You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

Should the sale by Areva of France of its Transmission and Distribution (T&D) business go through as planned, the sale will not impact on local group ACTOM’s existing contractual arrangements involving Areva T&D technology and equipment. This assurance has been given by Jack Rowan, managing director of ACTOM’s Transmission & Distribution division, which holds exclusive distribution, technology and representation rights for Areva T&D in Southern Africa… ( more)


A proposal to form an industry association to deal with nuclear issues was drawn up and presented to a conference in November 2007. The idea was taken to Jaco Kriek of the PBMR Company and to Rob Adam of Necsa (Pelindaba) and, presto, we now have Niasa with Dr. Rob Adam as president and Sias Booysen of DCD-Dorbyl as deputy. The constitution and membership list are to be found on the Niasa website.  The overall objective is, needless to say, to promote nuclear technology… (more)

The GLS (General Lighting Service) lamp is the most familiar of all lamp types. It is still the largest volume of any light source produced worldwide and covers many and varied forms. A lot of applications have, to a larger or lesser extent, been taken over by halogen and compact fluorescent lamps in recent years, but the GLS is proving resilient… (more)

The lighting market has witnessed a rapid increase in the use of light emitting diodes in applications like automotive, emergency and decorative (architectural) lighting. Looking at general lighting, LEDs are increasingly being used in outdoor decorative (architectural) lighting projects, thanks to the saturated colours, the possibility of colour dynamics and the low maintenance needed during the long LED lifetime… (more)

This article describes the successful repair of a 1,8 MW, 4 pole, 11 kV, 1492 rpm Alstom (France) squirrel cage AC induction motor at Sasol Secunda’s oxygen plant. This particular motor is used to drive an alternator that starts a 36 MW air compressor for the oxygen plant’s starting cycle. There are only two such units at Sasol and hence  a quality repair was critical… (more)

Sophisticated and highly susceptible microprocessor based electronics and data communication networks are integrated across every sector of today’s fast paced business world. Preserving these mission-critical systems from the damages of surges, spikes, and transients ensures that these systems are protected from equipment destruction, disruption in service, and from costly downtime. How to properly stage these surge protection devices (SPDs) can be as important as actually making the decision to purchase them… (more)

ACTOM Signalling successfully completed a major signalling contract in Cape Town‘s Khayelitsha township recently in the face of difficulties that included illegal power connections and cable damage, which caused setbacks in the installation of the signalling systems along some sections of the line. Just at the point when a team was ready to commission the equipment, the illegal power connections caused fault currents on the railway line, causing track circuit equipment to burn out and have to be replaced… (more)

Poor power quality causes more downtime than you think. “Is 99,999% reliability keeping your processes running? That’s what most US electric utilities are providing: “five nines” of reliability. When compared to power reliability around the world, five nines is good, translating into roughly five minutes without power each year, or maybe a single hour with no power every 10 years. In most industries, one hour without power every 10 years is a manageable problem. Surely companies don’t need to spend a lot to insulate them from this, unless the safety of their employees is threatened. So why do firms spend millions on premium utility service, generators, transfer switchgear and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)?… (more)

The ability to do live maintenance on an intrinsically safe system is a major benefit of the technique. Consequently live working is very desirable. There are however factors, other than gas ignition, that have to be considered whenever an instrument system is taken out of commission and consequently local safety practices such as “permits to work” have still to be observed… (more)

If you haven’t measured energy before, take a minute to understand how it differs from volts and current. When we talk about the “energy” supplied by the utility, we’re talking about two primary components: power and demand. Power, kW, is commonly measured in watts (W), which indicate the rate With energy costs getting higher, many facilities are trying to reduce their energy consumption. Most have not previously analysed their monthly energy usage. And until you understand how you’re using energy, it’s hard to make smart decisions on how to reduce consumption. at which energy is expended in one second… (more)

As all employers know, employees often submit medical certificates that describe the ailment as: “medical condition” or “illness”or some such similar wide and vague symptoms. Sometimes employers believe that if an employee produces a medical certificate as justification for a period of absence, that the employer is bound to accept it… (more)

Radio amateurs working with the South African Radio League’s Emergency Communication Network HAMNET, have geared up to support the World Cup soccer event with alternative communication channels should conventional channels fail or become overloaded… (more)

Broadband remains a challenge in South Africa. EngineerIT will address the issues by providing a forum on 2 March 2010, where a number of industry leaders will bring us up to speed with the latest developments and technologies in broadband communication… (more)

