E-T-A offers insight into circuit protection tech


E-T-A’s circuit protection technology is proving critical in the integration of electric buses to Australia.

E-T-A offers insight into circuit protection tech
E-T-A's circuit protection technology is helping keep many Australian buses safe

E-T-A Engineering Technology’s systems may not be noticeable to many passengers. It can’t be seen when boarding planes, trains or buses. But inside these vehicles, E-T-A’s technology is protecting circuits and keeping passengers safe before anything can go wrong.

Its circuit breakers monitor circuit performance to pre-emptively protect passengers and operators from malfunctions or breakdowns before they can happen.

"With technology going the way it is, people and manufacturers now want smarter systems," E-T-A managing director Andrew Skaltsounis told ABC. "Our electric systems monitor the wear and tear and run time of circuits so when it comes to maintenance we know when it’s best to check bus parts.

"This is when our smart systems come into it – they monitor how long a circuit has been running through our distribution channels and know when it’s time for maintenance works."

E-T-A’s complex protection systems have a simple goal of catching circuit faults in equipment before it breaks down. If a particular circuit draws more electrical current or amps then it should, E-T-A technology identifies the problem and notifies the bus operator or manufacturer to check particular section of the circuit.

It’s this circuit insight that makes E-T-A a well-known direct industry supplier of circuit breakers and circuit protection. The company also indirectly provides systems for many vehicles that hit Australian shores, both before and after manufacturing. Along with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Volgren, Volvo and Kenworth, E-T-A also works with major harness manufacturers to install circuit protection technology for bus companies while they are being built.

This variety of installation processes and clients means it can be difficult for E-T-A managing director Andrew Skaltsounis to keep track of which vehicles have E-T-A’s technology sitting inside it.

"We work with buses that have been built in Australia and those that get imported," Skaltsounis says. "Some of our devices go into a bus harness during production or after manufacturing, so we don’t always know who the end client is."

E-T-A supplies its bus circuit breaker technology to companies all over the world, including China, where it decks out new electric buses with its latest circuit protection designs. But in Australia, Skaltsounis says E-T-A’s systems have to be flexible enough to be inserted as an additional feature into bus chassis that have already been manufactured before hitting Australian shores. Because many bus manufacturers import chassis, E-T-A’s technology is often included in post-manufacturing with Australian-specific add-ons like unique ticketing systems and components to specifically protect the nation’s bus fleets.

E-T-A has adapted its circuit breaker technology to ensure the new wave of electric fleets are kept safe. Its technology is no longer solely based around protection. Skaltsounis says E-T-A’s circuit breakers now both safeguard and monitor circuits that run higher voltages for electric batteries. This technology becomes vital to the safe running of electric buses because it can prevent malfunctions or breakdowns by closely monitoring circuits and safeguarding them from danger. E-T-A is confident it has adapted to ensure circuits on board electric buses are checked and protected to keep passengers safe.

"Back when we started, we used to have to wait until circuits tripped, and break downs happened, before we started any maintenance work," Skaltsounis says. "But now we provide monitoring systems that say when people need to look at their circuits – it’s more preventative maintenance nowadays.

"Our designs all come from the ability to get information from our smarter distribution systems on bus currents."

Other E-T-A products that support electric buses include power distribution systems that control and convey bus information in real-time to keep vehicle circuits safe. For new designs like the SCS200 Intelligent Power Distribution System, E-T-A is constantly talking to clients to add more features onto the circuit protection technology.

"We are continually improving these new electric bus systems and introducing new firmware to make them more intelligent," Skaltsounis says. "As clients look for more features to protect electric buses, we are improving our technology steadily."

E-T-A isn’t new to the circuit protection industry. Since 1948 the family company has specialised in circuit breakers and protection for equipment. Skaltsounis says E-T-A focuses on more than just safeguarding circuits on buses. The company has a large industry offering, all focused on protecting lives.

"We specialise in protecting circuit breakers on all sorts of equipment," Skaltsounis says. "We guard equipment that people use, whether that be vehicles, telecoms or medical appliances like X-ray machines.

"We’re in a very wide range of industries. You’ll find our equipment in a lot of safety panels where we protect pieces of equipment rather than a whole circuit board."

Skaltsounis says E-T-A has four major divisions it makes circuit breakers for. One of these is transport, which has quickly become a popular sector for the company. This year E-T-A will be at its first Australasia Bus & Coach Expo. With E-T-A’s circuit protection technology featuring on so many Australian buses, Skaltsounis says now is the time for the company to become a prominent part of safety conversations in the bus industry.

"We want to raise our profile a bit more," Skaltsounis says. "Even though we’ve been in the bus industry for a long time, we only feel now that we offer something unique.

"When it comes to new systems and electronic distribution technology with our designs on them, we believe our products are very beneficial for many bus manufacturers."

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