Sean Jordan, product marketing manager at Schneider Electric provides insight into the growth potential for residential network cabling and explains how installers can best tap into it.

Residential structured network cabling has been around for some time – albeit largely restricted to home computing and entertainment. The concept of refrigerators talking to microwave ovens, while programming the DVD machine is some way from practicality. But, while this vision of the smart home is yet to become a viable commercial market of its own accord, useable aspects of technology are emerging all the time.
Indeed, far from being just a fad, technology is becoming more affordable and accessible, and growth in intelligent home controls is accelerating.
The new build sector remains the sector where smart homes are showing the greatest take off and where most immediate future growth will come from. This makes sense when one considers that setting up a smart home in a retrofit environment can unavoidably involve upheaval to the fabric of the building.
Manufacturers and installers alike should therefore look to property developers for residential cabling business. Fortunately, with the housing market slowing down, developers are keener than ever to add functionality and perceived value to their homes. There is a burgeoning consumer demand for more intelligent places to live and it can only be a matter of time before home buyers demand, for example, internet connectivity around the home. Selling homes with this technology allows developers to increase the saleability of a property, as well as increase, or at least retain, the value of the real estate.
Changing lifestyles
Home networking and automation systems have evolved to meet the requirements of modern lifestyles. With more and more people working from home and school children and students undertaking internet based study projects, demand for home office capability is created. It is becoming increasingly the case that families want to run computer networks to various rooms, all linked by a hidden network.
Another prime motivator for networked homes comes from the desire for flexible multi-room entertainment. The configurations of home networking systems are already plentiful and afford the possibility of distributing audio, video, voice, the internet and other media to be shared via a prewired cabled highway. Common outlets at the user interface allow inherent flexibility in room and system usage.
The security and safety aspects of smart homes prove most attractive to families. Intelligent home control systems are able to perform highly practical functions such as detecting gas leaks and alerting the homeowners in a range of useful ways. By integrating alarm sensors with other electrical services in this way, they can communicate remotely and, in case of leakage or other hazardous conditions, shut down automatically.
Highly intelligent systems can perform complex tasks such as sophisticated security surveillance. Integrating devices and appliances means everything can be controlled remotely. At the touch of a button, users can control lighting, curtain closing and opening and so forth. Lights and appliances can also be turned off remotely using mobile telephony – a safety and energy saving benefit.
Energy management
While the occupiers of a dwelling are understandably seduced by entertainment and security, installers can deliver beneficial savings through controlling energy consuming devices. The relatively simple expedient of automatically switching lights on or off by demand can save a fortune from electricity bills.
The future prospects
Smart homes do not transform our lives, but they can dramatically enhance them. They are building a momentum and as more builders incorporate smart home systems, people will come to expect a fully networked or automated home. Within a few years, we will no more expect to have to ask about the provision of installed networks in a new home than we currently question the inclusion of socket outlets or running water.

In a series of question and answer surgeries Geoff Brown, drives applications consultant at ABB, addresses some commonly asked variable speed drive (VSD) questions. The series supports a library of literature that covers the technical aspects of VSDs, how they are used and what their benefits are.
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Q: What are the potential problems of using drives in hazardous areas?

A: When it comes to hazardous area use, usually only the motor and driven load will be in the hazardous area, as the ventilation requirements for a variable speed drive severely limits the practicality of installation in the hazardous area itself.
One major area of concern is the extra losses that a variable speed drive potentially creates inside the motor, because of the voltage pulse based waveform it produces compared to the 50 Hz industrial network.
This may increase the temperature rise and reduced speed which may significantly reduce cooling, hence the risk of explosion. For this reason, hazardous area motors intended for variable speed drive applications will normally be fitted with thermistors or similar devices to monitor temperatures, and may well be fitted with a second nameplate giving the inverter fed output limit.
The drive can also be the source of other undesirable side-effects, which can include reduced motor insulation life, electromagnetic interference and bearing currents. These are effects that can be prevented and for hazardous area duty, care in such prevention is essential.
The ATEX directive requires the drive system – including motors, sensors, cabling, filters etc – to be treated as a unit. The documentary evidence of compliance is the motor manufacturers Declaration of Conformity. Matching your own motor/drive combination can be both time-consuming and expensive as it may require third party approval. The best way to reduce risk is to choose a combined ATEX approved motor and drive package. This gives end users the assurance that the combination is optimised for their application.

One of the biggest trends in today’s modern manufacturing environment is the move towards open and fully conversant automation systems. And without a shadow of doubt, one of the biggest enablers – spurring on this growing trend – has been the introduction of Ethernet into the industrial environment says Paul Brooks of Rockwell Automation.

