May 30, 2003

BuilConn Forum leaves impression on systems integrators

More than 200 members of the systems integration community converged in Dallas for the premier BuilConn Forum. The forum brought together manufacturers, dealers, contractors, and integrators to explore the benefits of total building systems integration. Members from the HVAC, security, lighting, access control, and IT communities were also present. The convergence of IT and building systems was discussed, and many of the discussions and presentations centered on TCP/IP and XML technologies.

BuilConn 2004 will be held April 14-16, 2004, in Dallas. Visit www.builconn.com for further information.



May 30, 2003

NESCO expands national account coverage

NESCO, Canton, Mass., recently completed a planned expansion to include a West Coast office located in San Francisco. This expansion supports a strategy to enhance NESCO’s electrical offering with additional national coverage.

Joining NESCO in the West Coast office is Nancy Ramdon, a 15-yr veteran in the national account marketplace. She will use the NESCO team to respond to customers on the West Coast and elsewhere.



May 29, 2003

Phoenix Contact expands distribution agreement with Hagemeyer

Phoenix Contact, Harrisburg, Pa., recently announced it has expanded its distribution relationship with Hagemeyer North America to include most Northeast and Southeast U.S. locations. This alliance with Charleston, S.C.-based Hagemeyer supports Phoenix Contact’s strategy to focus on and support electronic and industrial customers through distribution.



May 29, 2003

Philips Lighting receives Web site award

Royal Philips Electronics, Somerset, N.J., recently announced that its U.S.-based Philips Lighting Co. received IMARK Group’s award for “Outstanding Web Site of 2002.” IMARK Group used the following criteria to make the selection: user friendliness, progressive nature of Web site, usefulness in conducting business, and ease in obtaining information. Light Site North America is the source for all information on Philips Lighting products and is located at www.lighting.philips.com/nam/.



May 28, 2003

Hubbell Premise Wiring initiates technical discussion groups on Web site

Hubbell Premise Wiring, Stonington, Conn., has opened the industry’s first online technical discussion forum at www.hubbell-premise.com. Industry professionals can find answers to frequently asked questions in every product segment or post their own questions and comments. Hubbell product managers, technical support representatives, and engineers monitor the discussion groups, giving users direct links to the people responsible for the products.

Users can gain access to the discussion groups by joining Hub’s Club at www.hubbell-premise.com/HubsClub/Forum/register.asp.



May 28, 2003

Equity Electrical Associates merges with Electrical Distribution Network

Equity Electrical Associates, East Walpole, Mass., and Electrical Distribution Network, Concord, Ohio, recently announced the two companies have merged, forming a $6 billion plus network. The two entities will remain as separate operating divisions, maintaining existing company names and personnel. The new parent company will be called Power Marketing Management, with Richard Noel of Equity as Board Chairman and Matthew Roos of EDN as President and CEO.



May 27, 2003

Cooper B-Line equipped solar home wins honors in international competition

With the help of Cooper B-Line, a team from the University of Texas at Austin participated in finals of the 2002 Solar Decathlon, an event where students compete to design, build, and operate the most effective and efficient solar-powered home. Last fall 14 teams representing universities participated in Washington, D.C. to establish a village of self-sustaining houses powered by solar energy.

Cooper B-Line supplied the team with steel strut for the home. The team used the strut as the metal framing for the home, which made quick assembly and disassembly possible while also providing a built-in wiring conduit, creating a pre-wired module system.



May 27, 2003

eBay Business expands
industrial supply category

eBay Business, the business marketplace portion of the online auction site has expanded its industrial supply categories as of late to try to reach small and medium-sized businesses. The site is located at www.ebaybusiness.com.

Based on Q1 2003 results, buyers of industrial supplies accounted for more than $46 million in annual gross merchandise sales on eBay, representing an annual growth rate of 65% year-over-year. More than 20,000 new industrial supply listings are showing up on eBay Business every week, ranging from forklifts, generators, compressors, electrical equipment, motors, and HVAC equipment.



May 23, 2003

Testing project shows most patch cords fail

A new study from Quabbin Wire & Cable, Co., Ware, Mass., shows that most open-market patch cords do not meet the TIA’s published requirements. Almost 70% of Cat. 5e cords and 80% of Cat. 6 cords failed a series of tests designed to determine the current quality level of patch cords and observe if there was any correlation between performance, sales channel, or cost. Cords were purchased on the open market and tested using Fluke Network’s patch cord test adapter and DSP 4000 series cable analyzer. All cords were tested to the full requirements of TIA/EIA-568-B; including propagation delay, delay skew, wire map, NEXT, and return loss.



