September/October 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 5
Not surprisingly, automation of more and more functions across our economy and society is nearly 100 percent reliant on electricity. And the benefits arising from this one automation example (and its enabler the Internet of Things) continue to grow. For instance, manufacturers have access to machines that operate in areas where human hands cannot reach, and they have access to real-time data of “in- process” fabrication. So, as we wrap up this issue, we might reflect on what it really takes to provide the power we will need for an even more electrified world.
Electrification depends on the infrastructure or aggregation of products that generate, transmit, distribute, and convert electricity into various forms of useful work. On their surface, the many product subsectors needed to do the forgoing efficiently and safely are unassuming. Still, like the frame of a building, a subset of these products and systems, which NEMA defines as building infrastructure, enable the proliferation of electricity from the generator (or solar array) to the outlet into which your computer is plugged. And while their names – conduit, connectors, raceways and the like – bespeak their humility, they are nonetheless an essential part of the larger miracle of electricity.
As you might expect, NEMA Members are deeply committed to and involved in ensuring the proper installation of building infrastructure products, most importantly in the development and adoption of national, state, and local codes such as the National Electrical Code® (NEC). Up-to-date codes incorporate best practices from industry and feedback from ongoing experience of products in real-world settings. Step by step, year by year, the products of the electrical world continue to improve and meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. For example, the proliferation of rooftop solar arrays presented a new set of safety and performance challenges that building infrastructure is helping to solve.
How does this translate to everyday life? One might answer with two questions: Why during the onset of COVID were so many businesses able to continue to function with a largely remote workforce? And prospectively, how will they be able to adapt to hybrid working environment? Wires and cables of all types were (and will be) routed in cable trays, connected with cable buses, and organized using cable ties providing both the power and the connectivity to handle the exponential increase in digital traffic. And other devices such as surge protectors installed in appliances and buildings added a layer of reliability against possible damage from unwelcome fluctuations in power.
In the November/December issue of electroindustry Magazine, we will examine more closely these largely unsung building infrastructure products. You may not see them, but around the clock they enable our economy and the promise of modern society. No small accomplishment. ei
Kevin J. Cosgriff
NEMA President and CEO