Electricity + Control

By Trevor Manas, (ELPA)

Established in June 2017, the Earthing and Lightning Protection Association (ELPA) is some eight months old and has already achieved a great deal in its short history.

ELPA has already accredited close to 200 lightning protection installers via two rounds of accreditation examinations. In November 2017, ELPA launched its installers’ registrar and inspectorate, which means that the work carried out by our accredited installers is being inspected by our inspectorate. We have already seen a significant improvement in the standard of work carried out by our accredited installers. This can be attributed to the upskilling of LPS installers through the accreditation process and the fact that their work may be inspected.

ELPA empower electrical engineers

As 2018 began, ELPA continued furthering its goal as being the recognised earthing and lightning protection National Professional Body. We launched our Lightning Protection Designers’ accreditation programme in January 2018 and will launch our Inspectors’ accreditation in April 2018.

These accreditations will complete the lightning protection Certificate of Compliance (CoC) process, from the design phase to the installation phase and finally the inspection phase, and will provide the industry with ‘Certainty through Compliance and Certification’, which is our slogan.

One of ELPA’s main goals is to provide a platform for the dissemination of information and give clarity on the requirements of the relevant SANS lightning protection standards. To this end, ELPA launched two very important membership programmes in January 2018. The first membership was the Surge Protection Installers’membership, which is designed to assist electricians through a training programme on the proper selection, installation, placement and coordination of surge protection devices to power supply systems.

We see, far too often, that surge arresters are incorrectly installed, poorly selected or wrongly coordinated. The ELPA surge protection installers’ training programme will provide clear guidance in all aspects of surge protection systems to electrical installations.

The second membership, launched in January 2018, was ELPA’s Electrical Engineers’ membership.

We have had a huge demand from electrical engineers for this type of membership. This is for good reason: most electrical engineers have received very little or no training in earthing and lightning protection as part of their tertiary education.

Only engineers who do a high voltage post graduate course are exposed to this specialisation. We do find, however, that most consulting electrical engineers are exposed to earthing and lightning protection applications on a daily basis, and they rely on specialist companies to provide solutions. That is why the education and training of electrical engineers is critical to the upskilling of our industry.

Knowledge, technical support and information

ELPA believes that as an association, we have listened to the industry and introduced the electrical engineers’ membership with their needs in mind. ELPA’s electrical engineers’ membership has been designed to give engineers the knowledge, technical support and information that they urgently need on a daily basis. Electrical engineers who are members of ELPA will receive support in the following ways:

• Reduced rates or discounts on CPD accredited lightning protection seminars and workshops
• Free technical support by one of ELPA’s specialists for the duration of their membership
• Assistance with or provision of earthing and lightning protection specifi cations
• Access to ELPA’s Installations and Design textbooks
• Design drawing assessment and approval

Webinars

We will be holding various webinar-type information sessions, hosted by different earthing and lightning protection specialists, throughout the year. These sessions will be free of charge to ELPA engineering members and will cover various aspects of earthing and lightning protection, such as earthing system design, separation distance concept, surge protection system for power and data systems, and so on. These sessions will be 45 minutes to an hour long and will be held by highly regarded earthing and lightning protection specialists. We anticipate that the information sessions will be very informative and highly anticipated by our engineering members.

Value-added benefits – and affordable

As can be seen from the above, ELPA’s electrical engineers’ membership has been designed to provide electrical engineers with a large basket of value-added benefi ts and ELPA has striven to keep the membership fees as affordable as possible.

As part of the launch of this membership, ELPA offers all electrical engineers who join ELPA a 50% discount on a two-point CPD accredited lightning protection seminar or a free one-point CPD accredited seminar, which constitutes half of the two-point seminar.

Normally, a two-point CPD seminar costs between six and eight thousand rand, but by joining ELPA, electrical engineers can get the two-point seminar as well as an ELPA membership, with all of its value-added benefi ts, for less than four thousand rand. We believe this is a valuable offer for all electrical engineers in South Africa.

SANS 62305 series

The two-point CPD accredited seminar is a ‘Comprehensive Approach to Lightning Protection’, which covers the SANS 62305 series of standards, Protection Against Lightning, as follows:

• SANS 62305 Part 1: General Principles
• SANS 62305 Part 2: Risk Management
• SANS 62305 Part 3: Physical Damage to Structures and Life Hazard
• SANS 62305 Part 4: Electrical and Electronic Systems inside Structures.

Each part of the above carries a half-point CPD accreditation. Electrical engineers who join ELPA in January or February 2018 are eligible for a 50% discount on all four parts of the lightning protection CPD accredited course, therefore gaining two CPD points.

One of the best lightning protection seminars

The Comprehensive Approach to Lightning Protection course as offered by ELPA, in cooperation with Lightning Protection Concepts and DEHN Africa, is widely regarded as being one of the best lightning protection seminars available, both in South Africa and internationally. This is because the course provides a comprehensive, detailed interpretation of the standard, as well as practical implementation of the standard’s requirements.

The two-point CPD course has been designed with the busy schedule of electrical engineers in mind. To this end, we have decided to offer the course via six webinar sessions. Each session will be one hour long and will be held in the late afternoon at about 17:00, with one session being presented per week. This means that engineers can attend the course while they are at home or at their offices, and they do not have to take time off their busy schedules or travel to attend the CPD accredited course.
I have attended and presented numerous webinars and I find the webinar format an extremely effective platform in providing this valuable information. By keeping the sessions limited to one hour, we have found that the webinar attendees are much more attentive, and they gain far more knowledge than in conventional two-day seminars.

The webinars are recorded and edited so that each webinar can be downloaded and kept for later reference.

Conclusion

By becoming an ELPA member, electrical engineers will be armed with the required knowledge, backed by proper technical advice and kept up-to-date with the latest developments in the earthing and lightning protection industry, in order for them to ensure that the earthing and lightning protection installations on their projects are technically sound and properly installed. It is for this reason that I would encourage all electrical engineers to become part of ELPA and for them to specify ELPA lightning protection CoCs.

 
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