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The Grid – October 2020

by | Oct 15, 2020

The Grid header



Russell Leonard, CEO

As 2020 progresses, Electro-Mechanical Corporation continues to adapt to new work environments shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the strength and dedication of our coworkers, we’ve been able to consistently produce the top-quality gear needed to keep electricity flowing in businesses and projects throughout North America — to the point that our pad-mounted switchgear product line is currently on track to achieve a record year.

Operating at this capacity during such an unpredictable time is the result of cooperation among all EMC team members. The pandemic has driven us to add new practices that protect the daily well-being of our in-house personnel, and also challenged us to find new ways to collaborate at a distance. When you have hundreds of coworkers on the production floor, plus multiple engineering and production teams building custom equipment for clients around the nation, this can be a challenging process.

We’re grateful for the dedication and commitment of our EMC family. Their resilience and innovative thinking has not only helped us to overcome a number of difficulties this year, it has allowed EMC to thrive. We’re also proud that the delivery of personal attention and quality customer support that our clients have come to expect from us over decades of service has been steady and uninterrupted.

In this issue of The Grid, you’ll read about some of the projects where our pad-mounted switchgear is hard at work, including on a military base in the Azores and in rural communities in Colorado. You’ll also see some of the ways we’ve learned to work together at a distance, developing custom equipment for our clients and saving them the risk and cost of travel during this time. And we’ll introduce you to a few new contact points for our company, including personnel from Agents West, EMR Associates and Lynn Elliott Company.

As always, we are thankful for the positive, long-lasting relationships we share with our clients. Please reach out to us with news or with questions about how we can support your organization.

Distributing Power: Growth Accelerates for Federal Pacific’s Pad-Mounted Switchgear Product Line as Demand Jumps to a New High

Padmount Assembly Area Production Line

Like many industries across the globe, our clients in the power distribution field have formed new purchase patterns and priorities as a result of the pandemic. One area in which Electro-Mechanical Corporation (EMC) has been working diligently to continue to meet those needs is in Federal Pacific’s pad-mounted switchgear product line. As a result of these quick adaptations, this division of EMC is on track to exceed expectations in 2020.

The classic Type PSI/II Air-Insulated Live-Front Pad-Mounted Switchgear and the Type PSE Air-Insulated Dead-Front Pad-Mounted Switchgear together make up a majority of the company’s switchgear business. Each product is appropriate for utility, industrial, military, higher education, correctional, medical and WWT facility customers.

Both products have been instrumental in some of Federal Pacific’s larger projects this year, including pad-mounted switchgear for Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) in Sedalia, Colorado. Federal Pacific has shipped multiple orders of the Type PSE Dead-Front switchgear to IREA throughout 2020.

The PSE switchgear contains an integrated system of fuses and switches with access control features to minimize exposure to high voltage during switching and re-fusing operations. It meets or exceeds all ratings in IEEE C37.74 and is available with a UL® listing for both 15 kV and 25 kV designs. The enclosure provides increased security of fuse and switch components from environmental concerns, along with enhanced isolation of medium-voltage circuits to limit exposure of operating personnel. The PSE includes three-phase, group-operated load-interrupter switches with single-pole, hookstick-operated fuse positions utilizing bushing wells for use with 200-amp load-break elbows. Several common circuit configurations are available in two-, four- and six-compartment designs.

Dead Front PSE Padmount Switchgear Fuse Side

Type PSE Dead-Front Air-Insulated Pad-Mounted Switchgear (fuse side)

“IREA typically orders the 15kv PSE-9 and PSE-11 configurations, which are unique,” said Chris Ambrose, switchgear product manager for EMC. “The PSE-9 has two 600 amp three-phase switch compartments and two three-phase fuse compartments. The PSE-11 has three three-phase switch compartments and one three-phase fuse compartment. An optional feature they request on their switchgear is a continuous solid copper grounding bar, which typically is used for connecting long-term grounding applications, such as concentric neutrals or static bleed-off leads, or for attaching personal protective grounding while working on the switchgear.

“The feedback we’ve received from IREA about our switchgear products is very positive,” Ambrose said. “Their operations personnel say they prefer our product over our competition, and that we are highly responsive to their needs and requests. They are longtime customers who continue to request switchgear from us for both new construction and replacement projects.”

