January 30, 2004

New infrared inspection standard in the works

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has asked Terry Clausing, PE, TrendFormers, Inc., to produce a new standard for conducting infrared inspection of electrical and mechanical equipment. ASTM produces consensus standards for industry that are frequently referenced by the National Fire Protection Agency.

Clausing has invited industry professionals to contribute to the writing of this document. Those interested can email thoughts, ideas, pictures, and thermal images in jpeg or bitmap format to Terry.Clausing@TrendFormers.com.

January 29, 2004

Square D/Schneider Electric joins new consortium

Square D/Schneider Electric has joined New Home Technologies, Inc., a new consortium of homebuilders and suppliers. The group plans to launch a product that will help builders showcase the upgradeable options for new homebuyers. The consortium is a joint venture subsidiary of Builder Homesite, Inc.

The planned product is called Envision, which is a range of options management tools to accumulate media marketing content from suppliers. Builders and contractors will be able to create a magazine-style format of online customized option selections for buyers to view. The first Envision products will be available by the end of 2004.

Whirlpool, Georgia-Pacific, Therma-Tru Doors, and others have also joined the consortium along with builders like Beazer Homes, David Weekley Homes, and Lennar Corp.

January 28, 2004

ESA offers free guide on arc-flash hazards

ESA, a software developer, is giving away copies of the “Practical Solution Guide to Arc Flash Hazards” through its Web site. The guide features 100+ pages of information and is valued at $70.

Written by five engineers, the book provides a pragmatic approach based on firsthand experience and reading of the applicable regulations. It also gives advice on how to comply with arc-flash mandates while maintaining productivity.

To obtain a copy of the guide, log on to http://www.easypower.com and enter offer code: PR458.

January 27, 2004

Schneider Electric acquires MGE UPS Systems

Schneider Electric has begun a process to fully acquire MGE UPS Systems for an estimated enterprise value of about EUR 850 million (U.S. $1 billion). The transaction should be complete in the first quarter of 2004, pending approval by anti-trust authorities, notably in the U.S. and Europe.

Schneider Electric signed two agreements under which it will increase its stake in two stages. The first of which is the acquisition of a 52.6% interest, which corresponds to all of the stake held by legal and general ventures and ABN Amro and about half of the interest held by MGE UPS Systems’ management and employees, for EUR 298 million (U.S. $375 million). The second stage is the acquisition in 2006 of the remaining 15.1% for a price based on MGE UPS Systems’ 2005 EBITA level.

January 26, 2004

IEEE Standards Association makes changes

The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) recently released two new standards and approved the revision of two existing standards.

The first new standard, IEEE 1222 “Standard for All-Dielectric Self-Supporting Fiber Optic Cable,” addresses the needs of cable on overhead or in underground facilities. The other, IEEE 1590 “Recommended Practice for the Electrical Protection of Optical Fiber Communication Facilities Serving, or Connected to, Electrical Supply Locations,” provides for the protection of such lines used in communications at power generation facilities.

One of the revised standards, IEEE 635 “Guide for Selection and Design of Aluminum Sheaths for Power Cable,” was updated to match current requirements and to make the text more readable. The guide is intended to help cable users and engineers understand the benefits and deficiencies of aluminum sheaths for power cables.

The other revised standard, IEEE 383 “Standard for Qualifying Class 1E Electric Cables and Field Splices for Nuclear Power Generating Stations,” incorporates updated information, methods and experience concerning cables and splices for power, control, instrumentation, signal, and communication functions.

January 23, 2004

FERC pushes Congress to pass stand-alone bill for grid standards

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says if the U.S. Senate can’t pass broad energy legislation, then Congress should write a stand-alone bill to set electric power grid reliability standards. Pat Wood, FERC chairman, says regardless of legislative actions, FERC will independently take steps to improve the U.S. grid by this summer. “In the coming weeks and months you’re going to see FERC go from zero to 60 on the issue of grid reliability,” he says.

