You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2013.

Inefficiencies in utility’s asset management practices leads to adoption of a GIS solution that enables a more sophisticated and unified way of managing of its electric, natural gas, wastewater, and water sectors. The new centralised geodatabase also played a key role during last year’s wildfires which threatened residential and commercial infrastructure in the city… (more)


In 2011 Spectra Precision introduced Z-Blade positioning technology which allows surveyors to be more productive by enabling them to work with GNSS in places where it was previously impossible or inefficient, such as dense tree canopy or urban areas. This article describes how Z-Blade technology increases positioning availability in difficult environments and how its performance compares to products which lack the Z-Blade capability… (more)

Arizona State University (ASU) researchers have developed a new software system capable of estimating greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, all the way down to roads and individual buildings. Until now, scientists quantified carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at a much broader level… (more)

Although the benefits of data quality (DQ) improvement appear self-evident to people intimately involved with DQ, a constant frustration is that others in the organisation do not recognise its importance. This article tries to help those working in DQ to overcome this problem, and turn senior executives into allies and not blockers of DQ improvement… (more)

The challenge being faced by GIS professionals in the mining sector is not so much a technological one but rather one of value. In an economic environment where budgets are being slashed, how do GIS professionals working in the mining environment ensure that their departments survive and provide value to the overall operation… (more)

The theory of human evolution is itself constantly evolving, and as archaeologists unearth more fossils and ancient human remains the technology used to explore these theories continues to evolve too… (more)

Granite contains very high levels of natural radioisotopes which results in high levels of natural background radiation in the surrounding area. Different locations were selected on the West Coast Peninsula and gamma ray measurements were done to determine the levels of natural radioactive isotopes in the soil in order to evaluate the radiation of the population of the West Coast… (more)

A lost World War II British Royal Air Force fighter plane in Egypt offers lessons in the varied uses of satellite imagery. Today, three commercial satellite operators collect imagery with submetre resolution. An aircraft with a 9.8 m fuselage sitting exposed in the rocky desert should be readily visible in a high-resolution image… (more)

With safety being the number one value within mining, civil, commercial and industrial settings it is imperative that any breach of safety resulting in an accident or loss of life is investigated thoroughly. This can involve considerable amounts of time, effort and expense as investigators search for evidence and piece together the circumstances surrounding the event leading up to the incident… (more)

Is a GISc Technologist a professional registration? This letter looks at the issue of professional registration and GISc Technologists… (more)

The parliamentary portfolio committee on Rural Development and Land Reform held public hearings on the draft Geomatics Profession Bill on 16 April 2013. PLATO, SAGI, GISSA, IMSSA and the SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN) gave oral submissions at the hearings. Full details are as follows… (more)

SA Surveying + Geomatics Indaba 2013 will be opened by Chief Surveyor-General Mmuso Riba. International keynote speakers are: Geoff Zeiss, director of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC); Roger Haagmans, European Space Agency; Prof. Michael Barry, University of Calgary; Peter Large, Trimble; and Rob Mahoney, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors… (more)

Land surveyors practising within the cadastral field are in general relatively successful; however from my interaction with colleagues, many are negative and pessimistic about the future of the profession (more so the younger colleagues). Land surveyors in general have not analysed this discontent, for the reason that they are spending an abnormal amount of hours making a living. This may be the reason why they are not involved in our professional institute or body – they simply cannot afford the time. Many also do not realise that the environment in which they are operating has changed… (more)

Reading through the submissions at the recent parliamentary public hearings into the Geomatics Profession Bill, it was evident that GISSA, SAGI, IMSSA, and PLATO had common concerns about the somewhat indifferent consultation process, the inadequate defining of the geomatics profession, and the representivity of the new geomatics council. Most parties making submissions expressed their frustration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) saying that comments submitted on previous occasions were not acknowledged, no feedback was provided and there was no evidence of the comments having been incorporated into the Bill… (more)

Insights into mining vehicle fire system actuation methods and their advantages and disadvantages and a closer look at the best way to perform a competent risk assessment. End-users are often faced with deciding which actuation method to use: should it be manual only or automatic only? Should it be a combination and should the manual activation be electrical or mechanical?… (more)

Power quality has become a strategic issue for electricity companies, the operating, maintenance and management personnel of service sector and industrial sites, as well as for equipment manufacturers, for the following main reasons… (more)

Circuit-breaker manufacturers have been driven to implement dialogue interfaces for bus communication with control devices such as PLC, PC or SCADA due to the ever growing use of automation and supervision systems for industrial processes… (more)

Ensuring that diesel is as close as possible to where it is needed for underground machinery can greatly improve the overall performance of a mine.With rising electricity fuel prices, it has become essential for mines to optimise their processes to stay competitive. Automation is seen as key to improving these processes… (more)

