Measuring the response time of gas detectors

Just twelve months after completing his university studies, Ampcontrol Graduate Engineer Thomas Steigler will travel to Tokyo, Japan, next week to deliver the findings of his research work to the international IEC Gas Detector Standards Committee MT 60079-29.

Thomas has been studying innovative ways to measure the response time of gas detectors, and has developed a test procedure that is three to five times more repeatable than any previously used methods. This is significant as repeatability is the most important attribute of any performance test.

The results of Thomas’ work will lead to revisions in the international standards for gas detectors. These same standards will eventually be adopted in Australia, against which Ampcontrol’s Gasguard products will be measured.

Group Engineering Manager Ian Webster said “The invitation extended to Thomas to present his work is an honour for any researcher, let alone one who has only been working in the area for eight months.” He added “It is also a great credit to Ampcontrol that its Graduate Program allows and encourages young professionals to engage in ground breaking research that benefits both the company and the gas detection industry globally.”

Outstanding Supplier Finalist

We’re excited to be a finalist in the NSW Minerals Council 2018 Industry and Suppliers Awards.

Being chosen as an outstanding supplier to the NSW mining industry in our 50th year, speaks to our commitment to engineer, manufacture and support innovative solutions for coal and hard rock mining across the state.

Ampcontrol’s entry in the awards focused on the development and supply of H3RO, a reticulated fibre optic solution suitable for both coal and hard rock mining applications. H3RO has reduced downtime and minimised installation and maintenance costs across the 16 mining installations which have occurred since launch.

We look forward to celebrating with the industry and other finalists on 15 March 2018.

Find out more about H3RO

Our Award Winning Projects

Throughout Ampcontrol’s 50 year history we’ve sought unique solutions to help our customers tackle their operational challenges. We’re known for stepping outside the conventions of traditional problem solving and this has been recognised time and time again with a number of prestigious awards.

Research and Development Leads to New Products

In 1998 Ampcontrol won our first National engineering Excellence Award for the development of the iMAC monitoring and control system.

Ampcontrol’s iMAC system helps customers meet the challenges of maintaining safety whilst maximising productivity on both underground and overland conveyors.

iMAC remains an important cornerstone of Ampcontrol’s electronics product range and has a solid history of installation on some of Australia’s longest conveyors.

Find out more

We’re the First to Say ‘Yes We Can’

When challenged with an AFC that was impractical to power at the 3.3kV industry standard Ampcontrol looked outside the box.

The Blakefield South 11kV longwall was a world first and represented a significant step change for longwall mining.

Critical to the success of this project was proving the safety of 11kV electrical circuitry in a hazardous areas zone. This required extensive engineering, design review, calculation and verification testing.

Ampcontrol together with project partners Xstrata Coal and Joy Global won the 2010 National Engineering Excellence Award for this project.

Find out more

Stepping Outside Traditional Problem Solving

Seven years of research into the significant hazards variable speed drives can cause in earth fault limited networks culminated in the Engineers Australia National Innovation Award in 2013.

This project exemplified the role of engineering in developing and testing theories to solve real world problems, educating the industry and providing commercially acceptable solutions.

Find out more

Setting Industry Benchmarks in Arc Fault Venting

This project encompassed two key innovations: the development of a novel measurement method using energetic materials and the development of a composite high speed rupturing vent.

Motivated by the need to ensure higher levels of safety for personnel, plant and equipment in the vicinity of live electrical enclosures, this project exemplifies Ampcontrol’s commitment to safety.

This research and development won Ampcontrol a 2015 Engineers Australia, Newcastle Division, Engineering Excellence Award.

Find out more

Celebrating Multi-Disciplinary Design

Ampcontrol are committed to enhancing our products and delivering unique solutions to ours customers challenges. That’s why when it was time to re-design an outdated phone we started with the end user, what they needed and why.

The result was the VoiceCom Phone a lightweight, user friendly, robust and reliable phone for day to day and emergency communications.

The VoiceCom Phone has set a new standard in quality and performance of product design and was awarded NSW Good Design Selection in 2015 and the Hunter Manufacturing Awards Excellence in Product Design Award in 2017.

Find out more

The Evolution of Ampcontrol: From Start Up to Success and Beyond.

Join Ampcontrol Co-Founder and Company Director Peter Cockbain as he explores the evolution of Ampcontrol from start up to success and beyond.

The Ampcontrol story is one full of twists and turns, technological firsts, impressive growth and global reach, founded on a simple yet rock solid foundation of innovation.

