Fun Fact Friday: National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Fun Fact Friday: National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

This week, June 23 – 29 is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. According to the Lightning Safety Council, “National Lightning Safety Awareness Week was started in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Since then, U.S. lightning fatalities have dropped from about 50 per year to about 30. This reduction in fatalities is largely due to greater awareness of the lightning danger, and people seeking safety when thunderstorms threaten. During National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, we encourage you to learn more about lightning and lightning safety “. It is very important to understand how to be safe during this natural phenomenon, and engineers have a hand in creating designs to ensure the safety of the public. Encorus’s Fire Protection Engineer John Allan offers more insight on the role engineers have in lightning safety.

There is no sure-fire way to tell when lightning will strike. Lightning is a force of nature that surely has a mind of its own, but with a little foresight, good engineering can protect a building and its occupants from lightning strike hazards. The consequences of lightning strikes are serious. Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities.

Lightning strike prevention is possible with the properly designed systems following tried and true methods of application. These methods have an interesting history and it should not be surprising to know that Benjamin Franklin was one of the first to test the principle. He is known as a founding father: the founder of the first fire station, the father of electricity, and an avid inventor. In 1747, Franklin took particular interest in electricity and started working on several experiments, including his famous key on a kite experiment. By 1749, he had predicted that lightning was static electricity – and he was right. In the summer of 1752, he was in the process of creating the first lightning protection system. He used the tall, sharp steeple as the lightning rod, now called an air terminal, to protect the Christ Church in Philadelphia, PA. His idea was that a sharp, pointed piece of iron could pull the electricity out of the cloud before lightning struck and started an electrical fire.

Over the years, the science of lightning protection has become more exacting. From this research, and a lot of trial and error, consensus code standards have been developed which are now part of our company’s tool box.  Encorus Group has the capability and engineering experience to perform lightning assessment and calculations to determine the lightning risk value for a structure. This is a vital part of any new structure design and is critical to major building modifications.

Stay safe!

Welcome to Our Summer Interns!

Welcome to Our Summer Interns!

Encorus would like to extend a warm welcome to our 2019 summer intern group! We will be hosting four interns in our Springville and Buffalo offices. Noah Wichlacz is a student studying Biomedical Engineering at UB. This summer, he will be working out of our Buffalo office as an Engineering Technician intern. Shannon O’Neill is also working in the Buffalo office as an Engineering Technician intern. After the summer, Shannon will be returning to Penn State Behrend University for her junior year.

Two interns will be joining the Springville office for the summer. Mara Gilmartin is an incoming freshman at RIT, and will be assisting Encorus’s Marketing Department. Jenna Needleman will be supporting the Structural Engineering Department this summer and will return to RIT as a senior in the fall. 

We’re happy to have these wonderful interns working alongside us for the whole summer!

Computer-aided Engineering and Its Advantages

Computer-aided Engineering and Its Advantages

Professionals in a wide range of industries turn to computer-aided engineering to assist with product design, development, and testing. Its ability to help resolve a number of engineering problems—including the simulation, optimization, and validation of products, tools, and processes—makes it an invaluable asset to businesses. Here are some of the advantages of computer-aided engineering.

Faster, Less Costly Product Development

Before computer-aided engineering, the development stages of a new product required many rounds of materials testing on physical prototypes, a time-consuming and costly endeavor. Now, thanks to advanced software, engineers can perform simulations, tests, and evaluations on new products in hours rather than days or weeks. It’s still necessary to test a physical prototype before proceeding with the serial production of a new product, but computer-aided engineering ensures that the first physical prototype of a design cycle has already been improved and optimized several times.

Simpler, More Accessible Capabilities

Engineering simulation used to be a much more complicated and difficult undertaking, especially for less experienced engineers who faced a steep learning curve. Thankfully, today’s computer-aided engineering tools help eliminate many of the barriers to mastery. This allows even inexperienced users without expert knowledge of physical testing to reach insightful, effective simulation results.

Many Fields of Application

The benefits of computer-aided engineering are wide-ranging and are applicable in a number of industries. Businesses producing automotive, aerospace, electronics, oil and gas, HVAC, and plant engineering products and services are just some of the possible beneficiaries of computer-aided engineering’s advantages. Thanks to advanced testing software, anything from cranes and bridges to racecars and power plants can make it through pre-production faster and with less expense.