May 23, 2003

More than 135 papers to be presented at EIC/EMCW Expo ’03 Conference

The Electrical Insulation Conference/Electrical Manufacturing & Coil Winding (EIC/EMCW) Expo ’03 Conference will present more than 135 papers during 36 conference sessions Sept. 23-25, 2003. Design, manufacturing, production, and electrical engineers are invited to attend the conference. The event includes an exhibition where more than 200 companies will display products and equipment, including electrical insulation and insulating materials, testing and measurement equipment, and transformer and stator equipment.



May 22, 2003

Proposed legislation would reduce NLRB involvement in the workplace

In response to the lobbying efforts of IEC members and staff, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) recently introduced H.R. 1909 to limit the number of businesses subject to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also introduced similar legislation (S.783) in the Senate in April.

The NLRB is an independent federal agency created in 1935 to enforce the National Labor Relations Act and settle labor disputes between unions and management. In 1959, Congress passed a law to give the NLRB jurisdiction over businesses based on their gross receipts. Once a business passes that level, it’s subject to intervention by the NLRB. Businesses below the threshold are subject to actions within state law. As inflation has increased over the years, the NLRB has acquired jurisdiction over much smaller businesses that wasn’t originally intended, raising the expense and workload for the NLRB as well as for businesses.



May 22, 2003

Lightfair International 2003 posts record number of attendees

The organizers of Lightfair International, including the International Association of Lighting Designers, recently announced that the number of attendees at the 2003 show, held May 3-8 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, broke all previous records set by the event. In it’s 14th year, the show has drawn an attendance of more than 19,000, a figure that marks a 16% increase over the final results from the 2002 show.



May 21, 2003

House panel debates electricity portion of energy bill

The Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee defeated Democratic attempts to remove electricity grid provisions from an energy bill, and instead focused on preventing a repeat of the market manipulation that occurred in California.

The House panel is writing a broad energy bill that includes incentives for oil drilling, nuclear plants, and hydrogen-powered automotives. After the bill is drafted and approved by the panel, it will go to the full House for debate.

The committee debated Republican-written proposals to open the U.S. electricty grid to greater competition. The fate of such provisions is entwined with a proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to create new super-regional power grids to boost reliability and supply. Many lawmakers from the South and West from both parties see the FERC plan as an imposition on their turf and have sought to block it.



May 21, 2003

Motor Decisions Matter campaign adds three sponsors

A.O. Smith Electrical Products Company, Tipp City, Ohio, Siemens Energy & Automation, Alpharetta, Ga., and TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co., Round Rock, Texas, recently because sponsors of the Motor Decisions Matter (MDM) campaign, a national effort promoting NEMA Premium motors and motor management. MDM campaign sponsors include motor manufacturers and service centers, trade associations, electric utilities, and government agencies.

Through MDM, these sponsors are working together to promote the benefits of motor planning. MDM sponsors also provide tools that enable commercial and industrial customers to develop a motor plan, with the assistance of their local distributor/repair center or utility representative.

The campaign is coordinated by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a national nonprofit organization that promotes energy-efficient products and services.



May 20, 2003

LEDtronics announces new tool on Web site

LEDtronics, Torrance, Calif., recently announced that the company’s Web site, www.ledtronics.com, now includes an online energy calculation tool that computes the energy and monetary savings derived from replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lamps.

By entering the requested information into the blank fields and clicking on the calculate button, the user can generate a report that lists such things as the annual energy savings, how long it takes for the company’s LED lamps to pay for themselves, the return on the investment, the amount of energy saved over the lifetime of the lamp, and the total savings (labor, energy, number of lamps) throughout the operating life of the lamp.



May 20, 2003

Web sites united under new single identity

HVACjob.com, Plumbjob.com, and Electricjob.com have been united under the MEP at Work brand and will be live at www.mepatwork.com. These three job and resume Web sites served the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades. The change made by the boards’ operator, MECHdata, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, reflects the changes in how their current and prospective MEP customers work, according to a company press release.

“The move to bring all three boards under one roof makes tremendous sense for those customers of ours that focus on more than one vertical market such as HVAC or Electrical,” says MECHdata founder and CEO Marc Sampson. “Both job seekers and employer-recruiters have asked for tools to manage and measure their respective accounts. They can now manage all the activity in their account, including number of inquiries, modifying, archiving; or for the job seeker, recalling their resume and pasting it to a job posting.”



May 19, 2003

Philips Lighting announces Innovations Roadshow 2003 schedule

Philips Lighting recently announced the dates and locations for Innovations Roadshow 2003, its seminar series on sustainable lighting and design that is accredited by the American Institute of Architects.

