Lancaster, PA Electrician Directory

Find licensed electrical contractors in Lancaster County, PA for Residential, Commercial & Industrial projects here!

Homeowners need electricians to install new modern circuit breaker electrical service panels replacing antiquated fuse panels. You may need extra outlets installed in an older home that didn't have electrical receptacles installed in every corner of the home. Perhaps you're installing ceiling fans and need them wired to switch panels on the walls. Or, you want to add a hot tub to your backyard and need electrical service installed. You'll find electricians available for all of these services and more here on lancaster electrical .com.

Need an industrial or commercial electrician here in Lancaster County? Whether you need high bay lighting installed or a new three phase feed for that new high powered machine your adding commercial and industrial electricians have the skill set to make every installation and upgrade run smoothly.

 



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Winners Beat Out 58,000 Competitors to Take Home Big Bucks in Ideal National Championship
Winners Beat Out 58,000 Competitors to Take Home Big Bucks in Ideal National Championship hsauer Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:23

Winners Beat Out 58,000 Competitors to Take Home Big Bucks in Ideal National Championship

It was an incredibly tough competition in this year’s Ideal National Championship, held Nov. 7–9, but the winners took home big bucks for their trouble. Qualifying rounds across the country drew one of the largest pools of participants in the championship’s history, but in the end just 10 individuals were crowned the competition’s winners, receiving more than $600,000 in prizes. 

Created in 2016 to unify the electrical industry, the competition has grown substantially since its inaugural year. In the event’s infancy, total participants would range in the tens of thousands. 

This year, 58,223 professional electricians and students/apprentices, as well as 23 professional and 102 student teams, competed in 1,591 qualifying round events across 33 states from April to October to determine who would compete in the weekend event at Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla. 

Split into four categories—individual professional, individual student/apprentice, contractor challenge and student challenge—the National Championship included 84 professionals and 84 students/apprentices from the United States, Mexico and Canada. For the first time in the competition’s history, Australia and China were also represented, each sending a student and professional to compete. 

“The amount of involvement has grown, including family participation,” said Doug Sanford, senior vice president/general manager of non-lighting businesses at Ideal Industries.

The teams began the weekend on Thursday night with a one-hour competition. Six professional and six student teams were given pre-built wooden structures like small houses and all of the tools necessary to complete the job. 

Before each competition, the participants were briefed on the work they would perform, but they were not permitted to look up any information and had to rely on their previous skills and knowledge of safety measures. Students and professionals completed the same work, though students worked with PVC while the professionals worked with metal conduit. 

Clay Noga of Somonauk, Ill. and Keith Runkle of Bolingbrook, Ill. won the contractor challenge for professional teams. Each received $20,000, while $20,000 in Idealcash and a commercial van went to the contractor they work for. 

In the school team challenge, Angela Bissonnette-Penna of Hugo, Minn. and Jake Thoennes of Lino Lakes, Minn., won $20,000. Their trade school, Minneapolis Electrical JATC, received $10,000 in Idealcash, and provided five first-year scholarships to the school and complete tool kits for the scholarship winners. 

“We hope to give back to and elevate the electrical trade and want others to understand how great it is,” Sanford said.

The electricians on teams had to work together to complete their tasks.
The electricians on the teams had to work together to complete their tasks.

On Nov. 8, the professionals and students competed in two heats each and were asked to work on a single wall for 55 minutes. Competitors were given specifications of what they had to accomplish, and before the competition they couldn’t touch their tools. 

Competitors in every event had to use NEC standards and know manufacturer specifications. They were also judged on safety and workmanship, among other technical requirements. They could only rely on their own experience.

“The scenario was challenging. It was something I have done before, but I was not as proficient, so it was not as clean as I would have liked,” said Hiram Pendergrass from Palmer, Ark., a professional competitor.

For Pendergrass, there were many benefits to competing in the event, including meeting other electricians and picking up tips and skills from them to benefit the entire industry. “I also like meeting other electricians and having the opportunity to bring things back to the apprentices I instruct to make everyone stronger,” he said. He also said there was an emphasis on training and making the current and future generations better and safer electricians.

Hiram Pendergrass, a professional electrician, was one of the competitors working for the grand prize.
Hiram Pendergrass was one of the professional electricians who demonstrated their skills.

Greg Anliker, Elgin, Ill., won the professional competition for the third year in a row, receiving $75,000. Seth Agnew, Linn Creek, Mo., won $25,000 second place, and in third place, Clay Noga took home $10,000.

For the first time, Ideal recognized an international champion. Tom Matic of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, won a Ram pickup truck.

In the apprentice/student individual competition, competitors worked for 45 minutes on walls similar to those in the professional category with similar work to perform. With Ideal tools and PVC in hand, the students showed off their knowledge. Jordan Finfrock of Flatwoods, Ky., ultimately took home $30,000 for individual first place prize. Benjamin Budd, Potsdam, N.Y. and Marty Evans, Cannon Falls, Minn., won $20,000 and $10,000 in second and third place respectively.

apprentice
The apprentices completed similar tasks to the professionals in their competition.

