Comcast unveils SmartOffice video surveillance solution for businesses

first_imgComcast Cable,Vermont Business Magazine Comcast Business(link is external) today announced the availability of SmartOffice(link is external), a video surveillance solution designed to improve efficiency for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) through advanced monitoring. With SmartOffice, SMBs can record, store, access, and share surveillance video on a 24×7 basis to oversee their organization. It provides secure cloud storage and instant access via mobile devices, and is professionally installed by Comcast Business and backed with 24×7 customer support.SmartOffice is available now in selected markets, including Vermont, with plans for future expansion throughout the Comcast service areas. It provides powerful, easy-to-use video surveillance to a wide range of companies and industries that require video images to be continually recorded in order to monitor customers, employees or other third parties on the business premises. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan credits Comcast’s SmartOffice for much of the success of Project Green Light, the real-time crime fighting program that relies on high-definition video feeds from nearly 120 partnering businesses.  “Without the complete video technology system Comcast provides, Project Green Light would not be the success it is today,” said Mayor Duggan. “Because business owners know they can get everything they need from one provider to meet the requirements of the program, enrollment is growing at a rapid pace, and we are seeing improvement across the city.”SmartOffice delivers advanced video capabilities and support to SMBs, including:Crystal clear images – Commercial-grade, 720p HD surveillance cameras provide clear images able to capture details with flexible zoom, wide view, and powerful night vision capabilities.Secure cloud storage – Up to 30 days of video can be stored, and permissions can be given to up to four employees to securely access and retrieve footage.Instant mobile access – Live or recorded footage can be accessed via smart phones or tablets with the SmartOffice Mobile App, or from a desktop.No large capital outlay – The first camera is included with the service, and additional cameras are available for a monthly charge.“The growing trend for building ‘Smart Cities’ will lead to the rise of connected devices across the private and public sectors, and our SmartOffice solution can provide video surveillance to organizations that want to monitor their locations more closely,” said Christian Nascimento, executive director of premise services at Comcast Business. “This new service aligns well with our high-capacity internet and Ethernet offerings and allow SMBs to use the cloud for easy access to, and sharing of, video footage, which can benefit a business in many ways.”As part of the installation process, experienced Comcast Business technicians will work with SMBs to identify critical areas at their location where video monitoring is appropriate, and all camera maintenance, repairs and replacements will be provided by Comcast.About Comcast BusinessComcast Business offers Ethernet, Internet, Wi-Fi, Voice, TV and Managed Enterprise Solutions to help organizations of all sizes transform their business. Powered by an advanced network, and backed by 24/7 customer support, Comcast Business is one of the largest contributors to the growth of Comcast Cable. Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses and has emerged as a force in the Enterprise market; recognized over the last two years by leading industry associations as one of the fastest growing providers of Ethernet services.About Comcast CableComcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company. Visit is external) for more information.Source: Comcast 3.23.2017 is external)last_img read more

ATEC, Australia’s Triathlon Endurance and Cycling Show, cancelled for 2017

first_img Related ATEC, Australia’s Triathlon Endurance and Cycling Show, which was due to go ahead at a new venue at the Royal Halls of Industries, Sydney, in September, has been cancelled.A spokesperson for the show said, “Due to lack of market & industry support it’s regrettably decided to not run this year’s ATEC Show on 9-10 September 2017. We believe it to be in the interest of all partners, visitors, our exhibitors and other supporters, as we are not confident in delivering a valuable experience for all parties. We would like to thank all of our valuable partners, exhibitors, speakers and ambassadors for supporting the ATEC Show over the past few years. All the help in growing and promoting the show is very much appreciated. All exhibitors and visitors will receive a full refund and we are currently considering our future plans.”All visitors who have purchased a ticket to the ATEC Show on 9-10 September 2017 will receive a full refund from the show’s registration partner. Starting from Monday 14 August 2017, visitors received more information on the process of receiving their refunds. For exhibitors who had signed up to participate, any payments made by exhibitors for the 2017 show will be fully-refunded. The show’s customer service team will be handling all refunds, and is getting in touch with all exhibitors to confirm all details.Owned and operated by Informa Australia, ATEC is positioned as Australia’s premier event celebrating the endurance lifestyle… ‘ATEC attracts thousands of cyclists, runners, swimmers, triathletes and endurance sports enthusiasts to interact with latest product innovations from leading brands; learn from industry influencers and inspiring athletes; and take part in the many interactive and entertainment opportunities of the show.’ read more

