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The Alstom Chair in Clean Energy Systems Technology (ACCEST) was inaugurated on 1 December 2011at the University of the Witwatersrand, through a partnership, which will see Alstom investing over R17- million in various projects at the University between 2009 and 2016. The Chair will address the technology of electricity generation and transmission of South Africa, recognising the need for growth and environmental sustainability… (more)

Recent articles published in the AMEU e-Bulletin and other media sources have served to highlight the national power system constraints expected over the next few years, as well as a few of the recommended mitigation strategies to prevent or reduce the widespread disruption experienced during the 2008 electricity generation crisis. These constraints impact both winter load (higher demand) and summer load (the need to do essential maintenance on the generation fleet)… (more)

At the start of every new school year comes the great hand-wringing about the dismal failure of the school system to produce feedstock for technical fields of study. Fortunately, this year brought a note of optimism because overall, over 70% of matriculants passed the state-set examinations last year. There was the usual concern about the drop in standards. The horrible schools did very poorly, the good ones passably, and the excellent ones (most of which aren’t run by government, thank goodness) did brilliantly… (more)

We’ve all heard the saying “local is lekker” and seen campaigns by local manufacturers urging us to support South African brands. However, the China effect is being felt as businesses and retailers increasingly look towards the Far East to source products rather than supporting local manufacturers.   South Africa has felt the effect more recently in the local electrical manufacturing industry. The lure of these cheaper electrical components has resulted in an increasing number of imports at the expense of locally produced products… (more)

To safeguard the delivery of energy supply from coal fired power stations, (CFPS) a stock back up tonnage of coal is required at the station. This stock is generally referred to as a stock pile (SP) whether measured in tonnage (SPT) or in days (SPD). The total stock reflects the stock of coal (in tonnes) at hand, plus the replenishments (such as from stathes [e.g. bunker type] or direct-supply); therefore the total stock is equivalent to the SPT. Essentially, the SPD reflects the daily SPD variation on the stock, based on the daily usage and replenishment… (more)

There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high… (more)

The design of substation earth grids is involved with limiting grid potential rise (GPR), which is a result of earth fault currents that flow to earth through an earth grid impedance. Overstated substation fault current can potentially result in an uneconomical substation earth mat design. This paper illustrates that it is necessary to get a clear understanding of the specific substation configuration in order to design a safe and economical earth grid… (more)

Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa (PB) in association with ACE Energy and PPA Energy was contracted by the Government of Rwanda (GOR) through the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) in Rwanda to formulate a National Electricity Grid Code (“Grid Code”).  Once promulgated, the custodians of the Grid Code will be the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) where their primary responsibility will be to enforce the provisions made in the Grid Code… (more)

This paper presents a case study and energy efficiency analysis of the 405 km, 420 kV transmission line between Insukamini substation in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and the Matimba thermal power station in South Africa. Three scenarios were evaluated and an analysis was made on the energy efficiency of the load with respect to the three scenarios by means of a simulation model… (more)

Arc-flash incidents are a major concern to maintenance managers. Statistics show that 65% of arc-flash incidents occur when undergoing maintenance or fault finding, so this naturally leads us to the exploration of methods to reduce likelihood of an arcflash incident during maintenance – arc fault protection… (more)

Cutting down carbon emissions has become a growing concern for policy makers, car manufacturers, and building designers in our present world. Consequently, batteries as energy storage devices have taken the centre stage in the search for alternative sources of energy and development of low-cost hybrid electric vehicles… (more)

Often, the problem faced by engineers when designing a starting solution for a series of large inline motors, like those found in major pumping applications, is the amount of voltage drop, which can have a detrimental effect on other vital equipment within the plant or operation. This article examines an alternative solution to starting large inline motors in order to minimise starting current and reduce associated voltage drop… (more)

