As I am sure you know Metrotest have carried out Test and Tag Competency Training Courses all over New Zealand and Australia for a very long time and in recent years have also offered an online refresher course. Some people may not agree with a ‘refresher’ course, but the Standard AS/NZS3760, points to the necessity of this.
However, did you know that we have recently launched a brand-new online Test and Tag Full Competency training course? Now you do not have to even leave your building (I wanted to say your chair, but you can’t do the final Competency, one on one, individual Assessment sitting down!).
If you want to know anything about test ‘n’ tag or are looking at getting into the industry, you should continue reading as you could save yourself a lot of money. It’s not one of those satire commercials about saying you will. It really will! Carry on reading to find out.
So, our new online course is different. It’s a modern platform used on all devices, focused student learning, can save you a lot of money upfront, gives you personal time with the trainer and a loan if you need it. It is broken into three parts; Bronze, Silver and Gold and we are offering you a taste of the course (Bronze) for free to see if you think it’s for you. This overview will allow you to identify testing ‘fraud’ or pick up bad testing practices even if you do not want to do testing yourself. However, if you want to become competent, you will need to complete the three levels and sit a practical assessment. Sound a little daunting, long-winded, or expensive? It’s not. In fact, it’s everything you would cover in a full day’s course and is cheaper than what other companies offer.
Designed with a range of learning methods in mind, we wanted to make sure everyone had access to material in a way that is easy to understand and interactive to keep you interested. Want to listen to audio while reading or doing another task, you can. Like videos and pictures or just reading, it has that too.
You don’t even have to buy a Portable Appliance Tester to do the training (this is where you really can save money) as training is provided with the aid of a unique Portable Appliance Tester Simulator (PAT Simulator) that allows you to get a feel for testing before you have to buy one – you can’t break it, it’s virtual! When it comes time for your one on one Competency Assessment, we can send you a loan tester to use.
That’s right; we want to make sure the process is as smooth as possible and cost-effective. No one else currently offers this, and why would they because they want you to buy a tester. First and foremost, we want you to be SAFE. We see all too often others pressured into purchasing a tester before a course not understanding their needs and ending up with a lemon. We take that pressure off your shoulders.
Upon completion of each level of the online training there is a small quiz to make sure you have taken everything on board, When you complete the Gold and have your one on one assessment you will be issued with a Photo ID to prove your competency if challenged when testing.
We understand COVID has hit a lot of people in the pocket and that’s why we wanted to make sure these courses are affordable; hence the free level of Bronze to get you started.
There are several companies offering Test and Tag Training in New Zealand and Australia these days that have come from different beginnings. Metrotest started by making PAT Testers (not labels) and have electrical and training-based instructors and assessors.
So if you want real training from a company that has been Testing, Repairing, Training and selling test equipment for over 20 years in both New Zealand and Australia you can find us here www.metrotest.co.nz.
Does the business you run depend on Portable Appliance Testing? Are test and tag services a key element of your operations? If this is the case, you should ensure that you have a reliable PAT tester. This way, your income will be unaffected, and you will keep your customers safe by checking their equipment.
Tag and Test services feature visual inspections of leads and equipment to find out what condition they are in. A PAT (Portable Appliance Tester) is a device used to carry out more detailed inspections, to verify the safety of this equipment for business or personal use. The majority of issues can be identified by visual inspection. Nonetheless, other kinds of issues are only discoverable by specialized tests.
The Benefits of Metrotest’s Services
Metrotest provides PAT repair and maintenance services. We carry out a regular yearly service, and calibration and repairs when needed. We offer a cost effective, quick calibration service on Sonel and Metrel Calibrators, and – if you can not manage without a tester while yours is being checked – we can arrange portable appliance tester rentals.
We prioritize safety above all else, and we know that most other people do too – which is why they want their electrical tools and appliances tested. Needless to say, you are required by law to do this in a professional environment. A Tag and Test professional can carry out the testing to make sure your tools and equipment are completely safe. A professional has the correct type of Portable Appliance Tester for tagging and testing. Also, he can use the testing equipment correctly, and accurately diagnose and interpret test data.
PAT Calibration Services
Our calibration services verify the accuracy of readings produced by Portable Appliance Testers. Testing equipment needs checking regularly for calibration, if it is out of spec. Then, it needs to be adjusted to bring it back into spec, before being marked as safe.
Frequent service allows us to stop future malfunctions and breakdowns. We maintain your appliances and equipment, and carry out regular checks to prevent future issues.