Enduro performance and XC efficiency in new Vittoria Agarro Trail Tyre

first_imgThe new Agarro trail tyre from Vittoria has a tread profile that ‘gives considerably more grip than an XC tyre, but with less bulk than an Enduro tread.’By borrowing the traits from its popular Martello, Barzo, and Gato models, the Vittoria Agarro seeks to utilize technologies from both the Enduro and XC categories. This combination of performance is seen to be ideal for the trail category, as it ‘provides predictable grip and efficiency in a mix of conditions.’Four separate Graphene 2.0 compounds further enhance the Agarro performance. These are applied in Vittoria’s exclusive 4C layering process. The company adds that this compound technology allows the Agarro to deliver confidence inspiring cornering traction and climbing grip, while returning longevity, durability, and low rolling-resistance.With an MSRP of €62.95, the Agarro will be available in 4 variations:27.5 x 2.3529 x 2.3527.5 x 2.629 x Relatedlast_img read more

Supreme Court takes up lawyers’ Web sites

first_imgSupreme Court takes up lawyers’ Web sites February 1, 2009 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Supreme Court takes up lawyers’ Web sites Senior EditorBar member Tim Chinaris went to the Supreme Court on January 6 to make a simple request, as the justices considered Florida Bar-proposed advertising rule amendments on attorney and law firm Web sites.Chinaris, who served on the committee that drafted the Web site rule, wanted a minor change in the committee’s proposal. But during oral arguments on the suggested changes to Rule 4-7.6, justices used Chinaris’ scheduled time to continue a spirited questioning on whether the pending rule goes far enough.Questions raised by the justices included whether Web sites should be treated differently from other forms of advertising and whether attorneys, as they do for trust fund rules, should acknowledge on their annual Bar membership fee statements verifying that their Web sites conform to Bar rules.The Web site rule started with the Advertising Task Force 2004, which submitted amendments for most of the advertising rules in 2006. But because of the complexities in dealing with the Internet, the Bar set up the Special Committee on Website Advertising Rules, chaired by board member Chobee Ebbets of Daytona Beach.That committee made its recommendations to the Board of Governors in 2007. The board in turn submitted those recommendations to the court last February.Ebbets told the court the board was proposing that with lawyer Web sites, the home page, or first page of the site, be required to follow all Bar advertising regulations. But other “internal” pages on the site would have to follow more relaxed rules for information provided by a law firm at the request of a prospective client.That would mean lawyers can use testimonials, refer to past case results, and describe the quality of their legal services — items that are prohibited in other types of ads (but not in information provided at the request of a prospective client). Many, if not most, attorney Web sites already include such information. However, lawyers who refer to past cases or use testimonials would have to provide a disclaimer that the underlying facts of those cases might differ from those of the reader. They also would be bound, Ebbets said, by general Bar rules that prohibit attorneys from engaging in any conduct that is false, misleading, or deceptive.The Bar’s reasoning is that home pages may be accessed incidentally or accidentally by viewers, as are Yellow Pages or electronic ads, Ebbets said. But if a viewer proceeds to the inside of the site, that step is similar to requesting additional information about a lawyer or firm, because the viewer has taken an affirmative action.“Our proposal is a unique look at trying to treat the home page as the place where people first have access and then treating the rest of the Web site as information on request,” Ebbets said. Unlike other ads, Bar members would not have to pay a fee and submit home pages or the inside Web pages to the Bar for review.But several justices expressed skepticism about whether the proposed rule goes far enough.“Why in a situation where the potential client is getting even more information, why do you believe there should be no submittal to the Bar and we’re letting even more information in?” Chief Justice Peggy Quince asked. Noting that inside pages could include testimonials, past results, and characterizations on the quality of services, she added, “You don’t even think it is feasible to see those before they are put on a Web site?”“The answer is, if we did, we would have to ask literally 30,000 or 40,000 lawyers. . . to submit a portion of their Web site,” Ebbets replied. “A Web site is not just one page. It can be tens or hundreds of pages behind it (the home page). . . so theoretically with large law firms, with many lawyers with many biographies. . . it could be unlimited information. It’s countless hours for reviewing one Web site.. . . It would be physically impossible.”But Justice Fred Lewis questioned that reasoning. “To say the reason for it is we can’t do it, to me that is not a legal, sound, thoughtful reason,” he said.Lewis also asked whether lawyers could be required to sign on their annual fee statements swearing that their Web sites follow Bar advertising rules. But Justice Charlie Wells noted that many lawyers now do not sign the required statement on the fee forms verifying that their trust accounts conform to Bar rules.Justice Barbara Pariente picked up on that idea, saying “This way it’s not a submission of 40,000 [Web sites] a year [for review], but then when there are complaints you have where they swear they have been acting appropriately and you have their affirmative obligation.”Ebbets said the committee considered that option, but was concerned it could lead to a laundry list on the fee form asking lawyers to confirm they are in compliance with various rules.Pariente also inquired whether the committee tried to quantify any public harm resulting from lawyer Web sites.“Did you take any testimony about the public harm of any of these thousands of Web sites?” the justice asked. “Did you do public testimony so we would know if these Web sites are used in a responsible way, basically by people who are looking for a lawyer?”The committee did not specifically address that issue, Ebbets replied, but did invite public testimony.Justices also noted that the Bar’s Citizens Forum had recommended treating Web sites like other lawyer ads, but Ebbets said the committee and the Board of Governors eventually concluded that was unenforceable, even if lawyers were exempted from submitting copies of their sites for Bar review. He also argued that rules are tailored for various types of advertising mediums. Requirements for direct mail are different from those for Yellow Pages which are different from those for electronic ads, he said.When Chinaris got to the podium, he barely explained who he was — including that he had served on the committee — when justices began peppering him with questions. He found himself reiterating many of Ebbets’ points, especially on the differences between Web and other ads.“On TV, you are sitting there watching a football game and a lawyer commercial comes on. Here you would go to a lawyer’s Web page and then click affirmatively to see more information. There is an element of request, and traditionally you have treated information upon request as outside the scope of a lot of the technical advertising requirements,” Chinaris said. “With respect to the Citizens Forum, they seem to want this treated as every other type of advertising. If you look at other types of advertising, they’re not all treated the same either. Their own unique aspects are recognized and identified in the rules. For instance, direct mail has its own rules.”As his time expired, Chinaris did manage to make a pitch for one minor change to the Bar’s proposal. Its revised rule would not require lawyers on their Web sites to list all jurisdictions where they are licensed to practice. Chinaris said that should be retained because it provides valuable information to potential clients.last_img read more

