Features, Safety systems and solutions, Work health and safety

NHP is setting the outdoor standard


The CUBIC Modular System for indoor switchboards has been adapted for outdoor use without compromising on quality.

The remoteness of mining operations means switchboards are often located outdoors, and without the protection of a switchboard room, these outdoor boards feel the full force of the elements. And in conditions as rugged and corrosive as those so often found on Australian mine sites, that force takes a toll. This is particularly true when it comes to heat. 

As switchboards that sit in the sun continue to heat up, the temperature of the internal electrical equipment gradually rises, which can cause equipment failure or even a fire. 

But the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is leading the way on outdoor switchboard safety, having ushered in higher standards governing how to test internal heat rise when a switchboard is sitting outdoors and will be heated by direct sunlight. 

And while these standards are yet to hit Australia, one local provider of electrical and automation products, systems and solutions is already ahead of the game. 

NHP Electrical Engineering Products has supplied its CUBIC Modular System to the mining industry for years, enabling versatile construction of electrical switchboards for a range of applications.  

The system has been designed for higher-specification industrial applications, while also giving customers the freedom to choose electrical components and switchgear from different manufacturers, such as Terasaki. 

NHP and CUBIC have now taken that successful recipe and refined it for the outdoors, delivering the new CUBIC Outdoor Modular System, which is tried and tested against the latest standards from the IEC. 

“A galvanised steel shell strengthened by two layers of powder coat means that our system holds up incredibly well against the sun and corrosion,” NHP product manager for switchboard systems Nick Moss told Safe to Work.   

The CUBIC Outdoor Modular System has been tested under UV radiation according to IEC 61439-2:2020. The test included external exposure of 14,000 watts (W) of infrared light performed at present temperature-rise curves of 100–1000W, enabling easy verification of resistance to UV radiation and temperature rise limits. 

“The system has a rating of IP56, which, in the context of mining applications, means that dust and other fine powder isn’t going to get into the board and cause havoc,” Moss said.

In accordance with the latest IEC standards and its IP56 rating, the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System was tested to withstand a pressure of 100L of water per minute. So whether in a desert or a downpour, the system is proven to last. 

The system also comes with a number of the intelligent features of its indoor predecessor. 

“The system is tested for arc fault containment, which means that if there is any short circuit or explosion inside the panel, people, the equipment and the buildings are protected” Moss said. 

NHP channel marketing manager Mohamed Gad told Safe to Work a critical aspect about the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System is that it takes the guesswork out of safety and performance. 

“Everything comes back to standards, which allow customers to pick the product that is a good fit for their requirements without jeopardising the safety of their people and assets,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if a product hasn’t been tested against industry standards, there’s no way to guarantee worker safety.

“We are proud to provide a tried-and-tested product that adheres to new international standards not even mandatory in Australia yet. It gives our customers the confidence that the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System is fit for purpose and will perform well in harsh environments.”

This feature also appears in the May-June issue of Safe to Work.

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