The technology in PAT testing devices is getting more and more advanced, and that means only good things for electricians and contractors, says Seaward’s Richard Slade.
PAT testing has never been an efficient task, requiring that same ‘plug, press and print’ approach to hundreds of separate appliances. But modern test technology has increasingly powerful data-handling capabilities that are making the job of contractors much quicker and easier.
Established over 30 years ago, Seaward has seen the rapid advances in technology first-hand. Seaward is also a catalyst for innovation itself, for example introducing its patent-pending ‘zap’ test circuit technology that enables consistent and accurate earth-bond readings from a battery powered tester.
Here are some of the key testing technologies for electricians to be aware of, today and in the future.
The main innovation over recent years is the inclusion of Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility. This technology means that previously ‘dumb’ devices can now transfer data remotely from the field to an office hundreds of miles away.
In Seaward, for example, this is all achieved through PATGuard 3 software, which gives easy management of test records, generation of reports, certificates, invoices and scheduling of future tests and inspections.
The future of PAT testing is in data not devices, and contractors should expect to see the industry focusing more on how smart technology can be used to transfer and interrogate data efficiently.
What we’ll also see more and more in testing technology is a rise in multi-function devices. To use smartphones as an analogy, in the iPhone we’ve seen one device replace the need for a separate telephone, camera, music player and internet browser.
The first signs of this are already clear. One of Seaward’s most advanced testing devices, the Apollo 500+, integrates PAT testing with risk assessment so users can comply with the IET 4th Edition Code of Practice.