Electrical, Electronic and Control Engineer

Providing consulting and expert witness services to the legal and industrial sectors and private individuals.

About

Dr Robert E. Brown or Robert as he prefers to be called, is an expert witness in the fields of electrical, electronic and control engineering. A renowned expert in the operation and design of electrical fuses, circuit breakers and other electrical fault protection systems, specialising in how these devices operate in domestic and industrial systems with relevance to the faults generated by domestic appliances and industrial equipment.

 

Robert’s expertise also includes the design and operation of electrical and electronic control systems for domestic and industrial environments including cable wiring, electrical current switching, electrical power generation and utilisation, automatic (computer) control of domestic and industrial process, sensory and sensor systems including parameter data capture and accurate data ‘representation’.

Robert has provided expert and legal representation, acting as a single joint expert in numerous cases, having also acted as an expert working directly with private individuals, solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals. He has extensive court experience ranging from International Courts to County Courts.

 

Robert also has media experience having appeared on national television for the BBC, giving advice and evidence for the consumer protection series of programs ‘Don’t get done get DOM’ and XRay, BBC Wales version of ‘the popular primetime BBC program ‘Watchdog’

 

Membership: Eur Ing – FEANI – European Federation of National Engineering Associations IntPE(UK) - International Professional Engineer CEng - UK Engineering Council Register MIET - Member, Institution of Engineering Technology MSEW Member – Society of Expert Witnesses

 

Experience

Litigation Specialisms
Erroneous reading/assessment of electricity usage

Dr Brown has acted in numerous cases where the parties have claimed errors in the ‘readings’ of the electrical consumption meter, integral to the electrical system of a domestic, commercial or industrial property. Here a party may allege the meter is reading/measuring high (to date, never low) or a party claims they have been over charged for electricity based on the readings/measurements taken from the meter or the parties assessment of energy requirements/consumption of the their appliance/electrical system.

Notable cases involving alleged erroneous reading/assessment of electricity usage

 

NPower v English

A dispute over bills for the supply and consumption of electrical energy. The Defendants now domestic property comprised a former commercial premise, and hence the electrical system had remnants of a commercial electrical system. Investigation sin indicated that the commercial electrical consumption meter was unsuitable for a domestic system, and was reading wrongly. Consequently the case was dismissed.

NPower v Beasley and Beasley

A further dispute over alleged over charging for electrical consumption by an electrical supplier. The Defendants claim, relies upon their assessment of energy requirements/consumption at the their premises. Analysis of the Defendant claims in correlation with the claims of the Claimant appeared to favour of the Defendant.

Theft of electricity

Theft of electricity occurs when a party consumes electrical energy, yet in doing so takes measures to prevent the electrical consumption meter from measuring the electricity consumed. There are various methods employed,

  • By circumventing the electrical meter by use of a loop of electrical cable connected between the fuse of the utility company electrical service head and the consumer unit (fuse box) of the property.

  • By applying or placing magnets having a strong magnetic field, about or in in close proximity to the electrical consumption meter, which impedes the free movement of a rotating disc within the meter which in turn prevents accurate incrementation of clocks/dials which indicate accumulated electrical consumption.

  • By applying or placing suitable electrical equipment in close proximity to the electrical consumption meter, the electrical equipment having a magnetic field generating capability which in turn impedes the free movement of a rotating disc within the meter and prevents accurate incrementation of clocks/dials which indicate accumulated electrical consumption.

Notable cases involving the alleged theft of electricity

R v Price

A case involving the use of a 'loop of wire’ circumventing the electrical consumption meter. The utility company imposed charges based on the last recorded meter reading and the meter reading at the time of discovery of the circumventing action. Imposing charges based on these circumstances is considered unlawful, since the utility company has no knowledge of when the circumventing loop was installed, so they cannot impose an accurate monetary figure for the theft, which could be of a minimal amount.