The Type PSE Dead-Front switchgear was also requested in another large project this year, with several dozen units shipped in August to a correctional facility in the western U.S. An optional feature required by the customer for this project was a hinged-roof design.

“The PSE offers many standard options, but it — and all of our switchgear — is available with numerous non-standard options,” said Dovia Osborne, EMC’s sales & application engineering manager (pad-mount). “Various customers have additional requests, such as the hinged-roof design for the correctional facility or the solid copper grounding bar for IREA. Approximately 80% of our standard switchgear orders require non-standard or customer-specific options.

“We are able to fulfill those unique customer requests because we can engineer designs to customer requirements when they ask us to do so for their specific projects,” Osborne said. “Often, we’ll land a second project with a new customer because of this customization, along with their satisfaction with the first project.”

“If you look down our production list and see something that doesn’t have any additional digits (indicating optional features), that’s somewhat unusual,” Ambrose said.

Padmount Assembly Associate inspecting unit prior to final test

Pad-mount assembly associate inspecting unit prior to final test

Test Associates performing final test procedures on dead front padmount unit

Test associates performing final test procedures on dead-front pad-mounted unit

The Type PSI/II Live-Front switchgear is the other major pad-mounted design for Federal Pacific. Designed with two-, four- and six-compartment switching configurations, the PSI/II provides solutions for radial feed, loop feed and manual primary-selector applications, with a UL® listing available for 15 kV and 25 kV design. The PSI/II design includes three-pole, group-operated load-interrupter switches, three-phase sets of single-pole fuses and/or solid bus taps. Special configurations and designs are available upon request.

The three-time fault-close ratings, along with the laboratory and field-proven Auto-jet® system used in both the PSI/II live-front and PSE dead-front switchgear, can solve high fault-current issues near the substations or distributed generation facilities, mid-point and tie-point switching applications, as well as more typical distribution fault-current requirements. Current ratings to 1200A continuous in 15kV applications and 900A continuous in 25kV applications are available.

Live Front PSIII Padmount Switchgear Switch Side

Type PSI/II Live-Front Air-Insulated Pad-Mounted Switchgear (switch side)

The PSI/II design was specified for a large project shipped in August to Lajes Air Base on Terceira Island off the coast of Portugal in the Azores.

“Multiple different types of units were ordered,” Ambrose said. “They requested several options, including base spacers, stainless steel enclosures and numerous others. It was not a standard project.”

“Our military customers often have different specifications and request distinct options,” Osborne said. “We offer an entire gamut of specialized solutions from which to choose. They don’t normally request stainless steel, however, because it’s usually not required. In this case, stainless steel enclosures were needed since the units will be installed in a coastal area.”

“Special paint colors for military bases are commonly requested options,” Ambrose said. “We supply switchgear units to bases in parts of the Middle East, where it can be exceptionally hot and dry, to Alaska, where it can reach 40 degrees below zero. The Azores is a very different climate from either of those extreme environments.”

Lajes Air Base has already placed another order with Federal Pacific for a new project utilizing similar switchgear, and is also interested in the dead-front PSE for new construction.

Another top performer in Federal Pacific’s switchgear product line is the Type PMDF Primary Metering Pad-Mounted Switchgear. Applicable for utility, military, university and correctional facility users, these three-phase primary metering cabinets meet applicable industry standards, including ANSI 386 and IEEE C57.12.28, and are available in ratings of 15kV through 35kV. The design can accommodate several different types of current and potential transformers, providing a weather-protected, tamper-resistant enclosure for revenue metering at primary voltages on underground cable systems. The PMDF termination compartment features a dead-front steel barrier, typically with six or nine Federal Pacific 200-amp bushing wells accommodating load-break inserts and elbows for radial or loop configurations, respectively. Optional 600-amp bushings are also available.

“We sell quite a few of the 15kV and 25kV PMDF’s, but many customers don’t realize we can also provide metering solutions at the 35kV level,” Ambrose said. “It’s more of a specialty market, but we have a huge share of it.”

“Our application engineering and design teams are able to work together to develop more flexible designs for our customers, and this project is an example of that,” Osborne said. “Supplying conventional products, such as what utilities use all the time, is our base business, but we have so many different projects requiring customized design for numerous customers.”