Early Problem-solving

Sometimes, flaws in a product’s early designs aren’t realized until far along the development process. When computer-aided engineering solutions are applied to a product’s development process, engineers can gain insight into possible problems and design flaws earlier than ever before. Design changes can be implemented as problems arise rather than later down the line when changes would be more expensive and time-consuming.

Encorus Group has been providing businesses across industries with engineering design, environmental, testing, and inspection services for over twenty years. To learn more about our capabilities, contact us online or call 716.592.3980 today.

We’re Hiring!

We’re Hiring!

Encorus is looking for a Senior Civil Engineer to join our team! The job description and requirements can be viewed here. If you want to join one of the fastest growing companies in Western New York, send your resumes to resumes@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Differentiating Electrical Engineering Terms

Fun Fact Friday: Differentiating Electrical Engineering Terms

One of the core engineering design services that Encorus offers is electrical engineering. Director of Engineering Design Tom Gilmartin shares some information about different electrical engineering terms and what they mean.

Power distribution is accomplished with a variety of different types of equipment, with varying sizes and applications. Many people use the terms substation, switchgear, switchboard, panelboard, distribution panel, power panel, breaker panel, lighting panel, and others, to describe these devices, often applying the “wrong” term. Encorus engineers offer the following guidelines to clarify the “proper” terms for the various distribution equipment, as defined in the 2017 National Electrical Code® Chapter 1, Definitions. Extracts from the code are in italics, and items are listed in ascending order of size / capacity.

Panelboard. A single panel or group of panel units designed for assembly in the form of a single panel, including buses and automatic overcurrent devices, and equipped with or without switches for the control of light, heat, or power circuits; designed to be placed in a cabinet or cutout box placed in or against a wall, partition, or other support; and accessible only from the front.

Panelboards are the smallest of the types, and are frequently divided into two categories:

  • Lighting and appliance branch-circuit panelboards. Rating range typically of 50 to 400 amps. Found in homes and light commercial applications.
  • Power panelboards (sometimes called distribution panelboards). Rating range typically 200 to 1200 amps. Found in commercial and light industrial applications.

Prior to the publication of the 2008 National Electrical Code®, the distinction between these two panelboard types was described in Articles 408.34 and 408.35. These articles were removed from the 2008 code. It will take time for the industry to adapt to this change and many electrical professionals still make this distinction.

Switchboard. A large single panel, frame, or assembly of panels on which are mounted on the face, back, or both, switches, overcurrent and other protective devices, buses, and usually instruments. These assemblies are generally accessible from the rear as well as from the front and are not intended to be installed in cabinets.

Switchboards are generally larger and more solidly built than panelboards, and almost always floor mounted. Rating range typically 1200-2500 amps. Found in large commercial and industrial applications.

Switchgear. An assembly completely enclosed on all sides and top with sheet metal (except for ventilating openings and inspection windows) and containing primary power circuit switching, interrupting devices, or both, with buses and connections. The assembly may include control and auxiliary devices. Access to the interior of the enclosure is provided by doors, removable covers, or both. All switchgear subject to NEC requirements is “metal enclosed”. Switchgear rated below 1000 V or less may be identified as “low-voltage power circuit breaker switchgear.” Switchgear rated over 1000 V may be identified as “metal-enclosed” or “metal-clad.” Switchgear is available in non–arc-resistant or arc-resistant constructions.

Switchgear is generally larger than switchboards, and of very robust construction. Metal-clad is a higher rating than metal-enclosed, and implies “rack-out” design, where a mechanism is provided to remove switch elements (breakers) from the gear for service or replacement. Rating range typically 1500-4000 amps. Found in utility, heavy industrial, and very large commercial installations.

Substation. An assemblage of equipment (e.g., switches, interrupting devices, circuit breakers, buses, and transformers) through which electric energy is passed for the purpose of distribution, switching, or modifying its characteristics.

Substations are the largest setups of electrical equipment, feeding entire distribution areas, large industrial plants and other large loads. Another common term is “Unit Substation”, which generally describes a transformer and switchgear provided as a packaged unit. These are usually rated in KVA as opposed to amps, ranging anywhere from 500KVA up to utility scale in the thousands of KVA.

Hopefully this helps to clear the clouds from all these different terms and improve understanding of the electrical world around us.