Its introduction has had a profound impact on industry. With both plant control and office data capabilities, it offers manufacturers a host of benefits including easier integration of shop-floor to top-floor systems and the chance to use a single network infrastructure for several different functions. But can Ethernet really be all things to all people?
Too often it is argued off-the-shelf commercial Ethernet and IP solutions lack the degree of determinism and predictability required for industrial control. To overcome these perceived shortcomings, several Ethernet or Ethernet based systems have been developed for industrial use. One – EtherNet/IP – offers the industrial optimisation of a specialised control network with the openness and flexibility of standard Ethernet, taking advantage of today’s Ethernet technology without resorting to modified switches, silicon or stacks.
The decision to put Ethernet on the factory floor should not be taken just because it works, instead it must be because there is a business case to add automation to the growing long list of services that are currently being carried over the existing infrastructure. Increasingly the question being asked is “What is the business case for keeping the automation services separate?”
Rockwell Automation, one supplier of the EtherNet/IP devices and solutions, takes potential users and those on the cusp of making a migration decision through a simple checklist of factors that must be considered to ensure a successful installation.
Step 1: Understand the system requirements
This is the first and most obvious step as, without an understanding of what you actually require and, more importantly, what you want it to do, the installation could either be under or over specified or, indeed, not actually be suitable for your application.
At system environment level it is important to gauge what type of plant floor control is needed and how it would integrate into an existing or planned IT network. Security is another important issue as data can be distributed far further than was historically possible. Companies must take this into consideration when designing the system. The ability to future proof the system to a greater or lesser extent must also be considered, with expandability being at the top of the list.
Performance is another major system issue. The amount of data being carried over the network and how fast it changes can have a big impact on its architecture. With Ethernet, this is not just limited to automation data, but all of the data needed to manage a business. And, with this in mind, infrastructure also plays a large role. Users must not only consider the media being used to transfer all of this information but also hardware and software factors such as switches, routers and firewalls.
Step 2: Learn the system environment
Only by learning the system environment can you get an idea of the levels of complexity. The primary question to ask is: Will your automation system be integrated (free exchange of all types of data), connected (exchange of automation only data) or isolated (no exchange of information) from the IT system? Only by asking this question can you make judgements on the benefits that you will get from, and the level of complexity of, the potential system.
Step 3: Make IT Aware
Automation applications create a great deal of traffic with I/O control data – traffic that can impact the rest of the enterprise if IT isn’t expecting it. Good network design and implementation will resolve all of these issues but IT departments can’t take these steps if they don’t know what is happening on the factory floor. This gives you the opportunity to address other internal issues that may also arise: Who owns the network? Who is responsible for maintenance? Who assigns IP addresses? IT departments have significant value to add resolving these issues when involved early enough in the process.
Step 4: Segment networks properly
To benefit from optimum system performance, it is important to undertake proper traffic segmentation. Not only will it simplify network management but it also maximises backbone or control network availability. It is also possible to deal with security issues at this level. This does not mean factory floor and enterprise networks can’t be fully integrated - segmentation can be achieved by two means; either a physical segment can be used, such as a switch, or logical segments can be created using a virtual local area network (VLAN) or IP Subnets.
Step 5: Thou Shall not use hubs
Hubs or repeaters can allow data collisions – a particularly unattractive feature for control networks; this is why switches and routers are more attractive propositions. A switch will not only eliminate the possibility of collisions but it will also segment traffic within an IP Subnet while routers help segment networks and traffic.
Step 6: Select the switch with the proper features
Not all switches are created equal, and with switches at the heart of the network it is important to specify them correctly. The application is, of course, the first consideration. What is the switch expected to deal with? Is it suited to the operating environment? What type of data will it be handling (commercial or industrial)? It is also important at this stage to define what is required, what is recommended and any elements that may make up part of a ‘wish list’.
There are a number of features that are prerequisites for switches used with EtherNet/IP, these include: full-duplex capability on all ports; IGMP snooping, to constrain multicast traffic only to ports associated with a particular IP multicast group; and port mirroring, the ability to direct a duplicate of the frames being transmitted on one port to another port for troubleshooting. Switches that fit the bill are available from a number of Rockwell Automation Encompass partners.
Step 7: Select and install the right media
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – for this reason you must ensure suitable media is used for the transmission of data. Users have a choice of two media, each of which has its own advantages depending on the application.
CAT 5e and 6 copper cables and connectors are recommended for industrial applications. UTP (unshielded twisted pair) is generally recommended, while STP (shielded twisted pair) is recommended for metal conduits and noisy environment. It is important to ground one end only.
Fibre optics are good for noise immunity and long distances when connecting switches together. Single-mode fibre optic cable, through which only one mode will propagate, is more resistant to attenuation and can be used in significantly longer cable runs, while multi-mode fibre optic cable gives high bandwidth at high speeds over medium distances, and is a more of a general-purpose media.
Step 8: Understand end-device limitations
It is unlikely traffic over a 100Mbps or 1Gbps infrastructure will be the cause of any bottlenecks. With high bandwidth networks like Ethernet, the limitation on system performance is almost always due to the processing power of end devices. It is for this reason that end device vendors must provide performance information and calculation rules for their devices and users must factor all devices into the system calculations – not all end devices offer the same capabilities.
Step 9: Be aware of potential security issues
By sharing a network, information can be spread further and so security could become an issue. But, if it is managed and controlled from the outset, there is no reason why an Ethernet network should be any less secure than any fieldbus is today. In fact, use of standard Ethernet is an important tool to make business critical data and systems far more secure! And, because it is using standard Ethernet, there are a wide variety of consultants qualified to help get it right.
Some common practices include: logical separation of the IT/Corporate LAN from the automation network; limit access to the automation system only to those with a legitimate need using strict access policies; the implementation of plant floor security processes, policies and procedures; and the incorporation of IT security technology to enforce access policies.
Step 10: Don’t hesitate to get help
Companies like Rockwell Automation have a considerable depth of expertise and knowledge when it comes to automation installations and the associated networking hardware, software and media. Organisations investigating the possibility of a move over the industrialised Ethernet should take advantage of this depth of knowledge, as it is more than likely that their questions have already been answered.
Remember, EtherNet IP is not difficult – it’s just different!

An important final note – while Ethernet is very versatile and can perform some functions that dedicated device level networks cannot, it does not offer all the features of a purpose-built control network. So, for specific control applications requiring the robustness of ControlNet or the scalability of DeviceNet, an industrial Ethernet is unlikely to fit the bill and, as a result, Rockwell Automation remains committed to the development and support of products using these networks.

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Bernard Johnson, programme controller for the ABB Mowlem Southern Region Power Supply Upgrade (SRPU) team, explains how detailed planning, coordination, collabora-tive working and an uncompromising approach to health and safety helped make the project so successful that in the end nobody noticed it!