The locations and dates include:

  • May 20, San Antonio

  • May 22, Little Rock, Ark.

  • June 3, Phoenix

  • June 5, Denver

  • June 6, St. Louis

  • June 17, Anchorage, Ala.

  • June 18, Kansas City, Mo.

  • June 18, Seattle

  • June 19, Portland, Ore.

  • June 20, Minneapolis

  • September 9, Chicago

  • September 11, Detroit

  • September 23, Baltimore

  • September 23, Los Angeles

  • September 25, San Francisco

  • October 8, Boston

  • October 23, Miami

  • October 30, Atlanta

AIA members that attend one of the 18 seminars will qualify for 1.0 AIA/CES Learning Unit/HSW. The seminars are also open to other building professionals and licensed architects who aren’t members of the AIA.



May 19, 2003

Klein Tools introduces the Tradesman Club

Klein Tools, Chicago, recently introduced the Tradesman Club, a membership-based program designed to provide loyal customers with industry news, product information, special promotions, brand merchandise, and other exclusive offers. Klein customers can enroll in the club at www.kleintradesmanclub.com. Membership is free.

Members of the club will receive a quarterly newsletter called The Tool Bag offered via e-mail or regular mail. The publication will provide readers with a range of industry- and job-related news, information on new products, as well as opportunities to purchase the company’s merchandise.



May 16, 2003

Cooper Lighting announces 27th Annual National Lighting Competition

Cooper Lighting has announced a call for entries for its 27th Annual Source Award national lighting design competition. The competition, which focuses on furthering the understanding, knowledge, and function of lighting as a primary element in design, is open to any lighting designer, architect, interior designer, or professional who uses light in interior or exterior permanent applications. Students in any of these fields are also eligible to enter any conceptual work dealing with lighting They will be judged in a separate student category.

Judging for the competition will take place in November 2003 by a panel of lighting and design professionals. All winners for both the professional and student categories will be notified in December.



May 16, 2003

Congress looks into expanding Labor Relations Act

The U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced legislation that would curb union abuses. The legislation, the Truth in Employment Act (H.R. 1793) was introduced by Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) and Rep. John Carter (R-TX).

This bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make clear that an employer isn’t required to hire any person who is not a “bona fide applicant” because the applicant is simply seeking a job to promote interests unrelated to those of the employer.



May 15, 2003

IEC Executive Committee invited to hear President Bush’s remarks on tax relief

President Bush recently invited the IEC National Executive Committee to attend a meeting of the Tax Relief Coalition (TRC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The President’s plan calls for tax relief that would create one million new jobs by the end of next year. He’s calling on all small business owners to contact their Congressional representatives and push for the passage of the plan.

The package would benefit contractors because it contains a provision that increases the allowable amount a business can deduct on all or part of the cost of machinery and office equipment from $25,000 to $75,000 for a taxable year.



May 15, 2003

BICSI releases newest edition of the TDMM

BISCI, Tampa, Fla., recently announced the 10th edition of its Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM). TDMM is a resource for those who design telecommunications infrastructure in commercial and multi-dwelling residential buildings. It contains an overview of telecommunications distribution, from design through construction, installation, and maintenance.

First published in 1980, the manual is updated every three years to provide the latest information on techniques, methodologies, codes, and standards.



May 14, 2003

North American plug-in surge suppressor market perseveres despite tough times

According to a recent report by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), the plug-in power line surge suppressor market averaged 5% growth during the last two years, despite a difficult 2001. The primary driver of these changes has been the winning of accounts.

The study points out that the plug-in surge suppressor market shows signs of becoming more like a commodity business. There are few barriers to entry, and the competition for shelf space is growing. There has been a relatively slow trend towards consolidation in the industry, one that is not expected to increase rapidly in the near future. Such an intense business environment is forcing vendors to look for means by which they can gain a competitive advantage.



May 14, 2003

Rockwell Automation saves with energy-efficient lighting project

Rockwell Automation, Eau Claire, Wis., recently announced the completion of an energy-efficient lighting project located in its 89,000-sq-ft facility. The company expects to save nearly 250MW per year using the Illuminator lighting fixture, which is manufactured by Orion Lighting & Energy Services of Plymouth, Wis. The Illuminator uses electronic ballasts and T8 fluorescent bulbs.

Overall, Rockwell has been able to cut its electrical consumption for lighting in half and it expects to pay for the lighting project investment in a little more than three years.



