grants of £5,000 to purchase electric vehicles. This is part of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ £400m fund to reduce emissions from road transport.

Now, I hear you mutter, who could fail to support that? The short answer is the rest of the British Isles in so far as there are way too few charging points to make said electric vehicles viable.

This of course is a case of the proverbial chicken and egg, but I see no incentive for fuel retailers to invest in charging points and hence, little actual inducement for us all to rush out and buy subsidised electric vehicles. I know the idea is to get as many electric cars on the road as possible and hence create a demand that subsequently power suppliers would react to. However, how many of our current 30 million cars in the UK would have to be displaced to create that demand? Think how many diesel vehicles are now on the road and consider that in most filling stations petrol pumps outnumber the diesel ones by 3:1.

OK, so let’s ignore the technical aspects of installing charging points, as I’m sure the government has, and the difficulties of providing rapid charging. There remain many factors to inhibit the rapid uptake of electric cars – all of which require huge investment in both equipment and new technology.

Starting with the vehicle itself, it remains generally accepted lithium ion batteries are the most likely solution to providing range for the cars. But, it is still the case that a suitably sized battery would weigh 100kg and cost as much as a medium sized car itself!

Now think about charging times. Presently, a typical family car takes about eight hours to fully charge from existing charging points installed at home. With the best will in the world, how is that going to work on the streets?

Now consider how the power supplied will be paid for. Yes, the amount of power drawn down can be metered and a price per unit applied, but who collects the cash and how? I see this as a major cost factor in the equation, since its not just the collection of money, but the management of the transactions also.

We arrive at the greatest problem of all at this stage. How will the already creaking National Grid cope with demand? Let’s imagine in our wildest dreams that a third of the populace rush out and buy shiny new electric cars. Let’s also in our fairytale world imagine there are charging points on every street corner. Now let’s think about Madonna in concert at Wembley Stadium, or Manchester United playing Manchester City in the FA Cup. Say, 10,000 people turn up in their electric cars all expecting to plug in and charge up while at the event. Get the picture? Meltdown!

Regular readers will know my stance on energy conservation. Even if we don’t believe all the hype and rhetoric spewed from the mouths of our political cohort, it has to be a good thing to reduce consumption and create energy as responsibly as possible.

The thing that irks me is the fact politicians dash around like headless chickens pecking at anything that might look plausible or win a vote. Perhaps instead we should put the egg first, take a few embryonic ideas and nurture them from birth in a calm, intelligent and measured manner.

John Houston can be contacted on 01797 364366 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is not just a sustainability challenge; this is a skills challenge, says Iain Macdonald, Head of Education and Training at the ECA

It is no secret the UK faces a huge challenge if it is to meet current carbon reduction commitments, which require an 80% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2050.
Drastic energy savings will need to be made to meet this challenge, and it is our built environment, which accounts for nearly half of the UK’s carbon emissions, that offers the best route to achieve this. If we are serious about meeting these targets, every home, office, and commercial and industrial space in the UK needs to become energy efficient.
If done correctly, this challenge can be turned into an opportunity.

The role of the electrical industry
Electricity is the lifeblood of every building, and the majority of sustainable technologies, such as energy efficient lighting, controls, sensors, and photovoltaics are powered by electricity. This means electricians have a vital role to play advising and installing the energy efficiency technologies which will be key to achieving carbon reduction targets.

Although current operatives may need to update their skills to gain specialist expertise, none of this calls for a new breed of ‘green’ installer. Fully trained electricians already possess the core skills to act as the frontline troops in the fight to cut carbon emissions.

However, meeting this challenge will require significant numbers of operatives. In the domestic market alone, 2,000 homes per day will need to be refurbished, which will create significant demand for people to carry out this work - something which has the potential to secure a new and ongoing market.

Skills challenges to the industry and UK plc
The UK must be in a position to respond to this demand, and obstacles to training the workforce, in particular, employer engagement must be overcome.

Apprenticeships are the traditional and best entry route to a vocational career in our industry. Historically, electricity boards were the main employers of apprentices, but since privatisation, this is no longer the case, and the onus has increasingly fallen on the SME.

The current recession also means companies don’t always prioritise training. Despite the best efforts of electrical contractors, the number of apprentices continues to fall.

With a lack of new entrants coming into the industry and the average age of a qualified electrician in the UK being 45, we could soon face a skills crisis where we will not have the skilled workforce to cope with demand.

If this skills challenge is to be addressed, a business culture that encourages companies to train must be created. Thousands of new apprenticeship places will have no value if employers are not in a position to take advantage of them.

The ECA believes efforts should be directed towards achieving industry-recognised outcomes, which lead to jobs and employability. We must work together with government to ensure the investment we make in skills is appropriate and develops a sustainable skills base for our young people and our industry.  

ECA solutions
If we achieve this, we will win the public’s confidence in ‘green’ solutions. It is imperative clients have confidence the right solution for their circumstances has been recommended and fitted, as well as confidence that energy-saving measures and renewable technologies are fitted safely and correctly the first time round.

