Avoid Power Outages by Keeping Systems in Failsafe Mode

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Berkeley Lab, a national laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, stated in 2016 that “power interruptions cost [the US economy] $110 billion per year … commercial and industrial classes account for more than 95% of these costs.” That same year, E-Source, a U.S.-based research subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Institute, reported that “losses exceed $27 billion in the eight key market segments studied” and that “though manufacturers tend to take the biggest hits from long outages, the financial services, healthcare, and grocery sectors also see significant penalties, even for short outages.”

Statistics like these reinforce the obvious: downtime is expensive. But beyond the financial loss, each unexpected loss can spell a lot of trouble for an organization. Productivity and work schedules are disrupted, efficiency is reduced, occupants may experience discomfort, and tenants may become dissatisfied.

As a facility team or service contractor, your top priority is to keep the lights on and everything running smoothly. However, sometimes electrical distribution systems are put under stress, equipment can fail, and protective devices are called into action to instantly turn off power to avoid equipment damage and, more importantly, human casualties. During such situations, your customer is also under stress and it’s often difficult to get complete details on the event. Further, you’re probably busy, not sure who in your team can help or how long it will take to arrange service.

The new responsive paradigm

Thankfully, help has arrived. The newest smart circuit breakers and cloud-based apps are enabling operations teams to keep their small, mid-sized, or large facilities in a ‘failsafe’ mode. It’s now possible to identify and address risk conditions – often before the customer is even aware of them – helping your team boost uptime as well as efficiency.

Now, when something starts to go wrong, your team will get an automatic notification on your mobile devices. You’ll see the device I.D., the event type, and a map that helps you geo-locate the facility. You’ll be connected to the device, even if you’re offsite. The app will then let you immediately connect to your team and arrange to have someone get there quickly.

When the technician arrives on site, they can use their smart phone to verify which breaker delivered the notification by scanning a QR code on the front of the breaker to auto-connect to an online digital logbook. Once confirmed, a color-coded status indicator on the breaker and smart phone will reveal if the issue is non-critical or critical.

Go deep and act fast

If it’s a critical situation requiring immediate intervention, such as an overcurrent event, a Bluetooth connection can be activated with the breaker to access further details. Within seconds, the technician can check protection settings, copying and sending them to the technical back office for consultation. This not only saves time, but also avoids any risk of mistakes.

The app will also enable access to measurements and an event log. Some apps also offer advanced analytics that can determine conditions such as breaker aging, indicating whether maintenance or replacement is required.

Log it, share it, trace it

By reducing the time to identify and isolate a risk, service steps can often be taken quickly enough to avoid a breaker trip and resulting power outage. Once these steps have been completed, the smart phone app can be used to create a maintenance report with a simple click.

These online reports are easy to edit, allowing all relevant data and service notes to be logged. This demonstrates to your community and the customer that the job has been done. The report is stored on the cloud, enabling sharing and full historical traceability of operational steps so that more info can always be provided on request.

A smarter way to service

New smart maintenance tools and intelligent devices are helping operations and service teams stay connected to their facilities and each other. The smart phone has become your maintenance companion, helping you to stay notified of facility status in real time and collaborate across your teams. You’ll be improving responsiveness and efficiency while making sure the right decisions are made.

Cloud-based data sharing increases confidence, as reliability does not depend on local servers or onsite staff. Data can be shared transparently with your team, with management, and the customer. You can now more easily and quickly identify issues, anticipate customer calls, and arrange service to fix issues before they cause downtime.

The MasterPact MTZTM smart circuit breaker and EcoStruxureTM Facility Expert cloud-hosted application are the first to help usher in this new paradigm of responsive operations and maintenance. As one of the pillars of the EcoStruxure Power solution, the MasterPact MTZ offers extensive embedded intelligence and connectivity, while Facility Expert enables greater team efficiencies and effectiveness.

This has been the fourth post in our series on how the newest smart circuit breakers are helping improve operational efficiency and reliability. To learn more about the MasterPact MTZ range, visit the dedicated website. The next post will look at how smart circuit breakers support the ISO 50001 standard.

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