In 2003, Network Rail embarked on its three-year Southern Region Power Upgrade (SRPU) programme to support the introduction of 2000 new, more comfortable carriages. Thanks to features such as central door locking, CCTV and air conditioning, the Bombardier Class 375/376 Electrostar and Siemens Class 450 Desiros trains draw around 23 per cent more power than the old rolling stock from the 750V traction power supply system – the reason for the upgrade.
With 3,196 miles of track, Southern Region is the UK’s largest private operator of an electrical distribution system. And the upgrade is believed to be the largest DC project of its type undertaken anywhere in the world.
Kent region
ABB in consortium with Mowlem Railways was one of four regional contractors appointed initially by Network Rail, and the consortium was awarded the Kent region – extending from Ramsgate on the coast through to Cannon Street substation in central London. Between 2003 and 2006 the consortium carried out around £80 million of project work including the construction or upgrading of 27 substations and 17 feeders and installing around 100 panels of ABB ZX1.2 gas insulated MV switchgear and 25km of 33kV cable.
Working on one of the world’s busiest rail networks presented a whole raft of challenges and constraints as all site deliveries, possessions and outages had to be planned down to the finest detail. This was especially important because, while the SRPU project was vital for Network Rail’s future plans, its over-riding need was of course to keep the trains running on a day to day basis, so potential disruption and delays had to be kept to an absolute minimum.
It was clear that communication and coordination at all stages, from definition, through design, tender for the individual work packages to execution, would be the key to the success of this project. So it was decided to take the unusual step of co-locating the consortium team alongside the client team in Network Rail’s project office in central London. This ensured that right from there start there was no ‘us and them’, but rather a partnership that enabled problems to be solved before they became issues.
Management of ‘possessions’ – the windows of opportunity when access was available to work on individual sites – was a core element handled by specific team members. This was particularly challenging as six months is a normal period of notice for a possession, while on some of the busiest routes access was only available at Christmas, so they had to be planned 12 months ahead. Added to this, Network Rail’s operational requirements sometimes meant that planned possessions had to be cancelled at the last moment, calling for the team to think on its feet to reorganize work programmes to maintain the overall project momentum.
Much of the site work was carried out at night and weekends. The team also became particularly adept at ‘piggybacking’ on access to sites that had already been granted to Network Rail’s own team for routine track maintenance. Of course, with two different teams on site working with different objectives, careful planning was needed to ensure there was no clash of priorities.
Hand in hand with the planning of possessions, the delivery of equipment to the sites was planned with military precision. A great deal of effort went into making this a ‘non-rail’ project where possible, using road access rather than rail to deliver equipment, although there were a number of ‘rail-locked’ sites with no road access. On some sites, the limited access called for specialized rail-mounted cranes to manoeuvre heavy equipment into position. Again this required long-term planning as there are only three such cranes in the UK.
In order to keep on-site work and costs down, the project made substantial use of containerized substations, which were fitted out off site. They are housed in robust, long-lasting, stainless steel enclosures that should last for 40 years.
Health and safety
An uncompromising approach to creating a safe working environment was paramount throughout the project, with the emphasis on minimizing potential risk to site operatives. This was reflected in a remarkable safety record. All work on the infrastructure was undertaken with the Rimini plan system, which is used to make sure the safest system of work is used when ‘on the line’. In addition a safety coach was kitted out, known affectionately as ‘Thunderbird 3’. This was despatched to the various sites to show videos and provide information and handouts about the specific safety issues that the working gangs might encounter on that site.
Innovative team approach
Mid-way through the project a substantial work package was started for the north Kent ring of substations. Because of the way the substations in the ring are linked together it was not possible to take two out of service at the same time without disrupting the network. So an innovative approach was adopted by constituting a separate, dedicated planning team with representatives from all interested parties. The team was led by Network Rail, and as well as the consortium it also included the Scada team, the network controller, the outage planner and representatives from the team working on the inner London region of the SRPU, since our work could also impinge on their area. By meeting on a weekly basis the 12-strong planning team ensured that the north Kent ring work package proceeded without a hitch.
ZX1.2 switchgear
For the SRPU project ABB used its ZX1.2 range of metal-clad gas-insulated medium voltage switchgear which has technical acceptance from ENA (the Energy Networks Association) and Network Rail for use at 33kV for ratings up to 31.5kA and 2000A.
ABB designed the ZX1.2 with a modular, plug in approach to meet the specific needs of electricity distribution network owners and operators by providing compact, flexible substation configurations that offer reliable and cost efficient switchgear solutions for single busbar applications. Key design features include laser welded stainless steel enclosures, compact modular construction and the introduction of plug-in technology which facilitates simple, controlled connections of busbar, cable, test bushings and voltage transformer, without the need for ‘on site’ gas handling equipment.
All maintenance-free live components, such as switching devices and busbars, are contained under SF6 in gas-tight enclosures, which eliminate the effects of ageing processes and environmental influences to ensure maximum operator availability and a long service life. The ZX1.2 design also offers easy cable access at the rear with generous provision for conventional control and protection devices, dedicated cable test sockets and full mechanical interlocking between the disconnector/earthing selector and the circuit breaker
Underneath the arches
The innovative side of the consortium really came to the fore in constructing a new substation in Vauxhall. Space is at a premium in this part of London and it was difficult to see where it could be placed. The consortium hit on the idea of utilising two dilapidated arches of a railway bridge to create a smart new indoor substation. As well as special cladding to make the substation watertight, ventilation and fire detection systems were installed to ensure the complete safety of the enclosed transformer.
The success of the SRPU project was not just down to procedures. A key aspect was the excellent people working as a team across the board - civils, engineering, project management and installation and commissioning staff, supported along the way by administration and specialist safety and possession staff.
At the peak in January 2005, there were around 140 ABB Mowlem project staff, along with many other installation, civils, cable pulling contractors and site staff.
The final verdict
By November 2005 all the new trains were in service, with not one train introduction delayed due to a lack of power, and Network Rail’s view on the overall Southern Region Power Upgrade project was – “the project so successful that in the end nobody noticed it!”

The Association of Graduate Recruiters recently claimed employers were unable to fill many graduate level jobs because new graduates, particularly in engineering and construction, were lacking in teamwork, leadership and communication skills. It’s a familiar refrain, but if you’re an employer, how do you know if potential graduate employees are up to scratch? Well, Open Circuit is here to help. Simply make any graduate job applicants sit the following quick quiz.

1. What interested you in a career in engineering in the first place?
A. I enjoy the challenge of finding practical solutions to problems and seeing tangible end results.
B. I was pretty nifty with Meccano as a kid.
C. I’ve always wanted to meet Carol Vorderman.

2. As a graduate, what is the appeal of a career in electrical engineering in particular?
A. I see it as a chance to apply the knowledge learned on my degree course, with the possibility of moving into management later in my career.
B. The degree course at the University of Didcot Parkway was the only one I could get onto with two Es at A-level.
C. I couldn’t get a job in the media.

