You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2011.

The KAT-7 telescope, a prototype for the MeerKAT radio telescope array being built by the SKA South Africa team on the Karoo Astronomy Reserve, has achieved a major milestone. All seven of the dishes have now been successfully fitted with “cold” radio receivers, signalling the successful completion of the telescope antennas… (more)


For the past twenty years we have approached the subject of automation in the same way, over and over again, with a PLC – a central intelligence controlling every aspect of machines and processes in a very limited and simplistic way, like puppets on a string… (more)

The two satellites being built by students of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) include a beacon operating in the 20 m amateur band. The first of the two is a single CubeSat 10 x 10 x 10 cm with a mass of one kilogramme… (more)

The ongoing demand for ever-smaller electronic devices has led to a continual challenge for the printed circuitboard (PCB) manufacturing community to fit more circuitry onto smaller PCB surface areas. The challenge has been met by the introduction of multilayer PCBs, a natural progression from the standard double-sided, through-hole plated type of PCB… (more)

This story has its origin in a garage, where in 1975 Andy Chisholm started making printed circuit boards (PCBs) at his home in Cape Town. As his list of customers grew, so did his need for staff and working space. He formed a company called Renak and moved from his garage to premises in Plumstead and later to a larger factory in Diep River… (more)

All digital oscilloscopes are temporarily blind. During this blind time the user may miss critical signal events at the device under test. It is therefore necessary to understand the impact of blind time on measurement. This article discusses the background of blind time and points out why a high acquisition rate is important, as well as the need for faster debugging, measurement and analysis… (more)

A large percentage of today’s embedded designs contain FPGAs as well as a wide variety of technologies that interface with the FPGA, including devices with analogue, parallel, and serial circuits… (more)

Diesel and electricity are the lifeblood of a mine. Ensuring that diesel is as close as possible to where it is needed for underground machinery, in the shortest timespan and in the most efficient way, can greatly improve the overall performance of a mine… (more)

With the maintenance skills shortage and high cost of dedicated equipment-health instrumentation, a number of big corporations are looking at intelligent technology to assist in keeping maintenance costs down… (more)

Solar PV has been around for many years. As the technology has gained wider acceptance, volumes have increased and the cost has steadily decreased. Only in the last few years have solar PV technologies evolved for specific applications, such as small sloped residential rooftops, large flat rooftops, and desert ground-mounted installations… (more)

According to the IEEE Standard 1100 (2005) Emerald Book, “transient” or “surge” is defined as “a sub-cycle disturbance in the AC waveform that is evidenced by a sharp, brief discontinuity of the waveform.” Transients or surges occur as a result of external and/or internal events. Moreover, transient events that occur because of external anomalies can create in themselves internal events… (more)

Communications companies have been experimenting with video conferencing technology since the late 1950s, but only with the advent of broadband internet and affordable web cameras during the late 1990s did the notion really take off. Video conferencing took an even greater step into mass use with the release of Microsoft Netmeeting 3.0 in 1999… (more)

Laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs and now smart phones are rocking the world of cyber security. Not so long ago companies would only allow their own desktops on their networks –now it seems that anything goes, as companies virtualise, and, worse still, allow employees to bring their own devices to work and connect to the corporate network… (more)

New techniques are pushing embedded power management beyond sleep mode. With sleep modes no longer able to deliver the energy economies which can support a new generation of products with decade-long battery life-times, microcontroller manufacturers are turning to new techniques to take embedded power management beyond the conventional sleep mode… (more)

How badly would your business be affected if your internet connection went down for a week? Five or ten years ago, the answer might have been “not that badly”; it would be annoying to lose email, but you’d have been able to cope by reverting to faxes or maybe using dialup… (more)

Success is all about good vision. Dr. James Truchard, founder and CEO of National Instruments shares his philosophy.  Annually, National Instruments hosts NIWeek,which brings together engineers, scientists and companies to share developments and projects around the NI open graphical platform… (more)

The current debate emphasises entry-level job creation and tends to overlook the multiplier effects of training and retaining high level engineering, management and technical skills. It also ignores the fact that even the hi-tech sector absorbs low skilled workers… (more)