A broad energy bill that addresses electricity, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and other forms of energy passed the House of Representatives last year, but is now stalled in the Senate. Senate Republicans said they will try again early this year to pass the bill, which failed by two votes in November.

FERC will likely propose regulations that require utilities to report when they violate voluntary industry rules. Wood says he believes that current law gives the group the authority to take action, but is waiting for input from three other commissioners.

January 22, 2004

ACEC supports Department of Labor proposal

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is encouraging Congress to support reforms to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as proposed by the Department of Labor. The Washington D.C.-based engineering industry association represents the business and political interests of about 6,000 independent engineering companies nationwide.

The ACEC has long advocated changes to the FLSA that would allow member firms to more easily identify exempt and non-exempt employees from the act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements, and has pushed to simplify the statute in other ways.

David Raymond, ACEC president, says the changes are long overdue. “The regulations governing overtime and minimum wage eligibility under FLSA have not been significantly revised in over 50 years,” he says. “The modern workplace has changed considerably during that time, particularly in the engineering industry, and the current regulations have failed to keep the pace with those changes.”

January 21, 2004

Program includes educational training, practical experience, final exam

The Security Industry Association (SIA) will offer a Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) program at the ISC-West Show in Las Vegas, March 31-April 1, 2004. CSPM is a three-part certification program for project managers in the security industry.

The program is a combination of educational training, practical experience, and a final certification exam. The first session of the program will be on March 31 at an SIA-sponsored luncheon titled, “Certified Project Manager: The Formula for Recognition and Bottom-line Success.” This session will give an overview of this new program to systems integrators, installing dealers, and consultants. On April 1, SIA will sponsor a breakfast for the second session titled, “Certified Security Project Manager: Building Successful Partnerships,” which will provide an overview of the program for manufacturers. Both of these sessions are free and sponsored by SDM and Security magazines.

The third session of the program will be the final exam that covers all aspects of the security project manager job description, and will include an interview with a certified proctor. CSPM participants will receive 40 contact hours of specialized training as well as 20 hours of self-study in area like estimating and financial aspects of security projects, contracting law, and life safety codes and risk management.

January 20, 2004

December brings 14,000 new construction jobs

In December, construction employment increased by 14,000 jobs, bringing the total number of construction jobs to 6.8 million, which breaks the record set in March 2001. December was the 10th straight month to see an increase in construction employment.

Since February, the industry has added 173,000 jobs, while the rest of the economy shed 285,000 jobs. All three of The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ construction segments enjoyed increases in 2003 with building construction adding 17,000 jobs, heavy and civil engineering adding 4,000 jobs, and specialty trade contractors adding 5,000 jobs.

January 16, 2004

Belden Electronics names distributor

Belden Electronics Division will distribute its HomeChoice line of cables through ADI, a North American wholesale distributor of security and low-voltage residential products.

The line consists of low-voltage cables for home networking and automation, voice, security, and distributed audio and video applications.

January 15, 2004

Lightolier celebrates anniversary

This year marks Lightolier’s 100th year in the lighting industry. Australian immigrant Bernhard Blitzer created the company, originally named The New York Gas Appliance Company, in 1904.

In the ’50s, the company created commercial and architectural products like early fluorescent designs, flexible decorative lighting, multigroove downlights, track lighting, office lighting, and microprocessor-based lighting controls. This year it plans to release a comprehensive introduction of HID downlighting.

The anniversary will be celebrated at company headquarters in Fall River, Mass.

January 14, 2004

Contractors 2000 is now Nexstar

Contractors 2000 has changed its name to Nexstar. The organization, which provides information, support, and training to independent service providers within the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing trades, is undergoing a two-step renewal process.

Step one of the process is the name change, and step two is the redevelopment of its content and member services. The organization aims to improve its library of business-building content and rearrange its programs and concepts based on the trade and sophistication level of its members, from beginner through advanced.

