Power systems management – providing valuable insight into your power infrastructure

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By Vladimir Milovanovic, Vice President, Power Systems, Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

At a time when South Africa faces an ongoing and uphill battle to stabilize its energy supply, many companies are focusing on alternative resources and backup power such as inverters, generators and inverters.

However, businesses still need to manage their current electrical infrastructure, which is a compelling case for power management systems. At its most basic, a power management system can simplify organizational operations while providing real efficiency and process insights.

At Schneider Electric, we are often asked; why do I have to manage my power? The simple answer is this: electrical systems are becoming more and more complex. Loads and processes have increased and likewise electrical systems have become more distributed and responsive.

Today, facilities depend on their electrical distribution infrastructure to keep their operations running smoothly. These can range from large critical facilities such as data centers, hospitals and airports to industrial facilities and commercial buildings or campuses.

Power management systems help ensure the safe, reliable, efficient, and compliant operation of electrical distribution systems, including connected assets, and provide benefits such as:

  • Avoid electrical fires and prevent shocks;
  • Recover from failures more quickly and safely;
  • Improve availability by avoiding unplanned outages;
  • Find ways to reduce energy costs;
  • Optimize maintenance and extend the life of electrical assets;

Simplify the process of acquiring and maintaining compliance with standards; and regulations, and legislation for things like energy management, carbon emissions and power quality.

How does a power management system work?

A power management system is part of the digitized power distribution network, including connected devices and sensors that collect data from key points in the electrical infrastructure.

Additionally, real-time power information can be acquired from stand-alone power metering devices or those with built-in metering capabilities such as protective relays, circuit breaker trip units, motor control units and variable speed drives (VSD).

All of the organization’s electrical assets can then be monitored 24/7, including transformers, medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) switchgear, generators, transfer switches , power control panels, distribution panels, motor control centers, inverters and harmonic filters.

The above then provides a real-time analysis of power conditions and quality and, most importantly, the efficiency with which power is consumed and the health of the equipment.

This electrical power data can then be shared with building management systems (BMS), SCADA, industrial automation or enterprise energy management systems that lack the analysis and visualization tools needed to manage the organization’s electrical infrastructure.

Energy management systems therefore provide the operational intelligence necessary for the real-time operation and maintenance of electrical assets and the energy distribution network as a whole.

How does this help you?

There have been significant advancements in power and energy analysis tools that provide greater ease of use for facility teams. Power management systems also cover a myriad of applications to meet:

  • Health and efficiency of the electrical system which also identifies overloads and fault finding.
  • Capacity management that includes historical trend analysis. This is especially vital when operating a critical facility with backup power systems, such as hospitals or data centers.
  • Equipment monitoring – power quality issues often lie within your own electrical distribution system. As facilities upgrade to improve energy efficiency, the addition of LED lighting, VSDs, and automation equipment can produce harmonics and identify distortion.
  • Power event analysis – electrical distribution networks regularly experience power disturbances that propagate extremely rapidly through the system and are of short duration. Advanced power quality monitoring devices capture these disturbances at distributed points in the system and provide important analytical information.

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