R v Waheed

A case where the Defendant was alleged to have placed suitable electrical equipment in close proximity to the electrical consumption meter, an action the Defendant denied. Again the utility company attempted to impose monetary charges for the alleged theft based on the amount of electricity used from the last recorded figure of electricity consumption to the figure noted at the time of the discovery of the alleged unlawful practice. Similarly imposing charges based on these circumstances is considered unlawful, since the utility company has no knowledge of when the unlawful practice of placing suitable electrical equipment in close proximity to the electrical consumption meter started.

Protection devices in electrical system and the non-conformity of electrical systems in relation to electrical shocks and fatal electrocutions

Generally, protection devices within electrical systems are such devices which are incorporated to avert electrical circumstances which could cause damage to the electrical system, further to electrical appliances/loads connected to the electrical system, yet importantly to users of the electrical system or appliances. Such protection devices are fuses, miniature circuit breakers (MCB’s), residual current devices (RCD’s) and there are others.

Importantly the electrical protection devices are inherent within an electoral system logically for safety reasons, and legislation exists which places responsibility for the inclusion of the protection devices and the correct and timely maintenance of such devices on landlords, employers and the like.

Unfortunately, circumstances arise where such devices have been dutifully and illicitly tampered with, are not to specification, and indeed to not function when required which, regrettably have brought about tragic consequences.

Notable cases involving the attributes of protection devices in electrical system

R v North

A tragic case of fatal electrocution where an employee in the process of using electrical welding equipment in adverse weather conditions, received a fatal burst of electrical energy. Unfortunately the electrical which, the welder was inherent did not have a RCD which could have averted the tragic incident. Since the inclusion of an RCD in an electrical system, is a current regulation then the employer was deemed liable for the incident.

R v Nimani

A further tragic case where an employee was fatally electrocuted whilst in the course of taken a shower within an electrically heated shower located within an employee accommodation building. The electrical system was deemed to be in a very poor state and again excluded the inclusion of an RCD contravening present regulations hence the employer was deemed liable for the incident.

Industrial automatic process control systems, design, installation, testing, commissioning and operation

Automatic control systems, are prevalent within most of manufacturing industry to aid efficient production, quality control and increase product yield. Generally process control system a formed around sensors capture data relative to a process variable. Such sensors are

monitored by a central processing unit, more often this being a computer on which acts on the sensor data and initiates actuating devices to physically control the process variable.

However sometimes (rarely), the process control system fails, is ill designed, poorly manufactured, is difficult to integrate within the production process, all of which can bring about litigation between parties involved within project.

Notable cases involving industrial automatic process control systems, design, installation, testing, commissioning and operation

Saftronics Limited (Defendant) v Nomenca (Claimant)

The Defendant in this case was contracted to design a process control system for a process within the clean water industry. The contract involved the manufacture and testing of several systems, ‘off site’, which on completion were planned to be dispatched to site and integrated by the Claimant. The Defendant alleged that the Claimant pushed for early delivery, and the Defendant obliged however on integration the system were found not to function as expected which according to the Defendant was due hasty testing.

Robinson and Johnson v Southern Water Services

A case involving an escape of raw sewage which flooded properties causing sever flood damage. The escape of sewage came about at a time of persistent rain in the locality, which brought about the need to use an emergency wastewater pumping station. Unfortunately, the automatic process control system controlling the wastewater pumping station, failed hence the case focused on the causation of failure, i.e. a legitimate fault in the system or poor maintenance of the system by the Defendant.

Testing and compliance to standard

Most system, appliances, components whatever before distribution within the market place have to be tested and achieve compliance to a particular standard. There are many standards, be these national standards i.e. British Standards, European Standards, United States of America and Canadian Standards or for that matter any other country standard. Compliance depends on the location of the market.

Some system, appliances, components may be manufactured in a country outside of the market yet the system, appliances, components must conform to standard of the market which sometimes is dubious and questionable.

Notable cases concerning testing and compliance to standard

Electrium Sales (UK) Limited v Havells (India) Limited

The case concerned the manufacture of miniature circuit breakers (MCB) in India, which were distributed within the United Kingdom and were tested to conform to British and European Standards. Following distribution of the design of MCB, the MCB was alleged to be the causation of the ignition of house fires due to an alleged design flaw, which should have been detected in the testing to standard, prior to distribution. The case investigated the testing process and the credentials of the test establishment.