“My favorite part of this event is getting to know the families and the people who work in the trade. This event recognizes each electrician and the efforts they make every day. We get to celebrate being an electrician. This is our way of giving back to the community,” Sanford 

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Winners Beat Out 58,000 Competitors to Take Home Big Bucks in Ideal National Championship
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Professional and student electricians showed their skills in the Ideal Industries National Championships.


DOE Invests $28M in Wind Energy Growth
DOE Invests $28M in Wind Energy Growth hsauer Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:38

DOE Invests $28M in Wind Energy Growth

Wind power has made great advances in recent years. The industry has more opportunities to expand, and the federal government is doing its part to support and encourage that growth.

Last month, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a significant investment in the form of grants for several wind energy research, development and demonstration projects.

The DOE announced the selection of 13 projects to receive a total of $28 million to advance wind energy nationwide. The projects span the technology development spectrum, and they cover all three sectors within the industry, including distributed, offshore and land-based, utility-scale wind.

The DOE notes that utility-scale, land-based wind energy in the United States has grown to 96 gigawatts. Even with that growth, the Department sees opportunities for more expansion based on cost reductions in the areas of offshore, distributed and so-called “tall wind.”

To capitalize on those opportunities, the funding package includes $6 million to projects that qualify for the DOE’s Wind Innovations for Rural Economic Development program. The four projects will support rural electric utilities by developing technology to integrate wind with other distributed energy resources and by simplifying distributed wind energy project development.

Another six projects will receive a total of $7 million to conduct testing in support of innovative offshore wind research and development. They will utilize existing national-level testing facilities.

Two more projects will receive up to a total of $10 million for innovative demonstration technologies and methodologies that reduce the risk and cost of offshore wind energy.

Lastly, one project will receive up to $5 million for manufacturing innovations and cost-effective technology that can help “tall wind,” or wind turbines over 140 meters tall, overcome existing transportation constraints. The DOE notes that taller wind turbine towers provide access to higher wind speeds, increasing energy capture and reducing cost. However, transportation constraints hinder installations by limiting economies of scale.

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DOE Invests $28M in Wind Energy Growth
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What are the most important components of your safety program?
What are the most important components of your safety program? aconstanza Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:36

What are the most important components of your safety program?

NECA’s Academy of Electrical Contracting honors leaders in the industry. To tap their experience and knowledge, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR posed a question to some members. Here are their answers.


David F. Firestone, CEO, Commonwealth Electric Company of the Midwest, Lincoln, Neb. Our No. 1 component is our safety director and his team! We stress the importance of safety to all of our employees. We want them to be safe so they can go home every night after work and then return the next day. Our safety team members are not safety police, they are there to help our workforce work safe, make sure the job sites are safe and that we don’t try to cut corners when performing our work.

David F. Firestone, CEO, Commonwealth Electric Company of the Midwest, Lincoln, Neb. (40 years)


David A. Hardt, Owner/President, Hardt Electric Inc., Chairman of the Academy, ChicagoThe most important part of our safety program is our quarterly meetings, which include all of our employees. This is a voluntary program. We do CPR training, lockout/tagout, confined space,10-hour OSHA training and various other programs that promote a safe working environment. As so many have mentioned, our ultimate goal is to send everybody home safely.

David A. Hardt, Owner/President, Hardt Electric Inc., Chairman of the Academy, Chicago (49 years)


Mark A. Huston, Owner/President, Lone Star Electric, Fort Worth, TexasManaging safety is another important component in our business. Three important issues in our safety program are safety meetings, proper personal protective equipment and lockout/tagout. We all want our employees at the end of the day to return home to their loved ones, safe and sound on a daily basis.

Mark A. Huston, Owner/President, Lone Star Electric, Fort Worth, Texas (42 years)


Skip Perley, CEO/President, Thompson Electric Co., Sioux City, Iowa

Culture, culture and culture. And by the way, incentives, discipline, zero tolerance and everyone’s involvement. 

Skip Perley, CEO/President, Thompson Electric Co., Sioux City, Iowa (43 years)


Duane Siefert, President, Current Electric Inc., Michigan City, IowaOur safety and health program includes the following four main elements: management commitment; employee involvement; work site analysis, hazard prevention and control; and safety and health training.

Dennis F. Quebe, CEO, Chapel Electric Co. LLC, Dayton, Ohio (43 years)


Duane Siefert, President, Current Electric Inc., Michigan City, IowaI think the most important aspect to a safety program is consistency and includes a daily reminder to “Be safe out there.”

Duane Siefert, President, Current Electric Inc., Michigan City, Iowa (52 years)

 

 

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Here a Watt, There a Watt
Here a Watt, There a Watt aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Here a Watt, There a Watt

last month, I wrote about the high electric demand on the utility system during summer and some of its effects. Demand-side management (DSM) is the phrase utilities use for ways to reduce the electrical demand of a facility all year. This helps the grid when heat waves come through by reducing the potential for sustained low-voltage conditions or service interruption. It also reduces expenses year round and puts money in your pocket, not the utility’s.

The first step in reducing electrical energy usage is to know how much is being used and where. No one can save more than is being used, despite claims by some vendors.

