Issue 143 May - June 2021

Please note: The issue content below is just a summary of the articles in the printed magazine.
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EllisCo and Eaton powering electrical installations

Companies looking for more support in the development of their electrical infrastructure, plant and safety systems now have a new team to call on following Eaton’s partnership with industrial electrical product distributor, EllisCo.

Eaton’s presence in New Zealand as a supplier of core electrical product changed a year ago when Eaton expanded its partnership with EllisCo and both companies began working together to bring a greater range of Eaton’s electrical distribution and motor control components to customers throughout New Zealand.

EllisCo’s sales director, Douglas Oliver, says Eaton’s product offering is world class and integrates well with the industrial products and services EllisCo already supplies.

“The more we work with Eaton locally and with their technical people in Australia, the stronger our offer has become. This is opening up greater opportunities for electrical wholesalers to gain more industrial business.”

Oliver says the extra vigour Eaton is providing in support of its local expansion is confirmation of the company’s commitment to the New Zealand electrical industry and its intention to become a major supplier here as it is in many of the 175 countries it exports to.

Health and safety conflicts – how the electricity regulations should address HSWA

It has now been 30 years since the new Electricity Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSE) were introduced. For most of that time it was the intention of government to remove the health and safety provisions from electrical law and put them into new regulations under the HSE Act, but it never happened.

Then when the Pike River mine blew up and the Labour Department was dumped because of its contribution to the mine’s failure, the government decided to adopt old Australian law on workplace safety to replace the HSE Act and set up a new entity, WorkSafe, to oversee worker safety not just in mines but in every workplace.

Again, the plan was to transfer the health and safety provisions in the Electricity Regulations to regulations to be developed under the new Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSWA). In the May issue 2015, ElectroLink alerted the industry to the government’s stated intention to intensify restrictions on live work and transfer the work controls in Part 8 of the Electricity Regulations to HSWA in phase two of HSWA regulation development. Again, it never happened.

For over a quarter of a century successive governments have failed to complete the separation of the two sets of legislation because it has never figured out how to do it. That is because, at some point, the way electrical safety is delivered in the workplace always becomes inseparable and is required for both the regimes.

Integrating standard signals into functional safety

Electrical safety systems experienced a breakthrough in the mid-1990s with the advent of the IEC 61508 standard. Titled Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electric Safety rated Systems, it effectively allowed microprocessor-based controllers to be used within safety circuits, thereby ushering in the era of functional safety.

Prior to the release of IEC 61508, users were forced to resort to hardwired safety circuits. These were far more cumbersome and difficult to fault-find, but the heavy regulation demanded by the laws around safe workplaces meant there was little choice.

However, by utilising controllers that are programmable, users have far more flexibility when designing safety systems, which are also faster to build, simpler to change and easier to duplicate. The change towards programmable safety is much like the move away from hardwired circuits to PLCs that occurred several decades earlier.

IEC 61508 has since been adapted by numerous industry specific safety standards. These include ISO 26262 (Automotive), IEC 62279 (Rail), IEC 61511 (some process industries) IEC 61513 (Power plant) and IEC 62061 (Machinery). Significantly, all these industries have adopted programmable safety, as well as the networks they are often used with.

Many automation vendors now offer an abundance of product choices, including some with innovations. Despite variances in products, users can be assured that compliance to the relevant safety standards means that protection levels will be maintained.

Stepper or servo motor – which is the best choice?

When it comes to selecting a motor for an industrial application requiring positioning, users often tend towards AC servo systems and overlook the stepper motor option. This is despite the fact that steppers can provide comparable results for most applications and may even be more appropriate in some instances. Furthermore, servo systems are more complex and more expensive. So, what factors need to be considered when choosing a motor for a positioning application?

Motion control applications that use positioning include cutting, labelling and many others. These require tight control of the motor so that it starts and stops at precisely the right position. This usually means utilising either a stepper or a servo motor, as other motor types such as DC and induction are designed more for continuous running.

Better product specification from G-Light

New LED lighting products continue to arrive at G-Light and the latest to catch the attention of lighting designers is the new anti-corrosion Marina floodlight. Designed to withstand chlorine and salt-laden air, the Marina range offers four asymmetrical lens options to increase light utilisation, avoid light pollution, reduce glare and increase uniformity, says national sales manager, Simon Jamieson.

Jamieson says designing luminaires and light fittings with the right features for New Zealand applications is second nature to G-Light.

“The Marina GFL700 with its asymmetric optics make it extremely versatile for coastal, aquatic and chemical environments where it can distribute light more precisely to where you want it.”

He says also breaking new ground is the latest GHB Kingston high bay from G-Light.

“The new Kingston 700 is the first high bay in our range to break the 200 lm/watt barrier and this has been verified by independent testing. Any project wanting both optimal lighting and energy performance can benefit from the greater energy savings delivered by the new Kingston 700.

Darker skies ahead?

As more lighting is commissioned daily it becomes more difficult at night to see the stars that we took for granted as children. Eighty percent of Europeans can no longer see the Milky Way.

In New Zealand’s cities it can be difficult to pick out all the stars in the best-known constellations, however Stewart Island (Rakiura) is famous not just for its wildlife but for its brilliant starscape, visible because of the lack of light pollution there.

Rakiura is one of only fourteen areas worldwide that have achieved a Dark Sky Sanctuary designation from the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), for its “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value”.

The on-going protection from light pollution that was required to achieve this designation meant getting buy-in from the local population. Everyone on the island is now aware of the issue of light pollution and works to control it. As a result astrotourism – travel to view and photograph the night sky - is contributing an increasing amount to the local economy.

Lighting standards updates

Many of the lighting standards that are referenced in the New Zealand Building code are joint Australian and New Zealand standards, recognisable by the prefix AS/NZS, and developed from similar European standards.

Some standards have separate requirements for Australian and New Zealand users owing to differences in regulation in the two countries. In some cases New Zealand has its own standard, prefixed NZS.

Each standard is periodically reviewed by a committee that includes technical experts and industry representatives. This keeps the standards current, incorporating changes in technology and evidence-based best practice.

As an example, when NZS 4243 – covering energy efficiency in large buildings – was reviewed, the potential for greater energy savings from newer LED technology resulted in changes to the standard, including reductions in the maximum watts-per-square-meter limits for some areas.

Similarly in the current draft of the revision of AS/NZS 1158.1.1, one of the stated objectives of the standard is now concerned with minimising light pollution to protect the night sky. This new objective reflects new knowledge about the social and environmental harms caused by light pollution.