May 13, 2003

Arlington settles with Bridgeport

Arlington Industries, Inc., Scranton, Pa., announced the settlement of its lawsuit filed against Bridgeport Fittings, Inc. The suit was filed in connection with a patent Arlington holds on low-voltage device-holder products. Although the precise terms of the agreement are confidential, Bridgeport has stopped selling the products that were in contention, according to Arlington.



May 13, 2003

PowerLight Corp. to install 1.05MW solar array

The largest solar electric system at any university in the world and one of the largest solar energy systems in the nation will be installed this summer at California State University in Hayward, Calif. The 1.05MW solar electric system, manufactured and installed by Northern California-based PowerLight Corp., will deliver about 30% of the campus’ peak electricity demand during the summer months.

Covering more than 110,000 sq ft, the system will feature both rooftop and ground-mounted installations. This project will generate roughly 1.45 million kw hr annually, producing enough electricity in the daytime to power more than 1,000 homes.



May 12, 2003

Graybar wins exclusive five-year contract to sell electrical supplies

Graybar, St. Louis, has been awarded an exclusive five-year contract to provide electrical supplies to state and local governments, school districts, and other tax-funded agencies that are participants in the U.S. Communities program. The contract enables purchasing managers, installers, and other representatives of public agencies to buy electrical products that range from wiring, conduit, and circuit breakers to lighting fixtures, outlets, and switches.

U.S. Communities enables state and local government agencies to pool their collective purchasing power and improve the overall effectiveness of their purchasing processes. The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP), the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are national founding co-sponsors of U.S. Communities.



May 12, 2003

Nicolet College participates in renewable energy program

Nicolet Area Technical College, Rhinelander, Wis., recently announced the installation of a 10-kW, 120-ft.-tall wind turbine funded through an $80,000 grant from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program. The college also launched a project called EcoVillage that will include renewable energy systems and energy efficient structures for residential and institutional use. The college will use these buildings and systems to teach sustainable building practices and installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.

The first phase of the renewable energy project, the installation of a photovoltaic system and the wind turbine, will generate electricity for the college and reduce energy costs. Both renewable energy systems will be connected to the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. power grid. When more electricity is generated than what is needed at the site, the excess will be sold to the utility.



May 9, 2003

FERC grid plan could collapse without AEP

A group of large industrial plants say that if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) won’t force American Electric Power Co. (AEP) to join a 27-state Midwestern regional transmission grid, the agency may see its plan for a U.S. network of regional markets collapse.

Three years ago FERC approved a merger of AEP and Central and South West Corp. on the condition that AEP join a regional transmission organization to lessen its marketing power. However, the state of Virginia passed a law last month that bars its two utilities, including a unit of AEP, from joining any regional grid until after June 2004.

The Electricity Consumers Resource Council said in documents filed with FERC that the agency must order AEP to join at least one or more regional grids “to avoid disintegration of the commission’s regional transmission organizations initiative.” They also said the Virginia’s legislature’s action may be unconstitutional because it’s a protectionist action aimed at giving state consumers “favored access” to natural resources.

The FERC is developing a set of broad rules for regional power markets to ease congestion, create real-time trading, and monitor questionable price spikes. The proposed rules are already opposed by lawmakers in the South and Pacific Northwest, who see them raising electricity rates.



May 9, 2003

Ametek acquires Solidstate Controls, Inc

Ametek, Inc. Paoli, Pa., recently announced the acquisition of Solidstate Controls, Inc., a supplier of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems for the process of power generation industries, from Columbus Sales Corp., an affiliate of Marmon Industrial Companies LLC. Ametek paid approximately $36 million for the acquisition.

Located in Columbus, Ohio, Solidstate Controls has about 250 employees and estimated 2002 sales of $45 million. Key markets for Solidstate’s products include oil production, oil refining, chemical, petrochemical, steel, and power generation, including fossil fuel and nuclear power utilities.



May 7, 2003

Black & Veatch forms global Renewable Energy Group

Engineering and design firm Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan., recently announced the formation of its global Renewable Energy Group, which provides comprehensive services for renewable energy projects in the areas of wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, and ocean energy. The firm formed the group to respond to emerging renewable energy opportunities both in the United States and internationally.

The group consists of experts in all renewable energy technologies with the ability to perform strategic analyses, feasibility studies, design build, owner’s engineering and independent engineering, making it a full-service provider.



May 7, 2003

Texas-based power system company lays off workers

Power system company Active Power, Inc., Austin, Texas, recently laid off 41 employees, or about one-quarter of its work force, and reported a 61% drop in sales for the first quarter. The job cuts are the second in seven months for the Austin-based Active Power. The company laid off 30 manufacturing workers in October.

