Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

January 20, 2017

Keith SonesKeith Sones

In 1986, after spending a few years in university and working at various construction jobs, I received a phone call from a company that I’d applied to for employment. The human resources manager informed me that I’d been selected from a number of candidates for what was, at that time in my life, my dream job.

I was elated! Visions of vast riches flowed through my mind like a TV lottery advertisement, and I believed I was now set for life. No more worrying about paying the bills, I would be jetting away on exotic vacations every year and have job security that would make a tenured professor envious. In short, I was about to buy a house on Easy Street. Life was grand.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. He must have really lucked out and landed a position in a high flying engineering firm or perhaps an executive position of some sort. Nope. My dream had sent me in another direction completely. I was about to become a factory worker.

Huh? That was your dream job? Oh, it must have been a supervisory role overseeing plant operations. Or a trainee position that would fasttrack you to a luxurious management career.

Wrong again. I would punch a time clock every morning, pick up a set of wrenches and install fuel tank steps on large highway trucks. Several times a day, over and over. For days, weeks and hopefully years.

OK, you are now understandably confused, wondering why I was over the moon by securing an assembly line job. So to help you better understand my position, it’s important to understand the context. In 1986 we were just coming out of a recession that had lasted five years or so. Mortgage rates were hovering around 11% and those were lower than they had been a few short years ago. Good jobs were scarce, and it was difficult for many people, myself included, to make ends meet. Looking into my crystal ball and having gone through financially tough times, being hired into a factory where many people had been working for years at good wages looked downright upper class to me.

Over the next couple of years, things went well at the factory. I was fortunate to work with a lot of really great people, earned a decent living and gained some skills that would serve me well for years to come. Life, as I had hoped, was indeed good.

So I decided to walk away from it all.

Why? With everything going so well and being spared many of the financial challenges that some of my friends were still experiencing, why would I toss it all in the trash and take on a life full of risk and uncertainty? That part was easy, at least in my mind. The answer? Life’s context had changed, as it frequently does.

In my world view, commercial society had embarked on a path of corporate consolidation. I realize that companies have been merging, acquiring and otherwise morphing since the corporate empire has existed, but it felt like an acceleration was underway. Rumours, newspaper reports and other informal sources started to indicate that the factory where I worked might look different in the not so distant future. So I made plans to return to school and re-educate myself in anticipation of another career.

My colleagues at work were less convinced about the potential future changes. One in particular stated, “The days of the big money jobs are over. If you leave here, you’ll lose. We’ll be fine.” I admit I was nervous, but felt passionate about my choice for the future.

I left for school and a few years later the factory did indeed shut their doors. My former workmates were left without jobs in a tough market, and to this day I feel badly for what happened. They are good people who were caught in circumstances beyond their control.

All too often, we assess the future in one of two ways. Either we will make (or perhaps accept) changes in our lives, or we will choose the status quo. What we most often miss while making these determinations is this: the status quo is merely a snapshot of time in an otherwise dynamic environment. Things change around us all the time, yet we insulate ourselves by thinking that the things we like or are familiar with will remain the same forever. And while that’s a rather comforting thought at times, it is also stubbornly untrue for the vast majority of circumstances.

In our electrical industry, change comes slowly, but it does inevitably arrive. For those of you who began your careers before the introduction of computers, SCADA systems involved a person checking electromechanical dials and related charts on a periodic basis. The real time data that we all value dearly were not even a dream a few decades ago. And yet here we are, operating in a much different world. Vacuum tubes have been replaced by transistors. Utilities use fault location to determine a transmission line problem within a few metres of accuracy. Computers talk to other computers so we can all maintain high levels of reliability.

So, things change. And all of us share a degree of resistance to these shifts in our landscape. Throughout history, those who have embraced change early in the process have variously been described in a manner that goes something like this:

  • Step 1 — think about the change (invention, prediction...). Seen as eccentric. Colleagues and competitors don’t pay much attention.
  • Step 2 — muse openly about your idea. Seen as a crackpot or delusional. Colleagues and competitors laugh.
  • Step 3 — collect information or build prototypes to support the idea. Colleagues and competitors suggest, “It’ll never work.”
  • Step 4 — gather enough evidence or build a successful working model. Colleagues and competitors indicate it’s dangerous, too expensive for mass production, or a one-off success.
  • Step 5 — attract others to your idea or product. Colleagues and competitors vigorously defend the status quo. (Hint: listen for the phrase, “This is how we do it around here.”)
  • Step 6 — demonstrate ongoing and repetitive success. Colleagues join the success and competitors end up in a museum.

As a final thought, this state of change is happening as we speak. Where and to what? I’ll leave you to figure that out, but look to the signposts along the way. Is technology working elsewhere in the world but not yet adopted where you live? Is revenue flat or in decline yet electricity supply and reliability still a social requirement? Is automation changing the way we view our world?