It was a privilege for me to spend an hour over coffee with Dr. Ramphele to discuss the reasoning behind the formation of TIA. I enjoyed her open and frank discussion about what for some would be sensitive issues. I asked her “Is innovation such a problem in South Africa that we need a high-powered agency?… (more)

Despite setbacks for the industry over the last 18 months, the fundamental facts affecting the future of nuclear power have not changed, according to Dr. Rob Adam , CEO of NECSA. Speaking at a SANEA presentation, Dr. Adam mentioned the cancellation of the Eskom nuclear build program, withdrawal of the letter of intent from Eskom to purchase PBMR reactors, the restrictions on PBMR finance, and the collapse of the price of uranium as factors which have created a very negative outlook for nuclear power in South Africa… ( more)

South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya plan to launch a constellation of earth observation satellites; SumbandilaSat commissioning on schedule; a fourth satellite for SA; sunspots are back; new SA Space Agency appointment, and Voyager solves interstellar mystery… (more)

In ICT we are continually being bombarded by new buzzwords, often new words for the same services. It may be a good marketing ploy to keep rebranding but it may also cause confusion and build business resistance to what could be a useful tool to drive growth and profit. Is business intelligence (BI) another one of those marketing buzzwords?… (more)

Telkom recently launched its new Bellville data centre which has been described as revolutionary by the industry. My question is: “At what point does being green become cost-effective?”… (more)

Streaming video has proved to be a powerful tool for businesses and organisations around the world, yet still has to find general acceptance in South Africa as a valuable addition to marketing, training and corporate promotion… (more)

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the rate of head-in-pillow component soldering defects which interrupts the merger of the BGA/CSP component solder spheres with the molten solder paste during reflow. The issue has occurred across a broad segment of industries including consumer, telecoms and military. Part I of this article was published in EngineerIT November 2009… (more)

Are test equipment suppliers providing enough application support for analytical instrumentation? Suppliers deal with many installations and constantly learn from their customers. A progressive supplier will share his learning experiences with all his customers whether by issuing regular applications notes or holding customer seminars… (more)

Is the restriction of hazardous substances directive (RoHS) which emanated from the European Union (EU) overkill? Does electronic equipment containing lead present such a major threat when it is disposed off? What about lead acid batteries in just about every motor vehicle – do they not present a much great pollution problem?… (more)

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) have been with us for some time but many people have unanswered questions as to what they actually do, what the difference is between them and what they have to offer specific industries. We intend to answer these key questions… (more)

Robots can be critical in search and rescue operations as they are able to reach concealed places and environments that are inaccesible to fire-fighters and rescue personnel. While robots were used during the 9/11 rescue operations, many limitations were exposed… (more)

The fact that South Africa has a large pool of unemployed labour is often  used in discussions on whether robotics has a place in South African industry. It is argued that better use should be made of the available labour resources by providing sustained training programmes… (more)

Generating complex real-world, mixed-signal waveforms may not be trivial. But it should be feasible, practical, and routine.  Simulation, in the best of cases, is an exacting science. In other cases, such as when complex natural events or physical systems are involved, the outcome may be downright unpredictable… (more)

The role of technical standards in the curriculum of academic programmes in engineering, technology and computing is discussed. The purpose of this document is to define the desired role of technical standards in education within engineering, technology, and computing (ETC) academic curricula in the technical areas of interest of IEEE… (more)

The only benchmark for aspiring competitive economies in the emerging global knowledge economy is measuring themselves against the best in the world. The quality of a nation’s human workforce and its ability to generate and assimilate technological innovations primarily determine its global competitiveness… (more)

It is often said that today’s university students will, in 20 years time, be doing jobs and using technologies that haven’t yet been invented. Cell phones, digital photography, the world-wide web, GPS, games consoles and iPods – none of these existed in their present forms 20 years ago… (more)

Eskom is to announce a new rebate level for solar water heaters tomorrow. According to Cedric Worthman, Eskom DSM, the subsidy formula has been changed to facilitate a payback period of five years, taking average costs into account… (more)

While Eskom has sent the nation into a tailspin by asking for massive electricity tariff hikes over the next three years, the government has failed to make public the plan upon which the increase is based – even though it is required to do so by law. And this just before the national energy regulator, Nersa, begins public hearings on January 11 on Eskom’s controversial bid for a 35% per year increase in the price of electricity compounded over the next three years…

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