World beater

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Hal Hartley, Long Island Existentialist

first_imgParis, 1992, and banners over the Boulevard Saint-Germain announce the “Hal Hartley Festival du Cinéma,” featuring his early films such as “The Unbelievable Truth” (1989) and “Trust” (1990). Hartley was already a New York art house and film festival cult figure, but who knew that this Long Island-based filmmaker had been adopted by the most passionate French cinéastes as one of their own? Watching Hartley’s deadpan, humorously listless dialogue reproduced in French subtitles to Gallic murmurs of audience delight, one realized his quirky screenplays are being recognized by the newest of New Wavists as true avatars of l’Existentialisme.Tip: today you can experience that same frisson of erudite discovery by streaming one of these engaging films (not easy to find, but see below), turning on the closed caption button for (albeit English) subtitles, and absorbing the faux-melodramatic dialogue by eye as well as ear. Enjoy it maybe with a shot of Pernod, but definitely a can of Rheingold beer on the side. After all, these films take place in faceless neighborhoods adjacent to the ubiquitous LIRR viaduct.Hartley is a Long Island-raised director/screenwriter, a true auteur. His ironic personal style infuses almost 20 films, and has had an influential impact on a generation of later independent directors. Especially in his early films, his characteristic, punkish sense of anomy is reinforced by his local settings of choice, in this case his native Lindenhurst, a working-class community — “fly-over country,” as described by a snobby Hamptons/Manhattan acquaintance. But you could be in any anonymous venue —Jim Jarmusch’s highway exurbs (“Stranger than Paradise”) or Antonioni’s industrial wastelands (“Red Desert”).What really sets Hartley apart are not only his idiosyncratic screenplays but the talented casts he assembles to bring his characters to life. As a prime example, Adrienne Shelly, the fresh-faced young actress whose blank readings of extremely funny dialogue earned her a place in many future Hartley ventures, eventually became a filmmaker in her own right. (In 2006, she was tragically murdered by a burglar in her Manhattan apartment, right before her final directed film “Waitress” opened to critical acclaim).In “The Unbelievable Truth,” Shelly plays Audrey, a young girl who spends her time arguing with her auto-mechanic father (Chris Cooke, in a memorably spluttering performance) about whether to apply to Harvard or pursue her obsessive anti-nuclear advocacy. (She eventually takes a job as a fashion model.) Spurning her various loutish school and neighborhood companions, she falls in with Josh (Robert Burke), a lanky, taciturn, mysterious drifter who hitchhikes into town. He has recently been released from prison, an admission that makes it hard to get rides. Dressed in black (a running joke: “Are you a priest?” “No, I’m a mechanic”), he takes a job in Audrey’s father’s auto shop, where they meet and develop an offbeat friendship.Josh was implicated in a local killing years before, but in spite of this murky past, he falls back in with his old crowd (“Things happen. People make mistakes.”) One of his old friends, a loose local waitress (Edie Falco, in her pre-Carmela Soprano days) tries to ignite a liaison, but is rebuffed. John is a loner and celibate. But “The Unbelievable Truth,” it turns out, is that Josh was not guilty, much to the relief of Audrey and the confusion of her neighbors.