3. As a test of your basic electrical knowledge, explain why birds can land on power lines without being electrocuted.
A. The conductivity of the power lines is thousands of times greater than that of the birds’ feet and electricity takes the path of least resistance.
B. Birds have evolved to withstand 400kV electric shocks.
C. The birds are probably wearing little rubber wellies.

4. What qualities make for a good ‘team player’?
A. Flexibility and the ability to get along with a variety of people.
B. The ability to lead hour-long, time-wasting group discussions about important issues of the day, eg. which member of Girls Aloud you’d most like to engage in a romantic relationship with. (Or, if female, the relative merits and dismerits of Johnny Depp as compared with Brad Pitt.)
C. Exceptional ‘blame shifting’ skills.

5. Which of the following statements is the best example of good business communication?
A. Customers will be able to buy all our products direct from our website as of 1 May 2007.
B. You can get all our stuff on the global interweb thingy soon!!!
C. Utilising cross-platform new media technologies, value-added client/OEM partnershipping will make a paradigm shift from the traditional retail model to direct field entry ordering systems, in a one-stop-shop total virtual warehousing solution supported by man/machine interfacing.

If the answers were:
Mainly As: You have found the ideal graduate employee. They are intelligent, personable and articulate. Unfortunately, this means they’ll probably swan off to do a law conversion course in two years’ time.
Mainly Bs: You have found the archetypal average employee, neither outstanding nor useless. But nurture them, encourage them, give them the chance to shine, and they’ll be exactly the same in 15 years’ time.
Mainly Cs: Oh dear. You have found the worst kind of clueless timewaster. If you must employ them, move them directly into the lower end of middle management, away from either ‘coalface’ work or genuine decision-making, and thus where they can do least harm.

The effects of a lightning strike can be dramatic and highly visible, however it’s the impact on businesses critical systems such as computer or telecoms networks, the effects you can’t see, that can have a much greater impact on a business says Mike Forsey of Omega Red Group...

For many years the British Standard BS6651 Code of Practice for Protection of Structures Against Lightning has been the accepted text when looking to apply protection to structures and electronic contents.
This will be superseded in August 2008 when BS EN 62305 becomes the new Lightning Protection Standard. Published in August 2006, it will run in parallel with the current standard until August 2008 when the old standard will be withdrawn. Unlike its predecessor the new standard is made up of four documents:
• General principles

We are living in interesting times in the lighting industry. Today we are seeing more exciting innovations - in both technology and lighting concepts - than at any time in the last 30 years. And it is interesting to note many of these new products and ideas relate more to comfort, health and wellbeing than just getting more light out of existing light sources. These developments are also presenting new challenges to us in the lighting controls business says John Aston of Philips...

For a long time the inclusion of lighting controls in the design of an office building has been pretty much a must have. The same is by no means true in either the healthcare (hospitals) or education sectors. But some of the new lighting concepts are specifically targeted at these environments and are hence driving the use of new technologies like LEDs – solid state lighting – and even dynamic fluorescent lighting. What is bringing about this change? The most important influence has been the recent realisation that certain wavelengths of light can have more than visual effects. And these have now been demonstrated to be of significant benefit in a number of applications. Over the past 10 years Philips Lighting has worked closely with researchers to try to understand the impact of artificial light on humans in our present intense 24/7 society.
Most of these studies have focussed on the impact of fluorescent lighting in the workplace. The initial commercial result was the launch of Dynamic Lighting in both a ‘personal’ form or in a wider context as a concept we call Dynamic Ambience. This approach to lighting interiors used a colour changing luminaire capable of providing light with a colour temperature anywhere between 2700°K and 6500°K. The thinking behind this related to the fact that natural light changes throughout the day – so why not do the same with artificial light? But this thinking is already developing further, with a much cooler lamp being introduced that has a proven beneficial effect even used on its own; a 17000°K lamp called ActiViva Active.
The very positive results from the initial research projects into both Dynamic Lighting and the ActiViva product have shown real improvements in both workplace performance and people’s perception of their health and well being.
But before we discuss the impact of these fluorescent lighting innovations on controls let us turn to the other big news in lighting – LEDs. This technology is getting a lot of press and it is not necessary to dwell on how it works or where we are up to with efficacy here. Instead it is the impact this technology is having on control systems that is worth examining. Suddenly we have been presented with an instant light source that is available in a variety of colours that can be deployed both internally and externally to give very creative effects – and delivering this is the present challenge. It is good to know virtually all solid state lighting installations are specified with a controls system. In fact it is assumed the controls are, in effect, the delivery system for this technology.
Interestingly many of the initial, and current, lighting controls employed to control LEDs are based on the entertainment industry’s DMX (digital multiplex) protocol. This has been a new learning experience for electrical installers in the construction industry. And, of course, many of these installations have been almost theatrical, particularly in external architectural projects. But LEDs may already be able to offer us rather more than just glitzy effects, and this is where we return to comfort, health and well being and a longer look at healthcare and education applications.
As mentioned above we are now realising that light has both non-visual and biological effects. Currently there are research projects and trials investigating the use of colour changing in both hospitals and schools. The early results (in the latter) showed improved concentration and more accurate working at a nursing station during the difficult night shift. The nurses also reported better sleeping patterns. So if this sort of controlled delivery of light – both in colour and intensity – can help the healthy to work better, what can it do for the patients? Presently we do not know and this area needs investigation. But we do know light can be helpful in some important clinical procedures.
Ask someone to undergo an MRI scan and they are normally confronted with a dramatic, daunting machine set in cold, unappealing, surroundings. A nerve racking situation in itself, quite apart from the patient’s not unnatural concern about the reason for the scan in the first place. Philips has put together its lighting and medical divisions to address this issue by creating a package that provides both the scanner and a complete, controlled, lighting installation that allows the patients to choose the colour and intensity of the room lighting. Early experience of these solutions is showing calmer patients, and a quicker throughput, giving real improvements in operational efficiency. You could even argue that the patients’ carbon footprint is being reduced.
These MRI room packages rely on LED technology to offer a full palette of colours for the patients – as well as the clinical staff, who can even use the lights to signal to the patient! The lighting can even be integrated into a broader audio visual experience that involves projected images – truly an Ambient Experience. Philips calls this Ambiscene.
Of course lighting controls have been used already in both hospitals and schools but the reasons have primarily been related to cost of ownership and particularly energy consumption. We know lighting can be turned off or down when there is adequate daylight or when there is no-one there; we’ve seen the evidence of 30% to 50% savings in these circumstances. Clearly any health trust or school authority will be considering any measure capable of reducing reliably reducing their carbon emissions. Another good reason to adopt a networked lighting management system is its ability to monitor aspects of the installation and meet obligations like the testing and logging of the emergency lighting. Philips has successfully combined all these ‘cost of ownership’ functions in its LightMaster Modular System; a networked solution that readily involves all users by readily allowing the use of local controls.
The next generation of Philips lighting controls will address all the usual functions and add the abilities now being identified in colour changing and effect lighting. The present independent solutions will develop or evolve into extensions of the overall lighting management system adopting the same interactive (user oriented) approach already provided for many office workers. Indeed it is this knowledge of the importance of the affected users being able to interact with the lighting that is a key factor in any product definitions. But how do you involve all the users when the application is, say, a hospital? Well most hospital beds already provide the patient with some control of their local lighting – at least the reading light. However, when the doctors do their rounds they need, perhaps, a different level, or even quality, of lighting to carry out their examination. This facility is already a practical solution.
In conclusion, then, new lighting is today challenging us to keep up, and to deliver it in the right quantity, quality and colour while minimising the cost of ownership and carbon emissions. Lighting consumes nearly 20% of global electricity generation, so we cannot ignore its cost; but we must also recognise that we are now providing much more than just enough light to work by. Lighting is now being employed to offer a better learning environment as well as measured improvements in productivity in the workplace. More importantly we are beginning to understand that where we cannot use daylight we may be able to effectively help patients in their treatment and their speed of recovery. But without effective, easily understood, lighting controls we will struggle to deliver all these benefits. And at last we can say that lighting controls not only put the right light, in the right place, at the right time but also in the right colour.