Small to medium sized rooftop solar PV systems are being installed extensively in other countries, notably Germany, Japan and the US, where legislation is in place to support this technology, and where the PV industry has developed on the back of these programs. There is a groundswell of support in this country for the inclusion of rootop PV in renewable energy roll-out programs, and in spite of the lack of legislation, and any program promoting the technology, private installation of grid tied rooftop PV systems is growing… (more)

A solar energy technology roadmap (SETRM) has been developed for South Africa, which lists a number of technological systems that have clearly been demonstrated or commercialised; where a local industry could be stimulated (including the potential of export opportunities), with associate socio-economic growth, and the other requirements of government can be met  and that have a medium to high R&D intensity, in terms of available capacity and associate resources needed to support the further development of the technological systems… (more)

“Reducing IT cost is undoubtedly the single most important driver in the IT market today, not just in South Africa but on a global basis”. This is how my conversation started with Oracle’s CEO Pieter Bensch when I asked him how he sees the IT market. “Hand in hand with that goes the question of how do we get new innovative technology in data centres and in IT infrastructure without spending more? “… (more)

Whenever one talks about the performance of an internet connection, it‘s commonplace for users to lament that they are not able to utilise the full capacity of the connection when downloading files from international servers… (more)

We welcome to the EngineerIT team Shaun Austin as marketing and sales executive and Zhandré Brandt as advertising sales assistant. Shaun will be assisting Irene Blythe and getting to know EngineerIT’s market and customers over the next few months… (more)

Cloud computing – are we past the hype? It is a question that elicits many answers, with as many qualifications. The only unqualified answer to my question came from Jacques du Toit, MD of Vox Orion who said it is not a hype any more.” We see many applications in the cloud and widespread adoption particularly amongst the small to media enterprises. Perhaps the exceptions are the banks and financial institutions that are still holding onto their own systems and infrastructure.”… (more)

The debate about long term evolution (LTE) and LTE extra will continue for a long time and while the WiMAX Forum is still making its voice heard, it appears that a large chunk of the telecommunications industry has accepted that WiMAX is great for backhaul but that LTE will lead the mobility drive… (more)

Without question, long term evolution (LTE) is on the brink of widespread implementation. This new network standard is being driven to commercial deployment by competitive pressures and a greater demand for bandwidth than ever seen before. In South Africa alone, trials are already underway or planned with numerous carriers including MTN, Telkom and Vodacom, reflecting this global acceleration towards a future based on LTE… (more)

In the volatile and dynamic world of business today, where business has become the battle of networks – evolving out of what was once the head to head organisational bullring – the dimensions of competition are fast changing and the traditional pressures of quality, delivery and cost metrics on manufacturers, demand a new way of thinking while in pursuit of manufacturing excellence and the “perfect plant”… (more)

Despite giant strides in the right direction over the past few years to open up the telecommunications market, there are still pockets of monopolistic behaviour. This is the view of Dr. Pieter Streicher, MD of Bulk SMS. “One of these is the application-to-person (A2P) SMS market which is worth more than a billion rand annually for local mobile network operators.”… (more)

A large organisation places a routine order to its manufacturer: the specs for the product are retrieved from the company’s computerised database by an engineer, the order is authorised by a manager, and it is sent off to the manufacturer. When the product is delivered, the sizes are wrong. The fallout is horrible – the loss has to be written off, a project is delayed, the relationship with the client is damaged, the CEO wants heads to roll. But whose fault is it? The engineer? The manager? The system? The data capturer? Or the gremlins in cyberspace?… (more)

If you don’t have wireless as part of your automation toolbox, then you’re behind the curve. I’m living proof of that. Technology has moved quickly and now there are multiple wireless technologies that we all use and probably take for granted, with cell phones the best example. Wireless is increasingly easy to use, with push button setup of home wireless networks taken for granted… (more)

Emerging challenges for data acquisition networks have come to include guaranteeing data acquisition across the internet, and building automation interoperability to work with the cloud. As an environment less stable and far less secure than circumscribed local area networks, working “in the cloud” has forced a reconsideration of communication parameters like timeout margins, connection checks, and packet validation, as guarantees for robust and secure data acquisition are re-engineered for use on public networks… (more)

