Market forces down prices Market forces down prices The majority of local authorities are awarding contracts on the basis of lowest cost, according to a report from the Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group. The SEC Group conducted the survey among members of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, The Electrical Contractors' Association and the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association. Some 88% of respondents said that the majority of their local authority work continued to be let on lowest price alone, while 60% indicated that quality had not been a deciding factor in the award of any of their contracts. This pattern was repeated by first-line contractors subletting local authority work, with 64% confirming that all of their sub-contracts were awarded on lowest price. Almost 90% reported that most of their direct contracts with local authorities did not involve a partnering element. SEC Group chief executive Rudi Klein urged local authorities to
Free explosion protection poster
In response to the ATEX Directives, Phoenix Contact has produced a poster explaining the definitions and descriptions surrounding the referencing of product approvals.
Available free of charge, the poster offers manufacturers, users and operators a basic understanding of the new standards (with details of key information on such items as CE marking, temperature class, categories and types of protection) to aid in the selection of new ATEX-approved components.
While the poster is primarily aimed at the oil and gas industries, Phoenix believes it is equally beneficial wherever electrical equipment is installed in hazardous environments.
Tel: 01952 681700
Smiths Interconnect, the Smiths Group subsidiary, is to supply up to $500m of cable assemblies for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Delivery of the first Times Microwave Broadband Airborne Cable Assemblies, which are designed to handle high-speed data in extreme avionics environments, is planned for early 2004.
Chosen by Lockheed Martin, the contract is one of a number of collaborations between the two companies on the F-35 JSF, production of which is scheduled to commence in 2006, continuing to 2026.
WEG commonly refers to its special outdoor enclosures as ?Bear Proof? units. Now we know why.
A panel supplied by WEG and installed in the north of New Mexico was recently subjected to a mauling by a hungry Black Bear. Chancing his paw in the hope of finding a potential meal inside, the bear decided to attempt to break through the twin door glass-fronted unit. However, unlike car windows, which regularly succumb to the will of hungry bears in the region, the WEG enclosure stood firm. As a result, the company has received an order for several hundred more units for use in the same region.
The panel design was originally a specific answer to the harsh climate in the Americas, where outdoor installations are routinely subjected to nature?s extremes. To protect the panels they are designed with twin glass-fronted doors, which enable the enclosure with its drive and associated equipment to operate at high latitudes in regions subject to snow and very low temperatures, and also in regions with high ambient temperatures up to 40?C.
Variations in temperature are accommodated by thermostat-controlled space heaters and an internal cooling system, while a positive pressure system is used to deny air entry in different parts of the panel. These measures, says WEG, keep the system in good order and ensure the panel door stays demisted.
?We do not have too many bears in the UK,? admits WEG UK product manager for drives, Graham Perry. ?But we do have enough applications that require special protection against the elements.?
National Grid has awarded ABB a ?13m contract to enhance the power supply on the West Coast Main Line.
Railway operator, Network Rail, must upgrade its local trackside power supplies to the 50kV system required for high-speed rail services.
To enable this, ABB is providing two 400/25kV connections, which involves the installation of two new ABB supergrid transformers at the 400kV National Grid substation ? one connected into an existing bay, the other into a new bay. Also included is the construction of a joint National Grid/Network Rail 25kV compound and associated switchgear and the provision of 25kV XLPE cables and associated fibre-optic pilots between the two sites.
Supplies are distributed down the trackside as a centre-tapped to earth 50kV system, with trackside auto transformers feeding conventional 25kV supply to the locomotives via catenary and pantograph. Compared with conventional systems involving booster transformers, this arrangement, says ABB, provides economies in the number of feeder stations required to supply traction loads and reduced interference on communications circuits.
To date, ABB has won all the power orders for the north-bound section of the West Coast Main Line.
The Health and Safety Executive yesterday urged those involved with heavy electrical equipment to consider carefully the risks from overturning, following a verdict of accidental death at an inquest at St Pancreas Coroners' Court into the death of an electrical contractor. Cormac Nordon, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, died in August 2001 when a top-heavy panel fell on him while he was installing it in a new building in Canary Wharf. Anord Control Systems, of which Nordon was a director, had been contracted to install transformers and a number of large heavy electrical panels in two switchrooms in the basement of the newly constructed building. Nordon, assisted by his commissioning engineer, successfully placed a number of the panels in their final positions from nearby locations where they had been left by a specialist plant moving company. Working together they had to remove two timber bearers from each panel. They removed these one at a time working as a pair using hand levers to raise one end of each panel by a few inches. The accident occurred after they had raised one of the panels and removed the first bearer. Before they could lower it to the floor, and without any warning, the panel fell over backwards onto Nordon. He died from severe head injuries. The inquest highlighted the dangers of handling heavy items - especially where there is a high centre of gravity. Andrew Beal, the HSE's inspector who investigated the accident with officers from the Met Police, advised contractors to reduce risk of injury by taking preventative measures including:
- specifying equipment in which heavy internal components such as bus bars have been installed at low level and which incorporate suitable jacking points, bottom-located lift points or top-fixed lifting eyes/lugs;
- where there is a high centre of gravity, the attachment by manufacturers/suppliers of warning signs and the provision of information on suitable methods of handling;
- avoidance of manual handling techniques where, if there is sudden movement through slippage or loss of control, the equipment can rapidly move to an unstable position;
- and use of suitable mechanical handling aids e.g. scoots and toe jacks to minimise the risk of overturn.