If there isn’t a full-time energy monitoring system in place, rent a few energy monitors. Then do a week-long survey by moving them around each day to different distribution panels or even right at the loads that are suspected energy hogs. Once the biggest users are determined, you can see if the return-on-replacement is worth it, no matter if it’s lighting, motors, heaters or any other large loads.

In most industrial and commercial facilities, it’s not just the electrical energy consumption in kilowatt-hours that matters. The demand charge can be a larger portion of the monthly bill than the energy consumption. The demand charge is based on the largest average kilowatt (kW) value over the demand interval, which is usually 15 minutes. While a single motor starting up doesn’t usually cause that value to rachet up (and stay there for months or even years), if the entire facility turns its loads on within the same demand interval, that could be the culprit.

Air conditioning loads on very hot days are often the peak demand offender. The Department of Energy estimates savings of about 1% for each degree of thermostat adjustment per eight hours. However, this should come with the fine-print disclaimer that “Your savings may vary” because there are many dependent factors. By increasing the setting from 70°F to 74°F on days when the forecast is over 90°F, it will save customers money and no one will melt.

Equally important is reducing unnecessary heat generation. Turning off equipment that doesn’t need to be on during such times means less HVAC is needed. Closing blinds to block out direct sunlight is also an effective heat reducer. Even cutting the amount of lighting to levels that don’t impact safety or productivity is a savings in both energy consumption and the HVAC cooling costs.

Check with the local electric utility to see if it offers any demand-response programs. This is where people voluntarily reduce specified levels of electrical energy use when they request to balance their supply with the overall demand. This may require some wiring configuration changes so that discretionary loads can be grouped in a manner that they can be turned off without affecting those that need to remain in operation. This can also involve running off of alternative power sources such as a backup generator.

A few notes of caution before you start implementing your own DSM program. Make sure that the savings are real, can be measured and are verifiable before and after implementation.

As stated before, no one can save more than what the load(s) consume. One such occurrence was for a lighting retrofit program. The vendor showed the facility manager the savings that would be obtained by changing all of the lighting over to his latest offerings. Based on the information from the energy monitoring system, we were able to calculate the lighting load by the difference of the kilowatt usage at 6:55 and 7:05 p.m. as the cleaning staff turn off the lights when they leave at 7 p.m. It came to 40 kW, but the energy rates back then was a little over $2,000 a year in lighting energy costs. The only way that the vendor’s claims of a $3,000 savings would be if his lights doubled as solar panels and generated energy.

It’s also impossible to save money using devices that don’t actually save energy, such as surge suppression strips. There are no measurable efficiency gains at your watt-hour meter from clamping the peaks of transients and diverting the energy through transient voltage suppressing devices. The IEEE Std 1889-2018 “IEEE Guide for Evaluating and Testing the Electrical Performance of Energy Saving Devices” is an invaluable resource for determining what’s real and what’s not. The guide has methods to evaluate and test the electrical performance of energy-saving devices, detailed protocols, description of step-by-step testing circuits, the type and accuracy of evaluation instrumentation and the order of the test measurements. Make sure that the replacement equipment has a good track record of reliability as well. I investigated a customer call about blinking and nonworking lights that had been installed only eight months before and discovered that 10 of the 30 retrofit LEDs had failed due to components burning up in the power supply section.

Don’t be overwhelmed by implementing your own DSM. Its like the old adage “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The payback on a DSM is achieved by saving a kilowatt here, and a kilowatt there and continually reviewing and revising the program. And you don’t have to wait until summer to start. Savings are year-round.

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Saving money one watt at a time
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One of 10 retrofit LEDs that failed within eight months of installation.


Revisions in Chapter 4
Revisions in Chapter 4 aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Revisions in Chapter 4

This Article focuses on revisions in Chapter 4 of the 2020 NEC , “Equipment for General Use,” and it includes the requirements for equipment such as switches, luminaires, panelboards, switchboards, transformers, appliances and so forth. This part of the series provides a look at some significant changes in Articles 400 through 490.

Section 404.14 Rating and Use of Snap Switches

Section 404.14 has been revised and requires all switches to be listed and used within their ratings. Permitted loads on switches are clarified in subdivisions (A) through (E), and electronic control switches are permitted to control permanently connected loads and must be applied within their ratings.

Section 406.13 Single-Pole Separable Connectors

New Section 406.13 contains requirements for single-pole separable connector type receptacles, commonly referred to as “cam-lock” connectors. These connectors are required to be listed and be of the locking or latching type. Prescriptive steps for connecting and disconnecting are provided and must be provided on the equipment. Single-pole separable connectors must be used only by a qualified person and comply with one of three methods for connection and disconnection as provided in this section.

Section 408.18(C) Connections

Requirements for barriers to prevent inadvertent contact that were previously found in Section 408.3 have been relocated to Section 230.62(C). New Section 408.18(C) includes previous requirements in 408.3(D) and provides prescriptive requirements for load-side connections. Switchboard and switchgear sections requiring rear or side access must be marked as such on the front of the equipment and must comply with 110.26.

