Turn power data into action to improve facility operations and reduce costs

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Action is the foundational key to all success. — Pablo Picasso

Nothing like an artistic genius to spell out the keys to success for those of us working in the power industry.

Picasso was an innovator. While we may not exactly be contemplating the founding of Cubism, we are certainly entering an era of rapid technological innovation.

Improvements in power management systems include innovations in computerized monitoring, protection, control, and grid management techniques for planning, real-time operations, and maintenance. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to transform our industry, allowing managers to monitor systems closely, and gather real time power and energy data.

With Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Power solutions and the “Measure, Understand and Act” framework, we are at the forefront of the IoT revolution.

Measure, Understand, Act

measuring power and energy

Act is the third of a three-prong Schneider Electric power management approach – Measure, Understand, Act – that relies on modular, interoperable technologies tailored both to meet your immediate needs and scale as your needs change. To see how “Measure” is the first cornerstone to optimizing your facility, read the blog post “How to Measure Power and Energy and the Critical Benefits it Provides Your Facility.” 

To understand how analyzing your electrical data (energy, current, power, etc.) and your facility contextual data (operating characteristics, weather, production data, etc.) optimizes your power, check out the second blog post: “Your Facility is Speaking to You but Do You Understand It?”. With this understanding, you can use power in the right way at the right time, avoiding costly inefficiencies.

Today, we’re considering Act, or action. A decent thesaurus paints a picture of action with synonyms ranging from agility, alacrity, response, enterprise to one of our favorite words, energy.

Once you have collected the data (measure) and analyzed it (understand), you must act on the insights you have acquired to really derive benefits. You must use the information meaningfully to make decisions that drive change in your facility.

What are the benefits of “acting” on the data you’ve collected?

Energy cost savings

Take action to reduce energy waste based on usage data. Improve power to avoid utility bill penalties and increase uptime.

Improved operational efficiency

Increase power reliability and “fix” power quality issues.

Optimized asset performance

Implement better capacity management and condition-based maintenance.

Act to improve power quality

VarSet for power factor correction

One area of facility operation you can act on to yield big benefits is power quality. Hidden power quality problems can contribute to a host of issues and power disruptions. These disruptions could cause downtime and a plant’s typical restart time after a shutdown is 17 hours. Up to 40% of industry segment outages are caused by power quality disturbances. (European Copper Institute 2012) Acting on these hidden power quality problems and implementing a corrective solution allows you to avoid costly outages as well as increase uptime and efficiency.

Adding a power factor improvement solution such as a VarSetTM low-voltage capacitor bank lowers energy costs by avoiding penalties and optimizing electrical asset use.  AccuSine+TM Active Filters can also deliver power quality correction in the form of harmonic filtering. They can reduce the harmful effects of harmonics in your electrical system, while simultaneously improving system capacity.

A major food manufacturer found how much they could save with a power quality solution like VarSet. The company was getting hit with a $30,000 a month power factor penalty. They first installed Schneider Electric PM5000 series meters to measure and collect power data. When the data showed poor facility power factor, they installed VarSetTM Low Voltage Capacitor Banks that raised the facility power factor. This eliminated the utility company penalties.

Thus, by taking action, the company will save about $360,000 annually in power factor penalties. Learn how to identify utility penalties on your bill!

Act to improve energy efficiency

Another way companies can save money through Measure, Understand and Act is by taking action on energy data to reduce energy waste. A facility can collect and analyze power data to identify areas of energy waste or improvement opportunities.

For example, a production line may waste energy during “idling” stages or when a process is “starved” of parts. Acting on this information, the facility could purchase new, more energy efficient equipment and make other production system adjustments to save money.

With the Measure and Understand stages as the foundational bricks, Act brings all the knowledge and information gained to meeting all the goals for facility betterment, from power quality improvement to energy cost savings.  Managers are able to accurately pinpoint thorny problems, identify expensive issues and act accordingly.

With digital technologies and IoT, it has never been easier to collect and analyze data and thus act on it. You don’t need to do a walk-through. Equipment and software gather all the data and send it to you, pre-analyzed, on time, and easily understood. This detailed data helps you make the best decisions: decisions that avoid problems, meet sustainability goals, and lower costs.

Smart managers must have all the tools they need to take smart action. And as Picasso wrote, action is foundational to success.

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