Location: Whtitton, NSW
Client: Southern Cotton


RIC Electrics were awarded the project of Southern Cotton Gin located at Farm 1760, about 8kms south of Whitton, NSW. RIC Electrics scope of work included design, supply and installation of the main switchboard, 3 x Motor Control Centres (totalling about 18 meters long, double sided), several distribution boards and motor isolator panels throughout the site. We were also engaged for the site installation, which included the supply and installation of the all motor and control cabling for the Gin. Information was limited; a plan with “stub up” locations and a spreadsheet of motor sizes, control cables and shaft sensors was all there was to tender from.

The project was awarded in late November with a completion date of early June. The switchboard delivery was for early March, giving RIC Electrics 16 weeks to complete all switchboards. Three 1.5M substations feed the Main Switch Board (MSB) within the Gin shed which in turn supplies three separate Motor Control Centres (MCC). RIC Electrics designed the main switchboard with a keyed bus tie system so that the three 1.5M substations would be able to be switched in and out so that maintenance could be performed on any of the transformers without closing down the site power. Power monitors were installed as a part of this so that loading on all three MCC’s could be monitored. This design proved to be crucial as Essential Energy later contacted Southern Cotton and advised that there may not be enough power to run all three subs at once if other major customers on the line were also operating. Taking this into account, RIC Electrics changed the design of one of the MCC’s so that it could be easily split between two subs at a later date if required, when actual loadings were known.

The Motor Control Centres were also designed and manufactured by RIC Electrics, which also needed to incorporate a safety cut out system for each motor. Each motor was classified into either a category one, two or three type. A telemecanique XPS safety system was installed and programmed by the RIC Electrics staff.

Full CAD plans were provided for all switchboards, also being carried out by the RIC Electrics team.

The Flood event added an extra challenge to the project delivery date, with RIC Electrics workshop included in the Wagga CBD evacuation zone, with a quick late night decision made to raise two of the MCC’s under construction as high as possible until the danger of the flood had passed. Before the board could be raised, control link cables needed to be cut. 2 days were lost whilst the flood danger passed and additional time was then needed to replace the cut link cabling. Despite the total switchboard price for the project more than RIC Electrics normal annual switchboard division turnover, all switchboards were delivered on time without compromising quality or switchboard delivery for other projects RIC Electrics were carrying out at the time. The site install was also a challenge, with cable tray size and locations being designed in conjunction with the site engineer and gin manager, taking into account location of the duct work used to transfer the cotton around the gin which was to be installed later in the project. Cable sizes and types were also designed by RIC Electrics, with reference to control diagrams as they were received from overseas suppliers throughout the project. Several pieces of equipment were purchased 2nd hand by the client, resulting in RIC Electrics investigating the safety and performance requirements of the machines before designing and cabling. The site install was also affected by the flooding, with roads being cut to site resulting in 2 weeks of lost time.

RIC Electrics are on track to finish the project on time and on budget.


RIC Electrics were engaged by Southern Cotton for the electrical installation of Australia’s southern most Cotton Gin near Whitton, NSW. The works included the design of the MSB, Motor Control Centres and Distribution boards as well as the onsite power and control cabling. Challenges included the switchboard delivery of 16 weeks, with this project being more than RIC’s normal annual turnover in its switchboard division. To add to this, the project was interrupted because of the flood event, with RIC’s workshop being in the evacuation zone requiring RIC staff to cut link cables and lift switchboards for protection. This also cut off road access to the site for several weeks. Despite these challenges, RIC Electrics were able to complete the project on time and within its budget with no compromise to quality. This has led to additional work from the client.

Commercial Factors:

Equipment was supplied using local and international suppliers which RIC Electrics have built strong relationships with in the past based on their quality, reliability and competitive pricing. The project was broken up into two sections, with the switchboards being overseen by Colin Duff and the project being overseen by Andrew Dwyer. Both of these sections had site foreman and used more than 10 different apprentices throughout the project. With a lot of the initial labour requirements in the workshop, RIC Electrics used existing skilled staff to cross train both tradesman and apprentices in the switchboard division. This exposed employees to a different part of the electrical industry that they would not usually get experience in.

Technical and Innovation:

Cable tray was cut, bent and welded to give additional strength and aesthetic appeal.

Another advantage of RIC Electrics building the switchboards and performing the site works was the installation of cable glands in the MCC’s. Cable sizes and quantities were determined early in the project and all gland plates were laid out and punched in the workshop instead of on site. This enables the gland plates to be taken out of the switchboard so that they could be worked on safely and more efficiently. This resulted in a significant time saving for site works.

Difficulties for site access were road closures for several weeks due to flooding.

Energy Features:

3 x Power factor correction units were installed at the rear of the MSB. Keyed bus tie system was utilised so that substations can be isolated and run off one or two subs.


QA of all SB’s was performed and documented in the workshop, on site and agian before power was applied. Each individual motor and its associated controls will be point to point tested before power is applied and jog tested for direction. All will be documented. Quality of workmanship was monitored on a daily basis by site foreman, Stuart Mack. All cable trays were welded and joined to give a superior quality and strength. Site visits by the project supervisor also monitored quality, with site walk throughs with the site foreman and client on every trip.


The project was broken up into two main sections. The Switchboards which included the MSB, MCC’s, motor isolator boxes, Db’s and safety system and was performed in the RIC offices and the site works which was all site installation work.