Jan. 31, 2003

U.S. Supreme Court denies challenge to PLA order Two years after it was first signed in February 2001, President Bush’s executive order banning the use of project labor agreements (PLA) on federally funded construction projects was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court when it declined to review a Building and Construction Trades Department challenge to the order. The decision is the latest in the two-year battle that most recently found its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court where the order was also upheld. Not surprisingly, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) were split on the decision. The IEC had argued that PLAs exclude open shop contractors from bidding on projects paid for by their tax dollars and drive up the cost of federal construction by reducing competition for the work. “This is excellent news for IEC members and for taxpayers everywhere,” says Darryl Vasko, president of Vasko Electric, an open shop contractor in Sacramento, Calif. IBEW, on the other hand, was discouraged by the decision. “This decision is a disappointment for the labor movement because it effectively disallows one of the best tools we have for completing projects,” says Edwin D. Hill, IBEW International presdent. PLAs are collective bargaining agreements permitted under the NLRA that establish common work rules for an entire construction site.



Jan. 29, 2003

Public sector design/build work sparse for consulting firms

State procurement laws continue to impede the use of design/build in the public sector, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by ZweigWhite. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents reported that such laws in their state had prevented them from securing public design/build work, the highest percentage since the research firm began conducting the annual survey six years ago.

Firms headquartered in the middle Atlantic (63%), mountain (57%), and north central (54%) regions were hit hardest by procurement laws.

However, more than 75% of respondents still predict there will be an increase in the use of design/build in the public sector in the future. In addition, design/build revenues for design and consulting firms grew 60% from 2000 to 2002, illustrating that despite the lack of work in the public sector, private work is still adequate to fuel the industry.



Jan. 29, 2003

CSA International puts certification records online

The most current ANSI, UL, and CSA certification information is now available online. CSA International has added a certifications directory to its Web site (www.csa-international.org) in the Certified Product Listings section.

Updated daily, certification records include product names, manufacturer’s name and address, model numbers certified, and brief descriptions of the relevant attributes of each product. The database also includes a description of each product class, which lists the products included in that category, the applicable regulatory requirements, information to be included in the markings, and other important information.



Jan. 27, 2003

IEEE updates, adds to battery maintenance standards

The IEEE Standards Board recently approved a revision to one of its standards and gave the go-ahead for the development of a new standard. The revised and new standards are sponsored by the Stationary Batteries Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society.

Standard 450, “Recommended Practice for Maintenance, Testing, and Replacement of Vented Lead-Acid Batteries for Stationary Applications,” explains new testing recommendations, and P1635, “Guide for the Ventilation and Thermal Management of Batteries for Stationary Applications” will describe battery technologies and the design considerations and environmental issues associated with each one.



Jan. 27, 2003

Wire protection product manufacturer sets up shop on the Web

Heyco Products, Toms River, N.J., recently renovated its online storefront (www.heyco.com), offering a new outlet for molded wire protection products and stamped electrical components on the Web.

Visitors to the site can learn about the company’s products and search for them by part number or by following links along the top of the page. Contact information for local distributors and regional sales managers is available, and catalogs and product samples are available by request.



Jan. 24, 2003

Web site, software manufacturer join forces to sing the praises of CMSS

More than 200 companies offer computerized maintenance management systems, and as industry experts predict the worldwide market for CMSS could reach $1.8 billion by 2006, Champs software has joined with Cmmsscity.com to educate buyers and users of their choices.

The Web site features a directory of CMMS manufacturers, an archive of articles pertaining to the technology, and discussion groups to help end-users navigate through the purchasing process. Champs will lend its two decades’ worth of knowledge and expertise in the CMMS field to the site.

“Imparting this knowledge and expertise to our customers and visitors will drive the message home that now is the time to profit from enhanced maintenance practices,” says Terrance O’Hanlon, publisher of cmmscity.com.



