Cloud-connected panelboards: opening an era of new services for electrical professionals

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Cloud Connected Panelboards

I’ve been working in electricity distribution management systems for 25 years now.
And even when I started, the mantra was “service delivery”.

Plainly, ambitions haven’t changed. What has is the technology. Connected electrical
switchboards can now meet the goal of enriched customer proposals, through intimacy between their components and the large scope of service delivery they enable, by the various electrical professionals.

“Energy efficiency” and “asset management” services can be provided over the Internet – a cost-effective solution that building owners and tenants can account for in their operating expenses (Opex)

Central to the delivery of those web-based services is the device that interfaces field networks collecting data from electrical panels, with the main local area network and the Internet.

It is in fact a data logger and a gateway. But it’s more than that, too – a sort of network operating centre. As a data-logger-gateway-network-operating-centre, it logs readings from company LANs and exports it to a cloudbased repository. Then the data can be accessed and managed from anywhere.
Ultimately, the web-based services will include remotely maintaining, upgrading, repairing, monitoring and controlling electrical devices.

It relieves customers of the burden of contacting his electrical contractor in the event of, for example, a tripped circuit-breaker. The system alerts the site manager and – importantly – explains why the device tripped. A skilled electrician then calls the customer. Depending on whether the issue is an overload or short circuit, the electrician tells the customer what to do, or takes action himself.
What’s most important is that the electricians initiate the contact. And they can do so because they have the remote control and management capacity.
Some circuit breakers also from now on incorporate early warning alerts. So electricians can even inform customers before any malfunction actually happens and advise them on to what to do.

What about demand-response management ?

Coming soon. It is the next evolution of power and energy management services. Small or medium size energy consumers will be able to subscribe. The service provider will aggregate demand from all these enterprises and correlate it with delivery capacities for their utility. Then customers will be accurately advised on how and when to reduce their electricity usage. Twenty-five years ago that was impossible. Now thanks to above mentionned data manangement technology, we’re on the verge of doing so.

Seriously, can an IP address alone meet complex demands?

Of course, an IP address is indispensable. But it’s not enough. Complex parameters have to be factored into the cloud-based management of protective and measuring devices. The chief parameters are related to firewalls and multiple device management.
But that will be the topics, of my next post on this blog, coming shortly. Until then? feel free to comment on this one.


Smart Panels by Schneider Electric