Issue 136 January - February 2020

Please note: The issue content below is just a summary of the articles in the printed magazine.
The articles are not available on-line. Please refer to the printed magazine for the complete article.
Reliability – a key driver for Eurotech Lighting

The ready acceptance of LED has transformed the lighting industry and many of the companies working in it. One lighting supplier now forging a new direction is Eurotech Lighting which has transformed itself from an Auckland-based luminaire designer and manufacturer to an importer and distributor of an ever-increasing range of domestic and commercial light fittings.

Managing director, Justine Hickie, took charge of this 53-year-old family business a year ago and is driving the expansion of Eurotech Lighting’s portfolio. She says this expansion is designed to support electrical wholesalers with a more complete offer while setting a new benchmark of quality and reliability for the company.

“We have undergone a massive product review and focused our product development on ease of use and resilience to ensure electrical contractors can rely on our fittings and win more business with them.”

Hickie says Eurotech Lighting today is recognised for its downlights, bulkheads, buttons and bollards. The company has recently added a new product to their stainless steel bollard range.

First steps to stepped licensing

efore electrical work was codified into law many years ago, the risks to public safety were managed through controls exerted by power utility monopolies and insurance companies. The insurance industry was well-practised at managing risk and placing a monetary value on each type of risk that had to be addressed for insurance cover to be provided. Insurance companies set wiring rules that electrical workers had to follow to get insurance cover and, without cover, no work could be done.

The electrical safety work methods that were initially established by insurance companies have long since been replaced by prescriptive controls set in legislation. However, in 2010, new Electricity (Safety) Regulations were issued that made it clear that risk management was still the driver of legislated controls. These prescriptive controls are created internationally and locally and brought into effect by regulation and cited standards.

An amendment to the Electricity Regulations in 2013 introduced a stepped approach to managing electrical safety risks that occur in prescribed electrical work (PEW) in different types of installations. Five levels are now applied to all electrical installation work and three of these are expressed in Regulation 6A: low-risk, general, and high-risk PEW.

Retention law failure

The management of retentions under the Construction Contracts Act has been in place for over two years with mixed results. Former Master Electricians board member and director of Team Cabling, Dave Burt, is currently representing creditors in the liquidation of a building company. He comments on changes needed to improve the legislation.

In the March – April 2013 edition of the ElectroLink magazine exists an article titled, ‘What will the legacy of the Mainzeal collapse be for sub-contractors’. It’s an excellent article by Craig Black that succinctly details retentions for the uninitiated; and I will touch on some of its more poignant points later because they are just as relevant today.

Given the recent history of the time, it was a very fair question. I recall that period well. I was one of many that donated my retention monies to the Mainzeal pot of funds that is still being squabbled over today. The only thing I knew for sure was, as an unsecured creditor, my money was gone for all time. I must be quite a generous bloke because I have subsequently donated more to other main contractors in recent times.

TN-C-S versus TNS – Is our MEN system past its use-by date?

During many years working in the petrochemical and dairy industries and running his own contracting and manufacturing business, electrical inspector Athol Gibson gained a lot of insight into the effects of stray voltages and power quality problems. Following the introduction of electric vehicles, he comments on alternatives to MEN to overcome safety and supply issues.

The New Zealand low voltage electrical system of supply and connection to earth is based on the European TN-C-S earthing design. It has been used in New Zealand for approximately 90 years. The transformer neutral is connected to an earth electrode. The installation neutral and earth bars are linked, with the earth bar connected to a separate earth electrode. It requires integrity of the earth electrode to maintain the neutral at earth potential. (See diagram A)

It has been successful as a system of supply. It is particularly suited to the rural scene where there are long runs of low voltage reticulated supply and only a few consumers from each transformer.

What is really happening on the factory floor?

There can be little doubt that the advent of IoT has been one of the most exciting and talked about technological developments for the last few decades. It has massive implications, across almost every industry, from driverless cars to virtually every production facility.

But like so many significant innovations in their early stages, IoT suffers from being poorly understood, resulting in low take up rates. It also faces resistance from would-be users, who do not really grasp the benefits IoT can bring.

IoT denotes ‘Internet of Things’ and it literally means applying the internet far more widely than its customary applications like web sites and emails. The internet offers enormous potential for connectivity, and this is being increasing exploited by devices that until recently, were not even network enabled.

These devices are becoming ever smarter and the rise in the number being connected to the internet has been meteoric. One estimate puts it at 26 billion devices connected by the year 2020, and this trend seems set to continue well into the future. Once connected, a device’s data can be captured for storage on servers and then shared with other devices including smart phones.

Assessing LED colour consistency

Unless we’re designing lighting for an entertainment venue, we want our light sources to be the same colour. If the light colour varies it draws attention to the lighting, something a designer usually tries to avoid.

Colour difference is measured in MacAdam ellipses or MacAdam steps. Usually three to four steps of variation is visible to the naked eye, although assessment of light colour is affected by other factors like the relative location of the light sources.

With LEDs, especially in colour-critical applications like museums, retail and workplaces where correct colour identification is important, a difference of greater than one or two MacAdam steps may cause issues.

We used to accept that fluorescent and metal halide lamps could colour shift over time, but the lamps themselves were replaceable, so the change in colour and any resultant drop in light output didn’t mean the end of life for the luminaire. A new lamp would correct the colour shift and any drop in lumen output.

With LED luminaires, noticeable colour inconsistency is no longer an accepted characteristic of the technology. Now it is considered a product quality issue.

Good lighting for people with dementia

Without adequate light older people can’t function well, bringing forward the day when they start to need home help or a higher level of residential care.

By 2026 almost 80,000 New Zealanders will also be living with dementia and more care services will be needed at additional cost including better lighting. Dementia is not just an elderly person’s disease. It can also affect younger adults, people with drug and alcohol addictions and people who have suffered head trauma.

The longer we can help dementia patients stay in their own homes or remain at lower levels of care, the better for them as individuals and for the community as a whole.

People who have dementia have lighting needs beyond those of older people. Recently New Zealand was visited by Emeritus Professor Mary Marshall, a world leader in designing environments for people living with dementia. Professor Marshall talked about “disabling buildings”, what we can do to avoid creating them, and what we can do to fix legacy buildings that are not fit for purpose.