The installation of electrical and electronic equipment in arduous environmental conditions can cause severe deterioration of the equipment. These environments contain corrosive gases, liquids or dust as well as high humidity and ambient temperature. Electrical equipment needs to be prevented from coming into contact with corrosive environmental conditions or to be manufactured with materials and in enclosures that can survive in arduous environments… (more)

The basic concept of “ic” is introduced in this article. The development of ic and its current status in IEC standards is reviewed, and the possible effect of the preference of the market for IEC Ex certification is discussed. The merits of the technique compared with “nL” and the US Division 2 non-incendive technique are discussed. These include simplicity (compared with “ib”), higher levels of power, and clearly defined installation requirements… (more)

There has been a steady rise in demand for proximity detection sensors in automotive applications which reliably detect the presence of objects near the sensor surface, without physical contact. The number of possible proximity detection applications is countless… (more)

Thirty years ago a group of radio amateurs in Johannesburg met to put together a weekly one hour radio programme about ham radio. And it is still going strong. Content and presentation is very different from the early days, but it still focuses on radio and technology… (more)

Articles of interest: New booster keeps you talking; At last – an easy-to-read cellphone; Portable TV player with massive storage; eContent with WiFi eReader… (more)

Earth Observation (EO) products and services have huge potential for business and social use. However, there is an urgent need to raise awareness among decision-makers of the EO value-add in societal benefit areas such as agriculture, biodiversity, climate, disaster, ecosystems, energy, health, water and weather as defined by the Group on Earth Observation (GEO). The barriers to using EO products and services optimally are largely due to limited individual, infrastructure and institutional capacity… (more)

Aerial photography resolution has increased to up to 4 cm; satellite imagery to up to 41 cm. This has raised new privacy, safety and security concerns from the public as well as from governments across the world. Combined with new products offering geo-referenced street level views, building models and 3D terrain models, we ask ourselves if these concerns are legitimate… (more)

GISSA and EE Publishers invite you to participate, sponsor, exhibit and present at GISSA Ukubuzana 2012, the conference and exhibition of geo-informatics, surveying, remote sensing and location-based services. This event is being held on 2, 3 and 4 October 2012 at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg and is expected to be a highlight of the GIS industry calendar… (more)

A study to identify South Africa’s core spatial datasets and data custodians has been commissioned by the Committee for Spatial Information (CSI). The study will focus on determining the criteria and identifying the core spatial data sets and data custodians as is mandated to the CSI by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Act. The study is being implemented under the auspices of the CSI’s Data Sub-committee and with funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa. AfricaScope in collaboration with EIS-Africa has been commissioned to do the study… (more)

e-Cadastre is the high profile electronic solution aimed at automating and optimising the organisational performance of the Cadastral Surveys Management (CSM) and Deeds Registration (DR) branches of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) through provision of a solution that enables interoperability and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) -based integration which presents one unified view of scoped constituencies… (more)

GISSA is growing every year and we start 2012 with 1580 people in our database. This year GISSA aims to focus on promotional activities in the Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo as these regions are working hard to grow. GISSA North West has plans to hold a visit to the South African National Space Agency… (more)

In the last 25 years millions of black urban residents in South Africa have been inducted into the land tenure system that earlier served whites only. This study follows this process as it has been experienced by administrators and residents in a township on the edge of the small Eastern Cape settler town of Bathurst. The aim was to identify vulnerabilities of the current system of formalisation as it works in practice… (more)

Part 1 of this article (see PositionIT Nov/Dec 2011) focused on the Hartebeesthoek94 Datum and the Transverse Mercator Projection. Now the focus turns to the Gauss Conform Coordinate System and the definition of the South African Coordinate Reference System (SACRS). The Gauss Conform Coordinate System (as used in South Africa) uses the Transverse Mercator map projection formulae modified to produce westings (y) and southings (x) instead of northings (N) and eastings (E)… (more)