A unique approach to LV switchgear protection and the process of transitioning this concept to a real-world application. In low-voltage (LV) power systems (600 V and below), a network of communicating devices can provide supervisory control functions, gather substation electrical data and report event status to a central control computer… (more)

Both soft starters and variable frequency drives (VFDs) can reduce inrush currents and limit torque, protecting equipment and extending motor life by reducing motor heating caused by frequent starts and stops. Choosing between a soft starter and a VFD often depends on the application, system requirements, and cost, both for initial startup and over the life cycle of the system… (more)

The present situation regarding the NRCS compulsory specifications and Type 5 SABS product certification processes. The lighting industry has been frustrated in complying with compulsory specifications VC8055 and VC9091 for luminaires and compact fluorescent lamps respectively. Another obstacle is obtaining Letters of Authority (LoAs) for these products… (more)

Appropriate calibration procedures and practical operating guidelines for integrating spheres used for the characterisation of LEDs and SSL products. The LED industry is growing rapidly, Information from Philips Lumileds creating an urgent need for reliable measurements of LED and solid state lighting (SSL) products… (more)

The questions in this issue cover topics such as the best location for surge protection, whether pipes carrying oil be bonded, the correct way to reverse the rotation of a star delta electric motor and whether cables that supply 230 V DC are allowed to bunch with 230 V AC cables inside the same cable conduit… (more)

Acting on instinct, an employer may want to fire an employee who has been arrested or imprisoned. This could be a mistake! An arrested person is someone who has been taken to a police station and formally charged with an offence. He may be also serving a prison sentence. An employee hasn’t been arrested if he/she has just been taken to the police station for questioning. It is therefore very important to distinguish between those taken in for questioning, those who have been arrested and those who are serving a prison sentence… (more)

I announced in my 2012 Annual Report, which was recently published in Vector, that it would be my last annual report as national director as I would be retiring early in the new year. It took a while to find my successor, but now that we have I have announced to the ECA(SA) National Executive Committee that it is time for me to go… (more)

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant has announced in early April this year that the Employment Conditions Commission would consider representations on increasing the Earnings Threshold in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). Interested parties had until 7 May 2013 to make representations to the commission, a body established in terms of Section 59 of the BCEA to advise the minister on various matters including those concerning basic conditions of employment… (more)

I would like to support the views of Chris Stewart on the viability of LED lighting (Vector, April 2013, page 22). The problems with acceptance among end-users of the current generation of CFL devices seem to lie in a number of areas… (more)

Since the inception of the Eskom solar water heater (SWH) rebate programme in 2008, there has been a phenomenal growth in supply of SWHs to the market. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of SWH suppliers in the industry increased from 45 to 700. There are currently approximately 300 active suppliers within the industry. A recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, however, indicates that the uptake of the product by end-users has not yet been as successful as expected… (more)

Increasingly, the electrical contracting industry in South Africa has no alternative but to resort to the media to demand solutions to problems that are being ignored by the regulatory authorities. Needless to say, this is a sad, unhealthy state of affairs and most likely indicative of an erosion of accountability and a growing sense of indifference among those who make the laws and supposedly enforce them… (more)

Industrial automation has reached very high levels of sophistication. Plants, including automobile manufacturing units, chemical factories and semiconductor fabs, now house some very advanced technology which require a robust and continuous public power grid. Unfortunately, the grid is susceptible to unpredictable and erratic variation and interruption… (more)

Rising energy prices, diminishing energy resources, electrical power system constraints, unprecedented climate change, and unsustainable nature of human existence all warrant for action. The need to establish systems and processes necessary to improve energy performance, including energy efficiency, use, consumption and intensity of buildings in residential dwellings through the development of codes, regulations or standards for buildings is paramount… (more)

In recent years, the integration of renewable energy sources (RES) on electricity power systems across the world has increased considerably. According to most estimates, this development is set to increase even further over the coming decades, and the majority of this increase is expected to be from variable non-synchronous renewable (VNSR) generation. This fluctuating energy will alter the fundamental behaviour of power systems and introduce new challenges… (more)

The Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (Soltrain) sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has been assessed by Dr. Susanne Geissler who travelled to South Africa for the external evaluation… (more)

A recent Mail and Guardian article entitled “Call for industrial sector to save energy” (22 Feb 2013), stated that energy efficiency needs to improve by 5% in order to reduce the power demands on the vulnerable Eskom supply system. An alternative approach would be to still use the most efficient equipment (as this reduces the operating costs) but to rather supply as much of this equipment from solar PV power, as what makes financially feasible sense… (more)