In this presentation Peter will explore the highs and lows of Ampcontrol’s 50 year history and provide an insight into what it takes to develop a company that engineers innovative solutions.

Event details:

Hosts: Engineers Australia – Newcastle Division

Date: Wednesday 14 February 5:30 – 8:30

Location: 25 Bull Street Newcastle or via webinar.

Register now

About Peter Cockbain

Peter Cockbain is a leader, innovator and influential mentor in the electrical engineering field. Peter is Co-founder and Company Director of Ampcontrol, a preeminent national and international manufacturer of electrical and electronics products for the mining, renewable, infrastructure and industrial sectors. It is Peter’s vision, energy and determination to continuously improve and innovate which is supported by Ampcontrol’s investment in research, development and commercialisation practices that have seen the company thrive over the last 50 years to become the multi-national success story it is today.

Peter is a past National President of Engineers Australia and has served as a board member of Standards Australia, the University of Newcastle Council and the Prime Ministers Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. In 2010 Peter was named by Engineers Australia as one of Australia’s top 100 influential engineers for his commitment to innovation and in 2015 became a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant services to engineering.

Mechanical Analysis of a 25MW Turbine

Ampcontrol was engaged to analyse machine vibration on a 25MW turbine at an alternative power generation facility in QLD.

Achievements

  • Machine balancing
  • Identification and rectification of an oil whip issue
  • Quick implementation of a solution, minimising downtime

The Project

A 25MW turbine at the facility was experiencing high levels of vibration after being returned to service from overhaul.

Ampcontrol’s mechanical team attended the site and balanced the turbine. After balancing, the turbine ran with a very low level of vibration, significantly less that before overhaul.

The vibration level of the turbine remained low until reaching half load, when the vibration spiked unexpectedly and the machine tripped.

Ampcontrol reviewed the overhaul work and data from the vibration spike and trip. The fault was identified as an oil whip caused by the bearing being unloaded by the partial arc steam admission to the turbine. Exacerbating factors included the bearing journals being machined during the overhaul to the minimum diameter allowable and a combination of the as left alignment of the machine and the very good balance condition.

Oil whip as a result of increasing machine load such as this is uncommon. Commonly oil whip is a condition seen during transient machine operation, as an oil whirl latches onto a shafts natural frequency.

Our analysis indicated that this oil whip was being caused by the bearing being unloaded due to partial arc steam admission. This is where, at lower loads, steam is supplied through multiple valves opened sequentially to minimise throttle losses.

The machine design consisted of two main steam valves opening one after the other providing steam to just under 50% of the inlet.

Analysis of the machine dynamic characteristics indicated that if the sequencing of the inlet valves was reversed the unloading that peaked at 50% load would be reversed and bearing stability would be increased.

Ampcontrol proposed a machine configuration change that would rectify the problem and the OEM of the machine carried out this modification with minimal downtime.

Once the solution was implemented the turbine ran to full load for the rest of the season without any further vibration issues.

Find out more about our Mechanical Analysis and Testing Services 

Ampcontrol Looks to the Future with 20 New Recruits

Regarded as a long standing tradition within Ampcontrol; the annual Apprentice and Graduate morning tea was held this morning at Ampcontrol’s Head Office in Tomago to welcome 20 new starters.

From Graduate Electrical Engineers taking their first plunge into their chosen profession to soon-to-be first year Apprentices and Trainees across a range of trades, the morning tea signalled a huge moment in recent Ampcontrol history.

“Providing substantial and meaningful career pathways for young people via Apprenticeships has always been an important part of our business but recent years have made onboarding at this scale almost impossible. With a positive turn in business conditions and outlook, it is a delight to see so many new faces joining the business, especially in these critical skills areas” said Ampcontrol CEO/MD Rod Henderson.

Apprenticeships and Traineeships have been offered across mechanical, electrical, fabrication and stores trades as well as three graduate engineers who will rotate across different parts of the business.

“The morning tea is not only an opportunity to welcome them all together as the 2018 cohort but show them around some of our 13,000sqm of manufacturing space in Tomago which helps put a lot of the work they are about to start, in perspective” added Rod.

Since 1968, Ampcontrol has provided employment to skilled tradepeople and engineers who have contributed to some significant innovations throughout the company’s almost 50 year history.