Auriga Europe Limited –v- Rotronic Instruments (UK) Limited

The Claimant purchased a number of electrical power cords (similar to a kettle or computer power lead) from the Defendant, which following distribution, was alleged to be counterfeit and not to standard. The case investigated the attributes of the cords and conformity of the attributes to several standards.

Fundamental operation of electrical devices, explanation of fundamental phenomena

Some cases require the understanding of the fundamental operation of electrical devices, and the explanation of fundamental electrical phenomena. Some examples,...

 

Notable cases concerning fundamental operation of electrical devices, explanation of fundamental phenomena

R v Perkins

Some devices if exported outside of the European Community require customs authorisation, i.e. an export license. The requirements for an export license is established via a criteria based system where some fundamental attributes of the device are assessed against the criteria and given certain outcomes the need or not for and export license is forthcoming. In this particular case the suitability of the fundamental attribute of the device was questioned and its basis as a criteria for export control conformity.

Weatherford v Hydropath / Clearwell / MS Oilfield Services

The intellectual property of some devises is protected to a degree by patents. However, some companies call foul of others when similarities of their products, processes or methodologies are discovered used within other companies, which jeopardises the company market share, revenue income and company existence. Most often, yet particularly in this case, the dispute condenses to the understanding of the fundamental operation of electrical devices and the difference in fundamental phenomena, which underlie the patent. This case required to understand the difference between a transformer and an ariel/antenna, as magnetic field generators.

Analysis of Stun Gun attributes

A ‘stun gun’ is a device, which on demand, discharges an electrical current. A stun gun comprises an enclosure with two (2) protruding electrodes. Within the enclosure are standard batteries/cells and suitable electronic circuitry which function to reconfigure and amplify the battery voltage to a voltage of significant magnitude to provoke/induce a spark/arc to jump between the two electrodes. Given that the electrodes are pressed against a human body and an electrical current discharged, then the electrical current is of a significant magnitude to bring about muscle spasm and incapacitation in the human, i.e. to ‘stun’. Generally a stun gun resembles a ‘knuckle-duster with the electrodes positioned inline with the knuckles. A stun gun is classed as a firearm and therefore possession of a stun gun without a fire arms license contravenes the Fire Arms Act 1968 and is an criminal offence.

Notable cases involving a Stun Gun

R v Armane Miller

Here the accused was charge with possession of a homemade Stun Gun (the gun). Defence Counsel was of the opinion that the gun was not a ‘stun gun’ since, given its appearance, opinion was that the gun was incapable of bringing about muscle spasm and incapacitation in a human. Consequently, Counsel was for arguing that the gun be classed as an offensive weapon rather than a firearm. The case involved the classification in electrical and physiological reaction terms, the attributes of a stun gun and hence to determine whether the homemade gun could be classed as a stun gun or not.

R v Jessica Peters

Peters was stopped at airport HM Customs station and found to be carrying a stun gun in luggage with out a licence. The stun gun according to Peters was alleged to be four years old and belonging to a former long departed acquaintance. On testing, the gun was observed to function satisfactorily which, given its age and period of non-operation, HM Customs concluded that the gun must belong to Peters. The case involved the determination of charge holding capabilities of the guns batteries, the result being that after a sustained period of non operation the batteries would still be capable of provoking/inducing a significant magnitude of current at discharge instant.

Achievements
Affiliations

CEng

Chartered Electrical Engineer  - UK Engineering Council - Registered 15th March 2004

Eur Ing

European Engineer – FEANI - European Federation of National Engineering Associations – Registered 3rd September 2010

IntPE(UK)

International Professional Engineer - UK Engineering Council Register - Registered 5th November 2014

MIET

Member - Institution of Engineering Technology – From September 1993

Television appearances

Don’t Get Done get Dom

Episode, “Atlantic Electric”, Flame Television for BBC 1, first shown Thursday 8th May 2014

X Ray (BBC Wales)

Episode, “First Utility – Electrical meter error reading” first shown October 2017

Publications

Unduloid Formation and the Causation of Current Interruption in Current Carrying Wires.