Section 410.7 Reconditioned Equipment

Section 410.7 is new and provides requirements for reconditioned equipment. In general, luminaires and lampholders are required to be listed and are not permitted to be reconditioned. Where a listed retrofit kit is installed in a luminaire in accordance with installation instructions, the retrofitted luminaire is not considered to be reconditioned.

Section 410.69 Identification of Control Conductor Insulation

Where control conductors are spliced, terminated or connected in the same luminaire or enclosure as the branch-circuit conductors, the field-connected control conductors are not permitted to be of a color that is used for the grounded branch-circuit conductor or the equipment grounding conductor. To give lighting control manufacturers time for adjusting their equipment instructions and color code schemes, this requirement shall become effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Article 410, Part XVI Special Provisions for Horticultural Lighting Equipment

New Part XVI includes rules for horticultural lighting equipment. These requirements will impact the rapidly increasing industry of indoor plant growing facilities, specifically, marijuana grow facilities. These lighting installations are subject to increased temperatures, humidity and water spray, and they require unique support, flexibility and regular maintenance.

Section 440.9 Grounding and Bonding

Section 440.9 now applies only where compression-type fittings are used in rooftop installations to supply air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. The revisions provide clarification about fittings with threads. The raceway .42 sections require that in wet locations Section 314.15 applies to couplings and connectors.

Section 445.18(D) Emergency Shut Down in One- and Two-Family Dwelling Units

New subdivision (D) requires an emergency shutdown device located outside of one- and two-family dwellings for other than cord and plug connected portable generators. The emergency shutdown device is required to be installed at a readily accessible location.

Section 450.9 Ventilation

A new last sentence has been added to Section 450.9 and requires the top of transformers that are horizontal and readily accessible to be marked to prohibit storage or use as a table. The intent is to reduce or eliminate hazards created by storing material on top of transformers.

Section 480.7(G) Identification of Power Sources

New first level subdivision (G), “Identification of Power Sources,” requires permanent plaques or directories for identification of power sources. Section 480.7(G)(1) applies to facilities with utility services and battery systems, and Section 480.7(G)(2) applies to facilities with stand-alone systems.

Section 490.49 Reconditioned Switchgear

New Section 490.49 addresses reconditioning of medium-voltage switchgear. Reconditioned switchgear must be either listed or field labeled as reconditioned and previous listing marks removed. Electrical equipment damaged by fire, or products of combustion or water must be specifically evaluated by the manufacturer or a qualified testing laboratory. The National Equipment Manufacturers Association provides a policy on reconditioned equipment and valuable guidelines for water-damaged and fire- and smoke-damaged electrical equipment.

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Significant changes in the 2020 NEC, part 6
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Dust Control
Dust Control aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Dust Control

many tools electricians use, such as rotary hammers, demo hammers, drills, saws, grinders and more, create dust, which is distracting and can be unhealthy. Occupational Safety and Health Administration now mandates control of silica that can be generated by chipping and drilling in concrete, tile, rock, stone, brick and other materials. Silica dust is known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses.

Manufacturers have developed dust-control system to keep silica dust under levels defined by OSHA 29 CFR § 1926.1153 Final Rule on Crystalline Silica, which applies to every job site in the United States.

This report emphasizes dry methods of controlling dust with systems attached to power tools.

Milwaukee

Exposure to silica dust can be a major cause of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s trades workers, observes Milwaukee product manager David Mobarak.

OSHA’s construction standard on respirable crystalline silica addresses these health risks and establishes an eight-hour, time-weighted average for the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and other requirements.

The rule applies to situations where an electrician could encounter an application that would exceed the PEL.

OSHA has spent the past two years ensuring that the final rule is followed.

Simply stated, Mobarak said the standard provides:

  • Table 1—Essentially, a table that matches 18 common construction tasks and
  • Effective control methods;
  • Objective data—Data provided by the manufacturer or industry wide surveys that prove users are below PEL when correctly using their product;
  • Self-monitoring program—This can be the most time-consuming and costly method for employers. They must purchase and use air quality monitoring systems, acquire test data and provide employee medical assessments.
Milwaukee tool with  dust trap drilling shroud www.milwaukeetool.com
Milwaukee tool with dust trap drilling shroud www.milwaukeetool.com

“What is important to remember is that respirable silica doesn’t cause immediate effects. Rather, the risks associated with it manifest over a long period of time. This is what OSHA seeks to limit with this standard—limiting the long-term risk of silica exposure so users can live longer, healthier lives,” Mobarak said.

Basic tools that potentially could create silica dust and may require dust control use “dry” methods of dust control. “Wet” dust control is used for larger equipment such as concrete saws and using water to reduce dust from cuttings from entering the air.

Dry systems are integrated on cordless tools, or tools that can be hooked up to a vacuum with dust shroud, Mobarak continued. Some companies also offer cordless, self-powered dust extractors that can be used directly on the tool.

“Milwaukee has a complete suite of solutions for every one of our products that perform in drilling, chipping, grinding and cutting applications,” Mobarak said.