Jan. 24, 2003

Transformer manufacturer imports monitoring service for the US

Under the terms of a new joint marketing agreement, Kuhlman Electric, Versailles, Ky., will provide installation and services for Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Dynamic Ratings’ Monitoring Control and Communications systems. Kuhlman’s field engineering services division will be in charge of the installations.

Originally introduced in Australia, the Pacific Rim, and the UK, the monitoring system is making its debut in the United States after seven years. Dynamic Ratings’ parent company, the Wilson Transformer group, is based in Melbourne, Australia.



Jan. 22, 2003

Leviton further embraces structured wiring market with acquisition of OnQ

Just over one week after joining with Square D to develop a residential structured media system for existing homes, Leviton, Little Neck, N.Y., recently announced its acquisition of structured wiring manufacturer OnQ Technologies, Harrisburg, Pa. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two companies have stressed that although it’s technically an acquisition, the deal constitutes more of a union than a buyout.

The new company, to be known as Leviton OnQ, will be a subsidiary of Leviton Manufacturing and will be headed up by current OnQ president, Doug Fikse. The two companies will remain located at their respective headquarters and continue to operate as separate entities, but plans are in place to eventually combine them.

Although a joint press release reports there will initially be little blending of product lines, the companies have already announced that they’re working on new products for lifestyle applications like telecommuting and entertainment.



Jan. 22, 2003

Fires, excessive lamp maintenance lead plant to install new lighting system

After growing tired of assigning employees to lamp replacement work more than twice a week, semiconductor material manufacturer Axcelis Technologies, Beverly, Mass., recently upgraded its plant lighting with a Williams GL lighting system. The move reduced energy use for the facility by 41.5%, improved light levels by 17%, and earned the company a $48,000 utility rebate.

Plant engineer Paul Donhauser had tested out a metal-halide lamp with a double containment that eliminated the potential for overheating and fire – a problem that initiated the search for the new system – but settled on the Williams lights after testing them out and presenting his analysis to his director of operations.

“Our analysis of the lighting system offered a number of benefits to Axcelis,” Donhauser says. “The new lighting would be shadow free, creating a more positive work environment for the employees, and lamp depreciation would be significantly reduced so I would be able to apply the man hours previously assigned to lighting maintenance to other work without having to add staff.”

The system consists of 300 low-profile luminaires with four 54W T5 HO fluorescent lamps that provide 70 fc. The lamps are mounted 18 ft above the floor on 18-ft x 15-ft centers.



Jan. 17, 2003

NECA, IBEW welcome non-members to V/D/V conference in March

Those who have felt left out of the NECA/IBEW Conference in years past will be happy to hear that it will be a little less exclusive at this year’s V/D/V/Integrated Building Systems Conference & Expo, March 10-12 at the Las Vegas Hilton. The groups hope to spread the word about their training efforts to non-members. Previously only NECA contractors and their employees and IBEW-signatory contractors and employees were invited.

Educational sessions scheduled to take place will cover fiber optics, copper cabling, home networking, and power quality. Private general sessions covering legislative updates and licensing will still take place for NECA and IBEW members.

The conference is intended to provide a working forum for members of labor and management groups to discuss issues related to voice/data/video and integrated building systems and the future of the industry.



Jan. 17, 2003

IEEE approves revisions to one standard, begins work on four more

IEEE’s standards board recently approved revisions to an existing circuit breaker standard and gave the green light to work on further revisions to four more circuit breaker and surge protection standards.

IEEE C37.14, “Standard for Low-Voltage DC Power Circuit Breakers Used in Enclosures,” incorporates 1,000V and 1,200V maximum voltage ratings. It was updated to reflect comments received on peak current design testing and to adapt it to the metric system.