Power quality is an unfamiliar issue for many in UK industry, but it is likely to become very well known in the near future. Power quality covers a vast range of issues from voltage excursions, frequency variations, supply imbalance and harmonic distortion. Uncorrected power quality issues can bring a host of problems from unnecessary power losses which can disrupt production through to catastrophic equipment failure. Steve Barker, energy and power quality manager at Siemens Automation & Drives, outlines the extent of the power quality problem in the UK and offers some solutions for business...

British industry of all sizes tends to take its electricity supply for granted. A simple flick of a switch and a plant or production facility has access to the supply network which will give a business as much electricity as it requires at any time of the day, no questions asked. A whole range of equipment from machinery and computers through to lighting and electric motors rely on the mains supply network with little thought given thereafter, other than paying the bill.
However, the use of increasing levels of electronic equipment by business is causing a phenomenon called “harmonic distortion” on the UK electricity supply network. Harmonic distortion is caused by non-linear loads on the electricity supply system, such as personal computers, lighting systems, switch mode power supplies and variable speed drives.
Regulation ER G5/4-1, published by the energy networks association (ENA) is the UK’s instrument to control this distortion and to assist compliance by business with the harmonised network standards such as the European EN50160 (it is important to note however that the UK measures are more severe than in the rest of Europe).
ER G5/4-1 which was first published in 2001 and subsequently updated in November 2005, is the UK’s attempt to control harmonic distortion back onto the supply network and is the updated version of the earlier ER G5/3 which was originally published in 1976. Ironically, many of those businesses affected by power quality issues remain unaware of the original regulations let alone the updated version which are far more stringent.
The updated regulation is far more onerous than previous regulations and specifies voltage and current limitation to which all industrial sites in the UK must comply in a three stage approach which takes into account different sizes of installation. Stage 1 applies mainly to small commercial installations supplied from the public low voltage network. Most industrial sites are typically assessed under Stage 2. Industrial sites of large users may fall under Stage 3 which applies for incoming supplies taken at 33kV and above.
Excess harmonic distortion on a site can lead to two types of problem. Firstly, ER G5/4-1 compliance issues which can ultimately result in disconnection if remedial measures are not taken. More often than not, electricity users are not familiar with compliance issues and attempts by a company to achieve compliance with ER G5/4-1 can consume huge resources of time and money. I have personal experience of a number of installations where compliance issues have been tackled badly and the remedial measures have been more costly than early preventative considerations. One example involved a company foregoing a £50k investment in preventative measures that could have saved a small food and beverage company in the North of England around £1m – a figure which was later spent on mandatory remedial issues to correct the problem.
Secondly there are a number of practical issues for end users involving power frequency harmonic distortion that can cause often hidden problems which can include:

The need for businesses and consumers to become more energy efficient and cut energy bills is making smart energy meters an increasingly attractive solution for managing energy use. Alan Roadway from ABB, explains what’s possible with smart meters and outlines some of the benefits they can bring for domestic, commercial and industrial users.

