Sparks Electrical News

From smart homes to smart cars – and smart everything in between – the Internet of Things (IoT) is promising to change every element of our lives. We are entering a world where our alarm clock triggers the coffee pot to start brewing and tells the tiles in the bathroom to heat up; a world where our water meters can tell the municipality when there is a leak; a world where the IoT allows us (and our doctors) to monitor our health all day, every day.

Year of the smart contractorWith the advent of IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, as well as other emerging technologies, the next few years will see the term ‘electrical contractor’ becoming a misnomer. Some industry experts have suggested that a more suitable description of electricians in the future is ‘energy contractors’.

Massive changes have been predicted for those working in the electrical industry in the years ahead. While robotic assistants that can talk to us are still a way from becoming a reality, 2018 will see further technological advances that will profoundly impact the role of the electrical contractor. Here are a few to look out for:

IoT and Smart Cities

We are connecting our street and traffic lights, building management systems, weather sensors, utilities and road and motorway management systems together, creating so-called Smart Cities. This year, we will start seeing more smart lighting systems that will allow lamps reaching end of life to report their replacement date automatically. Smart meters will continue to replace older ones, and 2018 will be the start of a new data-driven future for electricians as they begin using the data from smart meters to optimise energy performance.

Artificial intelligence

With the rapid growth of smart electrical systems, control of these is increasingly being automated with AI. Electrical systems are complicated, with multi-input multi-output, time varying parameters and many control loops. 2018 will see the increased use of AI to continuously check the system state in a much more detailed manner than was previously possible.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is nothing new, but as it continues to gain momentum, contractors are increasingly being called on to commission new generation wind and solar systems and tie them into existing electrical networks. In 2018, solar roof shingles will become more accessible, leading to increased demand for electricians to wire the systems into residential electrical systems. The enthusiasm for energy efficiency has extended to the automotive sector as well, with ever-larger numbers of electrical cars being sold. During this year, we will see more parking lots equipped with electrical outlets to charge electric cars.

Wearable technology

Continued innovation and accessibility to wearable technology is expected in the years ahead. These devices are already helping contractors stay safe on site, and can be worn under or on top of clothing. 2018 will see the more general use of high-tech wearables such as GPS-enabled vests, smart hats that provide 3D visual overlays and 360-degree cameras.

Drones

The use of drones for inspecting power lines and other parts of the grid will increase this year. Because drones are equipped with cameras to collect information in locations that may not be accessible by humans, these devices will allow for far better maintenance, site assessment and inspection, as well as progress monitoring.

2018 looks set to be the year electrical contracting becomes smarter and more technology-driven. As the industry expands and creates new challenges for contractors, electricians will keep growing and adapting with it. New technologies, new techniques and new demands from customers will continue to shake things up, and as the field becomes more diversified, it will bring more opportunities for those contractors who stay abreast of the changes.

 

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Contact Sparks Electrical News

Title: Editor
Name: Gregg Cocking
Email: sparks@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Carin Hannay
Email: carinh@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

 
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