Spirit of co-operation highlights first NESMA national event since Covid, tackling transformational changes now sweeping through our industry

A full house for Ausgrid’s Senior Engineering Officer, Max Carstedt, above, who specialises in certification testing programmes, including ASTA and NATA

A strong range of speakers at the first National NESMA in-person conference to be held since the wholesale changes occurring during the Covid pandemic summed up beautifully the constructive and co-operative industry spirit on show.

The President of the host NESMA Group, NSW President Scott Emerson, was one of the many with his finger on the pulse of the occasion when he outlined to the 19th annual NESMA conference how the industry has come together to meet the challenges that have swept through the industry over the three years since the last in-person conference.

These challenges include Covid itself, labour and supply chain difficulties, floods, freight costs sometimes 10 times greater than before, component shortages and major changes in Standards, arriving at the same time. “Also, we see technology changes in our sector moving faster than legislation and policy, including increases in solar input, in battery storage, and in the instantaneous demand in power for full charging of EVs,” said Emerson.

“All of these aspects result in challenges, but working with groups like NESMA harnesses the support of friends, who may compete in business, but will happily supply a part from our own stores if it means helping their fellow NESMA members,” he said, capturing the spirit of the occasion for the hundreds who attended the three major formal events that made up NESMA’s 19th annual conference.

The formal events of the conference included the Gala Night at Waters Edge, Campbells Store, The Rocks, on the Saturday November 20, followed by the all-day conference on the Sunday for NESMA members, then the Seminar on November 21 at the Marriott Sydney Harbour Hotel. The conference involved members coming together to discuss industry challenges, as well as learning from guest speakers with unique industry insights.

The Seminar was addressed by Mark Henson from Ausgrid and Max Carstedt formerly of PLUS ES Lane Cove Test Station, who gave us the benefit of detailed, thoughtful, and very useful expert addresses. Ausgrid Service and Installation Compliance Field Manager Mark Henson also gave an overview of challenges facing Ausgrid installation inspectors in policing compliance to Standards.

Ausgrid Service and Installation Compliance Field Manager Mark Henson gave an overview of challenges facing Ausgrid installation inspectors in policing compliance to Standards.

After being introduced by fellow long-time NESMA office-holder Mark Betcher, NSW President was quick to acknowledge the contribution of the valued speakers and 150 conference delegates who joined in a buzz of interest, questions and conversation following the presentations.  

Scott Emerson noted in his introductory comments that, as a group, NESMA members continue to build relationships and work with suppliers, electricity retailers, distributors, Standards authorities, organisations such as Business NSW, Service Rules committees, and Fair Trading.

NESMA members also work closely with customers to find ways to resolve supply difficulties to ensure that, for example, “small items such as a $100 rotary handle doesn’t hold up a $200,000 switchboard from energising,” said Scott, who, like his fellow NESMA members, is a long-time champion of local manufacturing and development of local expertise to promote quality, safety, and responsiveness in a rapidly changing market.

“We assist in providing a technical view of our industry and ensure that we address safety, technology, and – in some cases – simply to bring a reality to the table’ said Emerson, whose expertise and long-term voluntary roles include membership and nearly 20 years’ service to NESMA, membership of the NSW Business Chamber and strong involvement in the EL6/8 committees dealing with the AS/NZS 61439 Standard Update, the biggest and most important change in the low voltage switchboard design and manufacturing industry for more than 20 years.

Scott and Mark acknowledged the strong value brought to the occasion by the speakers and sponsors, whose products showcased the latest technology in their fields, and which sparked many inquiries from the audience. Sponsors included full-service industrial automation, low and medium voltage technical distributor, APS (Platinum) Austral Wright Metals/Oriental Copper, Eaton Power Management, Hi-Switch/Modutec, IPD, NHP and Schneider (Gold) and CBI-electric and Eltech (Silver).

“Without their support, a completely voluntary organisation such as NESMA could not perform its expanding role, including in-person events such as the Conference, complemented by an increasing output of technical papers and social media content essential to educating the industry in fast-moving times,” Mark concluded.