Spiralling energy prices and government imposed initiatives and targets for improving energy efficiency are making both consumers and businesses ever more aware of the amount of energy they are using. Part L of the UK Government’s Building Regulations Act encourages accurate measurement of energy consumption. For businesses and industrial end users in particular, the challenge to date has been to identify the most appropriate way to fulfil this obligation. The consensus of opinion is smart meters are increasingly providing the answer. These meters provide users with the technology to gain an immediate and accurate picture of their energy use which can be usefully employed to encourage a change energy consumption behaviour.
The underlying rationale behind Part L is that if users are made responsible for monitoring their energy consumption, they will take more action to reduce their usage and employ more energy efficient practices. To date, however, it has not been easy for either consumers or businesses to do this. If the home or building owner wants to get a better idea of their next bill, some complicated maths and knowledge of multiple tariff rates is required.
Energy bills for most buildings are either the result of a meter reading by the supplier, or more commonly, are based on an estimated reading made as the result of the meter reader being unable to gain access to the meter. According to Energywatch, at least 7 million domestic customers receive estimated bills, which can result in inaccurate charges to the customer and affect the ability of energy suppliers to maximise their revenue collection.
Smart metering technology offers a solution, with meters able to show the kWh consumption figure on an LCD screen.
For users, the benefits include being able to monitor consumption levels at different times on a regular basis, helping to identify trends. This particularly benefits SMEs, as they are able to get a more accurate idea of their energy consumption before their bills arrive, and be able to take steps to try to minimise future energy usage.
Another key benefit of smart meters is that there is no need for them to be physically visited by a meter reader. Depending on the meter’s capabilities, data can be collected remotely, using bluetooth, a pulsed output or wi-fi connectivity. This would be particularly beneficial when collecting domestic meter data, as homeowners are often not at home to provide access.
More sophisticated smart meters can also be connected to the internet, making it possible to include tariff control functionality. This could potentially enable consumers to switch between tariff rates according to normal or peak periods or to switch between tariffs offered by different suppliers. For businesses in particular, this provides the ability to better manage energy costs by being able to monitor the effect of existing practices at different times of the day.
Furthermore, by connecting smart meters to an Ethernet, business users are able to monitor spending at different office locations, enabling them to identify areas of excess consumption, and encourage best practice schemes across different sites.
According to Energywatch, the estimated cost of conducting a wholesale installation of smart energy meters into just domestic properties in the UK is approximately £86m. This is on top of the £800million a year already spent on replacing, installing, maintaining and reading existing meters. Energywatch is encouraging the installation of smart meters as part of suppliers’ existing replacement programmes, growing the base of installed meters gradually. However, debate continues as to who should bear the cost of installing smart meters into homes and other buildings and facilities around the UK.
Utilities argue it would be difficult for them to recoup the costs of installing the meters due to the de-regulated nature of the UK utilities industry, where consumers can move easily between suppliers. This makes it harder for suppliers to pass on the cost of installation to homeowners who can switch to a competitor after having a smart meter installed.
In Europe, the adoption of smart meters is greater as competition is less intense and government measures and intervention have helped encourage installations.
However, it can be argued having smart meters installed into consumers’ homes may actually increase trust between consumers and their energy supplier, as they would be able to better understand the information displayed by their meter and thus have a more accurate picture of their costs.
For utilities, there is also the prospect of maximising their revenue collection through being able to more accurately bill customers based on actual, rather than estimated, energy consumption. For businesses, the case for installing smart meters is based around cost versus benefits. The benefits, in terms of reduced energy costs, appear to outweigh any short-term costs involved in installation. Smart meters will enable businesses to invest in technology that will help reduce consumption in the long-term, by providing accurate measurements of energy use, enabling businesses to act upon the instant information supplied. Commercial building owners can also benefit, as they will be able to get separate readings for different occupants, and monitor their consumption levels accordingly.
ABB offers a range of energy metering equipment and can provide advice on which meter will be the most suitable for a specific facility. The company can also provide support to ensure businesses get the most out of the meter’s capabilities to help with cutting their energy consumption levels.

The Government projects the UK will go significantly beyond its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010. With such emphasis being placed on renewable energy sources the energy industry needs to look ahead in order to identify what the effects of the system changes will be, as a consequence of the changing power sources. Masoud Bazargan at Areva T&D explains the importance of suppliers within the industry working with their clients’ systems departments.

In order to work more effectively, suppliers and users need to make sure transmission equipment is designed to incorporate current and future system requirements taking into account the changes in generating methodology needed to support the rigorous climate change programme the UK is undertaking.
Transmission and distribution plants have always been subject to continuous research and development in order to maximise reliability, safety, and wherever possible reduce capital and operating costs for the network operator. There are a large number of areas where development has provided benefits. Examples for transmission switchgear, have been the move from hydraulic to spring operated mechanisms; reduced energy mechanisms; more sophisticated interruptive technology; design improvements, modelling technology, arc physics; compact solutions; hybrid GIS solutions; end of life disposal; environmental considerations; reduced power to weight ratio; less site assembly times and lower volumes (i.e. space-saving).
However, one key area where development effort is being focused has been driven by more pressing external forces. Indeed, concerns about damage to the ozone layer and associated climatic effects caused by carbon emissions has accelerated the decline in the popularity of traditional fossil fuels and in turn driven the ascent of renewable energy sources. Generally this shift which has been welcomed, despite some opposition concerning local issues, is set to have wide ranging impact on transmission and distribution networks. Fundamental differences associated with renewable energy include fluctuating outputs and often remote geographical location of suitable power sources. Existing networks were designed for ‘traditional’ fossil fuel based generation in centralised locations and the change in generation mode and location to embedded generation from renewable sources in remote locations will inevitably impact on the specification for switchgear and other equipment.
In order to provide products that will fulfil the needs of network operators today and in the future, it is important to ensure that equipment is designed in line with the DNO’s development strategy. In order to achieve this, Areva T&D has developed close working links with system designers, using partnerships wherever possible in order to ensure that product design and development is aligned to the needs of the market, especially as what was an extremely stable market is about to go through one of the biggest changes since its inception. For these partnerships to succeed, they need to be a two way process with transfer of information of value, to and from both parties. The fact that continuity of specification ensures that substation components from different suppliers are in some cases very similar, makes this type of value add extremely important.
One of the most effective and favoured forms of renewable energy is wind-power. However due to public objections and land availability constraints, we are looking more and more to utilise the renewable energy available in the marine environment through construction of offshore wind farms. By its very nature, the offshore wind farm creates huge challenges for the transmission and distribution sector. The challenge facing the industry is not only to capture and convert the natural energies of the wind and the ocean but also how to transmit this power to the shore considering the difficult environment. These considerations can range from ecological impacts on the environment, e.g. effects on marine life and by the environment, such as marine growth on the installation, through to shipping lanes, oil and gas pipelines, geological and seabed consideration, access, weather condition, foundation, corrosion and cost.
One proven way of addressing the transmission issue is to connect the wind farm turbines via an inter array network of cables which link at offshore transformer substations located within the wind farm. Electricity from all the individual wind turbines is collected and the voltage stepped up to 132kV to make it more easily transported to shore via high voltage cables reducing the power losses.
The concept of an offshore substation, close to the turbines, does help resolve transmission issues, however, it also introduces problems of a different kind as the module will need to resist highly aggressive marine conditions, alien to its land-based cousins. Seawater induced corrosion can be minimised by locating the module out of the splash zone, around 10m above the high water mark, but a specialised external paint finish should be utilised to protect the structure and reduce the need for maintenance. The location of equipment types within the substation and its surface profile can also influence corrosion rates and must be carefully planned. Mechanical elements such as diesel generators must also be protected from water and salt ingress and suitable arrangements made for the substation to be self sustaining for say seven days in case of power loss. The transformer itself should also be reviewed in terms of layout, corrosion resistance and long term maintenance with particular reference to radiators, tank, fan and pump. Ventilation also needs to be considered, employing special filters to prevent salt ingress that could cause contamination and corrosion. In addition, handles and all other external fittings need to be re-specified for a marine environment to prevent corrosion.
Another consideration for offshore substations is the mounting arrangements and weight distribution. While a traditional land based substation will usually be mounted on a reinforced concrete plinth, an offshore module may be mounted on a large diameter steel monopile. The very nature of the support structure dictates that loadings must be minimised by managing the centre of gravity to the module and ensuring even weight distribution. Consideration must also be given to both dynamic and static loading in temporary as well as service conditions. Finally but no less importantly, the installation, commissioning, and any subsequent maintenance will have to be carried out in an alien, hostile environment far from overland access.
These changes are fundamental enough to require a paradigm shift in mind-set and an evolution of the current skill set. But we believe the whole industry will rise to the challenge and ensure that energy can be generated from renewable sources and distributed to where it is needed, consistently, cleanly, efficiently and safely ensuring that we all play our part in providing the electricity we need while combating global warming.

