How can we improve the Electrical Industry?
Believe me, I am trying!
One of the main concerns I have with regards to improvements in the Electrical industry is the lack of willingness to open new doors. Now that seems like a strange comment as new doors could improve old habits, it does work both ways and new doors opening could be a disaster but, with good due diligence, a new door opening could see significant improvements and more importantly, a better, safer industry that is proactive to risk.
I have spent the last few years with some close friends in The e5 Group trying to provide insights or golden nuggets to help sparks and others assess things better. The thing I am most proud of is the way my brothers in e5 have inspired people to ‘go one more’, develop themselves more, understand more, and simply try to keep moving forward. The admiration I have for Paul Meenan, David Watts, Paul Skyrme, Dan Jackson, and John Ward is unable to be written in physical form.
Prior to e5, I was working in Housing where my experience and understand grew dramatically with regards to compliance and how we manage the whole lifecycle process around this incredible word. I started to see failings in the process, in people, and in organisations. Failings that I had to dig deep to find but, things that had the capability to ruin people’s lives. In some cases, the failings are staring you in the face but we just didn’t have the tools to see what needed to change.
Now, this brings me nicely to something I want to ask. Although TCW (my company) manages all compliance areas, I want to focus on the Electrical side for one moment.
In the electrical industry, we have a number of schemes and brands that manage memberships. In some circles, these brands are considered regulatory but if you know, you know! Truth be told, these brands are all commercial entities that help members get work as the liability and regular assessment criteria give some clients some assurance.
However, let’s take a look at something I have tried to push forward for the last 4 years and every door I open is an old man with a medal telling me the industry is not quite ready for this.
The Electrotechnical Assessment Specification for use by Certification and Registration Bodies (Jan 2020) States how Enterprises should be assessed and how they should be running their businesses (link below).
If we pick through some of the key points:
Section 11.11 – A Qualified supervisor shall be required to have direct responsibility, on a day to day basis, for the safety, quality, and technical standard of the electrotechnical work carried out by the Enterprise.
Section 11.12 – a Qualified Supervisor shall be required to ensure that the results of the verification process are accurately recorded on the appropriate certificates or inspection reports.
TCW technology is the only technology capable, worldwide, of receiving any digital electrical certificate or report produced by any certificating tool produced by any company (NICEIC, Amtech, NAPIT Desktop, EasyCert, Electraform, etc). The ingest and verification process is automatic and fast meaning that EICRs, EICs, and MWC can be placed in a web portal and then be almost instantly graded as Non-Compliant, Warnings, or Pass.
That said, the RAG system applied is only relevant to the person in charge of the work.
For example, as I write this article on 17th December 2020 at 11:47, the number of Electrical documents added to TCW today is 2462.
Looking at the specification defined by the EAS Committee, every one of them needs to be checked by a human for accuracy yet even 5 minutes per doc would mean today alone over 205 hours has been wasted by fully qualified and competent people who could be on site making money rather than not.
So I am asked all the time what checks does it do, lets just look at the results page on one circuit:
- Circuit Designation – is it outside and if so what further checks should we look for (RCD)
- Type of cable and Ref method – cross-reference with App 14 Current carrying capacity to validate cable selected is within scope.
- The number of points serviced – flagging a non-decent or inadequate number of accessories which results in fire risk.
- Disconnection time verification
- BSEN validation – identification of further checks for RCBO / RCD , etc.
- Cable size and CPC – fault current and adiabatic
- RCD operating current and tripping times etc
- We check r1, r2, and rn
- R1 and R2 checks with validation of distance basic on-resistance per M etc
- Insulation Resistance verification based on demand voltage (250 or 500)
- Max permitted Zs validation and measured value
- RCD tripping
- And much more throughout the document
Each check has a unique scale of risk and parameter which clients can adjust to ensure safety and compliance is monitored in line with their specifications.
Note that is just one circuit. We put a major train station through recently with over 1500 circuits and the document was fully checked in less than 5 minutes.
Let’s refer back to the EAS spec:
Section 14 talks about Surveillance and that each enterprise should be subject to surveillance visits to undergo technical assessments. It goes on to verify that ongoing maintenance of competence, assessment outcomes, substantial complaints and major changes to personnel would trigger variable frequencies. However, we all know they just come once a year.
Within TCW derived insights we have the ability to look at the outputs of thousands of Electricians and companies and then profile these against what others are doing. We can see when results are calculated and when results are not understood. We can see geographically if people are working off-piste to the norm and even if there are major changes to the staff employed by each Enterprise.
Within the EAS there’s also a section which talks about test instruments, etc. Within TCW we have thousands of contact details with serial numbers for all types of test instruments. With the use of technology, you could continuously verify when a test instrument is in date based on data we have. Furthermore, with the registering of all these meter test equipment details, TCW has the ability to monitor and flag when a device is stolen so that it could not be used again as it would appear against someone else’s name, etc.
One thing I understand wholeheartedly is the fact our technology would show and highlight some significant findings that, in the most, would create concern throughout the country. However, if managed correctly and integrated slowly in phases, the visibility of our sector would be incredible. The ability to understand and then apply training, inspections, and improvements would see the schemes gaining more respect from the trade as they’d be managing far better than they do now.
Over the last few months, the above has been discussed with hundreds of users of TCW. The biggest concern to our electrical users is something I cannot get an answer to even though I have approached schemes multiple times and presented our product.
Why do we have to physically flick through documents now there’s a technology that does it far better and in more detail?
Maybe someone could find the time to answer this question now as i’m very confused as to why the barriers are up.
Ryan Dempsey FIET