PAT Repair Services
We tag and test, then fix tools and appliances that are malfunctioning. All our customers can access these services. We can help you maintain and care for your electrical tools.
We Handle Your PAT Requirements!
While PAT testing isn’t mandatory in New Zealand, employers are still required by law to maintain their their electrical tools and appliances, to avoid danger. All employers ought to consider how frequently their equipment is used, and what people are using it for.
If, over the course of an electrical inspection, it is evident that a non electrical danger exists – which might cause problems for the equipment operator or someone else – we inform you. We can help you address any issues highlighted during the tag and test procedure.
Metrotest should be your first port of call, if you require assistance with portable appliance tester repair. We offer an independent tag and test service, and – to stay independent and prevent any possible conflicts of interest – we WILL NOT perform repairs on any equipment that has failed, unless the customer requires this. Get in touch with us today, and we will be more than happy to discuss your needs.
Every now and then, businesses and companies need to have their electrical equipment tested for safety. This way, both customers and the employees of a company are protected from harm or accidents caused by a faulty device. Some of the common hazards brought in by a defective equipment includes electrocution, fire and intermittent connection.
This is why it’s important for business to ensure that the appliances used are deemed safe. So, this where where the Portable Appliance Testing or PAT tester comes in. It’s a specialised device used to assess whether the appliance meets the standard safety guidelines.
When assessing an equipment, an engineer or tester does a basic visual inspection of the piece of equipment. It could include looking at the cables, checking the insulation or finding any exposed metal parts. After the initial test, a more thorough examination comes in using the PAT tester, a more thorough assessment is in order. The test could include earth continuity, insulation resistance and lead polarity. When calibrated properly, the PAT tester can provide accurate readings.
How often do you need to calibrate a PAT testing device?
Just like any other testing equipment, a PAT tester also needs to regular calibration. A poorly calibrated device can result in an inaccurate assessment. It’s highly recommended to calibrate the tester you use once every 12 months. This holds true for any type of PAT tester.
Here at Metrotest, we don’t only provide calibration services. We offer MedCal or Medical + Calibration service for your PAT tester. Besides calibrating the equipment, we will open the equipment and find signs of potential issues such as internal wiring problem, damaged parts, defective batteries and overheated components.
When I trained as an electrical apprentice in the 70s most test instruments were analogue and there were few of them; compared to what’s in an average sparky or techs tool case today. Back then, to be bluntly honest, very few Instruments ever saw the inside of a calibration lab, if they did it was most likely the people using them were involved in research and development, aviation or medical areas.
Today there are certain sections of industries that will get away without any checking of calibration, but the majority of specialized testers will be checked. From the 1940s to the 1990s the average sparky probably had ‘access’ to a ‘megger’, likely didn’t own it, but could gain access to one if he needed to use it. When I say megger (not the brand) I’m meaning a high voltage Insulation Resistance Tester which back then the probable output voltage was 500 and early units before the 1970s were hand driven wind up models!
The only other common instrument was the ‘Multi meter‘; again analogue until the late 70s and DMMs (digital multi meters) started turning up about the same time as females joined our industry, not sure what the connection is, but I’m sure we would be worse off without them.
Today things are totally different; some people tend to like and use stand alone instruments while others use multi function ones; there are advantages and disadvantages both ways.
That said; most electricians will have, as a minimum, the ability to do the following tests, either from a Multi function Instrument or stand alone tester. Loop test, RCD trip time and ramp current, RCD Phase rotation, 250-1000V insulation resistance test, earth resistance test. On top of this they’ll have a Multi meter and ……some other things like a PAT Tester, Cable Locator, Lux Meter, Tacho’s, Thermal Imaging Camera. Anyone comparing then and now will see the huge increase in the number of test Instruments in use and with this then also comes the need to make sure these Instruments are working correctly AND giving correct readings.
Today if there is actually a failure in the hardware itself it is likely to appear on start up, the instrument will lock the user out or display ‘Hardware Error’; effectively making it inoperable until it’s been repaired, BUT if the Instrument is just giving incorrect readings of the results this WILL NOT normally be obvious, hence all results may be meaningless! This will, potentially, open a mine field in the worst case scenarios when it comes to liability and insurance claims. I can assure the reader from first hand experience that unfortunately the one in a thousand chance can; and does happen; to someone and probably to everyone at some time.
So the question is what test instruments should have the calibration checked, how often and where should this be done?