High availability is one of the most important issues in computing today. Understanding how to achieve the highest possible availability of systems has been a critical issue in mainframe computing for many years, and now it is just as important for IT and networking managers of distributed processing.

A certain amount of mystery surrounds the topic of power availability, but consideration of just a few important points leads to a metric which IT managers can use to increase their systems and applications availability and make a rational price/performance purchase decision.
The importance of high systems availability
Availability is a measure of how much time per year a system is up and available. Usually, companies measure application availability because this is a direct measure of their employees' productivity. With critical applications, or parts of critical applications, physically distributed throughout the enterprise, and even to customer and supplier locations, IT managers need to take the necessary steps to achieve high applications availability throughout the enterprise.
Power availability is the largest single component of systems availability and is a measure of how much time per year a computer system has acceptable power. Without power, the system, and most likely the application, will not work. Since power problems are the largest single cause of computer downtime, increasing power availability is the most effective way for IT managers to increase their overall systems availability. Power availability, like both systems and applications availability, has two components: mean time between failures (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR). The two most important issues in increasing power availability are therefore increasing the MTBF and decreasing the MTTR of the power protection system.
Increasing MTBF
MTBF is the average number of hours it takes for the power protection system to fail. The MTBF of the system can be increased in two ways: by increasing the reliability of every component in the system, or by ensuring that the system remains available even during the failure of an individual component. There is a finite limit to how reliable individual components can get, even with increased cost. Today, typical power protection systems that rely only on high component reliability achieve MTBF between 50,000 hours and 200,000 hours.
By adding a level of redundancy to the system it is possible to achieve a three-to six-fold improvement in MTBF for power protection devices. Redundancy means a single component of a power protection system can fail and the overall system will remain available and protect the critical load.
Of course, component reliability is a requirement of any system. However, Fig. 1 shows the diminishing returns of increasing component reliability. Line 1 shows the plateau that occurs when MTBF is increased by using more reliable (and therefore more costly) components. Line 2 shows how redundancy, in addition to component reliability, can raise MTBF to the next plateau.
Decreasing MTTR
One way that systems downtime can occur is when both the power protection system and the utility power fails. A shorter MTTR can decrease the risk that both of these events will occur at the same time. By driving the MTTR towards zero, it is possible to essentially eliminate this failure mode.
Adding hot-swappability to a power protection system is the most effective way of decreasing MTTR. Hot-swappability means that if a single component fails, it can be removed and replaced by the user while the system is up and running. When hot-swappability is used in conjunction with a redundant system, MTTR is driven close to zero, since the device is repaired when there is a component failure but before there is a systems failure.
The Power Availability (PA) Chart
The relationship between power availability, redundancy, and hot-swappability is easily explained by using the PA Chart, which categorises power protection systems in quadrants according to how well they meet the requirements of high power availability – redundancy and hot-swappablity. As more components in a system become hot-swappable, the system moves from the bottom to the top of the graph (Fig. 2), and as more components become redundant, it moves from the left to the right of the graph. IT managers can choose the solution that is right for them, depending on the need for high availability and the amount of money they want to spend.
The PA Chart corresponds to the types of power protection systems available today as shown in Fig. 3. The standalone UPS is neither hot swappable nor redundant. As shown in the table, a standalone UPS provides normal power availability because uptime is dependent on the reliability of the UPS itself.
The fault tolerant UPS is sometimes described as providing affordable redundancy. Systems of this type have redundant components but not all of the major components are hot-swappable. This type of system offers high power availability because the power protection system will continue to protect the load when a component fails. But because a failed component often results in the entire UPS needing replacement, this type of system can have serious drawbacks, including expensive and time-consuming repair with both systems downtime and a major inconvenience for IT managers. Fault tolerant UPS systems may have some hot-swappable components, such as batteries and a subset of power electronics, but in most cases a high number of critical components, such as the processor electronics, will not be hot-swappable. The more components that are not hot-swappable, the lower the power availability.
Like fault-tolerant UPS, modular UPS offer high power availability. Modular UPS have multiple hot-swappable components and are typically used for multiple servers and critical applications equipment. Many modular UPS also have redundant batteries. Their main advantage over fault-tolerant UPS is that all of the main components which can potentially fail can be hot-swapped, eliminating planned downtime due to a service call.
Highest levels available
The PowerWAVE range of modular UPS offers the highest level of power protection currently available in the UPS market. In a PowerWAVE modular UPS the power electronics, batteries, and processor electronics are both redundant and hot-swappable. This system provides very high power availability and the highest level of protection for IT managers’ critical loads. A PowerWAVE modular UPS may cost a little more than a similarly-rated standalone UPS, but the increased system reliability and availability are invaluable to the IT manager.
The different types of power protection systems in the PA Chart can be measured linearly with the PA Index, according to how much power availability they provide. The PA Index serves as a tool to explain the difference between power protection systems. Fig. 4 shows each of the quadrants from the PA Chart mapped into a level of the PA Index. Fig. 5 shows the relative power availability provided by each type of system. The PA Index maps directly into the PA Chart and makes the different characteristics of high availability power protection systems clear.
In conclusion, IT managers can use the PA Chart and the PA Index to help them choose the right power protection system for their high availability applications. The standalone UPS, the modular UPS, and the PowerWAVE 9000 Series modular UPS all offer real benefits in terms of power availability versus cost. Although fault-tolerant UPS offer high power availability – and are marketed as such – they introduce serious drawbacks including a high MTTR and potentially significant inconveniences for IT managers.