“Four years before OSHA began enforcing the regulation, Milwaukee introduced the world’s first universal self-powered dust extractor, the M12 Hammervac, which is compatible with all major power tool brands of SDS Plus rotary hammers and AC/DC hammer drills.”

This product recently was updated with a new dust box to allow users to easily clean the filter with the press of a button.

Last year, Milwaukee introduced the Dust Trap drilling shroud, the first dust-control solution to be OSHA-compliant without the use of a vacuum. Attached to the front of the rotary hammer, it keeps dust contained throughout the duration of the drilling process.

Also available is an 8-gal.dust extractor with a cleaning mechanism that activates on the main filter to help maintain consistent airflow and suction. The extractor’s unique two-step filtration system includes a 99.97% efficient HEPA filter as the final step of filtration, leading to cleaner air, reduced service cost over time and increased lifetime of the HEPA filter. All these features lead to a product that produces power and consistent suction for cleaner air.

“Training is incredibly important to following the new OSHA standard and keeping users safe,” Mobarak said. “This is a huge overhaul to the industry, and it’s up to all of us—not just OSHA—to prioritize the education and hands-on training that needs to take place.”

DeWalt

DeWalt is obsessed with applications when it comes to concrete dust management, said Richard Cacchiotti, group product manager of concrete products.

“We provide more than 220 applications among SDS PLUS, SDS MAX, Demolition Hammers and grinders,” he said. “Typically, we do not produce dust systems that attach to other company’s tools. Shrouds all are DeWalt-specific. Since we launched dust-collection products in 2011, we have been focused on delivering the best total system in the industry. Safety professionals have consistently told us that they want one company and system—they are not interested in a mixed bag approach.”

All DeWalt SDS Plus, SDS Max and demolition tools can be equipped with a dust-management system. They come in two categories: OSHA-compliant or part of an OSHA-compliant system.

“Compliant for DeWalt is 100% Table 1 complaint out of the box,” Cacchiotti said. “Nothing needs to be added—the user only has to attach a side handle or attach the extractor to the rotary hammer. Our ‘Part of an OSHA-complaint system’ allows users to assemble the system that is best for the application they are performing.”

Currently, Cacchiotti continued, we see general contractors leading the charge to require companies to use dust management.

“Most GCs we work with,” he said, “require subs to submit their dust plan with their proposal/RFQ. They are the ones with the most to lose in a stop-work situation.

“Most companies supply the main application solutions for the worker. Niche applications will be the future of dust collection. Cordless solutions are here now and will continue to be the path forward. Our focus has been on providing the best cordless solutions,” Cacchiotti said.

For example, the 20V Max DCH273 brushless rotary hammer and onboard dust extractor were designed around the anchors that electricians use.

“We worked backward from the application to provide the most ergonomic package possible, as electricians are typically drilling overhead when using rod hanging systems,” Cacchiotti said.

Bosch

Concrete Products Manager Mitch Burdick said dust control creates safer work sites by reducing workers’ exposure to silica dust.

“Commercial electricians may encounter silica dust when drilling overhead to anchor threaded rod for hanging unistrut/conduit,” Burdick said. “Dry methods involve attachments that fit on a tool (for example, a grinder cutting guard) that help capture the dust created from an application and collect it via a hose into a dust extractor canister. There is a range of attachments to help collect dust from applications for drilling, demolition, cutting and grinding in concrete.”

There also are dust extractors designed with CFM, HEPA and other filtration systems that help control the dust at the application, and these tools can also be used for post construction cleanup.

Bosch GDE18V-16 dust collection attachment for rotary hammer is a self-contained unit with HEPA filter.  www.boschtools.com
Bosch GDE18V-16 dust collection attachment for rotary hammer is a self-contained unit with HEPA filter.
www.boschtools.com

Bosch offers a variety of attachments for collecting dust for rotary and demolition hammers in the drilling and demolition applications, surface grinding shrouds that fit both small and large grinders for concrete grinding applications, and cutting tuck pointing guards that fit small angle grinders for cutting concrete and mortar applications.

“We offer 18V compact ‘on-tool’ dust extractors that allow contractors to drill into concrete—especially overhead—and effectively capture dust without the need to pull a vacuum around the job site,” Burdick said. “We also have a compact 3-gal., 18V dust extractor for mobile clean up.”

In addition, Bosch provides a variety of attachments to collect dust for handheld circular saws, bench-top miter/table saws, jigsaws, sanders and routers. Bosch offers high CFM dust extractors that can be connected to these attachments through a vacuum hose, where the CFM from the extractor collects the dust from the shroud and pulls it through a HEPA filter and into a fleece filter bag inside the canister.

Burdick said wet methods deliver water to the application to help prevent dust from becoming airborne. However, the water also creates a wet slurry from the application, which has to be disposed of properly.

Hilti

Hilti brushless rotary hammer with dust control www.hilti.com
Hilti brushless rotary hammer with dust control www.hilti.com

Common situations where electricians encounter the need for dust control include drilling holes for cable trays or coring to pass conduit for electrical lines, said Khadija Talley, CSP, health, safety and environmental services product manager for Hilti. Lowering this risk benefits employers and employees. Dust-control systems help reduce exposure levels of dust, provide safer work environments and also can increase productivity.

