Issue 146 November - December 2021

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Smarter electric vehicle charging

Installing electric vehicle charging stations in parking buildings can now be easier and cheaper with the new cabletray mounting system from TransNet.

Developed in New Zealand by the Kiwi company, the innovative solution is the first to mount EV charge stations on cabletray in the known world, says TransNet’s EV division manager, Glenn Inkster.

TransNet distributes the Wallbox brand of EV charging stations and to make their installation easier, TransNet has already designed and manufactured installation accessories like in-ground pits and kits, pedestals and complex wiring kitsets.

Having designed a pedestal solution, it was an easy progression to suspend a unit from the ceiling. Now the company has gone one step further and developed a bracket that enables installers to attach Wallbox chargers to cabletray and utilise existing cable tray in covered carparks to run new cable with a lot less effort.

The cabletray mount is just one part of a complete EV infrastructure solution designed here in New Zealand by TransNet, says Inkster.

“We utilise the vast range of quality energy products TransNet offers to the electricity industry. The system is scalable to grow with the EV fleet and power sharing ensures the supply is not overloaded as more demand is introduced.”

The declining status of AS/NZS 3000

While the debate over the citation of AS/NZS 3000 goes on, the future of the standard’s role in the Electricity Safety Regulations is becoming more uncertain. This uncertainty is not just over the citing of the 2007 and 2018 editions, but also over the direction the standard is taking and its slowness to respond to emerging technologies and electrical safety risks.

From its inception, Standards Australia has worked on producing a new edition every five years but, as time has gone on, new versions have taken longer to develop, and progress has been stalled. Error-correcting and interpretation-clarifying amendments at the behest of differing Australian states and their inspectorates have taken priority over improving electrical safety risk management.

This has changed the purpose of the document, making it more complex and calling into question the reason for AS/NZS 3000 to be cited in the Electricity Regulations in New Zealand and how new editions should be recognised, if at all. (See ElectroLink May issue 2017, page 12, ‘Is it time to drop Australia?’)

Developed initially as a means to electrical safety compliance for trans-Tasman regulators, the standard is now being developed by Standards Australia as a purpose unto itself, blowing out timeframes for its development.

Instead of the expected five-year review cycle, the 2018 edition took 11 years to develop and has required two amendments to get it into better shape. If this tardiness is the blueprint for the future, the next edition might not arrive for another six or more years. Meanwhile changes sought by the New Zealand regulator to the way electricity is produced, distributed, earthed and utilised continue to outpace the standard’s performance.

Progress on stepped licensing

Significant changes to the electrical registration and licensing system are now underway that will change the scope of work for many licence holders.

These proposed changes have been detailed in an 86-page consultation document released in September by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB).

The changes include redefining the limits of work across all registration classes, making compliance with the Board’s Fit and Proper Person policy a daily condition of holding a licence, adjusting the registration requirements in some classes to establish progression pathways and introducing four new endorsements for high-risk work.

The Board intends to have its final decision on these changes put to the Minister of Building and Construction in December 2021 for her to approve their publication in the Gazette. This will allow the changes to proceed, and the Board has proposed a timeline for their implementation.

Rolls Royce to roll out nuclear power

China’s regional plans to build 43 new coal-fired power plants announced early this year has put the cessation of underground coal mining in New Zealand in a stark perspective. But for those measuring carbon release as an indicator of impending climate doom, help is on the way following further confirmation from the UK of Rolls Royce SMR Ltd advancing its development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) for power generation.

The net zero carbon emissions offered by nuclear power combined with the size and comparative affordability of a generating plant a tenth the size of a large traditional nuclear generator, has given Rolls Royce the confidence to proceed with the manufacture of its small reactors.

The new SMRs are designed to be built in UK manufacturing facilities in modules and then trucked to customers anywhere in the country or overseas. This approach is a radical departure from large-scale nuclear power plants. It transforms nuclear power generation into a factory-made and quality-managed product and promises to bring pricing within reach of utility companies or power station operators in many countries.

Using artificial intelligence within industry

It’s become increasingly clear that in order for producers to compete more effectively in the marketplace, they must become more efficient. This means making better decisions and being smarter with what they do.

For most manufacturers, labour is still the single biggest cost of production. So, any technique or system that can minimise labour content will generate obvious cost benefits.

The logical way of reducing labour is to mechanise the production process so that machines effectively do the work. Machines can work 24/7, without getting tired or needing a break or holidays. Also, once properly set up, they can produce high-quality output consistently.

This process of mechanisation has been underway for many decades and continues unabated. It has led to a marked increase in efficiency, better output quality and reduced production costs. It has also allowed products to become more intricate, as customers demand ever greater diversity in goods.