“Trust,” the follow-up film produced the next year, takes its title from an incident in which Maria (Shelly again) does a spontaneous, unexpected back flip off a six-foot concrete wall into the arms of her astonished, but luckily alert boyfriend, just to prove her point that the mark of a true relationship is whether you trust each other, especially in unexpected circumstances.As this second film begins, she announces to her parents that she is quitting high school to get married, and by the way, she is pregnant. This news catapults her father into cardiac arrest, and her mother kicks her out of the house. From this point on, the film becomes an absurdist soap opera, peopled by Maria’s strange friends and family: her football player boyfriend who jilts her on learning of her pregnancy (it will conflict with his non-existent future NFL career), her bored divorced sister (Edie Falco again), her seriously depressed and manipulative mother, but especially Matthew, another tall, black-dressed stranger (this time Martin Donovan), a mop-haired mechanical genius whose perfectionism and anti-establishment obsessions prevent him from leading a normal life.Matthew lives with his tyrannical father (“Clean that toilet again!”), a weirdly comedic turn by John McKay that turns nasty. Matthew’s and Maria’s odyssey (after he unsuccessfully proposes marriage to give her unborn child a chance) goes in weird circles and ends up more or less where it started, with the entire cast (untrustworthy to the core) negatively illustrating the title theme, and Maria helplessly watching the ever-neurotic Matthew shipped off to an asylum.The production values in these early Hartley films are surprisingly high given the shoestring budgets with which they were made. (The first film was initially financed with a $6000 computer equipment loan.) The cinematography in each film, by John Stiller, a SUNY Purchase film classmate of Hartley’s, is spare, washed-out, and deliberate — in other words, a perfect match to the screenplay. The similar soundtracks (by Jim Coleman and Philip Reed), featuring unexpected crescendos and diminuendos, also match the punk-like mood of the stories.Maybe not for everyone, but who knows? For the viewer who will revel in the beneath-the-boredom dialogue, the deadpan acting styles, the knowing afternoon TV serial cheesiness of the script, Hartley’s films are an addictive treat that will leave you searching for more examples. And for the existentialists among us, Hartley’s French enthusiasts had discovered something: an absurdist vision of middle-class Long Island that is an American version of Sartre —No Exit, indeed.Streaming is a periodic look at classic films, available on home networks and apps. “The Unbelievable Truth” and “Trust” are currently available on Amazon, iTunes, and TUBI. Sharelast_img read more

Norway: December Oil Production Misses Target

first_imgThe Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has announced that preliminary production figures for December 2013 indicate an average daily production of about 1 916 000 barrels of oil, NGL and condensate. This is 12 000 barrels per day (about 0.7 percent) more than in November 2013. Total gas sales were about 10.2 billion Sm3, which is 0,8 GSm3 more than the previous month.The average daily liquid production in December was: 1 543 000 barrels of oil, 305 000 barrels of NGL and 68 000 barrels of condensate. The oil production is 2 percent below the NPD’s prognosis for December and 4 percent below the oil production in December last year.The following fields had reduced production in December due to technical problems/repair work: Draugen, Heidrun, Norne, Skarv and Skuld.The oil production in 2013 was according to the NPD’s prognosis from January, and a high production the last months is supporting the prognosis for this year, which indicate an increase in oil production for the first time in many years says Jan Bygdevoll, Director for prognoses at the NPD.The total petroleum production in 2013 was about 215.2 million standard cubic meters oil equivalents. (MSm3 o.e.), broken down as follows: about 84.9 MSm3 o.e. of oil, about 21.6 MSm3 o.e. of NGL and condensate and about 108.8 MSm3 o.e. of gas for sale. The total oil volume was 4.3 MSm3 o.e., about 5 percent less than in 2012.Final production figures from November 2013 show an average daily production of about 1.542 million barrels of oil, 0.362 million barrels of NGL and condensate and a total of 9.4 billion Sm3 saleable gas production.[mappress]Press Release, January 16, 2014last_img read more