Change is sometimes frightening, but it has also lead to every innovation that we enjoy. Think about your world and ask, “Will I fight the inevitable changes, or embrace them? And what will happen when I do?” Because the only thing that’s certain is that life won’t be what it is today.

Keith Sones is Vice President, National Business Development, The Valard Group of Companies.

 

 


      Salex Welcomes New Partner: Senso by Lumini                    

LDS Salex Spotlight 400Salex is pleased to announce a new partnership with Senso by Luminii – a Canadian manufacturer of locally made LED fixtures. As of August 6, Salex will represent their lighting products in the Southwestern Ontario region.

With every product, Senso Lighting pursues a vision of providing flexible and environmentally conscious lighting solutions to upgrade the typical fluorescent office. For over ten years, the Canadian manufacturer has specialized in LED technology and embarks on a mission to illuminate commercial spaces with custom solutions that are beautiful, economical and sustainable.


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Changing Scene

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#IDEALTruckinIDEAL has a long history of offering collectible toy trucks, which have always been a popular item with electricians and contractors, So they are very excited to announce our 2020 promotion, Keep on Truckin’ with IDEAL.

This fall, participating distributors will receive two 1:24 scale, diecast Dodge RAM® 1500 pickup trucks, complete with IDEAL branding, to raffle to their customers. The toy trucks will also be available as a premium to end-users who make a qualifying purchase of a barrel of Can-Twist™ Wire Connectors during the promo period.

 

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Connected Drum Internet of Things Nexans Canada has launched a service providing cable reel tracking via connected devices. The “Connected Drum” Internet of Things (IoT) service allows customers to benefit from real-time location, theft and loss detection and management of residual cable lengths on reels. 

By tracking and monitoring a fleet of cable reels that are off-site or at subcontractor locations, significant savings can be realized. The service includes an online and mobile software platform for efficient and convenient management. This innovation provides customers with the real-time location of each reel as well as an alert system for monitoring on-site events including deliveries and pick-ups.

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ManitobaThe Manitoba government has expanded its Back to Work in Manitoba Wage Subsidy Program as part of its continued commitment to safely restarting the provincial economy.

“The Back to Work wage subsidy is benefiting hundreds of Manitoba businesses that are bringing back employees who were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hiring more staff to boost their operations and provide valued services to Manitobans,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. “Manitoba has designed some of Canada’s strongest support programs to help relieve small businesses of unexpected financial burdens...

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Terry BeckerBy Terry Becker

We are quickly approaching January 2021 and publication of the 5th edition of the CSA Z462 Workplace electrical safety Standard. This is good news for Canada as we continue to evolve in our identification and management of the electrical hazards of arc flash and shock.

But as I have quoted in the past, we need to ensure we are getting it right, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Most of the focus has been on arc flash and I am concerned that the electric shock hazard has been neglected.

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Product News

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Mersen IsoMAXXMersen is pleased to introduce its high performance IsoMAXX Vacuum Brazed Cold Plates. This patented design is the optimum cooling solution for latest generation PrimePACK IGBTs. IsoMAXX represents a super compact cooling solution providing unsurpassed cooling performance with a high degree of thermal homogeneity on chip-to-chip and module-to-module configurations.

As market needs for more efficient electrical power conversion designs grow, so do the technological advancements from power electronic module manufacturers. The new generation of PrimePACK IGBT modules now boast an increased power dissipation compared to previous generations. 

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Betacalo Soft SQThe optimally engineered diffuser throws the light downwards exactly where it is required, while creating a subtle indirect glow on the ceiling. Ideally suited for atriums, lobbies, boardrooms and reception areas.

Body: Aluminum and steel.

Diffuser: Opal acrylic.

Drivers: HPF electronic for 120-277V (EU-240V)

Remote mounting of drivers: Wire Size (max distance from canopy to drivers) 18 AWG - 9.5' (2.9m), 16 AWG - 19.5' (5.9m), 14 AWG - 29.5' (9m). Drivers must be accessible after installation.  

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Peers & Profiles

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Dee DurantDee Durant is an industrial electrician apprentice attending Conestoga College and an Ambassador for Kick Ass Careers. As an ambassador for KickAss Careers she spent time shadowing mentor and KickAss founder Jamie McMillan attending events for the organization.

The advancement of women in male dominated industries is an important endeavor for Durant, inspired by her mother, who was the first woman on the Brantford Police department. In EIN's interview with Durant, she discussed the future of electrical work, and how the ongoing pandemic is affecting our country’s students.

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EE LightingBy Blake Marchand

Energy Efficient Lighting is a LED lighting manufacturer with nearly 30 years of industry experience. One that was founded on principles of environmental sustainability and responsibility to future generations. Based out of Markham, Ontario, they offer complete lighting solutions for commercial and industrial applications.

Their product lines include conventional lighting fixtures, LED retrofit kits, complete LED luminaires, LED systems, drivers and electronic ballasts. 

 

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