By Peter Saunders
September 24, 2019 – The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) held its annual show last week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev., featuring a broad swath of the latest technologies and tools for the industry.
As its name would suggest, NECA’s focus is squarely on the U.S. market, but exhibiting companies—numbering nearly 300—presented products of equal interest to Canadian electrical contractors, including many designed to address such industry-wide issues as tight labour markets and an increased emphasis on worker safety. Many of these were featured among the NECA Showstopper Showcase and Awards and some were demonstrated at a product presentation theatre.
The following are some examples from the Showstopper Showcase:
– Ideal Industries’ Twister Proflex wire connector, which the manufacturer says delivers the industry’s widest wire range, along with a 1,000-V rating and flexible skirt.
– Greenlee Tools’ Gator-series insulated battery-powered hydraulic cutting and crimping tools designed to protect electrical and utility workers from shock up to 1,000 V, part of the Emerson professional tools business.
– Leviton’s 250-V, 20-A tamper-resistant single receptacle, which the company claims is the first of its kind on the market, complying with NEC Article 406-2.
– ABB’s Tmax XT Spectra panelboard retrofit kit, designed to extend the useful life of electrical installations, with moulded case breakers to enable circuit protection, communications and predictive maintenance.
– Hilti’s cast-in firestop and opening system for metal deck floors, which prevents the need for a torch for electrical penetrations.
– FLIR’s VT8-1000 voltage, continuity and current tester, with an open-jaw design that fits into tight spaces and can measure large-diameter CAT III and IV cables.
– Arlington Industries’ suspended ceiling grid T-Box for mounting fixtures and fans, which can be positioned at the cross of the T-rails or on the straight away.
– Legrand’s solar charging kit, which allows solar-powered USB ports to be added without the expense of a full construction project.
Elsewhere, Canadian startup Swidget made its NECA debut with a range of modular ‘smart home’ Wi-Fi connectivity power outlets, offering everything from motion detectors, night lights and temperature/humidity sensors to video cameras, white noise and even aromatherapy!
And at the product presentation theatre, Construction Robotics demonstrated its Material Unit Lift Enhancer (MULE), which assists with lifting, handling and placing materials weighing up to 135 lbs at a jobsite, both to reduce workers’ fatigue and injuries and to increase productivity.
Finally, taking perhaps a more traditional approach to reducing worker fatigue, Oxx presented what it call’s ‘the world’s toughest coffee maker.’ The ruggedized Coffeeboxx is compatible with all K-Cup pods, but Oxx offers its own brand, Workhorse Coffee.
As exciting as Las Vegas may be (caffeinated or not), the next NECA Show will be much closer and more convenient for many Canadian contractors to check out, as it will be held at McCormick Place Lakeside Center in Chicago, Ill., from Oct. 3 to 6, 2020.