Two Die in Scaffolding Collapse at Brazilian Oil Terminal

first_imgTwo workers drowned yesterday after a part of a pier at a Brazilian oil terminal operated by Petrobras gave way and the scaffolding they were tied to collapsed into the sea, Brazil’s union of petroleum workers reports.The workers identified as Alex Vieira Ribeiro (39), and Oseias Damasceno Soares (27), were erecting the scaffolding at Transpetro’s Barra do Riacho Terminal in the city of Aracruz, Espirito Santo, when the concrete at the pier gave way and the scaffolding slipped into the sea.The lifeless bodies of the two workers were pulled out of the water, reportedly by their colleagues, with emergency crews arriving to the scene a whole one hour later, according to the union representative FUP.The workers tied themselves to the scaffolding with safety belts, although the work authorizations recommended the use of life jackets only.The two men worked for Transpetro’s contractor – Espiral Engenharia. Transpetro has launched an investigation into the accident.World Maritime News Staff; Image: Petrobraslast_img read more

Covid-19: How one month changed everything for global demolition

first_imgThe changes brought about by the global effects of Covid-19 happened almost too quickly for the demolition industry to take them in. This article explores how March 2020 unfolded.Very few – if any – Americans are unaware of “March Madness”.It is the term used to describe the frenzy of action that concludes the college basketball season, attracting more than 60 teams in the process.During the 2019 National Demolition Association (NDA) Convention and Expo in Colorado, anyone spending their downtime in the sports bar of the Gaylord Rockies hotel, with its 22 m (75 ft) television screen, would have been hard pressed to avoid the action however hard they tried.Fast forward almost a year to the NDA’s latest event, Demolition Austin, which started on February 22.Demolition Austin – the last event before Covid-19 went global History, or at least history viewed solely from a demolition perspective, will record Demolition Austin as the industry’s last event before Coronavirus became a global issue.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*# ConExpo started as planned on March 10 but the Coronavirus situation in the USA changed rapidly during the weekDespite some distinctly un-Las Vegas like weather, causing unexpected pre-show mopping up operations on some of the many outdoor stands, ConExpo was off and running. It looked, as far as possible, business as usual.And, as far as possible, it was. Not all the planned press conferences and product launches went ahead, but enough of them did. The previously unasked question of “How is the Coronavirus affecting your global supply chain?” became a fixture, particularly to companies with manufacturing operations in China,.Then, as the week went on, Coronavirus cases were reported in Clark County, the area of Las Vegas that included the host venue of ConExpo. President Trump banned travel to and from Europe (apart from the United Kingdom and Ireland).In the event, ConExpo finished a day earlier than scheduled. Within a week, the US government was considering a $2 trillion economic stimulus package for its depleted construction industry.Europe considers its options as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens Back in Europe, the picture was even worse, with Italy, France and Spain all suffering desperately.By March 23, in the week when Italy’s Samoter exhibition should have been taking place, the Finnish Demolition Association reported on its website that the European Demolition Association set for Belgrade, Serbia in June had also been postponed.Official confirmation followed in April; other construction, demolition and recycling shows set for the coming months such as Hillhead in the United Kingdom and the German events IFAT and Steinexpo would suffer the same fate.At contractor level, site closures followed rapidly. In Britain, Cawarden was forced to close down the latest stage of a major project in the English midlands on behalf of retailer Debenhams; the Carey Group, parent organisation of Scudder Demolition, locked up its sites, like many of its contemporaries, in the interests of employee safety..Covid-19 factor kicks in as financial results announced As 2020 entered its second quarter, the financial impact of Covid-19 on manufacturers was already obvious.Metso, less than a year on from some high-profile acquisitions as it pursued an international growth strategy, found itself obliged to withdraw the financial outlook for 2020 that it had issued as recently as February. Wacker Neuson did likewise.Volvo Construction Equipment reported a 17% drop in global sales with all sectors apart from South America affected.As 2020 entered its second quarter, In the US, the government pushed through its Coronavirus relief measures as the country’s Associated General Contractors body reported a collapse in demand since February.Having battled for essential industry status and lobbied for government help for its 500-strong membership, an NDA survey found almost three-quarters of respondents