“Hilti designs dust-control solutions as a system,” Talley said. “Components are the tool, dust-control accessory, and dust extractor or water supply. We design these components as a system to help ensure effectiveness.”

Talley said drills and core rigs can be equipped to control dust. Many power tools have shroud accessories that connect the tool to a dust extractor. This helps reduce the amount of airborne silica dust from the generation point. There may still be concrete chips and material visible, as the primary objective is to reduce the amount of dust in the air.

Twenty years ago, job sites looked different.

“Now workers are expected to work with hard hats, fall protection, and safety glasses if they are planning to work on tasks where personal protective equipment could help them to work safer. In the future, PPE protection and engineering controls, which can reduce silica dust exposure, will be a common part of job sites. It will become embedded in the way we do work to help provide healthier and safer job sites,” she said.

“Dust control will continue to evolve to include more solutions for the many different tasks conducted on job sites.”

For more detail on OSHA’s silica ruling, read Tom O’Connor’s May 2016 Safety column, “Important Modifications.”

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DeWalt rotary hammer with dust control
www.dewalt.com


Bringing Access Under Control
Bringing Access Under Control aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Bringing Access Under Control

You’ve probably come across this bidding and access control specification: an existing infrastructure that includes numerous manufacturers’ panels, readers and other components—disparate systems that made their way into the facility through moves, adds or tenant changeovers. Legacy access control systems are a big part of the current physical security landscape, causing owners and decision makers to contemplate massive rip and replace scenarios and costly capital expenses.

The physical security industry has been moving away from proprietary operating platforms and toward open standards and communication protocols that give end-users a safe pathway to more modern access control infrastructures and a way to plan and migrate to leading-edge technologies.

Migrating to openness

The mission of the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance, Santa Clara, Calif., is to provide plug-and-play interoperability for security systems and device integration. PSIA introduced its Physical Logical Access Interoperability standards-based specification in 2013. This protocol provides a means for organizations to transfer and dynamically update relevant employee data and privileges from a “logical” human resources system to any Physical Access Control System (PACS), operated at different company facilities often using disparate systems. Most recently, PSIA announced the PLAI agent solution, developed by Cruatech, Dublin, Ireland, supports the integration of multiple vendor systems with one open standard.

“The options in access control are to rip and replace or figure out a way for these different systems to talk to each other,” said David Bunzel, PSIA executive director. “Most of the work can now be handled in a standardized way. This reduces project costs and resources required while eliminating the need to perform multiple integrations. PLAI normalizes data so disparate PACS are synchronized and information can be shared and transferred, in the example of access control and visitor management. It also provides a bridge to access control systems—a migration strategy.”

Historically, standards in the physical security industry have been limited, mostly Wiegand as the communication protocol and proximity cards as the standard low-frequency access-control card format, according to Kellen Duke, global head of deployments and security operations for Proxy, San Francisco.

Proxy is a digital identity platform that empowers people to authenticate and interact with devices in the physical world using their smartphone, he said.

“As the industry progresses to more open protocols, including API [Application Programming Interface] integrations for access control systems and solutions from different vendors are much more interoperable, resulting in seamless experiences, reduced manual effort and decreased security risk,” Duke said. “With standards, we are seeing incredibly useful new integrations, such as those between access control systems and HR systems like Workday or visitor management such as Traction Guest.”

Openpath, Culver City, Calif., has developed a secure, friction-free mobile access control system by creating a bridge to legacy systems. The company’s solution enables anyone to unlock a door using their smartphone that never leaves their pocket or purse. The system automatically authenticates a user’s phone as they near the door using LTE, Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth. This ensures quick seamless access regardless of cell service or power outages, and it’s also compatible with legacy systems, said James Segil, Openpath president and co-founder.

“We got into this space because we also were frustrated users of access control. Badges were the bane of our existence, with issuing and revoking permissions, infrastructure and administration costs. We wanted to reduce that friction for the user and the administrative burden on the landlord or user to manage all that,” Segil said.

He also said the Openpath solution is based on an open framework and standard published API and connects to any locking hardware. The system provides the ability for users to keep their legacy equipment running in parallel with the mobile gateway that supports smartphone credentials.

Segil said statistics place mobile phone use at 90% of the population, with a willingness for people to use their phone to perform more activities. Openpath’s technology enables users to deploy different footprints of access control that satisfies a wide range of generational users in the workplace.

“You need to have a multitude of technologies at play,” Segil said.

Duke said many organizations have em- braced mobile credentials, but he concurred that the user community is a key consideration in deployment.

“It’s important to support both cards and mobile credentials during the transition period and to educate employees on how to use mobile and the superior security offered by digital credentials,” Duke said.

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Open protocols, standards and mobile credentials encourage interoperability
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Speaking From Experience
Speaking From Experience aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Speaking From Experience

COSCO Fire Protection operates out of 10 locations in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The Brea, Calif., company offers services in two general areas. The first is fire suppression systems that includes wet and dry sprinkler systems, special hazard suppression systems (chemical, gaseous and foam), restaurant kitchen hood systems and fire extinguishers.