There already seems to be recognition of this amongst electrical contractors, and at ECA we have seen real appetite for micro-generation courses and the Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS).

To help members better understand this market, the ECA has taken to the road with a Green Opportunities Roadshow featuring seminars and a specially fitted truck kitted out with renewable and energy-efficient technologies. The roadshow truck and seminars will help electrical professionals gain an in-depth understanding of renewable and energy-efficient technologies, as well as the business opportunities afforded to them by the government’s low carbon agenda. For more information on the ECA roadshow visit: www.eca.co.uk/roadshow.

A sustainable future
The sustainability agenda presents a challenge, but significant opportunities can also be found. We must view this agenda as an ongoing project, as we do the maintenance of the Forth Bridge. Following initial installation, technologies will need to be maintained or replaced several times between now and 2050 creating a flourishing business environment for those involved in this market.

To create a sustainable environment, we must create a sustainable workforce by setting a path that prioritises the acquisition of skills at the right level, and in sufficient numbers. Only then can we look to the future and meet the challenge of the sustainability agenda.

Stephen Plant, business and development manager of NET, discusses how the decision to make the AM2 a formal unit of the new Level 3 NVQ will ensure greater competence within the electrical sector

The coming year will be marked by a change in the vocational education sector.  The Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) – which was introduced by the Labour Government in 2009, and came into force in January 2011 – will alter the way vocational training is delivered; it is undoubtedly the biggest change to take hold of vocational education since NVQs were brought in during the late 1980s. The shake-up is the result of a shift in popular opinion, predominantly led by the government, which is increasingly citing skills-based careers as the driver by which the UK economy will be rebuilt.

What is the new framework?
The QCF offers a simplified learning process, allowing those responsible for training and development to invest in a more flexible qualification structure for their staff.  They can now do this because the modules that make up QCF qualifications can be taken at the employee’s pace, allowing career development to fit around professional and personal commitments.
Qualifications will be built up in units, with each unit having a level and a ‘value’.  Learners will be awarded credits for every unit they pass, where one credit represents 10 hours of learning time. From April 2011, the electrical industry’s Assessment of Occupational Competence (AOC), the AM2, will be a compulsory unit for anyone signing up for an electrotechnical NVQ Level 3 qualification:
s Level 3 NVQ Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installation Work in Dwellings
s Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment (Building Structures and the Environment)

As clarification, the term NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) will still be used in titles where the qualification is competence based, and directly aligned to National Occupational Standards. So, for all trainee electricians studying for a Level 3 qualification the NVQ title will still apply.

The AM2 has long been a formal part of the national UK work based apprenticeship; but until now, it was not a compulsory requirement under the equivalent Level 3 NVQ qualification taken by adults training to enter the industry.  Embedding AM2 in the new NVQ structure under the QCF is visibly the right way forward, as it aligns requirements for all electrical trainees at Level 3, be they apprentice or adult. This will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the wider electrical industry, raising standards across the board.

The AM2 – at the heart of industry
As the AOC for the electrical industry, AM2 is the practical assessment that proves an individual’s competence in electrical work. The assessment was launched by the industry in 1985, and redesigned last year with the demands of today’s environment in mind, and with an enhanced emphasis on safety. The AM2 aims to reflect ‘real life’, assessing competence in the typical tasks and time conditions that a qualified electrician would experience at work within a property or site.

AM2 is generally the final stage of an apprenticeship or NVQ; it is taken at the end of the training period when the candidate is almost fully trained and therefore likely to be ready to have their practical ability tested across the breadth of electrical work. However, before sitting AM2, candidates have the opportunity to consider if they are in a good position to pass the assessment, by means of a pre-assessment exercise based on the tasks they will have to perform in the AM2.

Benefits to learners, employers and industry
By incorporating the AM2 into the Level 3 NVQ, employers benefit as much as learners do. Every qualified NVQ Level 3 holder will be able to provide evidence they are equipped with the right skills and employers can be confident taking on an electrician who has come through the NVQ route, rather than through an apprenticeship, is equally competent to support their business appropriately. This will be particularly important as the UK embarks on the government’s low-carbon initiatives, which will require a large number of qualified electricians to play a key role over the next 40 years.

NET has been working closely with the UK’s two awarding bodies for the electrotechnical NVQ Level 3, EAL and City and Guilds, as they incorporate the AM2 into their suites of NVQ Level 3 electrical qualifications. From next year all relevant qualifications will list the AM2 as a compulsory component, and learners enrolled on these level 3 NVQs will be required to sit the AOC irrespective of their training provider or college.  This highlights the role of the AM2 in ensuring competence within the electrical industry.

These past few years have seen inverters promoted, quite rightly, as one of the very best energy saving technologies, playing a key role in combating global warming. But Mitsubishi Electric's Jeff Whiting says controlling the power consumption of motors is only the first of their many environmental credentials

We've heard the figures many times: motors account for 65% of all industrial power consumption, and yet only 25% of motors are fitted with variable speed drives. But use a variable speed drive to control a motor with an appropriate speed profile for the task in hand, and you can slash that motor's energy usage. Last year the government woke up to the fact that use of variable speed drives represents one of the best ways to reduce the UK's carbon footprint, bettered only by a wholesale switch to LED lighting and thermal insulation in commercial buildings.