The organization started in 1992 with 16 members; it now serves 300 members in four countries. Members will get a first look at the programs at the company’s Super Meeting in San Francisco on Feb. 19.

For more information, visit http://www.nexstarnetwork.com.

January 13, 2004

Ferraz Shawmut announces sweepstakes winner















On Jan. 9, Ferraz Shawmut announced Stephen King, Kansas City, Mo., the grand prize winner of its Zoom In With SmartSpot sweepstakes. King, chief estimator for Mark One Electric Co., won a Harley-Davidson FXD Dyna Super Glide motorcycle.

The company started the scratch and win contest last summer to promote its SmartSpot open-fuse indicator. Game cards were circulated in electrical industry publications and through distributors. Almost one million game cards were dispersed, and King was randomly chosen from thousands who responded. In addition to the grand prize Harley, the company awarded other instant prizes like two-way radios, junior PDAs, barbecue sets, and multi-tool sets.

January 12, 2004

Graybar expands product line

Graybar has expanded its line of communications and electrical products to include security and notification products like surveillance cameras, access control devices, and notification systems.

The company will introduce the security and notification products in to the marketplace Jan. 12 at the winter BICSI conference in Orlando. The products will inventory and ship through a zone warehouse logistics network, and they will be distributed throughout the company’s 250 nationwide locations.

January 9, 2004

Genlyte offers free education seminars

Over the course of 2004, Genlyte Controls will conduct eight free, two-day training seminars to educate lighting professionals on power line carrier (PLC) dimming and specifications-level lighting control products.

The company will hold two different seminars. PLC Training covers the fundamentals of dimming, including what to light, how to light it, and how to control it, and Commercial/Entertainment Design Specification provides an in-depth review of commercial and theatrical dimming systems, and system architecture like dimming, computer integration, and ASCII and theatrical DMX512 protocols.

Upcoming seminar dates are Feb. 6-7 and March 19-20. All classes will be held at the company’s Dallas training facility. The seminars are free, but a $100 refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot. The company will cover all hotel, food, and transportation expenses, except travel arrangements. For further seminar dates or to register, contact Jason Moreno at jmoreno@genlyte.com.

January 8, 2004

HellermannTyton launces new Web site

HellermannTyton, a global manufacturer of network cabling, cable management, and identification solutions, recently launched its new corporate Web site, http://www.hellermann.tyton.com. The site features information on the company’s products and the markets in which they’re sold like telecommunications, automotive, transportation, heavy equipment, and wire processing.

Users can search for products by part number and description or navigate the site using interactive and downloadable cross reference functions. Users can also access white papers and technical information for resources on market and product-related topics.

January 7, 2004

GE Supply expands operations

GE Supply recently opened a new branch in Palm Desert, Calif. It’s the first new location in the region in five years.

The branch, serves residential and commercially focused electrical contractors, and features a full customer service counter. It will house a local inventory of about 1,700 different products from 25 suppliers, and it’s backed by the company’s Downey, Calif., distribution hub.

January 6, 2004

Construction put-in-place values continue to rise

On Dec. 30, the Census Bureau announced the value of construction put-in-place in November reached $934.5 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. This figure is the sixth straight increase, rising 1.2% above October’s figures and 7.4% above November 2002 figures.

Private residential and public construction figures continue to rise as well. They saw a 10% and 3% increase, respectively, year-to-date. Down 6%, private residential is still lagging. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales in November dropped 4.6% from October’s rising rate. However, that figure is still 7% above the November 2002 figure. November’s average home selling price was $170,900, up 5.9% from a year before.

January 5, 2004

Mr. Electric turns 10

Mr. Electric is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It is the largest electrical service and repair franchise, comprising more than 150 locations worldwide.

Mr. Electric was created by The Dwyer Group in Waco, Texas, as one of the company’s six franchiser subsidiaries specializing in the service trade. The company sold its first franchise in 1994, and recently announced a 13.8% increase in sales revenue in 2003.