Manufacturers need reliable access to energy. Here’s how you can improve your power availability.

energy

The energy requirements of a manufacturing site are complex. Power consumption is generally high, and large assets can cause power fluctuations leading to irregularities and equipment damage. On top of this are safety concerns and a need to minimise downtime. 

For facility operators and manufacturers, the best way to manage these needs is with ongoing energy monitoring. By doing this you can better understand your power usage and take note of any inconsistencies along the way before they turn into major problems.  

Digitisation has it made  

In order to keep track of energy usage and asset behaviours at your site, your best option is to undertake a digitisation journey. Bringing all your assets and systems across to a digital format where they can be tracked, analysed and remotely accessed, can help to optimise operations. Using a combination of sensors and cloud-based analytics to achieve this outcome, you can implement software that has the intelligence needed to call attention to possible problems before a related shutdown occurs. 

Take, for example, the impact harmonics or other power-quality problems can have on a manufacturing plant’s output. In the past, such distribution-system irregularities might have gone unnoticed until they caused irreparable damage to motors, drives and other connected equipment. More recently, devices have been upgraded with fail-safe capabilities that shut them off before such repercussions occur. With diagnostic capabilities enabled by digitisation, owners can now track down root causes and resolve issues with accuracy and speed.  

Today’s facility operators now have a more comprehensive approach to monitoring power distribution systems – through the union of digital sensors and cloud-based analytics. The sensors, installed throughout the distribution system and, especially in critical process areas, offer the ability to understand a system’s operating conditions on a near-real time, 24/7 basis. This includes monitoring of: 

  • Power sources, including the connected network/grid, back-up generator and distributed renewables 
  • Connected electrical equipment 
  • The loads and power flowing through the system 
  • The sensors related to the environment of the electrical system.

energy

Cloud-based analytics can use the data sensors to understand when operating characteristics are pointing toward a possible problem in the near- or longer-term future. The combination of sensor data and analytics also help to direct maintenance efforts toward where they’re needed most. Specific sensors installed at the electrical-service entry point also assist facility personnel to keep an eye on possible quality issues from utility-supplied power. 

An example of this is at a glass manufacturing site in the United States. After experiencing power quality issues, Schneider Electric VarSet capacitor banks are being used to raise the power factor to a reliable 0.98 – resulting in electricity bill credits of around 4 per cent and enabling power availability. This improved power factor also had a major positive side benefit. By upgrading the facility, a reduced carbon footprint of an impressive 50-60 per cent was achieved at the plant. 

In addition to the capacitor banks, a complete EcoStruxure Power solution has been implemented at the site. As part of this solution, Power Monitoring Expert accurately tracks peak demand and energy consumption for the site and these reports are then used to validate the accuracy of utility bills to identify any costly errors.  

In additional to Power Monitoring Expert, to experience a similar advantage at your site, you might consider:  

Power Operation Control System 

 As a key element of EcoStruxure Power, Schneider Electric Power Operation is a SCADA control system engineered to help facilities, like manufacturing plants, maximise uptime. With rich data integration from connected devices, Power Operation’s unique capabilities provide real-time situational awareness, enables proactive maintenance, and offers a high performance, cyber-resilient solution for specialised power networks. In the event of a fault, the software uses real-time alarm notifications, filtering, sorting and categorisation to respond quickly to events, perform root cause analysis, offer automatic fault isolation, and enable power restoration. 

PowerLogic meters 

Schneider Electric PowerLogic meters monitor power supply, protecting the network, the installation and the operator by tracking the power factor and hence the quality of power. The meters also allow for remote control of equipment and the monitoring of performance and condition in real time, allowing plant operators to gather insightful power and energy data so they can identify under-performing electrical assets. It also allows them to utilise millisecond time stamping to analyse the sequence of events leading up to an incident.  

MasterPact circuit breakers 

Schneider Electric’s MasterPact MTZ low voltage circuit breakers protect electrical systems from damage caused by overloads, short circuits, and equipment ground faults. They also offer advanced protection, measurement, and diagnostic functionalities so users can gain insight into power consumption and energy management. The circuit breakers can be safely accessed remotely and are suitable for use in harsh environments.  

Connected power systems provides a significant opportunity to prevent shutdowns and reduce your risk profile. Such digitisation efforts support and coordinate multiple onsite backup resources, including solar panels, battery-based storage and generators. A digitally connected power distribution infrastructure can lead to near-seamless power transfers to maintain operations even if a power outage occurs. By improving power quality and having control over electrical assets, such installations can often pay for themselves in utility-bill savings, through peak-shaving and time-of-use rate programs. 

For more information on how Schneider Electric EcoStruxure solutions can help you improve power reliability and efficiency, visit se.com/au/power-availability