How Automakers Are Preventing Circuit Overloads and Diagnosing Problems to Maximize Uptime

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Today’s automotive assembly plants need power – and lots of it. It takes a lot of electricity to keep a plant’s motors, pumps, compressors and ovens up and running. All that electricity also needs monitoring to ensure the circuits feeding a factory floor’s equipment aren’t overloaded, which can lead to tripped breakers and unnecessary outages. As mentioned in the previous post, downtime has been estimated to cost automakers an average of $22,000 per minute[1], so such outages take a direct hit on an automaker’s bottom line. That’s why manufacturers are turning to the combination of advanced power meters and monitoring software to both prevent overloads and – when problems do occur – aid diagnosis efforts to protect against repeat events.

Automaker Circuit Overload

Preventing overloads with circuit-level metering

Avoiding circuit-overload situations is exactly why one international automotive manufacturer invested in an EcoStruxure™ Power management system for one of their main North American assembly plants.

Their project incorporated:

  • PowerLogic PM8000 meters installed on all motor control center circuits, connected via onboard Ethernet TCP/IP communication ports directly into the plant’s local area network (LAN). The meters are factory configured to capture electrical load profiles, with no added configuration required.
  • EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert (PME) software installed on a virtual machine managed by the local IT department. Real-time communications are enabled between EcoStruxure Power edge control software and x75 PowerLogic power meters. The software automatically uploads, displays and reports meter-captured load-profile information. Alarms are sent to designated personnel whenever circuits are at risk of overload.

The preconfigured alarms have helped the plant avoid overload-related breaker trips and shutdowns. Estimated savings from avoided downtime paid for the new EcoStruxure system in less than two years.

Preventing repeat events to protect both staff and equipment

Automotive manufacturing is such an energy-intensive and coordinated process that minor power disruptions can quickly cascade into major production losses. Power quality (PQ) problems are a major contributor to such disruptions. Overall, PQ disturbances are estimated to cost the U.S. economy between $119-$188 billion annually[2]. In Europe, such losses top €150 billion annually, 90% of which is attributable to industrial sectors[3].

One major automotive facility has gotten ahead of repeat PQ disruptions using EcoStruxure Power management to diagnose PQ events when they occur. This system includes:

  • PowerLogic ION power quality meters on the main incomer feeding the 13.8 kV switchgear in the plant’s energy center, and on each of the feeders serving unit substations powering the chiller plant, cooling towers, pumps, air compressors and hot water boilers. The meters are connected via Ethernet to the plant’s production LAN. The meters automatically capture a full range of PQ disturbances.
  • EcoStruxure PME software installed on an energy center control-room computer. The software automatically uploads meter-captured PQ events and waveform data and notifies facility engineering personnel when PQ anomalies are detected.

EcoStruxure’s advanced capabilities proved valuable when a 250 HP motor housed in the energy center shut down. EcoStruxure Power captured electrical data before, during and after the event, and a facility engineer was able to use PME software to diagnose the problem. Previously, operations staff might have simply replaced a blown fuse, without addressing the root problem, risking potential injury and equipment damage. Instead, the EcoStruxure Power system helped staff engineers reduce system recovery time, with significant savings as the result.

How metering can help your plant succeed

Visit Schneider Electric EcoStruxure for Automotive and download our “Applications for Automotive Guide,” for more success stories and ideas for how our solutions can help cut your energy costs and improve plant operations.

#SchneiderElectric #EcoStruxure





[1] Source: Advanced Technology Services Inc., (ATS) – Survey of 101 Manufacturing Executives in the Automotive Industry, 2006.

[2] S. Bhattacharyya, S.Cobben, “Consequences of Poor Power quality – an Overview”, Power Quality, book edited by Mr Andreas Eberhard (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-180-0, InTech, 2011

[3] 2 J. Manson, R.Targosz, “European Power Quality Survey Report”, Leonardo Power Quality Initiative (LPQI), 2008


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