suffered a work stoppage due to Coronavirus, with social distancing and remote working for office staff mandatory elsewhere.Trade association lobbbying and Coronavirus relief measuresIt is tempting – some might even say essential – to look for plus points and consolations among the chaos. Perhaps the major silver lining for demolition and recycling companies is that wherever they are in the world they are not alone.During the month of March, the European Demolition Association joined with more than a dozen similar organisations representing other parts of the continent’s construction industry across to start a debate aimed at achieving a meaningful intervention from the European Union and member states.In Britain, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors put a range of resources online for its members and made a particular point of encouraging those members and their families to look after their mental health during the weeks and months that lay ahead.And in North America, the NDA contacted President Trump directly to make sure that the hardship being suffered by its membership during the sudden shutdown was noticed in the corridors of power.Demolition New Orleans – how will the industry look in 2021? The 2021 NDA Convention and Expo is set for New Orleans from March 4 to 7.Later that same month, March Madness – which never happened this year as it became another in the long list of events that just could not go ahead – is scheduled to take place, its interest and excitement levels heightened by its 2020 sabbatical.If it does, it will be a sign of a sense of normality.It could be the “normal” we took for granted in late 2019 and the early weeks of this year.It might be a new and different norm as the demoltion industry – and society in general – emerges from its trauma.Time, as they say, will tell.Article first published in the April-May issue of Demolition & Recycling International Demolition Austin delegates outdoors at the NDA’s Live Demo event during the Convention and Expo, Feburary 23, 2020By the end of March, the world was facing a very different kind of madness. A BBC news report using data from Johns Hopkins University said that on April 2, only 18 countries worldwide were free of the virus, and they included seven of the 10 least-visited places on the planet.When NDA president Chris Godek cut the ribbon to perform the convention’s official opening, Covid-19’s major disruptive effects appeared to be to Chinese New Year celebrations.Few of those present at the Sunday Live Demo event, those viewing the indoor exhibits during the next two days, even those competing fiercely in the expo’s typically Texan Corn Hole Challenge, appeared to show any obvious awareness of it.The NDA concluded its annual gathering on February 25, with its traditional last night banquet.Three days later, the Deutscher Abbruchverband (German Demolition Association) started its yearly event in Berlin.But a characteristically comprehensive conference programme was missing an Italian speaker, who had been unable to travel due to the virus having spread to Italy, and the running order was rearranged as a result.Big name withdrawals – but ConExpo goes ahead  That weekend, preparations were already underway for ConExpo, which was due to open on Tuesday March 10.The event had some significant momentum behind it. In mid-January it reported the largest number of advance registrations ever for a single week, and publicity suggested it was heading for a series of new records – 241,500 sq m (2.6 million sq ft) of space; a connected campus of the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearby Festival Grounds.The event’s organiser, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) said: “A sizeable international attendance is expected from an estimated 130 countries.”In exhibition terms, it was a classic case of “build it, and they will come.”Then, just days before the show, Volvo Construction Equipment pulled out of the event.The announcement was arguably a shock even to the company itself – it was so close to the start of the event that the Volvo exhibits already in place could not be moved. Instead they stayed in situ for the duration. With no Volvo employees allowed to travel, the booth was manned by “locally hired independent staff”.Further withdrawals followed – Stanley Infrastructure, which includes the LaBounty demolition equipment brand, announced its non-attendance, as did Germany-based compact equipment supplier Wacker Neuson – but with 24 hours to go, the AEM was still bullish.Of the cancellations, only five had been from companies with floorspace of greater than 185 sq m (2,000 sq ft). Only 2.5% of the total sold space had been affected, while it had even been possible to resell some of the newly vacated slots.All eyes on Las Vegas Convention Center On the morning of March 10, ConExpo began on schedule. In the early hours leading up to the start, the local television news channel positioned a reporter at the site, who went on to confirm the 120,000 expected visitors and the small number of cancellations.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#last_img read more

