A champion of high standards and Australian manufacturing of low voltage switchboards, Scott Emerson, is leading by example when he prepares for the big opportunities ahead that will give local producers scope to extend their lead over imported product.
“We are all very fortunate to be in an industry that will be in demand for many years to come. The introduction of EVs and EV Charging, solar and renewables input and battery storage are continuously changing as the technology and regulation evolve,” says Scott, who started manufacturing switchboards in 1995 and is Director of Controlling Power on the NSW Central Coast.
Scott – a licensed electrical contractor who holds an electrical engineering advanced diploma – is also a sitting member of the EL006/8 Standards committee for the AS61439 Series of standards (switchboards) and President of NESMA NSW, for which he has served as Secretary and active Committee Member since 2005.
He says the changes now on our industry’s doorstep will make switchboards more complex and more costly, but also feature more control and management to make them safer, more versatile, and more efficient.
“In order to control EV output, battery, and solar, you need to monitor loads and potentially manage battery inputs to deal with the instantaneous EV charging demand. This also means clearly understanding protection schemes to look after people and property. Many old switchboards are currently at end-of-life and cannot take the modifications or upgrades needed to deal with these technology changes,” he says.
“Our switchboards at Controlling Power are more and more being fitted with an RJ45 connection and their own IP address. Any data we can gather in the assembly can then be easily remotely displayed and recorded.”
ISOLECT™ and ISOLECT 2.0
“Over the years, we have developed and refined a distribution assembly for safe live work, our ISOLECT™ system. This system utilises special cable entry, isolation neutrals, our own specially moulded terminal covers, and no contact with any live parts.”
“This unique system is particularly useful in critical locations, hospitals, comms rooms, and data centres where nobody wants to turn anything off.”
Scott Emerson adds that, unlike many companies simply assembling switchboards, “We are forever working on new and improved designs of product.” These can involve heavy investment in tooling and assembly processes, but it finishes up with a product that just isn’t available in the broader market.
This mindset led to the development of ISOLECT 2.0. “In applications where you can’t afford to isolate the whole installation to change or replace a circuit, improved designs on the ISOLECT 2.0 model provide a safe access, no live work system.”
“We have designed and manufactured a couple of our own major product types, which are quite different to other switchboard assemblers,” says Scott, who is a 50% owner in V2 switchboard solutions. This business owns and licences the IP for Controlling Power’s Australian-produced and designed modular switchboard system. Vector™ SHIFT is an Australian-owned, designed, and tested modular switchboard system.
As a member-elected councillor on Business NSW, and a member of its infrastructure committee, as well as his NESMA roles, Scott keeps his finger on the pulse of industry trends and workplace relations.
Vector™ and Vector™ SHIFT
“Our modular switchboard system (Vector™ SHIFT) is tested to 6000A with an ACB in a tier. Many other products state high current ratings on busbar but cannot achieve this level of temperature test with an actual circuit breaker. It was an extremely interesting exercise in doing this test and understanding how air flow and obstruction in the design assists, or reduces, heat dissipation.”
“Our system has evolved over the years with recently re-branded Vector™ SHIFT technology. We have also tested to 100kA short-circuit interruption and withstanding, along with ZD arc fault containment, and, more recently, tested to 690VAC.”
“We have our own system of distribution boards in a variety of sizes and IP ratings that we have also tested for short circuit and temperature rise, along with MCCBs and our own moulded- case chassis.”
The Controlling Power team
“As innovators not only in design and manufacturing, but also in building health and productive work-life balances, we were well ahead of current trends when, in 2016, we decided to operate a four-day 38-hour week.”
“We keep Friday as an overtime day if needed but keep the weekend free to ensure we maintain family time and a balance for our team. With David Butler, General Manager, we work hard to maintain a team environment with company activities and a number of small additional personal recognitions.”
“We do bacon and egg rolls for brekky or lunch on someone’s birthday. Our last company outing was trap shooting at Awaba shotgun club. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this activity. It’s not something our team gets to do every day. And the thought and shared experience is appreciated and rewarded with team spirit and the quality and productivity that comes from harmonious teamwork.”
Strong stance on compliance
“We have a strong stance on compliance and are regularly at the test station (now only in Melbourne) with our Vector partners, developing new and more efficient processes and systems.”
“We believe in real-world testing. When testing our 6000A system, we tested with bars and drawout ACB all together and loaded it with a full 6000A. We don’t just make statements that our board can do 6000A, when only part of the busbar can. We do full tests.”
“Our tier of 10 x 250A breakers was fully rated, with each pulling 250A. No derating. These are great outcomes,” says Scott, who has demonstrated his broad and highly active commitment to high industry standards through his roles in NESMA Standards and education advocacy for nearly two decades of service to the Association.