But, as the world economy recovers from its battering of the last couple of years, a more sophisticated definition of green manufacturing is emerging. And this time it makes even better business sense, because while measures such as the Climate Change Levy and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme effectively penalise companies financially for not reducing their energy consumption, in our more sophisticated picture of green manufacturing, best practice environmental measures can actually boost productivity. As ever, it is variable speed drives that can really make the difference.

Consider, for example, the stopping of large machines, or indeed any shaft driving a load that needs to be brought to a controlled stop. Traditionally, this would be achieved with some sort of mechanical brake. But these work by clamping the shaft and using friction to bring it to a stop - an inherent by-product of which is of course heat, or wasted energy. But a key feature of many modern variable speed drives is regenerative braking, which converts braking energy back into electrical energy. This energy can then be fed back into the main supply or shared with other drives by connecting their power reserves together.

Not only does this save energy in its own right, but the regeneration function also makes it possible to achieve smaller, less expensive drive systems and simpler, more compact switchgear layouts.

It seems obvious, but better control of a motor on any machine or process, optimising speed and torque, means better controllability. When you apply that tighter control to the whole production line, what you immediately see is significantly increased useful output, with far fewer reject products, and a dramatically reduced need for any product rework. How many products, for example, are thrown away at the start of the production cycle as the machinery is tuned and optimised? How many more are rejected as processes drift out of tolerance? Variable speed drives can help in optimising machinery and processes from the minute they are turned on, and in keeping them at optimum efficiency throughout the production cycle.

A reduction in reject parts and in the need for rework can significantly impact on a company's bottom line. If a process is making greater numbers of useful products for a higher proportion of time, that makes you more competitive and better able to meet customer requirements. But it also means that you're using less energy per finished product.

We can apply the same thinking to the wider production cycle, which more and more today is characterised by frequent line changeovers that cater for short runs of many different products. The requirements of the customer and the need to optimise production efficiency can appear to be in conflict, since maximum efficiency is gained on the longest possible production run of a single product. But today's competitive global markets demand flexibility if a company is to thrive, or even to survive.

In machinery and processes without inherent flexibility, there are significant costs in product changeovers, in terms of manpower and lost production. But once we have tighter control of those processes, changeovers from one product run to another become recipe based, with complete lines reset at the touch of a button. What would have required time-consuming retuning of motor speeds and profiles can now benefit from automatic adjustment. The recipes for each product to be made on the line will store all the relevant parameters and settings, and these can automatically reset the likes of variable speed drives as required.

This optimisation of the production cycle can mean the difference between having to manufacture for stock and being able to manufacture to order - or at the very least to a more optimised inventory schedule. Because when we're simply manufacturing for stock, inevitably there will be over-production of some items which will then just sit on shelves losing value. Each of those products in the warehouse represents some degree of wasted energy in manufacturing.

We can look at the wider plant environment, too, because every motor - regardless of its efficiency rating – generates heat. Outside of specific hazardous areas, it is unlikely that the heat produced represents much of a problem to the machine itself or to personnel. But when you consider the number of motors there are likely to be around a typical industrial site, then you can see that these motors will be contributing to a measurable temperature rise.

In some controlled environments, that can be critical. In temperature sensitive environments such as cosmetics production, overall temperature has to be closely controlled within specific tolerances. If one process is generating excess heat, then another process has to be introduced to bring the temperature down - most likely some form of force air recirculation or air conditioning. And this, of course, is using energy.

Much more efficient would be to reduce the heat signature of the motors themselves - or even capturing that energy - and here again variable speed drives come into their own. The variable speed drive more closely matches the motor to the load, and so the motor generates less heat. Not only is the motor being run more efficiently, less work has to be done to compensate for the heat generated.

We can see then that variable speed drives have a hugely significant role to play in making industrial plants and processes more efficient. It may be the energy saving impact of not running a motor at fixed speed that grabs most of the headlines, but when we consider a more sophisticated picture of green manufacturing, it becomes clear that variable speed drives are making an even greater contribution to energy efficiency than might first be considered.

Here you will you find links to selected suppliers newsletters and brochures. You will also find links below to digital versions of our Lightning protection supplement sponsored by Furse and Cummins power generation supplement.

Friedrich Müller, Nexans Standardisation Director, explains why the development of standards supported by rigorous test regimes is regarded as a vital element in the success of the company’s range of automation cables

Automation applications make severe demands on the cables they rely on to deliver power and control services. They need to ensure high performance and absolute reliability across a very broad spectrum of chain, bus, sensor, robotic and control applications, and they must be capable of withstanding the extreme dynamic loads experienced at high operating speeds.

Standards for static cable applications are well established and internationally recognised. However, the situation for automation cables is rather different, with an historic lack of standards resulting in cable performance criteria being defined according to the needs of specific industrial automation applications.