As EMC’s teams prepare for the culture, technology, science and health revolutions that are expected for 2021, they are exploring new ways to transform work habits, customer service, delivery and manufactured products across all divisions. Along with adaptability, customers continuously cite Federal Pacific’s reliability and responsiveness as key factors in meeting their needs, and repeatedly turn to the company for their pad-mounted switchgear requirements because of these long-standing qualities.

Click here or call 276.669.4084 for more information about Federal Pacific’s pad-mounted switchgear product line.

Padmount Assembly Area Production Line
Padmount Assembly Area Production Line

COVID-19 Impact:
How Electro-Mechanical’s Engineers 
Are Designing and Innovating Remotely

It’s a well-known fact that the COVID pandemic has brought about an enormous shift in the ways that companies are conducting business in 2020. Two of the biggest challenges have been equipping coworkers to continue working safely and minimizing disruption for customers. That’s a tall order for many companies, especially those for whom onsite product design planning is critical in meeting the needs of their customers.

Despite these challenges, Electro-Mechanical Corporation has successfully navigated the shift in numerous areas of business, adapting to new technologies and alternative ways of internal and external collaboration, while adhering to original project timelines with on-time product delivery and minimal impact to customers.

“While our electrical and mechanical teams do two different things, prior to COVID, they would merge together to produce ultimate design drawings and 3D models for projects,” said Todd Dewar, vice president of engineering and supply chain. “COVID has disrupted our traditional design process, and we’re now having to do that from outside the conference room and production floor.”

Digital collaboration has been the key to fixing the communications fractures created in otherwise solid teams after the pandemic first fragmented professional collaborations across the nation.   

“Those two groups worked together closely every day,” said Mark Gromlovits, director of engineering. “Engineering is such a collaborative approach, from inception to completion of a project — from sales to the supply chain. When we first started implementing changes due to the pandemic, we had a vast amount of engineering, accounting and supply teams working from home. It’s been a challenge, but we’ve made great strides in communication and they’ve done a great job in figuring out ways to facilitate that.”

Electro-Mechanical worked to ensure coworkers were equipped with phones, computers, Internet connectivity, and the same level of hardware for 3D modeling at home that they are accustomed to using at work. Team members learned to embrace new technology, such as how to utilize video conferencing for virtual testing and inspections, and training customers to use it as well. The company also began appointing onsite project managers, which facilitates the overall customer experience, from the quoting phase to the design phase to the production phase to implementation.

“Working remotely has really changed how we currently do business,” Dewar said. “Our 3D drawing package is very complex, and the team members are accustomed to generating those, then coming back and laying them over each other, working together to understand the drawings and models. It requires lots of meetings and communication. They had to learn how to do that through video conferencing so that multiple people are looking at the same thing.

“In addition, our production team is using tablets on the shop floor so they can communicate in real time with our engineers,” he noted. “As they encounter issues with or have questions about designs or equipment, our engineers are able to provide real-time answers and make necessary design changes.”


It’s taken a lot of collaboration to design and produce equipment during the pandemic. Production floor teams (pictured in the photo at left), including Jimmy Dutton (left), assembly group leader, Lester Schramm, development engineer, and Joshua Denton, quality manager of Line Power, have worked remotely with other employees, including Jeremy O’Quinn (seated in the photo at right), engineering manager for projects and development. O’Quinn is pictured working remotely with Mark Gromlovits, director of engineering, Brian Barker, electrical engineering manager, and Lester Schramm, development engineer (all pictured on the screen in the photo).

While the company anticipates these new technologies will continue to be utilized in day-to-day operations post-COVID, it doesn’t expect them to permanently replace the in-person teamwork that has always been such an important component of Electro-Mechanical’s culture.

“As engineers, we love bouncing ideas off each other, asking each other questions, and coming up with solutions to serve our marketing team and our customers — that’s our strength and where we flourish,” Gromlovits said. “We used to think that we had to be together in one room in order for our brainstorming sessions to work but now we know that it’s the synergy of our team sharing ideas that’s the key — not the location.”

“The innovative nature of our engineering teams has proven more effective in a room than via video conferencing,” Dewar said. “Putting us in the same room and attacking the same problem from a multitude of different directions is how we innovate and is key to how we design. There are often several engineers on a single project, and having them sitting behind a desk remotely as opposed to hallway or water fountain meetings doesn’t allow for everything to get hashed out. Our engineers have such a vast amount of experience — hundreds of years collectively, and we resolve these things together.”