Priority should be placed on the instruments YOU use and use frequently where accuracy of the results is crucial, for example most people will have excess measuring abilities amongst their test instruments that they may NEVER use. Let’s consider a PAT Tester (Portable Appliance Tester), these testers have multiple test functions often including an RCD test function, if you never use this function as you use a stand alone RCD tester, then accuracy of this function is irrelevant as you don’t use it!
Or another example with a PAT, most have a substitute leakage test function, this is not recognized as a valid test under AS/NS legislation, therefore why would you care about the accuracy of these results?
Or the Multi function Installation Tester that has a lux meter function you never use, again in this case accuracy doesn’t matter. The point is everyone will have different requirements on accuracy amongst their kit, focus on what’s essential first, going back to the analogue instruments many of you may have used in the past, sometimes all we were looking for was ‘meter needle movement’ that was sufficient for what you were doing. Accuracy is not essential everywhere, but where it is essential calibration needs to be verified, usually this will be outsourced to a calibration facility.
The other thing to be considered is the likelihood of damage or abuse which may happen to a tester; this will increase where something is used frequently, moved around a lot and there are multiple users. Metrotest have approx 30 PATs in use within our own testing business used by our techs, these PATs are normally checked for calibration and adjusted, where necessary, every 6 months BUT these PATs will likely do 150 tests per day AND accuracy of these results is essential. We don’t need to calibrate this frequently, but our use level is very high, so it makes sense for us to do it this frequently. I do however have to say if you have ISO/IANZ accreditation or a similar auditing system there will be specific requirements you have to meet to maintain the accreditation.
Before Sending Test equipment for calibration you’ll need to decide where. A few things you need to consider here are:
• What experience, expertise and qualification does the company you’re thinking of sending your test equipment to have? • What calibration equipment do they have? There are the backyard operations which operate with very basic calibration equipment. These companies are mainly geared to on online sales, often focusing on PAT sales, giving dodgy advice and training, to them it’s just dollars! I would personally avoid these knowing what I know, this probably sounds like a competitors sales pitch, but remember sometimes it can be true! • Companies that are authorized distributors of manufacturers with their own in house full service and repair facility, in my opinion, are your best option.
In one of our calibration labs we have lots of specialized calibration equipment which mostly costs in excess of ten thousand, 3 new units are costing around thirty thousand a piece! Much of our own lab equipment is sent out to other external labs for its calibration check; obviously we only do this where we can’t do it internally. You can buy calibration test boxes for under a thousand dollars, how will you know what they use to check the calibration of your testers? The results on the calibration certificate (if provided ) should have numerical value results of each test checked by the calibrator, some of our latest calibrators will automatically check/adjust where necessary and print results automatically (we can sell you one almost one hundred thousand dollars each). Our soldering irons used in the calibration/repair lab are four thousand dollars each. The head of our calibration lab comes from an avionics background, he’s not into its ‘ rough enough’; unfortunately that’s not the case everywhere!
Calibration passwords are often also required on test instruments, without these the calibration lab will likely NOT be able to perform adjustments if adjustments are required and they will also not be able to remove calibration reminders if they are displayed without this password. Calibration labs WILL NOT usually give these out to any non authorized parties, including other calibration labs, most will have legal agreements with manufacturers preventing them doing so.
So moral of story is CHECK BEFORE SENDING testers to calibration facilities that they will have the ability to do adjustments and remove calibration reminders. Think of it like this; if you buy a new Mazda car and it needs some work you wouldn’t take it to the Nissan dealer for technical support. Nor should the Mazda dealer have to give out technical information to non verified third parties who may not necessarily be experienced to do the necessary work without risking harm to the car. By not giving out this information they are helping to protect your car against misadventure.
Another service Metrotest offers, some others may as well, is what we call ‘MedCal’ (medical and calibration). This effectively is a service (not repair) on equipment being calibrated, it costs a little more but may be beneficial in preventing breakdowns. Our experienced technicians will look for upcoming problems that could cause a major problem in the near future. Things looked at will include internal battery voltages, internal connections, checking for signs of overheating, looking for loose screws/fittings as well as a clean out and in some circumstances lubricating moving parts. This MedCal can be done on various equipment, it seems particularly popular for PAT testers and their printers and Seaward, Metrel, Megger are all common brands which may have this service, it’s not just units we have sold.
All SupaPATs, including the AlphaPATs, METROiPATs and any other printing PATs like Sonel, Megger and Seaward are all available for the MedCal service, just let us know when booking a calibration and we can let you know the costs.
