Issue 144 July - August 2021

Please note: The issue content below is just a summary of the articles in the printed magazine.
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Power quality solutions from iDrives

As more electronic equipment is installed in industrial sites, power quality distortions have to be managed more effectively to offset the power inefficiencies and overheating caused by non-linear and other challenging loads on the network.

While addressing the slow degradation of equipment and poor power efficiency is often not the most pressing problem many sites chose to deal with, the adverse consequences of not improving power quality are real and inescapable, says Aslam Raza.

Raza is a director and national sales manager of iDrives NZ Ltd, a specialist supplier of variable speed drives, soft starters and power quality solutions.

He says iDrives supplies Danfoss VLT and Vacon AC drive with built in harmonic filters as standard, but that will not address power quality problems across an industrial site where effective mitigation and correction is required.

Whether power distortion is caused by VSDs or other non-linear loads in industrial plant or commercial buildings, Raza says installing harmonic filters is an essential requirement for local power networks today.

“That is why iDrives has developed specialist skills in power quality improvement to complement our comprehensive Danfoss and Vacon drive offer.”

Why can’t a new version of a standard be recognised straight away?

It is now eight years since the last update of the Electricity Regulations and no amendment is in sight to advance the compliance regime to make it simpler, clearer and more effective for the industry. However, the same can no longer be said of the schedules to the Regulations citing electrical standards that provide legally recognised pathways to compliance with the regulatory regime.

The consultation program initiated by MBIE to amend the referenced editions of over half of these standards has drawn strong interest from the industry, particularly around the predominant standard for electrical installations, AS/NZS 3000.

No sunset date has been proposed for the currently cited 2007 edition of this standard and the newer 2018 edition is proposed to be cited as well to allow the lawful use of either version.

MBIE is clearly underwhelmed by the new version of the joint standard produced by its own standards body and Standards Australia. In the consultation document MBIE acknowledged the 2018 edition includes important and beneficial updates but remains sceptical of its value.

MBIE said the cost to comply with certain updates is not justified by any safety gain. The Ministry also referred to the failure to include a number of expected safety improvements such as conditions for electric vehicle charging and the introduction of a TT earthing system for electricity supply.

TNS supply and EV charging

Inspector Athol Gibson comments on alternatives to MEN supply to make EV charging safe

Recent statements and desires point to a huge increase in demand for electricity in the future for charging of electric vehicles.

By all accounts electric vehicle charging requirements are about to increase dramatically. Among other things, it would seem prudent to get a little serious about any perceived safety requirements that need addressing with regard to the metal body of a vehicle.

Much comment has been made regarding the electric shock hazard of touching a vehicle that is charging, should there be an issue with an open circuit neutral in the distribution network of the MEN system. Even though the electric vehicle being charged is protected by an RCD, this will not protect against an electric shock from the metal body of the vehicle should there be an open circuit condition in the MEN distribution neutral conductor. The new standard SNZ PAS 6011:2021 explains this in much detail. Because this is a safety issue, then it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Licensing for electrical engineers

The licensing of engineers is back under a government microscope with a third round of consultations that began in 2013.

In May, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released a discussion document advising its intention to set up a registration and licensing system for all people providing professional engineering services and bring them under government control.

MBIE wants mandatory registration for chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineers to lift their professionalism, eliminate incompetent and reckless work and provide an avenue for substandard performance and behaviour to be addressed by a regulatory board answerable to the Minister for Building and Construction.

The board would determine who can be registered, what work needs to be licensed, and investigate complaints. All registered engineers would be subject to new continuing professional development obligations to keep their skills up to date and they would be required to conform to a code of conduct.

Registered engineers would be entitled to call themselves ‘professional engineer’. It would become an offence to call oneself a ‘professional engineer’ without being registered.

Levitating magnets advance manufacturing

The idea of objects floating about in mid-air may seem to be in the same category as magic carpets and hovering space craft – the stuff of sci fi movies and dreams! And for many years, this was indeed the case. However, modern technology can now manipulate the properties of magnetism to make this not just a reality, but also a viable commercial product.

Aimed particularly at high-end manufacturing, levitating magnet systems, while still relatively new, are finding an ever-increasing number of applications, especially in product transport areas during production.

