July 13, 2020

Measure, analyse, report, solve

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Measure, analyse, report, solve

Measuring your  usage to diagnose where to make energy savings

According to the Carbon Trust, cash savings of up to 20 per cent can be achieved through energy efficiency measures such as installing variable-speed drives (VSD) for fans, pumps, and other motor driven systems. But, a one size fits all approach to energy savings just won’t do. Here, John Mitchell, global sales & marketing director at supply, installation and repair specialist CP Automation, explains how plants should measure their energy usage to find the best energy saving opportunities.

The ISO 50001 standard requires organisations to establish, implement, maintain and improve an energy management system. To make energy savings, a plant manager must first understand their facility’s energy usage. It sounds obvious, but in reality, achieving energy control and crucial ongoing energy savings requires a strategized approach. The first step is to measure your energy usage.

Many modern distribution and energy management systems already incorporate energy monitoring and logging facilities. However, they may only have a limited amount of memory and are unable to store results over an extended period. In addition, many integrated monitors only store summarised data that do not provide the level of detail needed for effective energy optimisation.

Portable power and energy loggers (PELs) provide a convenient and cost-effective alternative, with far superior capabilities. These PELs, from Chauvin Arnoux for example, can be installed in several different locations, with data from different processes or equipment available on a single screen. A real benefit of these modern devices is that equipment doesn’t need to be turned off and isolated during the installation process.

The next step is carrying out an energy audit. The data from the PEL will show where the most energy is being used in your plant and consequently where the most potential for energy savings can be found. The results from this report will inform the type of improvements to implement and crucially where they should be implemented.

Energy saving opportunities can fall into two broad categories, those that relate to the workplace environment and technical aspects of the electricity supply. For example, a plant could improve the efficiency of the workplace environment by cutting down on unnecessary out-of-hours usage by switching to LED lighting with occupancy sensors. On the other hand, an energy audit may find that a motor is consuming a high amount of wattless or useless power. In this instance, power factor correction would need to be installed to reduce this wastage, without compromising the performance of the equipment.

It’s one thing implementing energy savings, but it’s also important to continually monitor your system to ensure you’re getting ongoing energy improvements. Plants should also formulate a metering plan to measure and analyse energy usage over an extended period of time. This will assess whether the chosen energy efficiency measures have been effective or whether further improvements can be made.

Plants may choose to implement energy efficiency schemes for a range of reasons. While there are several universal energy saving fixes, it’s important that facilities use a targeted approach, which accurately monitors their systems to achieve the most effective energy and cost saving potential.

CP Automation offer a range of products and services to monitor power quality problems and energy usage. Visit www.cpaltd.net for further information about Chauvin Arnoux’s industry leading PEL kits which are available for purchase or hire. Alternatively contact sales@cpaltd.net to take advantage of the full data analysis, reporting and  solution implementation service.


May 15, 2020

Prevention is better than cure: why should your business monitor power quality?

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On August 9, 2019, a lightning storm caused blackouts across parts of the UK. Although the blackout lasted for less than an hour, around one million people were affected. In light of this event, John Mitchell, global sales & marketing director at supply, installation and repair specialist CP Automation, explains why modern power protection is essential for your facility.

The lightning storm caused major disruption across England, Wales and some parts of Scotland. Even though all customers were restored within 45 minutes — the knock-on impact to services were significant. Rail services for example, experienced major delays for 48 hours following the event. Unfortunately, this lightning storm isn’t a freak one-off, nor are lightning storms the only cause of blackouts.

Transients, interruptions, harmonics, swells, dips, sags and unbalance. These are just some of the power quality problems that can have devastating effects for industrial businesses. Power quality deviations may originate within the source of supply, load equipment or from interactions between the source and the load.

While utilities are finding ways to decrease the number of outages and restore power quickly by improving the reliability and resilience of the grid, what can businesses do to safeguard their operations? Effective power system protection and power quality monitoring can take different forms but should protect your business from downtime, data loss and equipment damage.

Preventing downtime
Downtime can lead to production loss, which is financially disabling for any business, especially in an industrial environment where businesses are under pressure to increase the efficiency of their operations. Preventing downtime should therefore be a priority for businesses of all sizes. Power outages are a major cause of downtime and, unfortunately, they’re on the rise. Businesses can however take steps to diminish the impact of power outages, by installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
A UPS is designed to provide a secondary or backup power in the event of loss of utility power. The first step in implementing a new UPS system, is establishing whether a facility requires a single- or 3-phase UPS. Generally, loads of 20kVA or less can safely use a single-phase UPS, whereas larger loads will likely need a 3-phase UPS. The rating of the UPS will be determined by the type of supply, the load being drawn by the system (kVa value) and the supply voltage.

Preventing data loss
Data is a powerful business tool, so preventing data loss should be high on every business’s agenda. Data loss can happen due to human error, hardware malfunctions and also through power failure. There are a few things your business can do to manage this scenario. Firstly, make sure that offsite data backups are available. Secondly, invest in a reliable surge protection device (SPD) and a UPS system. This may prove valuable in preventing a forced shutdown, providing valuable additional minutes to retrieve data.

Protecting equipment from premature failure
There’s more to power protection than preventing power outages. The sine wave has remained the same since the late 1800s, however the sensitivity of the equipment that is connected to the grid has dramatically increased. Transient surges and harmonic distortion are two common power quality issues.

A basic SPD and a variable frequency drive (VFD) may be used in conjunction to mitigate the damaging impact of high-power surges. However, even with basic surge protection, many facilities are still faced with some machine breakdowns due to low level switching transient events.

Transient surges are a brief change in voltage frequency that occur thousands of times a day but are very damaging to electrical equipment. The additional peaks and troughs in the sine wave caused by transients results in confusion to sensitive devices such as industrial computers, or CNC machines. Some facilities may believe that built-in surge protection adequately protects their equipment, however the built-in protection is not doing enough to protect valuable systems and prevent false zero crossings caused by transients.

Consider this as an example. High power electrical devices such as elevators and air conditioning systems or components like compressors and motors, require large amounts of energy to turn on and off. This switching creates a sudden and short demand for power, which can deviate from the normal voltage flow in the electrical system. If adequate protection is not in place, over time this can lead to premature wear of components and in severe cases, can lead to immediate component failure.

Similarly, the damage caused by harmonics can seriously impact equipment service life. The thermal stress on components can cause excessive wear and premature failure. The rise of non-linear loads in industrial environments has resulted in the growing problem of harmonic currents. The most common symptoms include voltage notching, motor vibration, arcing on bearings, nuisance tripping, electromagnetic interference (EMI/RFI) and overheating.

So, how can this be combated? Harmonic filters monitor the network and inject the necessary amount of compensation current at any given time, which restores current waveform and lowers current consumption. This makes the devices ideal for installations in which current load changes constantly, such as in IT applications and data centres.

What next?
Due to rapid advancements in equipment, varied approaches to the identification and mitigation of power quality issues have arisen. This has led to some facilities using setups which are outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

So, how do you decide which power quality products you need? Performing a site audit is a good place to start. This will identify the power quality problems that are plaguing your facility, so that you can choose the right surge protectors, harmonic filters and power quality analysers to mitigate damage.

Whether facility managers choose to completely update their power protection devices, or enhance what they already have, monitoring the electrical characteristics in your facility can result in less downtime, limit data loss and protect valuable equipment from damage.

CP Automation offers a range of products and services to tackle power quality problems. Its four point Mission to MARS service: measure, analyse, report, solve, offers a complete power quality service from site measurements to product installation. Visit www.cpaltd.net for further information.