The internet, the World Wide Web and cheap computing resources have spawned the creation of user-generated content (UGC) in general, and volunteered geographical information (VGI) in particular. A key aspect of such data, when compared against professionally-generated and/or official content, is the provenance or quality of the data, and the documenting thereof – the metadata. We consider here some of the quality challenges for VGI, and how these might be addressed… (more)

Many analysts and researchers need to classify vegetation on remotely sensed images at structure level (trees, shrubs and grass, for example), at genus level or at species level. They use this information in areas such as resource planning and invasive vegetation detection. A review was compiled of some of the results of vegetation classifications published during the past 10 years. This article examines some of the more interesting studies found in the review… (more)

After a year in service, the German Earth observation satellite TanDEM-X, together with its twin satellite, TerraSAR-X, have completely mapped the entire land surface of Earth for the first time. The data is being used to create the world’s first single-source, high-precision, 3D digital elevation model of Earth.The German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) controls both radar satellites, generates the elevation model and is responsible for the scientific use of TanDEM-X data… (more)

Berkeley Lab scientists and their Sloan Digital Sky Survey colleagues have produced the biggest colour map of the universe in three dimensions ever. Now scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and their SDSS colleagues, working with DOE’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) based at Berkeley Lab, have used this visual information for the most accurate calculation yet of how matter clumps together… (more)

This article looks at mobile location apps, and discusses some opportunities for companies to build their own custom location apps. Monetising geographic information became all the rage in 2011. Once geographic information meant maps. Clever systems were developed – geographic information systems or GIS – to store and allow analysis and visualisation of geographic data. Mobile – smartphones and portable tablets – have broadened both the interest and potential of location for making money… (more)

This article examines how GIS and remote sensing can be used from an environmental criminological perspective to better understand the spread of rhino poaching incidents in South Africa. Another Africa sunrise over the bushveld, the early sunrays reveal the dehorned carcass of a heavily pregnant rhino cow. Sadly, scenes like these are happening with increasing frequency and statistics reveal a staggering growth in rhino killings in South Africa since 2008… (more)

Converting conventional fluorescent luminaires with magnetic ballasts and T8 tubes to luminaires with electronic ballasts and T5 tubes by means of so-called “conversion kits” is claimed to provide technical advantages, energy efficiency improvements, and much needed energy savings. In most cases, however, the reality is quite different, several problems… (more)

Electrical contracting often presents problems which, when solved by experts and shared in a forum, can be turned into learning opportunities. Working in co-operation with the ECA(SA) and other experts, Vector now provides such a forum. Our expert for this issue is Cecil Lancaster… (more)

January 2012 saw the introduction of the Apprenticeship Programme at AC/DC Dynamics in Edenvale, Gauteng. Pictured are the 22 apprentices with apprentice manager Brian Pillay, receiving their tool kits. Included in the curriculum are electrician, electronics mechanician and armature winding courses… (more)

Khanyaled’s enterprise development programme is focused on entrepreneurship and enterprise development as means of poverty alleviation. The company presents training programmes aimed at taking individuals from “Goodness-to-greatness”. The lessons are designed for anyone wishing to start or grow their own business and aim to develop an understanding of how to build a business instead of creating a job… (more)

IESSA will hold its annual congress and AGM between 13 and 16 May 2012 in the Drakensberg. A number of hotel rooms have been allocated to IESSA at the Cathedral Peak Hotel and delegates must book accommodation direct with the hotel. We are considering using buses to transport delegates from Durban and Pretoria/Johannesburg to the Cathedral Peak Hotel, and the cost will be approximately R600 per person return… (more)

Submit your letters to the editor to and be in line to win a prize. Vector reserves the right to edit letters. Our winning letter this month comes from Johan Kruger of JNK Elektries… (more)

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