Magnets that fly?

Levitating magnet systems are simple in design, consisting of one (or more) magnetic ‘movers’ that hover (literally fly) over a series of tiles. The system is completely non-contact; the movers do not need physical holders to maintain their position. There is also no electrical connection between the movers and the tiles.

Products can be placed on the movers, which contain only a permanent magnet but are otherwise passive. They travel above the tiles which have coils embedded in them. Once the coils are electrified, they generate a magnetic field which interacts with the movers. The tiles can be placed without restriction to impel the movers quickly and easily along the tile pathway.

Protecting industrial assets from cyberattacks

Cyberattacks, and their prevention, are one of the most widely discussed topics in the media. News feeds regularly feature stories of how hackers have performed cybercriminal activity that has wreaked havoc upon an unsuspecting organisation.

Hackers use a variety of methods including intrusion (the deliberate disruption of operations, including critical infrastructure such as public utilities), spying (surveillance or the stealing of trade secrets or intelligence), ransomware (a threat to seriously disrupt the infected computer’s operation unless a ransom is paid) or some other criminal intent. They can also create malware, a collective term for malicious software.

The WannaCry worm was one example of ransomware. Unleashed in May 2017, it quickly spread to infect thousands of computers worldwide. WannaCry encrypted data making it unusable but was effectively shut down within four days with the release of software patches to nullify its threat.

Stuxnet is perhaps the most famous example of infiltration. Uncovered in 2010, Stuxnet was a malicious computer worm that was supposedly created by foreign states. It was apparently designed to sabotage a very specific target – a nuclear facility in Iran. This facility used systems common to many industries, such as PLCs, SCADA and VSDs to drive centrifuges; the operation of which were severely impacted by Stuxnet for many years.

Home-grown lighting designed to last

When Lighting Revolution opened its doors as a lighting design company in 2012 the market for LED lighting was in its infancy. The company began working with traditional light sources and suppliers, then three years later the direction of the company changed, and Lighting Revolution became the local sole distributor of Hunza and LuxR products.

Today, Lighting Revolution still maintains support for the legacy products made by both these Kiwi lighting manufacturers, but a lot of Lighting Revolution’s focus today is on its growing commercial lighting ranges and introducing the latest LED technologies on indoor and outdoor luminaires.

A recent spotlight release by Hunza confirms that architects, specifiers and electrical contractors looking for durable well-designed LED fittings could find the lighting they are looking for locally and buy New Zealand-made with a factory-backed, five-year to twenty-five-year warranty.

Lighting Revolution director, Gabrielle Peace, says the latest addition to the Hunza Ultra spot range not only has all the long-life characteristics typical of Hunza outdoor and architectural products, but also the latest in lighting technology to aid designers and give users app control over the light delivered by the fitting.

Lighting with pendants

Architects and designers often use a pendant light as a feature in residential, hospitality and commercial projects. If it is done well, a pendant that is hanging above a boardroom table or dining table can help to draw other elements of the room together.

There are few rules when using pendants, however there are recommendations to ensure pendants look their best.

What is a pendant?

In a lighting context a pendant is a lamp or luminaire that is suspended from a ceiling, roof or other structure. Most people think of a pendant as a length of flex and/or suspension wire with a lamp holder, lamp and a shade of some sort.

In reality pendant designs range from the minimalist – plain flex with a bare lamp or a simple linear profile – to the flamboyant, including multi-point arrangements of large groups of pendants, and large baroque chandeliers.

Prices range from less than fifty dollars for a simple pendant to hundreds of thousands of dollars for chandeliers or bespoke multi-point installations.

Lighting and the Building Code

When lighting people talk about the NZ Building Code they are usually discussing the sections of Clause F relating to emergency and exit path lighting. However, lighting appears in almost every clause of the NZBC.

As councils tighten their consenting processes and paperwork it’s not only emergency lighting specialists who may be asked whether their work is compliant with the Building Code. General lighting practitioners are now more likely to be asked about other clauses of the Code and whether their work complies.

This article gives an overview of the clauses of the NZBC and how they relate to lighting, and covers some of what a lighting practitioner might be asked for to show compliance.

Clause A covers the uses and interpretation of the other clauses of the Building Code.