SANS 10086 Part 3 gives instructions on the repair, overhaul, reclamation and modification of certified apparatus designed for use in explosive atmospheres. By “maintenance”, the standard means routine repair actions taken to preserve the fully serviceable condition of the installed apparatus. “Repair” refers to the restoration of a faulty apparatus to a fully serviceable condition. By “overhaul” is meant the restoration to a fully serviceable condition of a used or in-store item… (more)

Machine and plant construction companies must develop innovative concepts that allow energy consumption to be reduced noticeably. A logical way to do this in industrial sustainably automation is by enhancing the communication effectiveness of control technology… (more)

The more designers can integrate the safety functions of a control system with non-safety functions, the better the opportunity to minimise equipment redundancies, improve productivity and minimise costs… (more)

On ultra deep gold mines the de-watering system is used in a cascaded manner to transfer water from one reservoir to another until it ultimately reaches the surface holding area. By automating the process the control can be centralised, enabling load management while considering all constraints of the system… (more)

Today, VSDs’ fundamental usage has remained the same, while technology has evolved and improved, yielding drives that are better able than ever to reduce energy consumption and improve reliability while extending equipment life… (more)

Standard EP Act motors typically require five to six times the locked-rotor or full load amp (FLA) starting current to reach operating speed, and NEMA premium motors can require eight to ten times FLA at start-up. In some applications, reduced voltage soft starters (RVSS) or variable frequency drives (VFD) can be used instead of traditional contactors or motor starters to reduce inrush current… (more)

Lighting in the utility’s buildings is one of the critical elements that are mentioned in the Eskom IEE procedure and it was therefore decided to target this component to implement the first IEE project in the North Western region (NWR)… (more)

The fluorescent lamp resulted from the combined efforts of many people, each contributing a piece.  Not only the lamp, but also its associated equipment such as control gear and starters had to be developed… (more)

Vector has received letters from readers wanting to know how units purchased in terms of the inclined block tariff are allocated and how the various systems of prepaid sliding scales work in different geographic areas… (more)

The ultimate advantage to the local renewable sector is that, regardless of REFIT, REBID, tenders or green certificates, we have by far the best solar radiation in the world. It is a boundless national resource which makes this country more attractive to solar companies… (more)

South Africa’s leading tertiary educational institutions of electrical, electronics, computer and information engineering (academic universities and universities of technology) are participating and fielding eligible team(s) of final-year undergraduate students at the contest… (more)

The Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA) has appointed Carel Ballack permanent ombudsman to mediate and arbitrate for the successful resolution of customer complaints, and to help members interpret and understand their responsibilities in terms of SESSA’s code of conduct… (more)

The 2011 edition of the “ECA Schedule of Rates” has been finalised and is now available from regional offices. The document is for use by ECA member companies in good financial standing. While the format and layout of the document have not changed, a number of new features have been introduced… (more)

Energy usage in buildings will be promulgated soon under SANS 10400-XA and one of the energy efficiency interventions which will become mandatory is the installation of thermal insulation in buildings. Thermal insulation installers are required to take additional electrical safety measures to protect themselves and home or building owners… (more)

An independent contractor is a person who contracts to do work for another person according to his or her own processes and methods; the contractor is not subject to another’s control except for what is specified in a mutually binding agreement for a specific job… (more)

It is common cause that there are three grounds on which an employee’s services may be terminated, namely misconduct, incapacity due to ill health or poor work performance and, finally, operational requirements… (more)

CMH Datcentre Durban has announced that ECA (SA) members qualify to buy vehicles virtually at cost price, with only pre-delivery inspection, licencing and registration costs added. Contact Ridwaan Mahommed directly for pricing or queries on financing… (more)

In the past, when mining was in its heyday, South Africa had many certificated engineers whose training was among the best in the world. Times have changed, however, and many companies have either cut down on or stopped providing training to certificated engineers altogether… (more)

A great degree of uncertainty over South Africa’s renewable energy procurement programme has made international players shaky about investing in the sector. However, this situation was resolved recently when the South African National Energy Regulator (NERSA) concurred with the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) proposal to abandon the renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT)… (more)

Mike Rycroft, editor of Energize magazine, is the winner of the 2011 SANEA Energy Journalism Award. The award was presented at the annual awards ceremony of the South African National Energy Association (SANEA) on 25 August 2011 in Johannesburg for “special efforts within the field of journalism to promote greater understanding of energy and its role in sustaining human endeavours”… (more)