The other is fire alarm and detection systems that include alarm and detection control panels, heat, smoke and gas sensors, alarm notification systems, voice-activation systems and emergency lighting systems.

The company’s alarm division represents about 20% of the total revenue and is home to 200 of the total 900 employees.

“Overall, we tend to specialize in fire protection and fire alarms, and we don’t do a lot of access controls or high-end security,” said John Strohecker, vice president of the alarm division.

The company does work in various areas, such as airports, commercial, educational, entertainment, government, healthcare, manufacturing and military facilities, along with multibuilding residences, public projects, retail shopping malls, sports complexes and utilities.

“While we do serve all of these types of customers, our primary customers are utilities, manufacturing facilities, higher education and healthcare,” Strohecker said.

To market itself, COSCO works closely with a number of large electrical contractors.

“We have such a close relationship that these contractors often search us out and contract with us to do their specialty work,” he said.

In addition, the alarm division has built a number of direct relationships with some very large customers to perform inspection and service work, such as Boeing, UCLA and the University of Southern California.

Besides marketing itself, COSCO’s work is in demand for a number of other reasons related to its competitive advantages.

One of these is that the company has a very large training center.

“We can also take on jobs that are more technical in nature because our people have the special skills that are necessary,” Strohecker said.

Some examples include high-level specialized gas detection and specialized air sampling systems for high-value projects.

COSCO also prides itself on professionalism. It is a member of the NFPA, the National Fire Sprinkler Association and the Fire Suppression System Association.

Furthermore, it offers turnkey services for its projects including design, installation, service, inspection and repairs.

“We also get hired because we have the financial ability to do large projects,” he said.

COSCO also gets a lot of work because of its commitment to safety. The company’s reputation, experience and size allow contractors to work on some massive projects, including L.A. International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, San Diego International Airport, L.A. Police Department Headquarters, Microsoft, Seattle Convention Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Center museum complex, Home Depot Sports Arena and the Staples Center.

For example, at LAX, the company provides specialty detection services and controls for fire sprinkler systems for the airport.

“We also do all of the inspection and repair work for Southern California Edison and PG&E,” Strohecker said.

Currently, the company is involved in a large retrofit project for the L.A. Metro that involves the installation of fire alarm systems, suppression systems and special hazards systems for 48 of their train stations.

COSCO was also involved in work on USC Village, which is the largest development in USC’s history, covering 15 acres and costing $700 million. USC Village features over 104,000 square feet of shopping, dining, entertainment and exercise facilities. It is also home to 2,500 students who live dorms and apartments, which feature multipurpose rooms, group study rooms, individual study rooms, outdoor areas, gyms, a media room and a dining hall.

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Playing to Fiber’s Strength
Playing to Fiber’s Strength aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Playing to Fiber’s Strength

Last month, I wrote about types of fiber optic sensors that are used in specialized applications. Most of these affect the transmission of light in the fiber to allow the physical parameter to be sensed either along the entire length of the fiber or at discrete points where sensors are connected to the fiber. Many of these sensors can be attached in series along a single fiber to connect up sensors over a large area and monitored using an instrument such as an optical time domain reflectometer.

Fiber itself is a good sensor. It is sensitive to temperature, stress and strain (vibration and acoustics), which sometimes enables regular fiber optic cables to be used as sensors. Special fibers with enhanced sensitivity are used where regular fibers have inadequate sensitivity or special physical parameters need to be measured. Fiber can also be used to deliver light to specialized sensors that can measure temperature, velocity of a medium for flow measurement, linear or angular motion and chemical composition. And of course, fiber can be used to connect regular sensors with electronics that produce digital readouts.

The oil and gas industry are big users of distributed fiber optic sensors, in exploration, extraction and distribution. Oil field exploration uses acoustic sensors to monitor the underground structure of the earth in the areas of interest, picking up vibrations from explosive charges on the surface. During the extraction of oil and gas, down-hole sensors based on fiber optics can monitor the curing of the cement liner in a drilled well, the actuation of sleeves in a hole and movement of liquids in a well, increasing extraction efficiency and safety. This type of sensing has become much more sophisticated recently, allowing already installed fiber to provide new types data.

Much of the supply of oil and gas is transported by pipelines where monitoring by fiber is very important. Fiber optic cables are installed along pipelines to monitor temperature, strain, vibration and flow, providing real-time data that can spot leaks and sometimes potential problems before they happen. Leaks are usually detected by measuring temperature along the pipeline, since a leak causes a temperature drop in the gas or liquid being transported, allowing immediate detection and location of the leak. Fiber alongside the pipeline allows video surveillance and intrusion detection, another important issue for security.

Electrical utilities extensively use fiber optic sensors’ ability to monitor temperature and vibration. Since fiber is not affected by electrical interference, a fiber optic cable can be wrapped around electric transmission lines and run around transformers to measure temperature and vibration, allowing monitoring along the entire transmission and distribution route.

Fiber can also be used to connect special sensors, such as electrical sensors that can measure high voltage and current on transmission lines, providing another set of data to correlate with the distributed temperature sensor data, allowing decisions to be made with greater confidence about the electrical utility grid. And, of course, fiber optics can connect up surveillance and monitoring systems to monitor the security of utility equipment.