Power supply upgrade highlights the pitfalls of fragmentation

first_imgINTRO: Work is now in progress at over 200 sites across southeast England to upgrade the 750V DC power supply for EMUs being introduced by three operators, but many vehicles are likely to remain in store beyond the deadline for withdrawal of older stock. Roger Ford explains how this mismatch between infrastructure enhancement and train deliveries is a direct result of the fragmentation of Britain’s rail network brought about by privatisationTHE STRENGHTHENING OF the traction power supply on Network Rail’s Southern Region is claimed to be Europe’s largest ongoing electrical engineering project. Work is in progress to meet the higher demands of electric multiple-units now being delivered by Bombardier and Siemens, but it is unlikely to be completed in time for all the new trains to enter service at the start of next year. A deadline of December 31 2004 has been set by law for the withdrawal of the slam-door MkI EMUs they are to replace, but up to 400 new vehicles are now expected to remain in storage well into 2005.In contrast, the simultaneous introduction of Networker EMUs equipped with three-phase drives on Kent suburban services and the arrival of Eurostar trainsets and Class 92 freight locomotives on routes to the Channel Tunnel saw British Rail undertake in the early 1990s significant upgrading of existing 750V DC traction power supply systems. The Channel Tunnel routes alone required the conversion of 32 existing track paralleling huts to substations. Eight new 33 kV feeders from the national electricity supply network were installed and over 200 DC circuit-breakers were uprated and fitted with improved protection. Such integration between new trains and power supplies was normal practice until Railtrack took over responsibility for Britain’s railway infrastructure on April 1 1994.Lack of oversightBR’s Networker programme had been intended to meet one of the principal recommendations made by Sir Anthony Hidden’s inquiry into the train collision at Clapham Junction on December 12 1988 that killed 35 people and left 69 seriously injured. The inquiry report assumed that all MkI rolling stock similar to that involved in the accident would be withdrawn by January 2000, but this was overlooked when the process of awarding franchises to operate passenger services began in 1995.Only after Train Operating Companies had started to pass into the private sector did the Health & Safety Executive intervene, proposing a new deadline for withdrawal of 2007. This was brought forward to December 31 2004 by the Labour government and made a legal requirement under the Railway Safety Regulations 1999. Around 1950 MkI vehicles were affected by the regulations.Responsibility for ordering replacement stock and notifying Railtrack of any changes needed to the 750V DC power supply lay with the three operators of MkI EMU fleets, South West Trains, South Central and South Eastern. All TOCs have regulated track access agreements with the infrastructure owner, Part F of which covers changes to the types and characteristics of rolling stock operated. Should a change affect the maintenance or operation of the network, or the operation of trains, a TOC must notify the infrastructure owner and could be liable for meeting any resulting costs.From BR’s experience with the Networker programme, it was clear that the new trains being ordered by the three TOCs to replace MkI stock would require changes to the power supply. However, the TOCs assumed that this was Railtrack’s responsibility.To determine the implications for its traction power supply systems by means of computer modelling, Railtrack needed details of the performance characteristics of the new trains. South Eastern could not provide this information until 2001, followed by SWT early in 2002. Later that year South Central was the last to decide which train would replace its MkI fleet. Firm information on future service frequencies was also lacking, as the Thameslink 2000 project to upgrade the cross-London route and associated infrastructure slipped.With these unresolved issues threatening to leave hundreds of new vehicles in store for lack of power, it was clear that the politically-sensitive replacement of MkI stock had to be co-ordinated. In January 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority formed a cross-industry team charged with overseeing the programme for replacing the slam-door trains on the Southern Region, and ensuring that electric power and infrastructure improvements were capable of meeting the deadline of December 31 2004.With Railtrack now in administration, SRA also funded a dedicated project team within the company to be responsible for the Southern Region Power Supply Upgrade (SRPSU). This accelerated infrastructure work, beginning the tendering process for the supply of power equipment in April 2002.In June that year former London Transport Commercial Director David Bailey was appointed by SRA to co-ordinate the overall project, now known as the Southern Region New Trains Programme (SRNTP). In addition to the new trains and power supply upgrade, his remit also covered associated station modifications to accept longer train formations and improvements to rolling stock maintenance depots.Time is (less) moneyOn-going modelling work by SRPSU, plus tenders for electrical work received in October 2002, produced the first cost estimates for the project. In February 2003 the government gave the figure as £915m, subject to further work on scope, scale and cost. By this time, the growing cost of railway projects had become a major political issue in the UK.Against a deadline set by law and with the