Victorian NESMA President seeks unity in providing guidance as changes from Standard 61439 sweep through industry

NESMA Victoria President Wayne Rose, with a switchboard under construction

A man whose electrical switchboard manufacturing experience spans the spectrum of Victoria’s major industries, NESMA Victoria President Mr Wayne Rose, says the AS/NZS Standard 61439 now in force is a game-changer for manufacturers and their customers alike.

In addition to being NESMA’s Victorian president, Mr Rose is an electrical switchboard manufacturer, which serves customers in industries critical to the State, including construction, manufacturing, health, telecommunications, public services (inc energy, water and waste), agriculture and mining, which collectively contribute well over $100 billion to the State economy*.

*Economic Development Australia

He advocates NESMA as the central organisation providing technical support and explanation of the ramifications of Standard 61439 to industry groups such as consultants, inspectors, contractors, and switchboard manufacturers.

“The new Standard 61349 – or Series of Standards it contains – is an important and complex document that responds to a tide of major change for both manufacturers and their customers. AS/NZS 61439 is now acceptable for specification, after the old Standard has elapsed, but there are still switchboard manufacturers who may not understand the breadth of change, let alone customers and specifiers.

Construction and energy management are major switchboard technology users in Victoria

“So we need to have a central authority to which those affected come for guidance, and avoid the safety, quality and risk management involved, because if switchboards are non-compliant, it spells big issues for everyone from the supplier to the end-user.”

The former Standard AS/NZS 3439 was introduced in 2002. Since then there have been far-reaching changes and improvements to electrical switchgear, design, manufacture and safety processes, which have a major bearing on trends such as energy saving, environmental, and sustainability policies, and changes important to many customers, including automation and Industry 4.0. The new standard aims to clarify legal and financial responsibilities in specification, testing, design and build between user and the assembly manufacturer.

“We at NESMA need to broadcast the requirements to the market, because conformity to it needs to occur before switchgear assemblies are specified, and way before it is manufactured and installed in a non-compliant condition. Switchboard technology is not something that can be reverse engineered down the track – it would be inefficient and impractical to retrospectively subject installations, componentry and systems to the rigorous testing, quality, traceability and safety standards that were required in the first place,” says Mr Rose, whose experience in the industry extends from State, to national and international organisations and projects.

Manufacturing process control operations – including cutting and forming operations (above) – require safe, compliant energy supply

He has been a strong advocate of top quality, safety and Standards compliance over more than 30 years – “Yet we know that today non-compliant-switchboard technology is still being supplied to the market, even now that AS 61439 has been introduced. This cheaper, usually imported, switchboard technology is exposing suppliers and their customers to risk by being non-compliant.”

“What we at NESMA want is a level playing field, so all manufacturers supplying the Australian market are building to the same exacting standards of compliance.”

“Our goal in achieving this is for NESMA Victoria to be the peak switchboard manufacturing body, accessible to all switchboard manufacturers and specifiers, and continuing to work with suppliers in support of each other’s business.”