What is the best standard brands in the Main Control Cubicle

By |January 14th, 2016|

The sentence I’m talking about is the one that says something like, “All materials in the Main Control Cubicle shall be (insert brand here)”. I see this a lot; Strict requirements set out for use of site standard brands. It’s like a self-imposed non-competition clause on materials. A tender package for an additive manufacturer landed on my desk this week. It’s not dissimilar to a project for a chemical manufacturer we worked on last year. Both hazardous areas, both large scale installations, both sophisticated engineering design. But the project specifications were very different. One approach causes the cost of the electrical component to skyrocket and the other saves the client some serious cheddar. To borrow a line from the superannuation commercial, lets Compare The Pair. […]

Hazardous Areas: The 3 Critical Questions Chinese Authorities Need To Ask

By |August 17th, 2015|

The catastrophic explosion in the port of Tianjin in Northern China is a tragic reminder of why we have stringent Hazardous Standards and why they can never be compromised. Astonishingly, authorities are unable to ascertain exactly what chemicals were stored at the location. Why is such basic information not at their fingertips? And even more baffling, why did it take 3 days to establish a meaningful exclusion zone?  I expect there’ll be an exhaustive inquiry into how the explosion occurred, and the inadequacy of the response. If authorities are going to get to the bottom of this, the critical place to start is in the documentation. Here are my top 3 questions authorities need to ask to determine what rules were breached, and what rules are inadequate. […]

Two ways to cut industry electricity costs that wont be in the budget

By |May 12th, 2015|

With a few hours to go before the budget announcement, I’ve been thinking about business costs, specifically electricity prices – and how to reduce them. For those engineers or business owners who like to mix business with pleasure, here’s a game for this evenings announcement. Each time the treasurer talks about the burden of costs to businesses, have a shot of your best whiskey. A word of warning, you’ll be buying yourself a new bottle. Australian businesses are paying 80% more today than 5 years ago for electricity. One food manufacturer I work with, has an electricity bill of $70,000 per month. The official current rating to start an electric motor is 8 times the Full Load Current (FLA). In reality, it’s more like 5 times the FLA. That’s still a nasty spike! Here’s why this is important: Most businesses are billed on their peaks. I’ve worked with a lot of manufacturers to reduce the spike and thus cost caused at startup. My advice: Consider installing Variable Speed Drives (VSD) and soft starters. […]

A 5 step formula to avoid choosing a woefully inadequate PLC

By |February 19th, 2014|

There’s so many options on the market; Modicon, ABB, Allen Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Mitsubishi…where do you start? When you select the right PLC you widen your options and reduce the time and expense involved in installation and programming. The wrong PLC will hamstring your operations. This checklist will get you on your way. […]

The 5 Non-Negotiables Every Electrical Control Cabinet Should Have

By |January 23rd, 2014|

A new electrical control cabinet should look like a shiny new car and have the longevity of one, not a second hand Volvo. Here’s the low down on future proofing your electrical installations: You might be forking out 5k or 50k, but the quality of the design and build will either run like a dream year on year or have you calling out your electrician every other week. I routinely find 5 features absent that result in the cost of resolving breakdowns or future modifications to sky rocket. They’re not spelled out in quotes, so make sure you ask your electrician before you commit. […]


By |November 29th, 2013|

On a scale of 1 to “I have no idea” how sure are you that you’re applying the appropriate electrical solution for your safety category? I’ve seen numerous machines being used by manufacturers in Australia which fail to comply with appropriate electrical measures of safety. I’ve also seen well intended, but overzealous electrical installations burdening a business with unnecessary cost. I’ve put together a simple guide with examples to help you chose the appropriate electrical solution for your category. So, next time someone says “machine safety”, you don’t need to run for cover. Check it out. […]