Spread our safety and Standards message further along the supply chain, says NESMA Stalwart Chris of Van Wyk Electric

Standards and safety compliance are crucial in switchboard production, none more so than the technology produced for Van Wyk Electric electrical contractors and switchboard manufacturers for mining services and industrial processing applications. Pictured is a Van Wyk Electric board during factory acceptance testing.

Chris Van Der Kooi of Van Wyk Electric, sees an expanding need to communicate about changing switchboard requirements not only to their manufacturers, but also to contractors, consultants, specifiers, and end-customers.

“There is so much change going on in our industry as the grid adapts to new Standards and the onrush of green energy, that it is very easy for customers to lose out by not being fully informed in advance about what the changes will mean for them,” says Chris, who has given more than a decade’s service to organisations such as NECA and also NESMA, of which he is Victorian Secretary.

He applauds NESMA’s educational and advocacy activities and says it can reach even further – “Consultants, contractors, and even customers need to be talking with electrical cubical manufacturers before they sign on the dotted line, otherwise they many end up with a product not fit for purpose.

 “Already there are sad stories of people who thought they could just bring in overseas technology and adapt it later to Australian requirements, only to find the customer faced a bill for tens of thousands to comply with statutory requirements here.

“That could have been avoided by a chain of communication between specifier and manufacturer at the start of the decision-making process, not at the end, when it is too late to avoid cost and delay.

“This is a matter of industry integrity and clear communication that we within NESMA stress, but which also needs to extend throughout the specifier and supply chain,” says Chris, whose company works throughout Australia for leading State, national, and international names involved in resources, industrial processes, and water and wastewater – industries where safety compliance is crucial and where avoidance of disruption to production and supply is vital.

A whole generation of transformation

Van Wyk Electric specialises in sectors including manufacturing and industrial processes, including food and beverage, cooling, and implementing Standards such as AS/NZS 61439 and ongoing changes as the industry prepares for the onrush of green power into the grid, whether it be wind, solar, hydrogen, tidal, or bio-organic, for example.

“With the surge of new technologies out there, anticipation and incorporation of compliance issues is a necessity, not an expense. The expense comes when something has been built without consultation about compliance and has to be corrected to ensure ongoing safety and risk management before reputational harm for installations failing or found wanting during inspection.

“There are so many changes going on in our industry that all members need to share their knowledge with those involved in the earliest stage of initiating projects,” says Chris, who is personally seeing a pickup in inquiries for new technologies, such as a large battery storage enclosure which his team was called upon to engineer.

“We probably have a generation of major change and transformation ahead, pursuing sustainability objectives. These will extend right from the selection of critical components – such as the right circuit-breakers, protection and distribution technology – all the way through to major concept engineering to suit applications with special needs, such as remote facilities, underground facilities, and key local and State utilities.

Importance of Reputable Suppliers and Quality Products

In specialist manufacturing and electrical contracting solutions to meet such needs, it is paramount to ensure the highest quality of components and materials, says Chris. As General Manager of Van Wyk Electric, he understands the significance of reputable suppliers and the potential pitfalls of opting for cheaper, inferior imported products. His checklist for integrity and success that shapes Van Wyk Electric’s operations and fosters customer safety and satisfaction includes:

  • A clear vision of the specialised services at which your company excels. Van Wyk Electric was founded with a mission: to excel in manufacturing switchboards, electrical contracting, and industrial processes relating to particular market sectors on which it concentrates.
  • A comprehensive focus on systems critical to these markets, encompassing a range of systems, including Motor Control Centres, Wet Panels, Instrumentation and Process Systems, UPS & D.C. Systems, and Generator and control systems.
  • Leveraging company expertise to offer invaluable preventative maintenance through services such as thermal imaging scanning, RCD testing, power quality analysis, and precise measurement techniques.
  • One of the standout features of Van Wyk Electric’s approach is the emphasis on nurturing long-term customer relationships and creating mutually beneficial alliances. This collaborative spirit fosters trust and reliability.

“I strive to maintain a level-headed approach in business, not making excessive claims but fully recognising the crucial importance of being able to navigate the complexities of our industry. My commitment to making decisions is based on evidence and rooted in strong moral principles – this is the cornerstone of my leadership style.

“As the overseer of our business operations, I place a high priority on ensuring regulatory compliance to ensure we consistently meet the stringent quality and safety standards demanded by our industry, so the customer knows he or she is in safe hands each time and every time.

“With a wealth of experience in electrical design and project management, my team and I play a pivotal role in delivering projects to our key clients that fully meet their needs and expectations. This expertise is instrumental in ensuring the success of our endeavours and return business time after time.

“My involvement as a Council Member of the NECA board – and now serving as the Honorary Secretary of NESMA Victoria – reflects unwavering dedication to amplifying the voices of emerging contractors and driving progress within the Australian switchboard industry. These roles are instrumental to advancing our industry and supporting its future leaders.”

The Genesis of Van Wyk Electric and the Caution Against Inferior Products:

The genesis of Van Wyk Electric can be traced back to a pivotal moment when Adam Van Wyk (the company founder) and Chris observed unnecessary bureaucracy in a larger corporation. This experience led them to appreciate the critical need for a more streamlined and agile player in the industry.

“We focus more on project solutions, rather than getting entangled in excessive administrative processes. This perspective forms the core of Van Wyk Electric’s approach,” says Chris, adding that Van Wyk Electric has become a trusted name in the electrical industry for over seven years, achieving ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and ISO 14001 certifications: Their benefits to customers include:

  • ISO 9001: Ensuring exceptional quality assurance and customer satisfaction.
  • ISO 45001: Prioritising a safe and healthy work environment for all stakeholders.
  • ISO 14001: Demonstrating our dedication to environmental sustainability.

“Our commitment to quality, safety, and environmental responsibility is unwavering. With ISO certifications, we’re equipped to deliver even higher service standards to our valued clients,” says Chris. “At Van Wyk Electric, we’re dedicated to continual improvement and setting industry benchmarks. We seek to attract partners requiring top-tier electrical solutions, backed by a legacy of excellence and a business model that prioritises client value.

“In this context, we caution against cheaper, inferior imported products. We opt for reputable suppliers to ensure that the components used in critical systems meet rigorous quality standards. This not only guarantees the safety and reliability of the electrical infrastructure but also minimises the risk of costly disruptions or failures down the line. Van Wyk Electric’s commitment to using trusted suppliers is a testament to unwavering dedication to excellence and client satisfaction.”