The four other standards that IEEE will begin revising are:

  • IEEE PC37.13, “Standard for Low-Voltage AC Power Circuit Breakers Used in Enclosures”

  • IEEE PC37.27, “Application Guide for Low-Voltage AC Nonintegrally Fused Power Circuit Breakers (Using Separately Mounted Current-Limiting Fuses)”

  • IEEE PC62.31, “Standard Test Specification for Gas-Tube Surge Protection Devices”

  • IEEE PC62.64, “Standard Specification for Surge Protectors Used in Data Communications and Signaling Circuits”

Dates for the completion of the revisions haven’t been announced.



Jan. 15, 2003

EMCOR Group acquires Virginia-based engineering services firm

EMCOR Group, Norwalk, Conn., recently increased its potential annual revenues by more than $400 million with the acquisition of Consolidated Engineering Services (CES). The Arlington, Va.-based firm, which provides services like facilities management, technical consulting, and diagnostic services, generates approximately $420 million in annual revenues.

Under the terms of the agreement, EMCOR Group will pay Archstone-Smith – the parent company of CES - $178 million in cash. Senior management from CES will remain with the company.

Frank T. MacInnis, chairman and CEO of EMCOR Group, is happy with the acquisition, saying it will increase the company’s 2002 pro forma revenues in the facilities management sector to $1 billion. That represents 25% of the company’s total business in 2002.



Jan. 15, 2003

Online lighting catalog expands to include three new categories

Zing Communications has doubled the number of product categories on its SearchSpec online lighting product database with the addition of three groups. Recessed/direct/indirect, task lighting, and multispot listings will join categories for track lighting, linear suspended indirect, and cove lighting on the site.

Design professionals visiting the site can choose a product category and further narrow their search by designating criteria like light source, voltage, and finish. The database will generate a catalog of products that meet the user’s specifications and offer contact information for the corresponding manufacturers.

The site has plans to add categories for downlights, wall sconces, and industrial bells, among others, in time for Lightfair 2003 in May.



Jan. 13, 2003

Changes to MasterFormat near completion; training seminars available

The Construction Specifications Institute recently released a draft of the largest revision to the MasterFormat coding system it publishes in conjunction with Construction Specifications Canada. The final draft is expected to be completed in June and the revisions should take effect in the construction industry in 2004.

To ease the transition to the changes, Formare Educational Institute created a seminar that will be presented regionally beginning this month. “The Emerging MasterFormat – Answers to “So What?” had previously only been given to firms via invitation only.

Dates and locations for the seminars are available online at www.formare-technica.com/educate.



Jan. 13, 2003

NCEL announces training dates for 2003

The North Central Electric League (NCEL) recently announced tentative dates for its 2003 Success Training Program, designed to fulfill continuing education requirements for upcoming license renewal deadlines. The programs begin later this week and continue through March.

  • The Application and Installation of NUM Cable According to the Code

    – Jan. 16

  • The Proper Application and Protection of Motors

    – Jan. 23, 30 and Feb. 6

  • Applications of Variable Frequency Drives

    – Feb. 13

  • NEC Art. 490: Medium Voltage Over 600V

    – Feb. 20

  • Tax and Legal Requirements for Small Business

    – March 6

Additional information can be found at NCEL’s Web site, www.ncel.org.



Jan. 10, 2003

EGSA offers scholarships to on-site power generation students

At a time when personnel shortages are becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in the electrical industry, EGSA is doing what it can to encourage the growth of future electrical professionals. Beginning with the 2003-2004 academic year, the association will provide ten $2,000 scholarships to qualified students in on-site power generation-related programs.

In order to qualify for the merit-based scholarships students must be attending school full-time, have a declared major related to on-site power generation industry subjects, and have a minimum 2.8 GPA.

Those students interested in applying can find an application packet on EGSA’s Web site: www.egsa.org. All applications must be received before May 1, 2003.



Jan. 10, 2003

Lighting manufacturer rewards regular customers with prize program

Contractors who have recently purchased Crescent/Stonco lighting products may be eligible to win…more lighting products from the manufacturer, thanks to its new Lighting Rewards Program. The Barrington, N.J.-based company instituted the program to reward its customers.