CIBSE is launching a competition to reduce the carbon emissions from its headquarters by 60%. Last month CIBSE chairman, Terry Wyatt, criticised the ?failure of modern building design [which] has resulted in thousands of schools, offices, hospitals and other public buildings that are uncomfortable to work in, inefficient to run and costing us dear in terms of their carbon dioxide emissions and the climate change that they cause.? Speaking at an international conference in Edinburgh, his sentiments were echoed by RyderHKS chairman and former RIBA president, Paul Hyett, who called for ?intelligent and intelligently designed buildings?. CIBSE now appears to be practising what it preaches. Dubbed the CIBSE Carbon 60 challenge, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution?s target reduction of 60% is the intended goal. Anyone can enter the competition. CIBSE will provide entrants with all necessary data such as floor plans, photographs and a site energy report detailing occupancy and schedules, plant and controls and operational settings. The energy report, which was carried out last year under the Action Energy scheme, shows that substantial cuts in emissions can be achieved through a series of relatively straightforward measures ? which may be incorporated into competitors? proposals. Entrants are to return their proposals ? with estimated performance and budget costs ? for assessment by a panel of judges, who will assess the projected energy and CO2 performance, noting the competitors? ability to provide suitable evidence of such in the form of calculations or modelled assessments. Those who make the judges? shortlist will then be allowed to visit the site in order to refine their proposals. The winning submission, which must be returned by March 2004, will be implemented by CIBSE as part of the building?s refurbishment. It will be announced, and the winner presented with an award, at the CIBSE President?s Awards Dinner in 2004. According to CIBSE chief executive, Julian Amey:?The winner of the Carbon 60 competition will receive tremendous exposure throughout the industry when the awards are announced and presented at the CIBSE President?s Awards Dinner in October and again when the building refurbishment takes place.? Competition information packs are available from Karen Ortiz at:
Tel: 020 8772 3676
For more information, visit www.cibse.org
The Renewable Power Association has reservations about the value of the Carbon
Trust report ?Building Options for UK Renewable Energy?.
Much of the report, the Association says, covers old ground. ?You don?t need
20 pages of glossy text to know that wind power offers great potential for the
UK, while wave, tidal and solar haven?t made it yet,? says RPA?s CEO, Philip
Wolfe. ?Just look at what is already happening under the government?s Renewables
The RPA took issue with the report?s:
- Omission of today?s top three UK contributors; hydro, landfill gas and
biomass (though the latter will apparently be covered by a later report),
- Unsupportive coverage of the potential for micro-renewables such as solar
On solar power the RPA?s Solar Group contests all three key findings, namely
that ?the UK is constrained by?:
- ?Availability of natural resource?. In fact a DTI report shows that only
using solar cells on suitable roof and wall surfaces of existing buildings could
meet the entire UK electricity demand.
- ?Cost?. Carbon Trust?s report assessed this simply in terms of pence per
kilowatt hour as though all renewables feed power into the transmission grid
like wind. In fact most solar systems are integrated into buildings where they
supply power direct to the user. ?Carbon Trust should consider value rather than
simply cost,? says RPA Solar Group Chairman, Jeremy Leggett.
- ?Weak competitive position?. In fact, on the day after this report wrote off
local manufacturing in the UK as ?unlikely?, a new 20MW production plant was
announced in Wales, while existing manufacturer ICP Solar participated in a DTI
workshop on UK innovation in solar energy.
A fuel cell from MTU Friedrichshafen is enabling a clean propulsion system for a yacht christened ?No.1?.
Dubbed CoolCell ? because the fuel cells function at a temperature of 65?C, almost 600?C cooler than MTU?s hot fuel cells ? the unit provides electrical energy for the yacht?s on-board power supply and propulsion system. As it emits absolutely no pollutants, Elements of the system
it is impossible for the yacht to pollute either the water or the air, says MTU. In addition, there is virtually no noise vibration or smell during operation.
The system compares favourably with diesel or petrol engines, enabling a maximum 20 kilowatts of power. If there is a need for high continuous output, it can provide 15kW for approximately an hour, with normal continuous output of 4 kW (which is upgradeable to 6 kW) ? the levels usually offered by it?s fossil fuelled counterparts.
Designed for mobile applications such as other types of ships, and also trains, CoolCell is an electric highbred system comprising lead gel batteries and several fuel cells manufactured by Ballard Power Systems. Constructed as a modular system, it can be configured according to the output and range
The environmental support and advisory service, Envirowise, has expressed serious concern over the apathy shown by many UK electrical manufacturers towards impending new EC legislation on waste electrical and electronics equipment and hazardous substances.
Dr Martin Gibson, Envirowise programme director, said continuing failure by companies to get to grips with the directives on WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and ROHS (Restriction Of use of certain Hazardous Substances), has serious implications for the whole industry.
The WEEE directive will require producers (manufacturers and importers) to take responsibility for treating and recycling their products when they become waste. The ROHS Directive requires a number of potentially hazardous substances to be phased out by July 2006.
"Most companies see these directives as an item of legislation that requires only an environmental response, when in fact they also have serious financial, marketing and design implications. Many firms believe it's not relevant to them for some years to come, but that simply isn't true," said Gibson. "The legislation becomes law in nine months, and WEEE becomes effective 12 months later. Companies who wait until then to take action will be far too late. It is quite simple, if companies ignore ROHS, from 2006 their products will be banned. Companies avoiding the WEEE issue will find they pay the maximum compliance costs when the time comes to comply."
For further information, call the Environment and Energy Helpline on 0900 585794 or visit www.envirowise.gov.uk.
An in depth version of this article is published in the forthcoming November issue of Electrical Review.
CIBSE says its new concise handbook is the nearest thing a building services engineer can have to a 'get out of jail free' card. For