For the quarter that ended March 31, Active Power lost $6.3 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $1.6 million. Investors sent shares in Active Power down 13%, or 18 cents, to close at $1.18.



May 5, 2003

Electrical contractors prepare to restore power after deadly tornado in Midwest

The morning after a series of tornadoes leveled homes in Missouri and Kansas, killing at least 21 people, Kansas City electrical contractors prepared to restore power to area homeowners. Shawn Gifford, general manager for North Kansas City, Mo.-based Bart’s Electric Co., Inc., says his staff met Monday morning to determine a game plan for handling the emergency situation.

“We weren’t out and about last night because crews were still trying to clean up everything after the tornado,” Gifford says. “We expect to get some calls starting [Tuesday].”

The twisters were the first deadly tornadoes in Kansas City in more than 20 years. While tornado warnings are relatively frequent in the region, tornadoes rarely touch down or cause damage.

“This is new territory for us,” Gifford says. “We’re trying to decide how many people to send out. We have about 50 electricians, and we may have to take them off other jobs. I think there are still more than 1,000 people without power.”

Kansas City’s electrical contractors have prior experience dealing with natural disasters. Last February, tree limbs weighed down by ice crashed on to power lines and ripped meter housings away from homes. The ice storm left 420,000 homes without power, and many of the area electrical contractors rushed in to help local homeowners.

Tann Electric, a service company that specializes in electrical and low-voltage work for residential customers, handled more than 250 service calls in the aftermath of Kansas City’s ice storm. The contractor is now ready to help restore power to its clients after Sunday’s tornadoes. Randy Smith, vice president of operations for Tann Electric, says the twisters damaged the electrical grid in many parts of the city.

“I’m sure that in a lot of cases the grid itself is totally gone, and the poles, overhead lines, and primary power lines are significantly compromised,” he says.

Teams worked throughout the evening to shut off electrical power and natural gas to the homes in the tornado’s path. Since most of the electrical equipment was often destroyed, crews had to shut off power at the transformer or the distribution center.

“You have to go to the source to find a way to turn off the power,” he says. “When the house is totally demolished, you won’t have the opportunity to check the breaker box or main disconnect. You’ll have to go to the different power points or power stations within the electric utility system itself.”

Before restoring power to a home, it’s critical to first check the condition of the power lines. If the lines aren’t down, then the next step is to inspect the conductors from the poles to the house. Teams will have to assess each home individually since some homes received more damage than others. While some of the houses are completely destroyed, others sustained minimal damage. In those cases, the service entrances will often need to be rebuilt. As many homeowners learned in the ice storm disaster, it’s their responsibility to call an electrical contractor to install the meter housings.

“The homeowner’s responsibility is everything after the point of attachment, which includes the meter and the riser,” Smith says. “Sometimes the utility will complete a temporary repair for the convenience and safety of the homeowner, but the homeowner would need to call a licensed electrician back to complete the repairs.”

Once the utility companies restore power to the houses that are still standing, electrical contractors’ phones will most likely begin to ring. Smith says his company is ready to handle the influx of calls from homeowners.

“We have a model that we work from, and part of it was developed from the ice storm,” he says. “We can shift our resources, people, material, and trucks, to respond to our clients’ needs.”



May 2, 2003

New lights help Wisconsin plant put the finishing touches on printers

A Wisconsin packaging plant was recently able to increase ambient light in its five facilities while reducing energy consumption, thanks to the installation of a new lighting system. The project to retrofit 820 existing fixtures at Warren Industries, Racine, Wis., began as an effort to reduce energy costs. However, the plant found that the new fixtures it chose could also improve light output in the facilities.

The lights from Orion Lighting and Energy Services, Plymouth, Wis., recently won Wisconsin’s Spirit of Ecology Award. David Namowicz, president of Warren Industries, says the improved color-rendering made possible by the fixtures is important for a facility like his. “We are a finisher for printers, and our new energy-efficient lighting assures that the colors in our facilities are more vivid,” he says.

The project was another in the state’s Focus on Energy Program.



May 2, 2003

GE completes acquisition of electronic security systems provider

GE Industrial Systems, Plainville, Conn., recently announced its acquisition of International Fiber Systems, Inc. (IFS), a Newton, Conn.-based manufacturer of digital fiber optic transmission products and systems for electronic security and intelligent transportation systems.

IFS will become a subsidiary of GE Interlogix, a part of GE Industrial Systems, also based in Plainville, Conn. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

IFS manufacturers products for traffic signaling networks, variable message/changeable message signs and electronic toll collection systems.