Most of what I’ve discussed are applications using fiber optics that require installing special types of cables. But even regular telecommunications cables have the potential to provide useful sensor data. For years, fiber optic testing techs have known that cables installed along railways or roads could sense vibration from passing trains or vehicles. One tech I know discovered test data from aerial cables correlated with wind speed.

A researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was studying thousands of miles of installed telecom cable to use in geohazard awareness, monitoring landslides, permafrost slumps, sinkholes and other natural phenomena. This investigation turned up another potential application, particularly useful in California: monitoring earthquakes.

Instead of using seismometers, which are single-point monitors and require expensive installation and operation and are unfeasible in some locations such as urban areas, installed fiber optic cable can provide seismic data. There is more than 100,000 miles of cables in the United States, most of which have dark fibers (spares) that can be fitted with laser interferometers and used as earthquake monitors.

It’s not as easy as it might sound and a lot of research still needs to be done to calibrate the cables as sensors. Research is being done at University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at test sites in California to gather data and develop systems to analyze the data to produce useful information.

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Putting Software to Work for You
Putting Software to Work for You aconstanza Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:56

Putting Software to Work for You

Electrical contractors use technology to locate obsolete spare parts, build RFPs, communicate with mobile workers on a job site, manage a building with a distributed network of internet of things sensors and many other things.

In the competitive world of electrical contracting, time is precious. Schedules are lean, and work can be complex. A rough-in design calls for many details to flesh out the project’s requirements.

One reasonably priced software product uses building information modeling (BIM) software and subsequently expedites a bill of materials, saving time while specifying materials accurately. Using a rules-based process, Sanveo software computes what material, its specifications and how much of it is to be used. Then the software will automatically populate a bill of materials saving time and cost that could have been spent elsewhere on the project.

“Typically, all the 3D models give you some of the qualities that need to go into a project,” said Sethu Madhavan Anilkumar, BIM construction engineer, Sanveo, Newark, Calif.

“This program has a new ‘rules engine’ built into it, so it will process the 3D models and provide a complete set of bills of materials needed for your project,” he said. “It’s basically cutting down the additional 8-12 hours that a few foremen typically spend gathering bill of materials data manually.”

Cloud-based and expedient

This is the age of software-as-a-service where a software solution does not have to be installed on your own server or on the premises. It can be accessed by those who need it and expanded according to its need and use.

In the architecture/engineering/construction community, cloud-based platforms are used because they help users avoid the headaches of installing, maintaining and debugging the software. Another benefit is that users can rely on someone more sophisticated in IT to update the software and safeguard it against security breaches. Software can be subscribed to by purchasing seat licenses or one enterprise-wide license.

Beyond time savings for the electrical contracting firm, Anilkumar said that benefits of Sanveo are threefold.

The first is efficiency. The time to populate the bill of materials is reduced. The second is accuracy. Using software to populate the bill of materials is “way more accurate than your few foremen physically calculating to specify materials.

“Once they start [to] approximate it, they tend to order way more material because they don’t want to be under,” he said.

The software’s accuracy improves the amount ordered.

Third, the software identifies prefabrication opportunities through its extrapolations.

“Early on in your project, because you have your 3D model, you can plan your job in an orderly way instead of just buying commodities and building assemblies on the side,” Anilkumar said. “Instead, you can have your distributors or your warehouse actually build these assemblies off-site.”

The electrical contractors Jeff Griffin interviewed in his September 2019 Cool Tools column use all manner of desktop and mobile applications to keep their businesses running, from standard Microsoft Office applications to contractor-specific software, such as Bluebeam, McCormick, Procore, Trimble-Accubid and Viewpoint. Milwaukee Tool, ToolWatch and AllTrak all offer asset management applications to monitor tools and equipment.

Other technologies

Eaton’s Crouse-Hind’s CoSPEC 3D Drawing Library allows systems to be built out after product selection. Product drawings are available in 2D and 3D formats. With just a mouse click or two, all the design data is at the user’s fingertips. The data is transportable in multiple file formats depending on your software. This speeds up the detailed drawings and allows for a much speedier installation drawing.

Beyond design, a useful tool is an RFP-generating software. Distributors such as Graybar, Grainger and others can be plugged into on-premises software and now a cloud-based app. In a very short time, RFPs can be sent out to numerous suppliers for quotes to expedite the entire procurement process.

ECs can buy and sell obsolete parts online. Also, companies willing to reverse-engineer obsolete parts and fabricate them would be in the database and respond to queries from those seeking parts. If a unique breaker was made by a company who was bought, acquired or gone out of business, the marketplace could perhaps match a buyer with a seller.

These and other digital products are paving the way for contractors as they seek better ways to stay competitive and thrive in a digital work environment.

As contractors become more competitive and technology advances that helps ECs reduce time and overhead costs, ECs embrace and implement software applications to help their firms redirect their workforce to concentrate on other things that can help speed the project along, instill more quality and save time.

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Using better, faster and more accurate bills of materials
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