Philosophy beginning with the ancient Greeks is literally “a love of wisdom” and deals with the most general issues of reality. The Wikipedia dictionary determines philosophy as a science, which studies everything. Logic and critical analysis are the pillars of philosophic thinking. So, why don’t we use these attributes of philosophy to analyse the situation around relay protection. It appears that such analysis may result in counterintuitive findings… (more)

Flame resistant (FR) clothing offers the wearer protection from electric arc flash, molten ferrous metals, flash fire, and welding exposures. The most important fabric properties are protection, comfort, and overall value. There are large differences among otherwise compliant FR fabrics, including those that at first glance appear quite similar… (more)

Today’s utility is challenged to maintain and improve security of supply, ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty, and address energy sustainability. Public scrutiny has broadened from focusing primarily on supply availability and pricing to include environmental mandates, alternative energy legislation, security requirements, and deregulation. Utilities now face a new age of cyber security that will directly affect the implementation of smart grids, including smart metering and directly impact Critical National Infrastructure… (more)

There are currently over 4-million prepaid electricity customers in South Africa and demand has been growing steadily due to their convenience for both customer and the supplier of electricity. Installations are now being extended to townhouse developments and blocks of flats… (more)

2012 has seen significant investment in hydropower in all regions of the world. The International Hydropower Association (IHA) estimates that 27 – 30 GW of hydropower and 2 GW of pumped storage was commissioned throughout the year… (more)

Palmiet Pumped Storage Power Station is due for an upgrade that includes the control and instrumentation system, electrical protection system, excitation system and accelerating system. The acceleration system is a variable frequency converter (SFC) that is shared between two units. Three acceleration configurations are possible… (more)

Declining costs of renewable power generation are poised to make these forms of generation more common. “Renewable” power will soon start to be seen as normal. Renewables have experienced tremendous growth in the recent past, 86% for solar energy in 2012 alone. And their performance is improving while costs continue to fall with mass production and economies of scale. But ask any renewable energy advocate or their lobbyists and they will tell you that the time to cut subsidies and remove mandatory targets may be around the corner but has not quite arrived yet… (more)

Scrooge and I used to sit to deep into the night at times, discussing our business in the old counting house. As your erudite readers may recall, Scrooge and Marley was a simple business: we bought and sold and hoped to make a profit. At one stage we were in linen; it was profitable if one kept a tight rein on costs. And that is where the rub often lay; for Scrooge and I were often at variance about exactly what the real cost price of our stock was… (more)

This month’s letters cover some of Eskom’s history and a reader’s response to the BHP Billiton dispute… (more)

Power Technologies (Powertech), has appointed Vally Padayachee to the position of executive director for business development and marketing with effect from 2 April 2013. In this role he is also a member of the Powertech board. Padayachee holds a MSc (Eng) from the University of KwaZulu Natal as well as an MBA through Henley Business School… (more)

Board member of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), Thembani Bukula, addressing a SANEA meeting at Sasol’s offices in Rosebank on 16 April 2013, explained how NERSA determined municipal electricity price increases following the increase Eskom has been allowed to charge the municipalities. Eskom supplies approximately 60% of the electricity it generates to 40% of customers in South Africa, while municipalities supply 40% of the electricity to 60% of the customers… (more)

EE Publishers is pleased to announce changes in the editorial team of Energize which will take place from the June edition. Roger Lilley, who recently joined EE Publishers, will take over as editor of Energize… (more)

Differences in interpretation between Eskom and BHP Billiton in respect of the termination date of the electricity supply agreement for the Hillside Potline 1 and 2 aluminium smelters in Richards Bay, South Africa, could negatively impact Eskom’s balance sheet and income statement to the tune of billions of rands. The electricity prices and contract period for Hillside Potlines 1 and 2 are defined in the main pricing agreement [1] and contract between Alusaf (subsequently Billiton, now BHP Billiton South Africa) and Eskom, signed in 1992… (more)

Much has been said recently about the shortage of qualified entrants into the engineering profession in particular and technology based careers in general. The blame is generally placed on the shortcomings in the education system and its inability to prepare learners for careers, particularly in the teaching of mathematics and science. Part of the problem could be that secondary and even tertiary education is too broad, too general, not sufficiently career based and is more aimed at producing academic qualifications than employable staff. This editorial has its roots in two recent visits, occurring within a short space of one another… (more)

  • Simply more than a smart phone
  • Bluetooth illuminated keyboard – complements your tablet
  • Gaming your game? These nifty earphones are just what you need!
  • Not just an ordinary screen… (more)


The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has issued licences for experimentation on three new frequencies, 5250, 5260 and 472 kHz to the South African Radio League (SARL). The SARL has for many years been petitioning ICASA to allocate frequencies in the 5 MHz band for propagation research… (more)

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