Nexans needed to take the lead in defining standards that would provide a scientific way of comparing the relative merits of different cable designs, resulting in a clear and transparent way for customers to guarantee that the cables they specify will deliver the required performance and lifetime. So, working in close cooperation with the world’s leading industrial equipment manufacturers we commenced a long-term project to define rigorous standards that reflect the specific needs of the automation industry.

The initial results are a series of standards for trailing chain cables that classify them as ‘basic’, ‘advanced’ or ‘premium’ according to a set of four main mechanical criteria: bending radius; acceleration, travel length; minimum number of bending cycles, together with other properties such as chemical and temperature resistance . Trailing chain cables are automation cables intended primarily for installation in the cable chains designed to surround and guide flexible cables connected to moving automated machinery to reduce wear and stress, prevent entanglement and improved operator safety.

These standards are already applied directly to our own Motionline range of automation cables – launched in 2009 - but the main intention is they will be adopted as international standards recognised throughout the automation industry.

The standardisation process is ongoing and we are working to develop similar standards for robotic applications that will need to consider additional criteria such as torsional strength.

The trend towards a smaller bending radius
There is a current trend for smaller equipment dimensions, primarily to reduce the cost of raw materials used in their construction, such as steel plate.

This reduction in dimensions means that developers of automation cables now have to cater for an ever smaller bending radius to provide the high level of flexibility required.  The bending radius of a cable is defined as a certain multiple of its diameter. For basic automation cables the bending diameter is 18 times the diameter. The majority of applications will require a bending radius of 10 to 12 times the cable diameter – as reflected in the advanced standard, while there is a growing number of more demanding applications that require a bending radius as small as 7 times the diameter – premium standard.

The construction of the cable has a significant impact on the bending radius that can be achieved. This includes the conductors, fillers, insulation and jacketing. As well as paying specific attention to the construction, a general reduction in diameter of the cable is required. Although the design and engineering of the cable are important, the key to success is in really close attention to consistent process control to maintain the production of the cable within tightly controlled parameters.

Acceleration - the need for speed
To achieve the desired high levels of industrial productivity and throughput, automated equipment now has to move faster and faster – for example, robotic spot-welding machines routinely achieve repetition rates of several hundreds of welds per minute. To cope with this, automation cables not only need to be lighter in weight, to keep their inertia as low as possible, they must resist the high stresses due to acceleration and ensure a long fatigue life under repeated bending and stretching cycles.

At the basic level, we expect a cable to withstand an acceleration of 2 m/s2 – this equates to the SFK1 class (from the German Schleppfähigkeits-Klassen). An advanced cable (SFK class 2 to 4) should withstand 10 m/s² (ie 1g)  and the trend for new generation equipment is now considerably more demanding, calling for cables that can withstand 50 m/s2 (5g) acceleration as reflected in the premium standard (SFK6 and 7). We are encountering this requirement in a great deal of new machinery, especially laser machine tools and pick and place equipment.

Chain travel length
The chain travel length – the longest unsupported length of the cable – ranges in the standard from a basic level of 5 metres to advanced at 10 metres and premium at 50 metres.

Bending cycles
For chain applications, one to two million has been set as the minimum number of bending cycles at the basic level, while both the advanced and premium standards call for a minimum of five million cycles.

Environmental considerations
When you consider automated systems may be installed anywhere in the world, then the behaviour of cables in extreme environmental conditions becomes an important consideration. The basic standard calls for cables that can be used at temperatures from to -5°C to +60°C). But we are now seeing cables specified for both higher temperatures (around +70°C) as well as low temperatures (down to -35°C) as defined in the advanced and premium standards. In fact, one of the most demanding applications for automation cables is found not in the factory, but in outdoor applications such as dockside cranes.
It is also important cable conductor and insulation materials provide the appropriate level of fire, heat and abrasion resistance demanded for safety and performance, as well as offering the resistance to attack by oils and other chemicals essential for a long service life.
Important developments in new material technologies are being made in this area such as TPM (Thermoplastic Modified) insulation and flame retardant PUR Medoxprotect-S jacket material. There may also be a requirement for cables to offer resistance to EMI (Electromagnetic Interference).

Dedicated Motion Application Centre (MAC)
Playing a key role in the standardisation project is Nexans’ own dedicated Motion Application Centre (MAC), which is part of the Nexans Research Centre (NRC) in Nuremburg, Germany. This facility enables cables to be exposed to dynamic operating loads that simulate realistic, in-service, conditions, thus ensuring that they offer the ideal combination of bending, tension and torsional strength and vibration resistance required for their intended application. It provides clear proof that an automation cable will perform throughout its expected lifecycle as described in the relevant standard.

Nexans has been testing automation cables for 20 years. The MAC was established around 5 years ago and is the subject of considerable ongoing investment to reflect the changing needs of the automation industry, resulting in a current roster of 12 different machines designed to test cables to their limits. A key advantage of the facility is that it enables the electrical and data performance of the automation cables to be monitored under dynamic loading conditions. In addition to the mechanical tests, environmental chambers also allow the cables to be subjected to varying environmental conditions.

