Statutory body, the South Africa Bureau of Standards’ (SABS’s) laboratory testing services has improved the testing capacity of the National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA) through the installation of six Buck-Boost current injection machines.
The machines are used in low-voltage testing to improve the reliability of temperature rise tests.
SABS laboratory testing services executive Johan Louw explained that the Buck-Boost electrical current injection machines are used to test rising temperatures of low-voltage switch-and-control gear, which was normally tested against the South African National Standards – 61439.
“Typically, switch-and-control gear are used when energy sources are connected to the electricity grid. The rise of renewable sources of energy, the Eskom power plants Kusile and Medupi and the growth of connection points on the municipal electricity grid will increase the demand for temperature rise testing. The machines have been installed and calibrated together with the installation of a new electricity supply unit.
“The Buck-Boost machines will allow us to simultaneously test multiple low-voltage equipment, while using the same source of electricity. This investment in new testing infrastructure has allowed us to optimise the testing times, and improved reliability. We can now test low-voltage equipment in two to three days compared to a week in the past.”
NETFA, which has been conducting testing on electrotechnical equipment, products and appliances since 1990, is the largest independent testing facility for power utilities and the electrotechnical industry on the Africa continent.
The SABS facility, is situated next to Eskom’s high-voltage direct current Apollo converter station in the Olifantsfontein area and allows the NETFA facility to draw large high-voltage direct current from the national grid.
NETFA senior manager Lucas Monyai said the laboratories, which are accredited by the South African National Accreditation System, provides testing services in four technical areas, namely the short circuit laboratory, the high-voltage laboratory, the materials and installation laboratories and the distribution technology services.
Monyai added that the nature of low-voltage stress tests requires exposure to duration testing and that NETFA excels in tests such as radio influence voltage tests.
The SABS said the investment in the new equipment is part of the turnaround strategy of the organisation and that this will improve the delivery of quality conformance testing services.