AS promised last month, this month's column covers the knowledge and skills set required by an electrical artisan. It must be remembered that this is an overview of the types of skills required by an electrician and does not address areas of specialty required by particular organisations.
I have included some foundational skills that may initially seem unnecessary but electricians require these skills to fault-find and, therefore in the greater scheme of things, these skills are beneficial.
Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85, 1993), SANS 10142-1, symbolic safety signs and colour markings.
• Hand tools and hand skills
Identify, use and maintain measuring, checking, forming, cutting, marking, fastening tools and tooling aids.
Use hand tools applicable to the trade and be able to sharpen chisels, drills, punches and dress screwdrivers.
• Workshop tools
Use fixed and portable machines as used in the trade
Recall the physical properties and characteristics of metals with respect to conductivity, current carrying capacity and temperature.
• Drawing and sketches
Interpret and recall symbols and abbreviations used on electrical circuits for schematic and wiring diagrams, connection schedules, cables schedules, layouts and single-line drawings.
Interpret and recall symbols and abbreviations as used on engineering drawings. Compile material lists from electrical, engineering and electronic drawings.
• Basic lifting techniques
Use lifting equipment, for example, chain blocks, shackles, chain slings and wire rope slings.
• Arc welding
Tack and arc weld using manual metal arc welding techniques, including all safety and set up techniques and procedures.
• Electrical measuring instruments
Select and connect panel meters and interpret the readings: voltmeter, ammeter, energy meter (KWh).
Identify and use portable instruments for safety and fault finding voltage tester, multimeter, insulation tester, earth leakage polarity tester, phase rotation tester and, PSC loop tester, earth resistor tester, clamp on tester.
Fault-find on the following types of equipment: control panels, distribution boards, contactors, relays, insulators, fuse holders and motor control gear.
Application of fault-finding techniques for open and short circuit, under voltage relay faults, retaining faults, single and three phase faults, as well as mechanical faults.
• Cables and conductors
Recall the current carrying capacity of conductors according to length and cross-sectional area.
Make off and join multi- and single-core, standard PVC armoured cable at least up to 16mm² four core.
Terminate PVC cables (up to 1 200V insulation) for entry into cable end box using mechanical and compression methods.
Identify ratings of cables by current, voltage and temperature.
• Electrical equipment
Maintain repair and test control panels, distribution boards, contactors, relays, switchgear, circuit breakers, timers, isolators, fuse holders, motor control gear, electrical machines, protective devices and lighting systems.
Design, wire, mount and connect panels, starters, motors, motor control gear, electrical distribution systems, protective systems, lighting systems.
Install wire-ways, i.e. racks, trunking, conduit (steel, plastic, flexible, bosal), direct mount cable systems (Surfix).
• ac Machines
Design and wire the control and main circuits to which various single-phase or three phase machines can be connected, including all safety components.
Connect three-phase and three single-phase transformers in various combinations.
Commission and test ac machines electrically and mechanically.
• dc Machines
Connect, test and fault find series, shunt and compound motors.
I have not included Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), variable speed drives (VSDs) as well as electronic and associated equipment as many still believe that these are areas of specialty, but as a candidate or organisation you could identify these as areas for development.
In summary, the Section 28 or Section 13 candidate should at least have the skills and knowledge as listed. Employers of a Section 28 or the Section 13 candidate could use the content above as a guideline for interview processes when recruiting.
Many electricians could have more skills and knowledge as listed above, but this list does give a general overview of the skills and knowledge set for an electrical artisan.