new trains already in production, the only way to cut the cost of the project was to reduce the scope of the power supply strengthening. In a complex power supply network, this could be done only through an interactive process. Under Project Director Andrew Mitchell, the SRPSU System Design Department produced a revised scope document every six to seven weeks during 2003. Each document detailed the work required at every site and its priority. This was made possible by bringing modelling in-house, using the former BR Vision and OSLO systems.Successive iterations took out what Bailey described as ’a huge amount of scope’ from the original proposition, saving around £200m. This was a multi-dimensional optimisation. ’I am utterly time-driven’, he explained, ’and this has been reflected in my perception of value for money’. On the one hand, repeated iterations of the project scope were still driving down costs, but Bailey had to identify at which stage the savings produced by a further iteration would be less than the financial and political benefits of starting work and getting trains out of storage and into service.This point was reached in December 2003, when the final scope document detailed work needed at 98 substations, 89 high-voltage feeder locations plus 35 areas where DC cabling would be reinforced. Bids for the upgrade work had been received in October 2002 and by March 2003 framework contracts had been signed with suppliers (left).These contracts covered the financial year to March 2004, and provided the basis for joint design and planning of the power upgrade in parallel with the modelling work. Within the contract areas, there are core sections termed Phase 1. These have priority and are due to be commissioned by June this year. They cover the main lines from London to Brighton and Portsmouth plus strengthening of high-voltage supplies for the inner-London suburban network.Missed opportunityPhase 2 completes the work needed for the remaining routes to accept all the new trains. Cost pressures mean that the proposed Phase 3, which would have provided additional capacity for future expansion, has been abandoned. As a result, the nominal current rating will remain at the present 1500A per four-car train. This is considered a missed opportunity by Network Rail and the TOCs, although SRA insiders hope that service experience following completion of the upgrade may allow the rating to be increased to around 1 800A.However, some further strengthening may yet prove necessary. Modelling to define project scope showed that around 50% of the upgrades originally identified were no longer necessary because of either marginal overloads or unlikely combinations of operating conditions.In order to get the new trains into service with minimum delay and at minimum cost, these marginal upgrades are not being implemented. Network Rail and SRA have agreed that when all the MkI replacement EMUs are in service, these locations deemed to be marginal will be monitored for 12 months. Should significant overloading be detected, SRA will fund the necessary strengthening.With Phase 1 work now underway, Mitchell says SRPSU has had to change from a centrally-managed major project to a dispersed ’production line’. He believes ’a lot of people are comfortable with big projects, but that’s not where we need to be now’. Throughout 2004, contractors will be working on between 40 and 50 individual sites at any one time, with activity peaking in the second and third quarters of the year.While the scope was being finalised, procurement had already reached £200m. Four new substations were ordered last year for pilot installations, and this was followed by production orders for all Phase 1 substations, now being delivered. In the inner-London area around 40% of the Phase 1 HV cables have been laid.Up to now the programme has had little impact on passengers, but with around 1600 possessions required to complete Phase 1 alone, minimising service disruption caused by the intensive work programme will be essential. This will be made harder by the fact that the new trains will, initially, be significantly less reliable than the existing stock.Network Rail is confident that the power supply work will be completed this year. Driver training is now emerging as the key constraint, since this takes several months and cannot start until the new trains can run over a route. Current best estimates are that between 300 and 400 MkI vehicles will remain in service beyond the legal deadline, requiring an exemption from the regulations for up to six months.CAPTION: Siemens has installed this new substation to power the Desiro EMU maintenance depot at Northam, with provision to feed the adjacent main line at a later stageTABLE: Associated worksTraction power control systems (SCADA) Transmitton, Westinghouse Rail SystemsImpedance bonds Westinghouse Signals (manufacture and installation), Bombardier Transportation (supply)Cabling Pirelli (HV and pilot cable), APEX Cable (HV, pilot and DC cable)Cable troughing Anderton ConcretePlatform extensions Rail Construction PartnershipDepot modernisation AMEC, Fitzpatrick Construction Partnership, Edmund NuttallTABLE: Framework contractsContract area ContractorInner London SEEBOARD Contracting Services Ltd/ Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Ltd joint ventureKent ABB Ltd/Mowlem Railways consortiumSussex Integrated Utility Services Ltd/ Peterhouse plc (First Projects) JVWessex Siemens Transportation Systems/ AMEC Spie Rail Systems JVCAPTION: Electrostar EMUs are starting to enter service on South Central routes in increasing numbers as power supply upgrades such as the new substation at Hove are completedlast_img read more