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It is now seven years since the twenty-second edition of the Pocket Book was published, a rather longer interval than might be desirable in the rapidly moving and rapidly developing world of electrical technology. We now have a new editor and, as a result, the possibility of some differing emphasis. Eric Reeves’ name has become synonymous with the Pocket Book. He has been editor for over forty years covering some ten or more editions. He is now enjoying his ‘retirement’.
He has left a pocket reference work that is in good shape, but inevitably as the industry moves on, the detail is constantly subject to change. In the UK, privatization of electricity supply was some six years consigned to history at the time of publication of the twenty-second edition. But much of the transformation of the industry, which now sees electricity traded as any other commodity like oil or coffee beans, has taken place over the last five or six years. Many of the companies that the Government set up in 1989 have now disappeared and the structure of the industry has changed beyond recognition. Changes now occur so rapidly that the details of the UK utilities as given in the previous edition have been dropped.
The reader must now keep up with these developments by closely watching the business pages of his or her newspaper. Now, if it is more profitable to sell gas than to use it to generate electricity and sell that, utilities are happy to do this. Now, the generators, transmission lines and transformers are ‘assets’ which assist the owners in making a profit, and the staff entrusted with the care and supervision of these are ‘asset managers’. They may be more skilled in risk assessment and knowledgeable about failure rates and downtimes than their predecessors, but it is still necessary to retain a workforce who know about the plant and are able to ensure it can remain in safe and reliable operation.
Privatization of the UK electricity supply has also led to many utilities procuring equipment overseas, particularly from Europe. This has resulted in the adoption within the UK of new approaches to many aspects of electrical equipment design and specification. In a wider context this has probably provided added impetus to harmonization of standards and the acceptance of IEC and CENELEC documentation. Today’s technicians face a challenging task to keep abreast of developments even within quite narrow fields and ‘continuing professional development’ is a task to be pursued by all, not simply those who wish to gain advancement in their chosen field.
This is where it is hoped that this little book will remain of assistance. The danger is that it will get larger at each new edition. If it is to remain a handy pocket reference size, then to include new material it is necessary to leave out some information which has proved useful in the past. The hope is that the balance will remain about right and what Eric Reeves has achieved so successfully for many years will continue.
One chapter which might have been left out is Chapter 6 which deals with computers. These are no longer specialist tools to be used by the few; even children in primary schools are being given computing skills. There are weekly and monthly magazines by the score which can provide an introduction to computing, so its need in a work such as this might be superfluous. However, the chapter has been retained because of its relevance to electrical engineering, but it has been shortened and made less specific, hopefully in a form which will provide some useful background for those working in other branches of electrical engineering.
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