Digitized power distribution: The nervous system of connected facilities

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Electrical power drives virtually every business and industrial activity on the planet. Critical sectors such as healthcare, data centers, and industrial manufacturing require advanced power distribution systems that are reliable and highly responsive. Organizations can improve productivity, resilience, sustainability, and efficiency by modernizing them with data connectivity and analytics.

One way to visualize the importance of data in power distribution systems is to think of a facility as a human body. Power is the force that makes the “muscles” work—such as lighting, climate control, machinery, and all the other systems we depend on. Just as the human nervous system relays information about the status of body systems to the brain, digitized power distribution connects your facility to analytics and management software so you can understand what’s happening in real time.

A power system without this digital “brain” is like a simple organism that can only react to its environment. It cannot analyze conditions or plan for the future. Given this, facilities without power data tend to operate reactively rather than proactively.

The efficiency and reliability of these systems directly affect an organization’s performance. So, understanding and optimizing the electrical systems powering them can provide strategic advantages.

Power distribution systems are the nervous system of your facility. When digitalized, they can relay valuable analytics in real-time to help you mprove productivity, resilience, sustainability, and efficiency.

Maximizing maintenance effectiveness

Take maintenance, for example. Without real-time insights, calendar-based maintenance means equipment is inspected or maintained on a standardized schedule. This approach can result in inefficient resource allocation. Components used more than average may break down because the attention paid to them is not proportional to the actual wear and tear.

With a digital power nervous system, organizations can direct maintenance activities based on utilization. Maintenance reporting software tracks the condition and performance of equipment. It can predict potential issues before they result in system failure. This proactive approach to maintenance allows facilities to plan repairs or replacements at convenient times, avoiding disruption. Performance issues can be detected early based on system data instead of waiting until something breaks. Enhanced maintenance also extends equipment lifespan within the power distribution system and downstream by reducing the likelihood of power disruptions. Overall system reliability improves, reducing the risk of unexpected downtime.

Enhancing power quality

Digitally enabled power management can also solve the problem of power quality. Just as disruptions in the body’s energy systems can lead to weakness, imbalance, or other health issues, power quality is critical to efficient facility operations. Low-quality power can cause equipment malfunctions and degradation. Sending poor-quality electricity back to the grid can lead to high penalties from utility companies.

By sending digital power data to power quality analysis software, organizations can detect anomalies such as voltage sags, swells, harmonics, and transients in real time, identify their sources, and mitigate issues. By identifying and addressing problems early, facilities can prevent damage, downtime, and power-company penalties.

Managing demand and increasing sustainability

How much a facility pays for power depends on usage patterns. Excess demand, high peak usage, or consumption at specific times of day can increase costs. In many cases, fixing these problems is relatively simple—if the correct data is available.

Digitized power management makes it possible to identify when, where, and how power is used throughout a facility or across multiple facilities. Energy management software provides a comprehensive view of a facility’s energy usage, identifying inefficiency and highlighting opportunities for improvement. Such software allows facility managers to monitor and analyze real-time and historical data, empowering strategic decision-making about power consumption to minimize cost and maximize efficiency. It can also support sustainability and decarbonization efforts.

Accelerating ROI with digitized power distribution

These are just a few examples of how a digital power nervous system can improve operations and save money. They highlight why investments in this area typically pay off quickly, typically within 16 to 24 months, with almost all cases paying back in less than three years. The savings can be significantly higher for new facilities with the ability to install connected devices from the outset.

Whether greenfield or brownfield, modern technologies significantly reduce the cost and complexity of digital enablement, making advanced power management accessible to a broader range of facilities.

This can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Split-core Current Transformers (CTs) can be installed without disconnecting the conductor, which is especially useful in retrofit projects where power interruption is not an option.
  • Portable meters can identify inefficient sections of the electrical network or equipment, analyze energy consumption patterns, and devise strategies to improve energy efficiency, all without permanent installation.
  • Load-level monitoring provides detailed real-time information about the power consumption of individual loads.
  • Virtual metering uncovers valuable insights without the need for extensive physical infrastructure.

Going the extra mile with power distribution systems

Real-time control systems provide granular control over electrical distribution networks for organizations seeking the highest power management effectiveness. They can even automate power loads based on predetermined parameters or real-time conditions. This optimal system performance, energy efficiency, and uptime, even under changing conditions. Organizations can address today’s challenges by combining connected devices with intelligent software and preparing to meet future needs. Digital transformation makes power systems more agile, flexible, and efficient, enabling them to respond to changing conditions, maximize efficiency and uptime, and pave the way toward a more energy-efficient and sustainable future.

Learn more about how your business can build resilience through a connected power distribution approach.

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