“Traditionally, Ampcontrol may have been recognised within the Hunter as a manufacturer that supports the mining industry. The Ampcontrol of 2017 and beyond is so much more than that. While advanced manufacturing out of the Hunter remains a core capability, the reach of our business into new markets means our innovative approach to engineering and customer solutions is going global” said Rod.

In 2017, Ampcontrol delivered electrical infrastructure to Sydney’s Westconnex project as well as securing tunnelling project work in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“As we approach our 50th year in 2018, it is an exciting period for Ampcontrol and our people. This is what makes welcoming 20 new people who will be part of this exciting future even more rewarding” said Rod.

Ampcontrol employs over 350 people in the Hunter across seven sites and specialises in the design and supply of complete electrical system solutions.

 

Take a look at the AUK1000 at IME

Allenwest Ampcontrol India will be launching the AUK1000 a scalable, reliable and quality British manufactured multi-drive control box at IME in Kolkata this week.  Stop by and see us on stand A15 to discuss how the AUK1000 could be right for your next project.

The AUK1000 is the advanced multi-function technology base for Ampcontrol’s internationally certified power distribution solutions, such as motor starters and circuit breakers. The AUK1000’s primary role is the reliable control, monitoring and protection of electrically driven plant and machinery in hazardous underground mining environments. It offers advanced safety, productivity and maintenance features as well as a durable flameproof enclosure.

AUK1000 features:

  • Multi-function applications with capacity up to 400A and 1100V
  • Customised isolator and drive options
  • Independent or sequenced drive control
  • Programmable settings on HMI via IS touch pad
  • Up to four outlets per unit, free standing or assembled into multiple configurations

Find out more about the AUK1000

VoiceCom Phone Awarded For Excellence in Product Design

Ampcontrol’s VoiceCom Phone has been awarded for Excellence in Product Design at the 2017 Hunter Manufacturing Awards.

Designed and manufactured in the Hunter, the VoiceCom Phone is a great example of Ampcontrol’s leadership in engineering, product design and manufacturing in the Hunter.

Designed for use in harsh underground coal mines, the VoiceCom Phone provides robust, reliable communication which is vital for day to day and emergency communications between the surface and underground operators.

Through strong consultation with customers, the Ampcontrol team designed a phone which was user friendly, lightweight and easy to install. Since release the phone has received overwhelmingly positive customer feedback.

Global Products Manager, Scott Dallen said “it’s a true privilege to be to be recognised along with other local manufacturers and engineers for the quality of our product design. It’s a credit to the project team across design and manufacturing, who have truly set a new standard of quality and performance with this product.”

This award follows a ‘Selection Win’ for the VoiceCom Phone at the NSW Good Design Awards in 2015.

H3RO: Fast and Simple Downtime Recovery

Ampcontrol was engaged by an underground gold and copper mine in Western NSW, to provide fibre optics quickly after an existing communications cable was severed.

About the project

An existing fibre optic cable was severed at the underground gold and copper mine. This optical distribution network (ODN) was vital for mining operations. Production could not be started without dependable and reliable communication with seismic sensors.

Ampcontrol’s H3RO, harsh environment reticulated fibre optic solution, was deployed from an existing FOBOT panel for a distance over 1km along the roof, through a number of vertical drops and into another existing FOBOT enclosure.

H3RO’s plug and play cables and modular components made it the ideal choice for the fast deployment of cabling for this work. The IP68 connectors and bulkheads allowed a neat, maintainable solution that integrated seamlessly with off-the-shelf IP68 bulkheads and pigtails to match the existing patch panels.

Due to the modular installation and low loss connectors, network expansion and recovery from similar incidents in the future is now hassle free.

The entire cable run consists of a quantity of four 260m 12 core H3RO cables, making swapping any section out easy, rather than replacing the entire run or requiring expensive and time consuming fibre field splicing in the mines harsh environment.

H3RO components are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities, all items are tested and shipped with quality reports. This offers a more cost effective, reliable and risk free solution to field splicing in an underground mine where constraints such as time, darkness and the dirty working environment all affect the quality of the job.

Benefits

H3RO’s plug and play functionality and modular components enabled installation to be completed quickly by site staff, as opposed to specialist fibre optic technicians. The 260m cables on mobile reels allowed fast deployment from vehicles and fit for purpose bulkheads to pigtails allowed seamless integration with existing enclosures.

By using H3RO, expensive fibre termination equipment and specialist staff or training is no longer required to maintain the system.

H3RO’s modular components and future proof design enables cost effective and quick and easy duplication or extension as ODN requirements evolve.

Download this case study as a PDF