Contractors who participate in the program earn points by removing and saving the bar code label from the manufacturer’s product packaging. Points add up and can be redeemed for prizes pictured on the online Lighting Rewards gallery.

The Web site for the program (www.lightingrewards.com) includes more detailed information about rules and prizes.



Jan. 8, 2003

Square D, Leviton join forces to design residential structured media system

With little experience in the voice/data/video market, Square D/
Schneider Electric recently signed an agreement with Leviton to explore the development of a residential structured media system for existing homes. The move is part of a stated attempt on the part of the Palatine, Ill.-based switchgear manufacturer’s to enter the expanding V/D/V industry.

With the goal of providing “simpler, more affordable information and media networking technology” to existing homes, the two company’s have begun work on developing a feasible prototype system. The team undertaking the project is made up of members from both companies. The completed system will be marketed and sold independently by both manufacturers.

Future direction and initiatives of the partnership has yet to be determined.



Jan. 8, 2003

Crescent Electric Supply acquires Missouri electric distributor

Completing an acquisition trifecta in 2002, Crescent Electric Supply, East Dubuque, Ill., ended the year with the purchase of Missouri Valley Electric. The Kansas City, Mo.-based distributor will become Crescent’s sixth distribution facility in Missouri and bring with it $3 million in local inventory.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Missouri Valley District Manager Marc Horner says the company has no plans to change how it does business. Horner will retain his position and the majority of the company’s employees will be kept on staff.



Jan. 6, 2003

Construction put in place reaches six-month high in November

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) report that November levels of construction put in place reached their highest since May and were higher than those for the same month last year. Figures for the first 11 months of 2002 were also up 0.3% over those for the same period last year.

While trends visible for the past several months have remained consistent – private residential construction and public construction from January to November are both up 6% over the same period last year – private nonresidential construction is off 17%. And according to the AGC, state and local construction, which was up 11% for the first 11 months of the year and continued to buoy the industry, will begin to decline as budget constraints tighten purse strings. However, a record number of bond issues passed in November should help primary and secondary school construction, which is up 16%, continue to grow.



Jan. 6, 2003

New York City adopts 1999 edition of NEC, plans to update again next year

It’s only three years late, but New York City has adopted an amended version of the 1999 NEC to serve as its electrical code. The Code updates will advance the city’s requirements in areas like low-voltage systems, fiber optics, and digital control systems.

The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has also demonstrated his intent to update New York’s electrical code to the 2002 edition of the NEC next year.



Jan. 3, 2003

Web site wants your tips and tricks for making electrical work easier

Are you constantly spouting off information that others think is useless but that you know has value? Do your friends think you’re a know-it-all? Do you sometimes wish there was a Trivial Pursuit: Electrical Edition? Now you have an outlet for your vast stores of knowledge and a chance to gain some appreciation for your know-how. WD-40 Co. is asking professionals to share tricks of their trade for possible inclusion on its Job Site, an online resource for homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Professionals whose suggestions are selected for the Web site will receive a WD-40 tool belt and recognition for their submission.

Tips should not be well-known techniques that can be found in a trade manual or instruction book. Instead, they should be shortcuts and tricks that you’ve devised throughout your time in the business, something that makes a job easier.

If you think you’ve got something helpful to submit, visit www.wd40jobsite.com. Deadline for entries is March 31.



Jan. 3, 2003

Industrial drive manufacturer expands to the Heartland with acquisition

Saftronics, Ft. Myers, Fla., recently expanded its reach in the AC and DC industrial drive market wth the acquisition of Fincor Electronics. The company currently maintains a network of engineering centers in the Southeast and Northwest and will now bridge the gap with Fincor’s locations in the Midwest.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Saftronics became interested in York, Pa.-based Fincor while providing it with drive products as part of an alliance with Colfax Corp., the previous parent company of Fincor.