International Conference on Electrical Fuses and Their Applications - Turin, Italy, Sept. 1999 LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

An Opto-electronic Camera for Non-invasive Investigation of Arcing in Short-circuit Current-carrying Conductors and HBC Fuse Elements.

IEE Proceedings, Science and Measurement Technology, Vol. 150, No3, May 2003

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

A Bifurcated Beam Opto-electronic Camera for Investigation of Phenomena Associated with Fast Rising Arc Voltage.

International Conference on Electrical Fuses and Their Applications, Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 2003

Time Correlated Techniques to Investigate Arcing Dynamics about the Peak Voltage instant during Current Interruption in Sand Filled Fuses using an Optical Spectrum Analyser.

International Conference on Electrical Fuses and Their Applications, Clermont-Ferrand, France September 2007

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

Saving Money with Intelligent V-belt Monitoring.

Design Products & Applications (DPA) – Trade Journal

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

Monitoring V Belts can save Thousands.

Drives and Controls – Trade Journal

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

Time to Tighten your Belts.

Energy Management – Trade Journal

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

Monitoring Via Mesh Networks.

Industrial Plant and Equipment– Trade Journal

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

The Development of an Electronic System to Continually Monitor, Indicate and Control, ‘Belt Slippage’ in Industrial Friction ‘V’ Belt Drive Transmission Systems.

COMADEM - 25th International Congress on Condition Monitoring and Diagnostic Engineering Management, University of Huddersfield

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

An Electronic System to Detect the Acoustic Emissions Generated by a Friction Drive Belt System in Order to Derive an Indication of Belt ‘Dynamic’ Efficiency.

COMADEM - 26th International Congress on Condition Monitoring and Diagnostic Engineering Management, Helsinki, Norway

LINK TO PDF COPY OF DOCUMENT

Links
Current Research
Determination of velocity of rotational magnetic field using Hall effect sensors

Electrical motors and generators fundamentally operate by either reacting to or generating a rotating magnetic field. The rotating field is generally perceived internally to the rotating electrical machine, however the field must permeate the machine enclosure and hence be detectable using magnetic field sensors such as a Hall effect sensor.

The Hall effect is the production of a voltage difference (the Hall voltage) across an electrical conductor, transverse to an electric current in the conductor and a magnetic field perpendicular to the current. It was discovered by Edwin Hall in 1879.

This study focuses on research to detect the dynamics of a rotating magnetic field external to the casing of a electrical machine to aid technology to continually measure shaft speed since current technology is not application generic with the sensory systems generally requiring shafts couplings and cams etc, to convey the speed parameter from the shaft to the measuring device and also mechanical brackets to physically support the device.

It is proposed that magnetic field detection and derivation of shaft rotational speed removes the need for complexed apparatus to convey the speed parameter since there is no physical connection required between the magnetic source and the detecting element. Furthermore, mounting systems can be quite simple and easy to install.

Exert Witness

The Hall effect is the production of a voltage difference (the Hall voltage) across an electrical conductor, transverse to an electric current in the conductor and a magnetic field perpendicular to the current

Understanding of CAN bus and the dynamics of the buss data consumers in relation to stresses imposed on CAN and data consumers by fluctuations of power supplies

A Controller Area Network (CAN bus) is a vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without a host computer. It is a message-based protocol, designed originally for multiplex electrical wiring within automobiles, but is also used in many other contexts.

The research study comes about from the circumstance of a recent court case, where a car was alleged to have ‘driven itself’ and the causation of this circumstance was argued to be due to stresses imposed on the CAN bus and those microcontrollers and devices attached to the bus by fluctuations of bus power supplies.

The study aims to understand the vulnerability if at all, of microcontrollers and devices attached to a CAN bus by fluctuations of bus power supplies brought about by the introduction of electrical loads on a vehicles power supply.

