EcoXperts get it: Critical power availability and reliability in Industry 4.0

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Critical power certificationEcoXpert Critical Power partners know the stakes are getting higher as power management requirements evolve

Power availability, reliability and quality have been essential within industrial sectors for ages and these topics take center stage in our Critical Power EcoXpert partner program.

With the advent of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and cloud, and with the increasing focus on energy within manufacturing and related industries, it’s worth revisiting the reality of power control for industrial energy users.

These industrial energy users often include a process focus, among others in manufacturing, mining, the petro-chemical industry, packaging, and refining. They are all going through digital transformations and are increasingly leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things as part of their vision – and framework – which has become known as Industry 4.0.

Industrial transformation and Industry 4.0 include power availability and efficiency at the core

An interesting evolution with regards to power and energy across these sectors and Industry 4.0 is that the companies which are on this transformational path put power availability and energy efficiency in the broadest sense high on the priority list in their goals and indeed in their capital projects.

In other words: smarter and better energy management is simply a part of Industry 4.0. It shows in the mentioned industries and in the transformation of the energy industry as such.

Factors driving change that EcoXpert Critical Power partners can implement

On top of the well-known importance and drivers in relationship with power quality, availability, and reality, this changing evolution is driven by numerous factors:

  • The evolving regulatory and societal context within which industrial energy users operate.
  • An increased need for the highest possible availability, reliability and quality of power in more complex and challenging industrial ecosystems where downtime results in unacceptable costs.
  • The increasing reliance on new technological deployments in Industry 4.0 areas and use cases such as the digital factory, advanced robotics and analytics-intensive systems.
  • The growing awareness and expectations with regards to energy efficiency, management, ecology and certification programs such as LEED in general: among consumers, partners, the mentioned regulators and management that wants to keep a competitive edge.
  • A higher need to keep operations and processes running and to reduce costs while improving efficiencies as we move to a digital supply chain in what is becoming a real-time and hyper-connected economy.
  • Last but not least: the fact that the technologies, systems and solutions to achieve it all in an efficient way with clear ROI exist, as our solutions and many cases prove.

Power quality in the IoT reality – what has changed, what will change and what remains key

In a recent interview on the IoT in critical power buildings and power management I was asked what are some main types of IoT applications in the commercial buildings environment.

The answer certainly goes for industrial energy users too: 1) energy accounting, which is related to managing energy and saving costs, and 2) power availability, including all factors related with the reliability of the power.

With the IoT, as a backbone of Industry 4.0, power quality will also be a matter of integration of connected applications, of smart solutions that enable industrial customers to make decisions based on data and of the disappearance of power infrastructure silos. It already impacts our EcoXpert partner training program for critical power buildings today.

In this scope of integration, the challenge of power availability and reliability to avoid shutdowns and to recover quickly from disturbance events and losses, to be flexible in dealing with changing demands, and to deliver safe and clean power and that ensures quality in industrial facilities remains one of three key components:

  1. A holistic strategy and operational deployment, taking into account various levels of criticality, scalability, automated actions in case of issues, insights to understand the why of events, predictive maintenance and equipment usage optimization. We typically map it in four stages: a) planning (analysis of equipment and risks, setting up and starting monitoring), b) normality (ensuring smooth operations and pro-actively optimizing), c) event or crisis (alarms, safety measures and action) and d) post-event (diagnosis and prevention of repetition including the proper reporting).
  2. An end-to-end solution, that enables you to start with analyzing, measuring and monitoring and, next, move all the way across the various mentioned stages and their multiple aspects. This is typically a combination of hardware and software where the IoT and analytics are important and all aspects of dependability (reliability, safety, availability and maintainability) are addressed. Schneider Electric offers these end-to-end solutions with its EcoStruxure architecture, consisting of connected power meters and smart metering, the right edge control software, and the support of cloud based analytics. All Critical Power EcoXperts know these systems inside-out, just as they know the holistic strategic and operational aspects.
  3. The right partnership ecosystem. It is kicking in an open door but the right plan, strategy and solutions are only one part of ensuring the best possible power quality. This is certainly where the EcoXpert network comes in. We all know that no business is the same, not even in the various industries whom we consider as industrial energy users. To take back the example of Industry 4.0 and manufacturing: in some factory plants you’ll find a high degree of automation and mission-critical Industry 4.0 implementations, in others you won’t. There are so many differences in one industry, depending on the context and nature of the business that inevitably you need skilled and trained partners with profound experience and expertise in multiple scenarios.

EcoXpert helping to bridge the gap between IT and OT

As infrastructures and systems convergence with the IoT, we see an increasing need for partnerships between companies with different certifications in areas that de facto also convergence in the meeting of IT and OT and in Industry 4.0.

It’s an exciting place and time to be as solutions continue to evolve and industrial markets have ample challenges and opportunities with regards to power quality and energy management overall.

Discover EcoXpert and turn these opportunities in realities.

What are your thoughts or experiences on Industry 4.0? Tell me below and let’s put our ideas together.


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