On the flip side, however, Electro-Mechanical’s customers have experienced a cost-savings benefit since video conferencing became the new normal for observing testing, conducting inspections and receiving training on a new product.

“The engineering team typically deals with the customer on final testing and customer approval to ship the product,” Dewar said. “We’re now doing that with a combination of remote and onsite engineering help. Customers are also participating via tablet and web-based platforms, with our engineers walking around on the floor, demonstrating the functionality and capabilities of the product, and conducting virtual training. Our customers benefit because they no longer need to send several people to witness the testing, which costs money and travel time. What previously took days of their time now only takes a few hours.”

Perhaps most importantly, Electro-Mechanical has still been able to support project timelines throughout its new approach to product development, with very little impact to customers.

“Our backlog of projects is strong, and we’ve been able to meet deadlines,” Dewar said. “This transition had to be seamless for our customers. We place a great deal of importance on being transparent to customers, and that hasn’t changed. Our projects are unique to each customer, and we’ve continued to innovate and develop new ways to get them done.

“Our teams have had to work a little harder — some late nights and weekends, but we never took our foot off the gas,” Dewar added. “Business is still booming, and we’re overcoming this challenge and looking forward. The ability of our coworkers to adapt to this situation speaks to our company as a whole, and the fact that most of our customers don’t realize that a significant portion of our labor force is working from home is a testament to how well we’ve done.”

Electro-Mechanical Corporation Welcomes

Agents West, EMR Associates and the Lynn Elliott Company to Esteemed Roster of Federal Pacific Manufacturing Representatives


Electro-Mechanical Corporation (EMC) is pleased to announce the addition of three new agents to its esteemed roster of Federal Pacific manufacturing representatives. As part of an elite team of nearly 60 agents who represent EMC’s many markets and products, these agents will be helping to shape the future of the electrical apparatus industry.

EMC welcomes the following new agents, who were selected after a rigorous vetting process (in alphabetical order):

  • Agents West (AW) will serve as Federal Pacific’s low voltage transformer representative in Southern California. AW is a manufacturer’s representative in the electrical industry, representing a broad spectrum of quality manufacturers of electrical components and supplies in Southern California, Las Vegas, Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso. Founded in 1978, AW has grown to become one of the largest warehousing agents on the west coast. With 55,000 square feet of warehouse space centrally located in La Mirada, California, and corporate offices located in Irvine, California, AW is able to rapidly fill orders and assure customers prompt delivery. To contact AW, please call Frank Peel at (949) 614-0300, email frank@agentswest.com or visit www.agentswest.com.
  • EMR Associates (EMR) will serve as Federal Pacific’s representative in Indiana for medium voltage switchgear, transformers and engineered products in the commercial and industrial markets. With offices in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Nashville, Tennessee, EMR is the premier manufacturers’ representative for power distribution solutions in the Southeast. EMR’s team members use their expertise and combined knowledge of the industrial, commercial, municipal and utility markets to deliver superior support to their end customers, distributors, contractors and consultants. To contact EMR Associates, please call Andy McDonald at (317) 430-5676, email amcdonald@emrassociates.com or visit www.emrassociates.com.
  • Lynn Elliott Company (LECO) will serve as Federal Pacific’s representative in Texas and New Mexico for medium voltage switchgear, transformers and engineered products in the commercial and industrial market. LECO’s team takes pride in understanding their clients’ products and has over 70 years of experience representing the Southwest for manufacturers in the electrical power industries. The reason for LECO’s sustainability has to do with its core philosophy: it’s not about the sale – it’s about the quality of the relationship. To contact LECO, please call Ray Schmidt at (832) 418-1111, email rschmidt@lynnelliott.com or visit www.lynnelliott.com.

“We are happy to welcome Agents West, EMR Associates and Lynn Elliott Company into the organization due to our shared focus on delivering quality products and outstanding customer service,” said Tim Neal, director of C&I products at EMC. “We look forward to the contributions of these innovative companies to our organization, and we warmly welcome the expertise and insights that they will provide to our customers and to our team.”


Federal Pacific’s C&I team members offer waves of welcome
in front of the division’s Bristol, Virginia, offices.


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