Clouding the issue: centralized multi-functional device management

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Panel boards in buildings’ power distribution systems comprise a whole lot of devices – circuit breakers, fuses, sensors, meters, switches, motors, you name it. And those devices have to be managed – to ensure safety and the correct settings.

But the parameters that make up the “right” settings vary: those that are consistent in one configuration may not be in another one. What’s more devices may be made by different manufacturers or have their own user interfaces, set-up procedures, and specific ways of adjusting settings.
Standard practice today is still to save the settings of each device, which generates a history file for each device.
With the advent of multifunctional devices in response to increasingly customised applications, that approach won’t be tenable much longer. Today it still works – just about – because there aren’t many low-voltage multifunctional devices about. There soon will be, though, and multifunctional device management will be just too complex.

What if you could manage all your devices with a single tool?

The answer is: multifunction device management would be safe, reliable, efficient. And it soon will be because the trend today is towards smart panelboards that are connected to a cloud of networks.
All panelboard device commissioning and operating data will be stored in a single online repository. So device management practices will have to change as data will be accessible from any office computer, laptop or mobile device. The silo mentality, still widespread, will soon be a thing of the past.

What are central repository’s benefits for facility managers and other building operators?

You will able to track the histories of all your saved settings and monitor and control time- and current-coordination. You’ll share data and updates with partners – in fact, you will be to build sets of unified settings from your pooled experiences. In this way, you will be constantly enriching use and understanding of devices.
Wherever you are, you’ll be safe in the knowledge you can access panel device data. So the best settings for different applications are just a click or two away.

Will it improve safety?

Yes. Not only are your saved settings are secured and maintained, you can monitor device status, too. Today, for example, don’t always know if the circuit breakers in your building are in good working order. If they’re closed all the time, there’s no way of knowing – until it’s too late and a circuit failure causes serious damage and serious money loss high-end CBs cost thousands of euros.

How will panel builders use cloud-connected panel boards?

The repository will act a like a dropbox, too. Panelbuilders will just drop into it all the panelboard documentation – user manuals, set-up procedures. And you can access them as and when you need.

How will vendors use the cloud connection?

Equipment manufacturers will be able to branch out into services. Most don’t know much about their end users as 70% of panelboards and devices are sold through distributors. Cloud-connected panels and devices give them access to knowledge about customers – especially for the “big” devices that require maintenance. In that way they can offer you the services that you need, and which you might not even know are available.

How do you feel about cloud-connected device management? Apprehensive or enthusiastic about sharing device management practices? Or just to know more? We’d like to hear from you?


Smart Panels by Schneider Electric

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