Throughout the tests, the electrical resistance of each electrical element of the cable (conductors, copper shield) is monitored at regular time intervals to confirm their integrity.

Engineered solutions
The Nexans Motionline brand covers a very wide scope of automation cable products. However, the catalogue range defined by the standards is sometimes only a starting point, since we frequently have to design and engineer a special cable to deliver the vital combination of high-performance, reliability and long life required for a specific application.
The development process starts with an in-depth analysis of the customer requirements for the cable, such as a miniaturized cable tailor made to fit the available space envelope or a hybrid cable combining power and data transmission. The MAC will then test the cables used currently and work with the Nexans Research Centre to surpass the existing performance in terms of durability and environmental resistance. This seamless interface between benchmarking and design theory and then back to practical implementation results in the rapid and effective development of the ideal customised solution.

The cost of getting a product to market is on the increase and the last thing you need is for machinery and plant to break down at the critical moment. Alan Lawson from PSJ Fabrications explains the benefits of specifying a bespoke motor control centre, and why it pays to invest in the right solution for you

Motor control centres (MCCs) have been in use since 1950 when they were first introduced in the UK by the automobile manufacturing industry. They are now far more common and are used in many industrial and commercial applications to accommodate a wide variety of different devices required in modern facilities.

The basic role of a motor control centre is to protect valuable electrical components and it therefore doesn’t make sense to save a few pounds by purchasing an inferior product to protect high value systems. A substandard MCC could bring with it all kinds of problems including leaks and damage to equipment, all of which will result in downtime and thus specification should not be taken for granted.

In short, the same level of time and investment should go into choosing the right motor control centre and this should reflect the time and money spent on developing the system which it contains and the machinery which it protects.

Make your choice
There are a few key items which should make up your specification for a motor control centre, including ampacity (the maximum amount of current that the main horizontal bus can accommodate without overheating), bussing material and feeder cables – all of which could mean the difference between a long and reliable service life or an early, abrupt failure.
But possibly one of the most important things to consider when specifying your MCC is ensuring it is suitable for the environment in which it will operate.

In an ideal world the motor control centre would be located in a separate air conditioned room, but with space at a premium an MCC will often be found on the factory floor next to the machinery which is being controlled. This brings with it the inevitable problem of how to protect the contents from dusty and corrosive processes which is why it is imperative to ensure the MCC which you specify is suitable for the area in which it is located.

Benefits of bespoke
There are a number of issues which you need to consider when specifying a motor control centre, the first of which is the size. How many times have you heard stories from people who have bought new machinery for the factory floor and then discovered that it doesn’t quite fit into the space which had been set aside for it? The same happens with an MCC, which is where a bespoke solution becomes the right option.

By specifying a bespoke solution you can work with the manufacturer to ensure it perfectly fits the space which you have available – which is particularly useful if you are tight for space and need to pack as much into it as possible.

The other main benefit of being able to specify the exact size is versatility, because it enables you to take into account the requirements of your factory or commercial process, and then specify exactly what you need within your MCC without having to work around the ‘standard’ option the manufacturer wants you to have because that is all that they supply. A good example of this would be the option to have fixed or withdrawable starters, distribution and control aspects or if the MCC needs to be specifically designed for harsh environments.
This brings me onto the material in which the MCC is manufactured, because the material on the outside is just as important as the contents of the MCC.

We manufacture all of our cubicles from 2mm and 3mm stainless steel, with a main frame that is fully welded for strength and rigidity and doors, shelves and mounting plates bolted in position.

Stainless steel has typically been used in the food manufacturing industry, but has grown in popularity for external applications over the years because of its ability to provide the same benefits as mild steel but with a greater longevity in harsh or aggressive environments. It is also rust resistant and has its own natural finish so requires no further treatment.

The benefits of a bespoke solution however mean that if you do require a specific finish then that option is available. We regular receive requests to match specific colours so that the MCC blends in with its environment and we then carry out a process which includes degreasing and rubbing down to remove all traces of dirt and rust, before priming and applying the paint at a depth of 50 microns to ensure colour longevity in even the harshest conditions.

The right rating
Getting the right IP rating is also a very important issue when specifying a motor control centre, particularly when it will be located in a harsh environment. IP stands for Ingress Protection and it is a rating that describes the protection from the intrusion of solid and liquid material.

The letters IP are always followed by 2 numbers, the first refers to intrusion by solids (1-6) and the second refers to intrusion by liquids (1-8). All of our cabinets are protected to IP55 which means that they are protected against the ingress of dust and dirt and low pressure jets of water.

You will find this rating is suitable for the majority of the environments in which a motor control centre is located and in order to retain the ingress protection all of our doors and covers are press formed for positive alignment.

Make it future proof
Without the aid of a crystal ball it is difficult to see what the future will hold and with the needs of every business changing rapidly it is impossible to predict your needs five years from now. But with an MCC having an average shelf life of 25-30 years you need some reassurance that the money you are investing now is well spent and that what you are specifying will match your needs well into the future.