Since around the 1970s, mechanisation has incorporated computerisation. And as computers have become faster and more powerful, this has in turn allowed machines to become increasingly ‘smarter’, as they take on a growing number of decisions, for tasks that are ever more complex.

However, the computers used throughout industry (i.e. industrial controllers such as PLCs) still make their decisions based on a very rigid, pre-defined program that executes cyclically. The program is designed to handle a fixed set of input conditions, with little flexibility and without any ability to adapt or change what it does.

While such control systems are effective and widely used, their scope for decision making is relatively restricted, limiting what they can do. They also have no way of handling unforeseen or random events, meaning some human intervention is still required.

But perhaps the biggest limitation of traditional controllers is that any change in functionality must be implemented manually by a programmer. If producers are to remain competitive, it requires constant improvements in processes, and these controllers offer little to no help in this.

What IO-Link can do for you

IO-Link, like so many new concepts, had modest beginnings with very limited uptake. It was set up by its own community in 2006, which produced the first web site in 2009. It then proceeded to slowly gain traction throughout all industrial markets, and in recent years, has enjoyed a meteoric rise.

Perhaps most surprising is the way this activity has for the most part, escaped under the radar. The reason for this is because IO-Link has been almost universally supported by every industrial vendor, seemingly without question. No other industry standard can claim such ubiquitous adoption.

But what is even more amazing is that as a standard, it has no real competitors. This lack of alternative, coupled with IO-Link’s ability to easily fit into existing installations, will undoubtedly have added to its popularity and widespread acceptance by users and vendors alike.

Smart beam shaping with Hunza Liquid Beam

Turning outdoor spaces into a work of art or a place of fun is now a lot easier with new Liquid Beam intelligent lighting that narrows or widens the beam of a spotlight from a phone app.

Whether upgrading an existing outdoor lighting installation or designing a new one, beam-shaping technology provided by Hunza makes it easy to achieve the designed effect while overcoming limitations on where luminaires have to be mounted.

By being able to control the beamwidth from 10⁰ to 50⁰, the proximity of the fitting to the target is less important because you can now, in effect, zoom the light in and out to focus the beam effortlessly on exactly where you want it, after the fitting has been installed.

If customers want to change the settings or lighting scenes later, they can swivel or rotate the fixtures manually, then refocus their beams entirely via the app with no rewiring or mechanical adjustment of the fixture required.

That is because there are no moving parts required to adjust the beam. It is controlled instead through a solid-state liquid-crystal device that allows the beam angle to be varied electronically via remote control.

Improving lighting in small or remote schools

Lighting consultant Michael Warwick of MAW Design Ltd was engaged to scope and develop specifications to improve school lighting and provide expert lighting advice during upgrades to over 600 schools now underway. He comments as follows.

Last year the Ministry of Education tendered work on a programme to improve the learning environments for over 600 small or remote schools in New Zealand. The programme includes an upgrade of all lighting to LED light fittings.

Small or remote schools face unique property challenges. These include the limited time that boards and principals have available to spend managing property projects, and the challenge and high costs of getting contractors and tradespeople to the schools.

The Tomorrow’s Schools Review noted these challenges for small schools in particular and stated that they are exacerbated for remote schools. So how do we provide learning environments that give our next generation the best chance, when these school staff and boards have varied levels of knowledge of acoustics, lighting and building thermal performance?

Interning at Te Papa

In 2020 a new internship programme got underway to provide a graduate of the lighting design course at Massey University with the opportunity to advance their recently gained skills. Sponsored by Lighting Council New Zealand (LCNZ), the first intern was hosted by the national museum, Te Papa Tongawera, in Wellington.

Museum lighting designer, Alan Baird-Smith, oversaw the two-week internship. His objective was to provide the lighting graduate with a more hands-on experience of lighting design for different applications including exhibition lighting, and to pass on practical knowledge that not a lot of people get to have.

While Baird-Smith values 3D modelling as a design tool, he knows the insights gained from real experiences make for better design decisions. He says he values the IES course at Massey and the way it provides a grounding in lighting terminology and the science that underpins successful lighting design.

Baird-Smith initially became involved with lighting as an electrician in 1998 and has since gained a great deal of experience with lighting from film lighting to production cabinet lighting and more recently with the diverse lighting demands of the national museum.

He says the LCNZ internship helps candidates think differently and develop a better sense of light and space rather than just relying on programs. Along with facilities manager, Peter Cunninghame, he looks forward to welcoming this year’s intern and continuing the learning experiences the museum can offer.

LCNZ chairman, Chris Byrne, says the council appreciates the contribution the museum is making to the development of lighting skills through the internship. While Covid has disrupted the learnings offered to this year’s intern, LCNZ is in the process of confirming a candidate with Massey University for next year.

The inaugural 2020 intern selected was Roger Golding of Nelson. He comments on his experiences as follows: