Digitizing your critical power system: simple, smart and stable
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on August 28, 2018 and has recently been updated for accuracy and completeness.
In my last post, I spoke about the challenges faced by facility teams in ensuring the safe, reliable, efficient, and regulatory-compliant operation of critical electrical installations. We’ve looked at the many hidden risks that make these goals even more difficult. A digitally connected electrical distribution system gives you the in-depth information you need to stop “working blind”.
In this article, we’ll look at specific digital technologies that can help you reach your uptime and efficiency goals faster, while making your job easier.
Digitization is everywhere
Almost every aspect of our lives has gone digital. Consider the vehicle you drive. If you have a fairly new model, every aspect of its operation is monitored, displayed, and in some cases controlled automatically. These advancements make driving safer, more reliable, more efficient and compliant with regulations such as emissions standards. It also makes driving easier and more enjoyable.
Dealing with the complexity of modern vehicles without the help of digitization is almost unthinkable. Imagine solving a problem without a diagnostic scanner. The same is true for electrical distribution systems, which have become increasingly complex, with:
More loads, many of which are increasingly power sensitive
Many types of loads, such as variable speed drives, which can also be the source of potential power quality issues
On-site generation and storage, which must be carefully coordinated for power backup, peak shaving, or renewable energy consumption at the most economical time
As the complexity and sophistication of our electrical distribution infrastructure increases, it becomes more important to have the right digital sensors, advanced controls, and analytical capabilities to detect, diagnose, and correct problems before they cause failure. critical systems.
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Unlike today’s vehicles, power distribution systems do not come “off the shelf” with full digitalization; however, in the future, they are expected to do so. The good news is that your power grid may already be part of the way.
For example, your switchgear and distribution panels may have digital power meters and smart circuit breakers that offer connectivity capabilities, some with modular options. Even old systems can be retrofitted with communicating devices and sensors. These upgrades are always very cost effective considering the vast benefits and ROI of digitization.
The global trend of the Internet of Things is enabling more connectivity and intelligence in more types of devices, from circuit breakers and meters to power quality monitors and busbar temperature sensors, to equipment with integrated sensors such as inverters and generators, to automation equipment such as programmable logic controllers.
You can choose from a variety of communication standards, from the affordability of wireless to the high-speed performance of Ethernet. Open, non-proprietary communication protocols make it easier than ever to communicate and share information between all of these devices.
The brain behind it all
Smart devices in your electrical network will perform many measurements, recordings and analyses. Enabling IoT means data can be easily shared with cloud-based storage and applications, while mobile apps can access each device’s on-board data and functions.
All this means that your operations and maintenance personnel have easy and fast access to important information and alarms wherever they are, with the possibility of collaborating between your teams.
Above all this are powerful software applications, aggregating and analyzing data from one or more of your installations. These cloud-based applications and facilities are where the full potential of digitization is realized, allowing you to see into every corner of your electrical systems, oversee every electrical process, get early warning of every risk and seize every opportunity to improve the power, energy, and performance of equipment.
A digitally connected electrical distribution system will help you maximize the safety of people and property while improving reliability and business continuity. It will give you the tools to optimize energy efficiency and life cycle while enabling condition-based maintenance. This will simplify sustainability efforts with energy and emissions tracking. And for facilities with limited resources, a cloud-based platform can serve as the gateway to round-the-clock support from expert services.
In my next article, we’ll dive deeper into these benefits to see how digitization can deliver a very big ROI in a very short time.
This is the second in a series of three articles. To learn more, download our white paper, “Bringing critical power distribution out of obscurity and into a safer, more reliable and sustainable future.” For more information about our innovation power solutions, you can visit our webpage.