Calibration costs vary depending on what is involved in the calibration and between service providers, sometimes the cost of calibrations will make some things like cheap clamp and multi meters uneconomical to calibrate.
Are you looking for a portable appliance tester PAT? before you go online to check the many options, it helps to define your requirement and prepare a features list for you to use in your search for a PAT that suits your needs. There is a vast array of models and brands that you can choose from- this might make the task more difficult than you would expect some PATS are also better than others paying more does not always mean better either.
So, whether you are running a professional test and tag business or just conducting small scale or random test and tag, it helps to know what you are buying and that it suits your requirements.
This will ensure that you buy the right PAT for your business or professional application avoiding ‘buyers regret’!
If you are buying your first PAT or just upgrading your current tester there are some things you may want to consider before you make that all-important purchase:
1 What industry are you in and what will you be testing.
2 How many tests will you be conducting?
3 How much are you willing to spend.
4 What you intend to for Tagging and Recording of results.
5 Is your focus ‘safety testing’ or ‘compliance testing’, there is a big difference.
Firstly consider do you need to test everything, everywhere, if this is the case you will likely be a test and tag professional, so choose extra carefully, think 3 phase testing – most PATs won’t do the powered up testing required for 3 phase Leakage testing, think speed, (liability if you or your people get it wrong), consider the whole system, not just the PAT only, printing systems and scanners can make life much easier, sometimes it’s also little things like usability and how it is moved ie do you need to open lids or is it just ‘plug and go’.
Separate Printers seem to be common but having it ‘altogether’ works so much better and quicker, tiny, very small scanners are easily lost, big sometimes really is better!
Or maybe you are just wanting to test your office equipment this will not likely be frequent so unless you have lots of it, handwriting Tags or basic data entry will be fine.
If however you’re a multiple type environment with workshops, Labs, kitchens and offices etc a PAT that has a rated output test current and/or socket of 15Amp is essential if you’re going to avoid relay damage to your PAT and expensive repairs or the possibility there are many items you can’t test.
Number of Tests
This is a vital factor when you are considering buying your PAT. If you’re going to test appliances every once in a while there’s no need to buy a costly PAT with features you will likely never use now or in the future, the priority needs to be on making sure it does what it needs to do.
However, if you own a test and tag business or have hundreds if not thousands of tests to do, then you should go for a higher-end tester you will thank yourself later when you realise how useful some of those super features are to your business. More expensive testers will also help lighten your workload and improve business operations in the long run. Remember some features are more useful than others and do not forget the reasons why you are testing in the first place!
PAT prices tend to range from $900 to 9000 this likely highly impacts your decision so you should determine your actual budget so you’ll know what features you will get and more importantly what is essential for you that you must have.
PATs below $2,000 will work for many users wanting to test a basic range of equipment they are focused around compliance more than safety testing, data logs will often be by hand and these Users will generally have smaller volumes to test, meaning speed and efficiency aren’t as important, battery and Mains operation will now normally be available on these PATs also.
PATS above $2,000 like the cheaper PAT will have an RCD test as well as being able to easily store and retrieve data. More of these PATs are concerned with safety testing than mere compliance only testing, as compared to the cheaper ones, but there are still many popular and expensive PAT systems out there, that only enable compliance testing and not safety testing.
Something else to consider is 3phase testing, this could be a very big unexpected extra cost if you have not thought about it and then find that you have lots of 3 phase items that need testing.
Some PAT’s only require an additional leakage clamp to enable 3 phase testing allow $400 extra IF the PAT is designed to have the clamp attachment. (most are not).
High – end testers- will likely provide the complete solution( not necessarily 3phase or safety testing) and are perfect for those who operate a test and tag business or test and tag large appliance quantities in house and / or test high volumes. These testers often called SupaPATs will have printers and scanners in the complete package this enables you to re-test appliances and quickly gather information with minimal effort you also have the option to generate reports and automate retesting dates giving you more control over the data you collect another example of a great feature is on the new METROiPAT SupaPAT system this enables users to get different coloured tags from a single roll of material direct from the printer. This further enables a huge timesaving.
This PAT also has the ability to print a tag for the lead of the appliance when the lead is detachable from the appliance being tested and a second tag is required as per the requirements of ASNZS3760.
Another feature on a Seaward PAT is the inbuilt camera however whilst this could be handy on some occasions most users probably already have this function available via their mobile phone, an onboard 3 phase test function would probably have been more useful or better still the high current protective earth test which is also absent from this top of the range model from Seaward, it does however look very nice and can take your picture.
