Trends in Power Management: Important Choices to Future-proof Your Solution

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In my last post of this blog series I explained why power management systems are important for all kinds of facilities. They help your team ensure the health and efficiency of your electrical system, get the most from your system capacity without overloads, and avoid equipment damage or downtime due to harmonics or power disturbances. In this post, we’ll look at global trends affecting power management and the important attributes of a power management system that you should look for to help ‘future-proof’ your solution.

Power Management

Key Trends Creating a More Digitized, Connected, and Efficient World

Across industries and across the globe, several key technology and business trends are determining how we’ll need to manage power in our facilities.

  1. Everything is becoming more digital. There’s a growing expectation that power will always be on so our businesses and homes can remain connected and operational. Yet, we continue to face more severe storms, an aging infrastructure, increasingly complex electrical distribution systems, and a more distributed energy network. Each of these factors increase the risk of grid instability and power disruptions. That’s why there’s an urgent need for more IoT-enabled sensors, electrical meters, smart breakers, and other intelligent equipment to monitor electrical conditions 24/7. Power management systems must be capable of turning all the resulting ‘big data’ into actionable insights that help facility personnel respond effectively to potential risks.
  2. A growing millennial workforce. Millennials are quickly making up the majority of facility operations and maintenance personnel. Their generation expects to have intelligent digital tools that simplify their jobs and help them collaborate across teams. This also applies to keeping their electrical systems running reliably and efficiently.
  3. Smart facilities with sophisticated electrical systems. Inside facilities, more and more things are being connected, including new kinds of sensors and controls throughout the electrical infrastructure. Thermal monitors will help prevent electrical fires. Distributed energy, energy storage, and microgrids will become more commonplace. Power quality mitigation equipment will routinely be installed, such as harmonic filters and power factor correction. Power management systems need to connect with all this equipment and integrate with other facility systems to give teams a complete view of everything impacting power and energy performance.
  4. Continuing vigilance against cyber threats. With the rise of cyber-attacks on industrial automation and control systems, power management systems will need to be extremely cybersecure.

So what should you be looking for in a power management system that can help you meet the challenges you face today as well as help you maintain the safety, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability of your electrical assets well into the future?

The Right Data from the Right Places

Electrical data are very specialized, and so are the devices that provide that data. You need a dedicated power management system that can upload and process all data types – ranging from simple measurements to captured waveforms, time-stamped events, and complex diagnostic and analytic information – from meters, smart circuit breakers, and other equipment. Building management systems, process automation, and SCADA systems are not designed to collect and interpret this type of data.

Your power management system should also be designed to work with complex electrical distribution systems that may include renewable and backup energy sources, energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and power quality mitigation equipment. It should also be compatible with all kinds of wired, wireless, and IoT-enabled communication networks, and be scalable to allow for thousands of connected devices as a facility or campus grows.

Facility operations and maintenance personnel need to stay informed and act quickly when an issue arises. A hybrid power management platform that includes site-based and cloud-based applications offers efficient and reliable data acquisition and processing, while providing local and mobile access to data and advanced analytics.

Designed for Power Management

Your solution should be purpose-built for power management, with data visualization tools designed for electrical system monitoring and power quality analysis, customized to the needs of each user. Rather than delivering raw data, the system should deliver insights and decision support that makes it easy for facility staff to understand what is going on in their electrical system without having to be ‘experts’. Ideally, it should take advantage of new technologies like artificial intelligence. This can enable prescriptive analytics, giving your team advice on the best actions to take, well before any problems arise.

The solution should also provide a comprehensive set of built-in report templates, specifically designed to help simplify power and energy management tasks (e.g. power quality tolerance curves and compliance reporting, energy modelling and forecasting, ISO 50001 reporting, etc.)

Ultimately, the power management system you choose should be ‘user goal-oriented’, with the required devices, communications, and analytic tools to specifically address key applications. This can include everything from electrical network and power source management, to power quality and power events root cause analysis, backup power testing, and thermal monitoring. On the energy side, it should support utility bill verification and energy performance analysis.

Finally, the system should be adaptable, with an architecture flexible enough to accommodate new applications, integrate new device types, and interoperate with new systems.

Able to Share and Integrate

To help facility teams to collaborate and work together on shared goals, you want a power management solution that can exchange data with your other facility and enterprise.

However, interoperability and accessibility can also be enabled by embedding power management web interfaces inside other software environments, offering a unified experience to the user. For example, imagine power quality analysis being accessible within a SCADA or process automation platform. Or an energy performance dashboard made accessible within a building management interface.

Of course, the power management system you choose must support this cross-platform integration capability.

Cybersecure for Power

All the system components of your solution should be designed to be cybersecure, in the context of a power management architecture. You should ensure the vendor has a proven track record of following cybersecurity best practices, such as following the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) and complying with standards such as such as IEC 62443. You should also make sure that the software supports data encryption and secure communications, such as HTTPS.

Look to the Experts

Keep in mind that optimizing power system performance isn’t just about technology. You also need the support of experts. Power is critical to your business; you can’t afford risks. So, make sure you’re working with a solution and service provider who is a specialist in electrical distribution and power management. You should expect them to support you throughout the entire lifecycle of your facilities, making sure your systems are running in a safe, reliable, efficient, and secure manner.

EcoStruxure™ Power solutions from Schneider Electric are designed to future-proof your power management strategy. They securely digitize your entire electrical infrastructure, integrate with other facility systems, and enjoy customized visualization, reports, analytics, and expert services that help you improve safety, reliability, and efficiency while simplifying your team’s workflow. To learn more about EcoStruxure Power, check out our website and eBrochure.

Also, be sure to check out more of my posts in this series which examine the many ways that intelligent solutions are helping facility teams optimize power and energy performance while meeting business and sustainability goals.

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