on July 12th, 2022

We look back at the IDC Earthing Conference Birmingham 2022 held in May where EIT staff came together to support IDC Technologies in the UK for, what everyone considers an amazing time back after a few years of no face-to-face gatherings.

The conference ran over two days and covered many opportunities for engineers, technicians and business owners within the earthing fraternity to delve deeper into their industry.

Some of the major points discussed during the conference include:

  • Learn how optimal electrical earthing design can improve productivity and reduce costs
  • Gain practical advice on earthing system measurement
  • Discuss compliance to standards with experienced electrical engineers
  • Discuss safe and effective lightning protection and earthing
  • Network with specialists in the field and your peer
  • Understand how to design earthing systems for challenging conditions
  • Discuss the pitfalls of inappropriate earthing and the hazards caused
  • Learn best practice when it comes to split factors in earthing design
  • Hear relevant local case studies from the UK electrical industry

The topics were discussed by industry leaders and academics who were able to provide important dissemination following a period when the industry could not meet like this.

David Gajdus, General Manager at EIT’s South African office helped orchestrate the event and says it was heartening to see such a passionate group connect with their peers.

“IDC is known for high-quality conferences, and we have a reputation for niche conferences. With travel restrictions it’s important to host face-to-face events again,” he says.

David adds; “Attendance and registration were phenomenal - with a high attendance rate for the industry.”

David reflects that the event reinforced the idea that conferences have returned, and IDC can position itself to take part in valuable discourse and knowledge transfer from an engineering perspective.

Niches are also something that makes these kinds of conferences important.

The value of these conferences for engineers

The aim of the conference was to demystify the subject of earthing and present the subject in a clear, straightforward manner.

Earthing as a subject has been under-represented over the years and this event was geared to remedy the gaps in technical knowledge and improve practices in the industry.

“The excitement to be back at face-to-face events was tangible, and to be able to connect with industry experts as well,” adds David.

According to David some of the comments from the panels, presenters, and speakers were that there was a lot of dissemination for the industry.

This coupled with a variety of presentations allowed IDC to have a variety of techniques to really speak to the audience.

“It was a great networking event for our sponsors, like our media collaborators Thorne and Derrick in the UK and our sponsor Safearth. It was beneficial to have those sponsorships since we could all share interest with attendees,” David muses.

The two keynote speakers presented an equally robust call to attendees to liven the industry.

Attendees on the first day of the conference.
David Gajdus with Stephen Palmer.

The keynote speakers were Stephen Palmer and John Sanderson.

Stephen Palmer is the Director of Safearth, Australia’s leading earthing specialist. Stephen has expertise in all areas related to earthing, including design, audit and test in sectors including power generation and delivery, heavy industry, mining and rail.

For over 20 years Stephen has investigated and managed the risks associated with earthing, lightning protection and interference. As the leader of an international team of 40 consultants and researchers, his experience extends well beyond his personal practice.

Stephen has delivered formal earthing training for more than a decade and has presented at numerous Australian and international conferences including for the NSW.

John Sanderson spent his life doing theoretical and practical work on power systems. He was Director of the Power System Protection Laboratory of UMIST at the University of Manchester for 15 years. He taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses and supervised approximately 30 PhD and MSc students. He left academia to set up Power Engineering Consultants Plc in 1989.

From an early date, the Company had seven engineers engaged in setting protection relays and doing arc flash, earthing and lightning studies.

“We planned the conference before restrictions were put in place across the world, and we managed to host it once more bans were lifted this year,” concludes David.

This means there are many opportunities for members of very specific engineering industries to connect again.

Check out other upcoming conferences by EIT and IDC

Experience a presentation

Below is a presentation by Dr Matthew Taylor which he presented at the conference. Dr Matthew is the Principal Engineer and Managing Director at Earthing Risk Management.

He spoke on the need for fault current distribution calculations to provide accurate results in earth fault or ‘rise of earth potential’ studies are known.

The technical standards provide equations that can be used to calculate the ground-return component of earth fault current. However, at
complex sites such as power stations, transmission/distribution substations, onshore substation interfaces or battery storage sites, further analysis is
necessary in order to determine the correct distribution of ground-return fault current.

Failure to recognise this can lead to incorrect evaluations with the potential to cause safety hazards and under-size earth conductors or produce
over-engineered solutions, even when accurate modelling software has been used.

This presentation explains the accurate simulation of ground-return fault current within complex earthing systems.

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