Future-proofing your MCC is therefore the obvious answer and a bespoke solution allows you to do this. By working closely with the manufacturer it is possible to design a solution which adequately meets the needs which your business has today but at the same time it allows you to build in some space which can be used for future expansion.

It makes sense
Generally speaking we all like to be given a choice and when times are tough we are more likely to scrutinise every penny which is being spent to ensure it is being put to good use. I’m not sharing any trade secrets when I say purchasing a new motor control centre is an expensive business but at the same time it is still possible to get value for money if you look carefully at all of your options, before you part with any of your hard earned cash.

Don’t be tempted to make any quick decisions and do bear in mind the fact that a motor control centre sits at the heart of your business and while a cheaper, off the shelf solution may seem like a good idea, will it still seem like it was the best option when it fails to live up to your expectations 2 years down the line?

Downtime is costly and we all have enough on our plates at the moment without having to worry about our systems and machinery breaking down at a critical time which is why it makes sense to choose the most appropriate MCC for the job. A typical motor control centre will be in operation for the next 25-30 years and it is vitally important that this period of time is largely trouble free.

By opting for a bespoke design it is possible to tailor-make a solution which suits your needs now but will also provide space for expansion in the future, thus guaranteeing the longevity which you require and saving you more expense in the future. Reliability is also a key factor, and again, with a bespoke solution you know that it has been built to your exact specification and therefore will provide the control which you require both now and in the future.

Put simply, a bespoke motor control centre makes sense both now and for the future of your business. It therefore pays to look at all of the options available and ensure that whatever solution you choose is right for you, your budget and your business.

With the growing need to address every area of energy consumption, new technologies that enable dimming of HID light sources, including street lighting applications, have a lot to offer. Stewart Langdown of Tridonic explains

There can be no doubt not only are we now operating within a very energy-conscious environment, but we can also expect this to be the norm for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, it’s no longer enough to simply cut back on the big ‘energy-guzzlers’, there is now an imperative to address the fine detail of energy consumption.

The drivers for this imperative range from concerns about climate change and dwindling supplies of fossil fuels through to the need to reduce overheads by cutting energy costs. Indeed, this latter consideration has become even more important in the light of the changes made to the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES) in the Comprehensive Spending Review. Initially large energy users could look forward to receiving a refund of their carbon allowances if they were able to perform efficiently enough to be in the top 50% of their sector’s league table. Now, the government has decided there won’t be any refunds – nor are they clear about whether the league tables will be published.

Thus, without that promise of a refund, the CRC EES has effectively become a carbon tax and it’s now going to cost these organisations a lot more to use energy. There are also strong indications that the qualification threshold will be gradually lowered to capture more companies in the scheme.

On the positive side, from an environmental perspective, there is now a much stronger financial incentive to improve energy efficiency, and it’s high time that one of the most prolific wasters of energy - street and amenity lighting - was tackled effectively.

The reality is street and amenity lighting is very often guilty of wasting considerable amounts of energy and money. Not through complacency on the part of the owners of those installations (in most cases) but simply because the opportunities to exercise effective control of high intensity discharge (HID) lighting have been very limited.

That situation is changing, however, as new digital control technologies come onto the market that are able to dim HID light sources. This dimming ability has been available for indoor HID lighting for some time and can now be applied to exterior lighting. So it’s worth considering how such functionality can offer real benefits.

The key to reducing wasted energy is to match the use of the lighting to demand, a principle that has been applied to more general lighting applications for many years. So, for example, one element of a lighting control strategy inside buildings would be to use occupancy detection to switch lighting off in unoccupied areas.

In the case of external spaces it is more practical to think in terms of periods of reduced demand and, perhaps, situations where the weather may influence the lighting requirement.

So, for instance, there are many motorways and other roads that are only lightly used after around midnight. However, when it was suggested recently that lighting in these areas is switched off during the small hours a considerable amount of concern was expressed. Dimming the lighting instead of switching it off completely is clearly an excellent compromise.
The same is true of smaller roads and many other open spaces where the lighting is also of importance to pedestrians. Again, dimming the lighting at times when there will be hardly any foot or road traffic is a sensible course of action. And when you think there are over 7.5 million street lights in the UK this could go a long way to helping local authorities cope with the pressures on their budgets as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

These potential benefits are clearly exemplified by a project in Gloucestershire. When Gloucestershire County Council decide to refurbish 9,450 high pressure sodium street lanterns it also took the opportunity to fit control gear that would enable the lighting to be dimmed from 10.00pm to 05.30am, when the roads are only used lightly. Lighting levels in both full output and dimmed state had to comply with the Local Authorities specification, and the equipment had to be from a reputable manufacturer and capable of delivering a return on investment in under five years. The scheme has also been verified as safe by Gloucestershire police.

To achieve the required control strategy, the Council selected Micatron UK, which offers a part-night dimming switch that is easy to programme and re-programme, and automatically switches between Greenwich Meantime and British Summer Time.