The above feature shows what some people’s priorities will be and maybe their lack of understanding in what testing is really about.
Writing your results by hand is good. However, this task will prove very difficult especially when you are testing hundreds of appliances and you need to keep track of each one. A PAT that comes with a scanner and printer is the wiser choice. The wisest option is a tester that stores your results which you can download later because it will save you much time, money, and effort in the future.
Auditability of the results is also desirable some systems allow users to change pass and fail settings this may sound good but it also allows for the pass /fail results to be compromised unchangeable locked in test codes are by far the most secure system. Any facilities manager contracting a test and tag provider will likely look for this type of security/ auditability and large ‘in-house’ testing managers to ensure the security/accuracy of the actual test results.
I do not think spending time or money on dodgy results is a good investment in safety.
Safety Focused or Compliance Focused
Here’s the thing if you choose the right PAT you can easily get speed, accuracy, auditability second to none… AND REAL SAFETY TESTING and all for no more (often less) than Compliance only box type ticking testing!
The very big difference is when the protective earth is tested to see if it’s safe it can be either tested at a very low test current ( likely way below what would happen in a dangerous fault situation ) or at a high realistic potential fault current.
So, what is the difference? Simply put the high current test proves the earth can successfully conduct a high current flow back to the ground effectively proving the protective earth works AND that someone holding on to the Appliance should not get
(a possibly) fatal electric shock.
Think of it this way would you rather wear a life jacket when out sailing that had been tested just to see if it floats …OR floats with a heavy weight attached!
Seems pretty obvious, I think.
Sonel metroEasi 10
Earth test 200 milliamps and 10Amp
Most obvious pass/ fail testing displayed ( 4 methods)
Fail safe Pat protection system( prevents damage to PAT in case of incorrect lead input)
NO other handheld PAT currently has 10 amp protective earth test
The team at Metrotest hope you are all staying safe in your bubble, now let’s hope that as we’ve dropped to Level 3 life can start, be it slowly, to return to a more user friendly normal.
We were classified as an essential service; however this was irrelevant as just about everything was shut, we did however help with a few urgent DHB requests and were able to keep them working.
Moving forwards Metrotest is available, as before, to do all we were doing pre Convid-19.
For our NZ wide Test and Tag Service
Changes currently are that we seem to be locked out of government organisations (varies between region) and many universities; even though now is a perfect time to test as few staff are on these premises. This means for our clients, both new and existing, that now is a perfect opportunity to get testing done as we can most likely start immediately and for many of you, your own workplaces will be less staffed making testing less disruptive.
We are very keen to get our Techs back working in a safe and secure manner so if you need testing done talk to us as we can offer some incentives at the moment, likely more than normal, so call and talk to Brent our National Testing Manager.
For NZ wide Training of Competent People for Test and Tag
During the Level 4 Lockdown and in Level 3 no face to face training has occurred. In Level 2 this will restart and is provisionally scheduled to start back again at the beginning of June, we don’t see it as likely to be put back, but depending on Government decisions, this is still possible and this is why we have said ‘provisionally starting’. Training will be more controlled and numbers kept down to enable social distancing criteria. Now is a good time to start booking this as demand from those wanting to do their own testing is increasing due to various Convid-19 related reasons and restrictions. Please feel free to contact us directly if there is urgency around your training and we will endeavour to find a suitable solution for you.
Pat Calibrations and Repairs
Our Service Department is up and running again and able to perform calibrations on all PAT brands and most other test instruments. Currently turnaround times are very quick, but we are expecting this to change so if you do not need to use a tester right now and it needs calibration shortly then send it in. Just a reminder on repairs; we service and repair everything we sell as well as equipment which we did not sell, which is unusual amongst our competition; it is very rare for any repairs to go back to the manufacturer from us. We also get quite a lot of ‘ too hard ‘ repairs from various Australian organisations …. not sure what that says! One last thing if you are sending a PAT in for Calibration ask us about the MEDCAL which costs a little more than a standard calibration, but the PAT gets a service as well, think of it as preventative maintenance.
Labels / Tags and Consumables
Custom printed tough Labels and Tags are in high demand since we have reopened under Level 3, fortunately we have just received our latest bulk stock order, so stocks are currently readily available. If you are ordering, please don’t leave it to the last minute as courier companies seem to be understandably having their issues like the rest of New Zealand.
We should be able to help you with anything you need and also the item I didn’t mention which is very important which is Technical Support. Any testing questions or concerns you have please give us a call.
Also please check our website for the latest super specials.