Expert Witness

A diagram presenting the basic of a Controller Area Network (CAN bus)

Non-invasive and non-contact determination of rotational shaft speed using ultrasound and Doppler effect

There are numerous methods to determine the rotational speed of a shaft or pulley. These can be a manual handheld type, i.e. a stroboscope or a tachometer or alternatively, electro mechanical systems which present a continual measurement of rotational speed and are generally used in automatic control systems, for example incremental encoders or tacho-generators.

Another method to detect rotational speed is to attach ‘something’ to the shaft which acts as a reference point or discontinuity. For example a reflective marker can be used to ‘return’ light emitted from a light source back to a light sensor. Another method is to attach a small magnet to the shaft and with a suitable, ‘Hall Effect’ sensor mounted close to the shaft, use this to detect the magnetic field of the magnet. Logically in both these cases, the time period between successive detection of the reference point by the sensor equates to rotational speed.

This research focuses on continual measurement of shaft speed since current technology is not application generic with the sensory systems generally requiring shafts couplings and cams etc, to convey the speed parameter from the shaft to the measuring device and also mechanical brackets to physically support the device.

It is proposed that ultrasound detection and derivation of shaft rotational speed removes the need for complexed apparatus to convey the speed parameter since there is no physical connection required between the ultrasound source and the detecting element. Furthermore, mounting systems can be quite simple and easy to install.

The aim of the study is to research and develop a suitable ultrasound transmitter, which can be attached to a rotating element. In practice it should be the case that at some reference point relative to the rotating ultrasound device the frequency and the magnitude of signal emanating from the device should vary in accordance with the Doppler Effect.

The Doppler effect describes a moving sound source, most identifiable with a motorcycle moving towards a listener and then passing and moving away from the listener. Hence if a sound source is attached to a rotating shaft it should be the case that the variance of signal frequency and magnitude should correlate with the rotational speed parameter. So the second objective of this research study is to prove this hypothesis.

If the hypothesis is upheld, the third and final objective of this research study is to develop an electronic system to detect the signal of the ultrasound transmitter and extract the rotational speed component.

Expert Witness

The diagram pictorially indicates the Doppler effect, i.e. if the sound source is static the sound waves radiating form the source are equally time spaced. However, if the sound source is moving the sound waves emanating from the source become time compressed relative to the sound receiver.

Understanding of heating attributes of confined electrical conductors and at points of restriction to electrical current flow

A natural phenomenon of electrical conduction is Joule heating, also known as ohmic heating and resistive heating, and is the process by which the passage of an electric current through an electrical conductor produces heat.

 

In normal circumstances the heat is dissipated naturally and a state of thermal equilibrium persists. However if the heat generated cannot be dissipated in normal working circumstances, then the temperature of the conductor will increase to a point where physical damage of the conductor and its intimate environment comes about. The latter circumstance is prevalent in confined electrical conductors. Further at points of restriction to electrical current flow the same phenomena of Joule heating persists yet the heating phenomenon is concentrated.

 

Both the scenarios bringing about increased joule heating are most common in the ignition of fires, i.e. ‘electrical fires’. So the basis of this study is to understand more fully the fundamental attributes of Joule heating since the phenomenon is inherently used within many other electrical components/appliances, some beneficial i.e. fuses, electrical heaters and hair driers, and some detrimental, i.e. electrical motors, and transformers.

Expert Witness

Infrared images of cable and point of restriction Joule/ resistive heating

Understanding of the measurement and recording of electrical energy using remote wireless split coil current transformers.

The government wants energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland. There are more than 26 million homes for the energy suppliers to get to, with the goal of every home having a smart meter by 2020.

 

The technology used within a smart meter system is not new, having been used within industry for many a year. However, when revenue i.e. debit or credit is based on the reading of a smart meter then the accuracy of the meter can be brought into question.

 

The basis of this study is to understand the dynamics of smart metering, since logic directs that circumstances will arise where the smart meter accuracy is the focus of litigation.

Expert Witness

The basis of measurement and recording of electrical energy using remote wireless split coil current transformers

 
 
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