Micatron manufactured customised gear tray assemblies incorporating these time switches, along with Tridonic OMBIS ballasts and OGLS ignitors, sourced through distributor OEM Lighting. Each tray incorporated bespoke control gear for the lantern types installed, covering over 20 types of lantern with lamps ranging from 100W to 250W. Tridonic products were chosen for their proven reliability, prompt delivery and competitive pricing. The work was carried out by Southern Electric Contracting.

In adopting this approach, the Council was able to not only reduce energy consumption but has also been able to re-use existing lanterns, so that capital costs were reduced and there were fewer waste materials to manage, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the project.

The work carried out so far has encompassed 59 parish and town councils and a further 32 areas have signed up to take part in the scheme, which will involve the upgrade of another 2,440 lanterns. Other local authorities are also looking at the results with a view to introducing similar schemes in their own areas.

As a result of this initiative, street lighting in Gloucestershire is now using considerably less energy, saving around £200,000 and nearly 1,400 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Gloucestershire county councillor Stan Waddington, the cabinet member for the environment, commented: “This is an excellent result which has only been made possible with the support of our contractor and equipment supplier, but more importantly with the co-operation of parish and town councils across the county. Looking for new and innovative ways of saving money and cutting carbon is something we will be focusing on from now on and this is a great start. I look forward to seeing the projects progress in future.”

Lighting the black spots
In parallel, improved controllability can also be used to increase lighting levels in accident black spots, perhaps at times of day when accidents are most likely, and light levels can also be increased in bad weather. The overall effect is that these lighting systems become responsive to changes in demand, rather than remaining static irrespective of what’s happening.

While street lighting perhaps offers the biggest savings across the country there are also many amenity spaces that are lit throughout the night when there is nobody there to benefit from it. So the same principles can be applied to any external space that is lit for long periods but has variable use during that time.

In all such cases, in addition to the energy savings, there will be further benefits through the longer lamp life that results from less use. Extended re-lamping cycles will reduce maintenance costs and there will be fewer lamps to send for recycling through the life of the lighting system. As HID lamps are classified as hazardous waste and are more expensive to dispose of than some other light sources, this will result in even greater financial savings – and reduced environmental impact.

The recent development of digital dimming systems for exterior HID lighting have made all of this possible – going way beyond simply providing a dimmable ballast to exploiting all the benefits of digital control technologies to create an intelligent and versatile lighting control system. Furthermore, such systems allow all street lanterns and amenity luminaires to be controlled via the digital interface – making them very responsive.

These systems allow the luminous flux of HID lighting to be adjusted from 40% to 100% via DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) or DSI (Digital Serial Interface) signals, depending on the type of HID light source being used. In addition, a specific luminous flux value can be selected in ‘step dimming’ mode via an additional 230V control line to achieve energy savings of up to 50%. The brightness level can also be lowered via a digital power changeover switch at defined times without control lines.

Extending the principle
While this article has focused on street and amenity lighting, it’s true to say that many building operators are unaware that they can now dim interior HID lighting in factories, warehouses, retail sheds etc. The result is there are still thousands of HID lamps burning through the day quite unnecessarily. So the same principles described above for using controls to make lighting more responsive to demand apply just as much to these applications.

To that end, the electrical specifier has an important role to play in making end users aware of what can be achieved and helping them to exploit the opportunities offered by the latest control technologies.

When managing energy costs, one of the most straight forward and productive areas to focus on is the efficiency of existing lighting, both inside and outside a building. Installing the latest lighting products can make a significant saving in terms of energy wasted and several technologies are easily retrofitted within existing fixtures. Steve Kearney, business manager for the Specialist Products Division of Newey & Eyre, gives his view on some of the new technologies available

 As the economic climate continues to be tough, every business in the UK is looking for ways of saving money. One of the best and most effective ways of achieving this is to reduce energy consumption which will not only cut operating costs, but will also keep carbon emissions down.

In line with the current economic outlook and the desire to achieve financial savings, more companies are looking to undertake refurbishments of existing premises and infrastructure rather than relocate. Installing new lighting and lighting controls provides a good opportunity to achieve a more efficient building and can provide a rapid return on investment.

What is not necessarily obvious is how replacing existing lamps and the light fittings themselves can make a significant difference to the overall running costs of a building. Reducing energy consumption will offer a good return on investment in the medium term along with an instant impact on cutting energy bills in the long run.

Lighting technology is changing all the time with new developments continuing to offer increased benefits for those responsible for reducing energy wastage in buildings such as schools, hospitals, offices, shops and warehouses. Energy managers and facilities managers can turn to the product manufacturers and wholesalers for help and advice on what is best for their particular application. And with energy consumption accounting for up to 88% of lighting costs, there’s much to be gained by evaluating the existing lighting provision and looking at how this can be improved upon.

One of the methods of saving energy on lighting is to simply change to the latest generation of T5 fluorescent tubes that run on electric ballast rather than conventional electromagnetically ballasted products. Until quite recently, this would have meant replacing the luminaires as well as the lamps themselves.

