Industry Roundup: Fuel Cells, Electrical and Lighting, Building Commissioning, Fiber Optics


Ticona , Florence, Ky., the technical polymers business of the Celanese Group , has introduced the first fuel cell prototype made solely of engineering thermoplastics, an advance that might lower fuel cell cost at least 50% vs. those fabricated with other materials. The 17-cell unit contains injection molded bipolar plates of liquid crystal polymer and end plates of polyphenylene sulfide.

The Schneider Electric North American Operating Division , Palatine, Ill., has added a new twist to the team approach, making it central to the growth strategy and key to rekindling an entrepreneurial spirit at the company's Square D brand. Each of eight cross-functional business teams is embedded within the functional, matrix organization of the organization.

In other news from Schneider, the North American division has also pledged up to $1 million to the National Assn. of Electrical Distributors' education and research foundation.

• The National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. has released ANSI/NEMA FI 3-2004, Calendered Aramid Papers Used for Electrical Insulation , revised for the first time since 1999 and now ANSI-approved. It references standard industry test methods, as well as tolerances, classifications, and methods of measurements, and it includes now-mandatory repairs for detectable holes, fractures and blisters.

Advance Transformer , Rosemont, Ill., was recently recognized as a "Silver Beacon" Sponsor by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Founded in 1994 through a joint effort between Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the ESFI is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school, and workplace. In his official presentation of the Beacon Award to Advance, ESFI Executive Director Michael G. Clendenin said, "We are very grateful for the dedication and support that Advance Transformer has continuously shown to the Foundation over its life, both as a Silver Beacon Sponsor and a contributor to our Annual Giving Fund."

• The Building Commissioning Assn. , Edmonds, Wash., launched a commissioning certification program this year after a three-year-long process that involved an intensive study of the profession, definition of skills and development of standards for building commissioning agents. BCA has created a separate corporation to handle certification activities, known as the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCB).

• The National Electrical Contractors Assn. , Bethesda, Md., has published its NECA/FOA 301-2004, Standard for Installing and Testing Fiber Optic Cables (ANSI), the latest publication in the National Electrical Installation Standard (NEIS) series from NECA. Fiber optic entrepreneur and author Jim Hayes, who is also president of the Fiber Optic Association (FOA), was principal author of this new second edition of NECA/FOA 301.

• In news from National Assn. of Electrical Distributors , results were recently released of a research study examining procurement chain management in the construction industry. Co-sponsored by NECA's Electrical Contracting Foundation and other construction industry groups, the study found that from 1996 to 2000, advancements in non-construction industries in the areas of procurement and business management improved productivity by an average of 3.9% per year. Yet during that same time, productivity in the construction industry decreased 1%. According to the study, the prevailing, existing and alternative procurement chain models are not satisfying the needs of most project owners.

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