Ensuring worker safety in and around industrial processes is a vital consideration for manufacturers and OEMs. Balancing the needs of safety with commercial considerations becomes ever more complex as safety standards evolve and new technologies become available. But, as Paul Davies of Rockwell Automation explains, by understanding the principles underpinning an effective safety strategy, designers can ensure the needs of both are satisfied.

Any safety programme should start with a thorough risk assessment that will help identify the areas of risk within a facility or machine, and point to the right technology to reduce that risk. Rather than aiming to remove risk altogether, a risk assessment aims to establish acceptable levels of risk. This analysis proves invaluable in helping to identify the kind of safety products that might be required in any particular application to achieve the most effective – and practical – solution. In a manufacturing environment, the assessment process can help to chart a course for an effective machine-guarding strategy, itself forming part of an overall safety strategy designed to protect the company’s investment in both machinery and personnel.
Design-out potential hazards.
The best way to reduce a potential hazard is to remove it at the design stage. A careful review of the risk assessment and risk reduction at the earliest stages of design can highlight potential trouble spots, such as pinch-points or sharp edges, helping companies take the necessary steps to design-out these features long before they require guarding. The removal of risk areas in this way can result in more efficient machines, as with fewer potential hazardous areas, there are fewer risks of unplanned stoppages occurring.
Consider the options for machine guarding.
Where a hazard cannot be removed entirely through design, the reduction of risk by the physical guarding of the hazardous area is the next best option. There are a huge range of machine guarding systems and components available, including safety mats and safety interlock switches, that can be used to protect workers around specific areas of a machine or industrial process. Devices such as light curtains can be used to guard areas – enabling exclusion zones to be created for maximum worker protection. Systems frequently combine elements of both to achieve the most effective solution.
As part of the analysis of the most effective strategy to adopt, careful consideration must be given to how frequently a machine or process will need to be accessed. This analysis will help refine the list of possible machine guarding solutions, allowing designers to arrive at a strategy that balances the commercial needs of the operation with the need to ensure risk levels are reduced to an acceptable level. Naturally, it’s also important to ensure that the solution chosen doesn’t itself cause another hazard!
Add advanced controls.
As well as applying the appropriate machine guarding devices, engineered solutions can be implemented to further reduce potential risks. Electromechanical safety relays have formed the backbone of safety control design for many years. Today’s devices offer a wealth of advanced features that allow sophisticated safety schemas to be implemented without adding unnecessary expense or complexity. Even more advanced protection can be provided by safety-rated controllers. Using these dedicated safety control architectures, extremely sophisticated solutions can be developed employing the full range of inputs, such as light curtains, E-stop buttons and safety mats and outputs such as guard locking solenoids and alarms. Clever design, such as the manual release function found on high-end safety interlocks, can enhance safety functionality still further at very little extra cost.
Promote awareness
Encouraging safety awareness helps reduce levels of potential risk in any workplace, but particularly so in industry. Effective signage and the use of visual/audible warnings can all help reduce the risk of accidents. Careful consideration of positioning should be carried out to ensure that signage and warning devices are positioned where they will best serve their intended purpose. Consideration must also be given to which products would be most appropriate in each given circumstance. For example, an audible alarm would need to be clearly distinguishable above the normal operational noise of a machine or process. Once again, a comprehensive range of warning beacons and audible alarms are available on the market, enabling the designer to chose the most appropriate device for use in each application.
Providing effective training that allows workers to understand the hazards likely to be encountered in the workplace and how to reduce the potential risk is the cornerstone of any safety strategy. The majority of workplace accidents are caused through ignorance and/or failure to follow correct safety procedures. While it is the company’s responsibility to provide such training and equipment as is necessary to reduce risk, it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure that this equipment is used and these procedures are applied in the workplace. While an important element in any safety training programme is to ensure that all employees understand that safety is everybody’s responsibility, choosing safety products which incorporate tamper-resistant features also helps to ensure the overall integrity of the safety strategy.
Follow-up assessments
After installing physical safeguards and establishing safety procedures, it is vital that follow-up assessments are made to ensure that risk has been reduced to an acceptable level. It is also vital that periodic assessments are made to ensure that these measures remain effective. But as well as confirming the effectiveness of the safety measures adopted, such assessments should be made on a commercial basis too: The twin aims of any safety strategy should be safety and productivity, and these two aims are not mutually exclusive. A careful follow-up assessment might reveal ways in which a process could be made more efficient without compromising safety levels. New products and technologies, such as the Safe-Off facility in Allen-Bradley PowerFlex drives, for example, could offer just such an opportunity by delivering both enhanced safety and improved efficiency.
Rely on experience
When embarking on any safety programme, the single most valuable asset a company can have is an experienced partner, well versed in both current legislation and the latest safety techniques and technologies. When choosing their safety partner, designers should consider carefully not just the ability to supply products, but also the expertise available to be able to understand the issues and to make the right recommendations to balance safety effectiveness and cost effectiveness.