A relatively simple solution to this problem can now be found through the use of retrofit technologies, such as the ‘Save It Easy’ plug in ballasts. Such units can be fitted directly into the ends of standard T5 tubes and can simultaneously provide the appropriate ballast and increased tube length to work with existing fittings. In addition to avoiding the inconvenience and disruption caused by installing new luminaires, use of these products can provide energy savings of between 25 and 56% for the user.

A useful but relatively straightforward technique to save energy wastage is to change standard 50W dichroic lamps to a 5W LED alternative which can result in a reduction in energy consumption of up to 90%. Another important benefit is that LED lamp products will normally last for up to 25 times longer, giving approximately 50,000 hours compared to 2,000 hours of use. This means that the cost of LED retrofit lamps will usually pay for themselves within a 12 month period based on energy savings alone. Maintenance is also significantly reduced over the product life.

For applications that use SON or metal halide sources such as warehouses, car parks and areas where amenity lighting is required, selecting long life, energy saving induction lamps can offer a number of advantages. Such situations usually require lighting to be installed in fittings that are difficult to reach or where replacing the lamp causes disruption of normal operations. The latest generation of induction lamps will provide excellent energy saving and extended life of up to 100,000 hours.

When compared with standard fluorescent/metal halide alternatives, induction lamps will provide energy savings of up to 60% and can also be used with PIRs to further reduce lighting loads.

The environmental aspect of installing any electrical product requires careful consideration and reducing the carbon footprint has never been higher on the agenda. In addition to the appearance and ease of installation, the green credentials of products need to be fully considered.

Further to this, with commercial applications it is now a legal requirement for all buildings to have an Energy Performance Certificate. These have been designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings to tackle the effects of climate change. Lighting in particular is viewed as being a major contributor to carbon emission production and the Carbon Trust is offering interest free loans to qualifying businesses to install more energy efficient products.

Where changing traditional SON or metal halide lighting systems is not an option, there are still technologies that are available to assist in cutting out wastage associated with lighting loads. An example of these technologies are the latest energy systems, such as the E-Box from Newey & Eyre Specialist Products, which can enable additional savings of as high as 45%.

This next generation of products are power optimisation units that fit between the electricity supply and the lighting load. Through a combination of voltage optimisation, power factor correction and harmonic filtration, they reduce the energy consumption by stopping wastage. This has the consequence of further reducing the carbon footprint of the installed location.

In the case of the E-Box operation, it is single phase and sits in line either at the distribution board or applied to individual circuits. It constantly monitors load and regulates the supply voltage to the optimum. By introducing digital capacitance to the inductive load created by lamps, it is possible to solve the poor power-factor issue often found in lighting circuits and improves it to be as close to the ideal as possible. The additional filtration of all bad harmonics and removal of harmful spikes combine to give substantial savings.

An automatic bypass ensures power continues to the lamps should any failure occur or if the power environment changes from that set at commissioning.

Power optimisation units are suitable for any situation where there is large scale energy consumption required for lighting purposes. This kind of technology has been tried and tested throughout Europe, being used in a wide variety of applications including airports, hospitals, shopping centres, car parks, warehouses, street lighting, hotels, schools and leisure centres.

As well as savings of up to 40% for the user, other benefits include a filter against grid disturbances to help increase the life of discharge lamps and savings of up to 50% can be achieved on maintenance and disposal costs.

E-Box comes with a 25-month guarantee which can be extended if required following a technical inspection. It is fully certified by SINAL agencies in accordance with UNI CEI EN 45001. All systems carry the CE mark and are manufactured in line with ISO 9002 while also corresponding to the Norm EN 61010-1 of 2001-11.

Technology is changing and improving at an incredibly fast pace and with the rise of LED, wasted energy is now very much regarded as a design flaw in buildings. Those selecting equipment for new projects need to consider not just the lighting effects they are looking to create, but are now having to take into account the wider picture of overall lifecycle. This concept is also being driven by legislation such as the WEEE Directive.

Getting the products and equipment right at the outset of any project is vital and it is important to work closely with the manufacturers as well as electrical wholesalers such as Newey & Eyre, who can help with advice on the best options.

This year Newey & Eyre has relocated its Sheffield branch, which has been designed and built to be its flagship energy efficient and environmentally friendly facility. When the building was specified, all the very latest techniques and equipment were selected and used. This way it is possible to demonstrate today’s technology and best practice to those involved in electrical installations who are seeking the best solutions for their customers. In turn, the end customer will be able keep their energy costs low while at the same time reducing their carbon footprint.

Some of the innovations featured in the new Sheffield branch include movement and daylight sensors, alongside special low wattage tubes throughout the warehouse and offices to reduce energy usage. Metering packs are also being used to monitor the electrical output of the building throughout the day to enable energy consumption to be optimised.

Being green is increasingly becoming important to companies and organisations and as environmental awareness grows, saving energy and in turn, annual spend, is something that needs careful consideration. Drawing upon the available industry expertise can smooth the way to a hassle-free project and most importantly, the right end result.