Presentations have been made recently to the AMEU Education and Training Committee, as well as to a meeting of the AMEU Highveld Branch, on a National Treasury Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) division initiative to “professionalise and strengthen local government to ensure sustainability and delivery of infrastructure”… (more)

The Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) is in the process of convening a working committee to discuss and implement strategies for keeping the manufacture of power pylons local after its successful application for import protection, which was gazetted earlier this year. “Protection is only the beginning of the story. We still have much to do to ensure that this important sector is kept local,” says SAISC industry development manager Kobus de Beer… ( more)

The future of motor racing has arrived! In 2012, The Formulec World Series officially begins – the fully electric Formula 3 format-based motor-sport series will accelerate into South Africa during the 10 race season to be held on 5 continents. Eco Promotions, has secured the rights as promoter to host South Africa’s first ever electric formula racing event. To secure a location for the South African inaugural event, Eco Promotions is in the process of evaluating various SA cities and sites for an October 2012 street race… (more)

On 23 August 2011, EE Publishers hosted an open panel discussion and debate in Midrand, entitled “Renewable Energy in South Africa – going backwards or forwards?” The presenters at the panel discussion and debate, key players in the renewable energy (RE) sector of South Africa covered the background on where the country finds itself now, as well as the road ahead in the implementation of the ambitious RE targets detailed in the national integrated resource plan for electricity, IRP 2010 – 2030… (more)

Wading through the mass of IPP Procurement Process documents the other day made me think of the first poker game I was dragged off to by my partner Scrooge. The game had been introduced to London society by the celebrated Mr Crowell, an artist who had just returned from Louisiana and it was hosted at the aptly named Orleans Hotel, a posh antecedent to the less stylish Cavendish of today… (more)

Eskom’s exorbitant price hikes – both past and projected – have been extensively covered in the press but, surprisingly, no mention has been made of those who have recently had to face a single, whopping 76% increase. These are the people living in townhouse complexes who receive a bulk supply. These are the people – many of whom live in small sectional title units on meagre pensions – that are really being ripped off. According to Eskom, their bulk tariff was abolished at the instruction of “The Regulator” who insisted on inclined block tariffs… (more)

Energy storage has played a relatively minor  role in the power system, but as intermittent renewable resources, distributed generation, and advanced technologies transform the traditional power grid, storage may become a key enabler of the low-carbon, smart power grid of the future… (more)

 With a large penetration of wind already in the Xcel energy balancing footprint and plans to add more in the near future, the company is seeking innovative ways to integrate renewable energy. One potential solution is large-scale electrochemical energy storage. The Wind-to-Battery (W2B) Project is being conducted to evaluate the overall effectiveness of sodium sulphur (NaS) battery technology in facilitating the integration of wind energy onto the grid… (more)

Testing a capacitor bank used to be a tedious and time-consuming task but using M4000 instrument system, as described in this article, will simplify this tremendously and provide comprehensive information for capacitor condition assessment and capacitor bank management… (more)

The strength of electrical power systems is defined by the fault level which is determined by the investment in power generation. Many of the developing countries in Africa have small generation facilities such as small hydro and diesel driven turbines. With a low fault level, the resulting power system is weak and this deters new economic investments in mining and industries… (more)

This paper presents the results of research done on the measurement of current and voltages measured on the Eskom LV network in the North Western Region (NWR). The NWR include areas of Gauteng, Free State and Northern Cape. The reason for this research is to identify areas with theft and to improve the quality of supply to our customers. A measurement device was developed that could be connected to pole mounted transformers in the urban areas (townships) without disconnecting the customers… (more)

It is commonly accepted that utilities generate a near perfect sine wave voltage. In most areas, the voltage found on transmission systems has very low distortion. However, as we move closer to the load, the distortion increases.The utility which is represented at the customer end by the power distribution transformer is the most common power source in industry. The type of this power source is voltage source and its main objective is to maintain stable voltage across its secondary windings… (more)

Coping with the fluid “surges” or “hammering” often experienced in centrifugal pumping systems as a result of starting and stopping a pump, opening or closing valves, and many other sources in a particular system when any sudden change of flow is introduced, can be complex and costly. Rockwell Automation, suggests an economical approach to reduce these effects by exploring electronic starting and stopping of the pump motor… (more)

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