Monitoring power and energy to control service costs
Technology Update: Increased operational efficiency and lower energy costs can result from gateways that provide data acquisition and protocol translation capabilities that enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to select the level of functionality required to reduce equipment support costs. Smart meters, relays, and other monitoring devices on power distribution and manufacturing equipment can show real-time power quality and energy use.
Smart meters, relays, and other monitoring devices on power distribution and manufacturing equipment can show real-time power quality and energy use. Monitoring and measuring power flow and energy usage helps to improve equipment support, while reducing service-oriented and troubleshooting costs. This real-time data that is also accessible remotely can be used to improve overall operational efficiency and optimize energy usage. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end users alike stand to benefit by monitoring and measuring electrical system power flow and energy usage—by controlling energy and service costs, reducing downtime, and driving energy efficiencies.
Many organizations have the misconception that reducing energy consumption will either slow down or fundamentally change critical processes, when in reality, a proper energy management program will allow facilities to do more with less, maintaining operations with less power and associated costs.
Further, organizations often worry that the implementation of a robust energy management and monitoring system would require substantial investment in capital, workforce training, and labor. There is also the fear that end-to-end monitoring would require an overhaul of existing electrical systems with commitment to a particular equipment vendor. In addition, many simply do not know where to begin when implementing an energy monitoring and management program.
The truth is, modern monitoring and energy management systems can be designed to scale easily from a small facility to global operations—with the ability to integrate new devices within minutes to provide greater value over time. Such systems are designed to provide simple, full-scale integration of third-party products and other critical facility systems, including building management systems (BMS), building automation systems (BAS), security systems, and fire alarm systems—compiling complex data into familiar management platforms for informed decision making.
By taking a tiered approach to installing smart meters, relays, and other monitoring devices on power distribution and manufacturing equipment, users can see, in real-time, power quality and energy usage, and easily add more capabilities as energy efficiency programs progress.
The most important place to start is with meters and other monitoring devices, which keep a continual log of electrical parameters—providing a blueprint of what is going on with electricity powering equipment, a process, and/or facility. The power and energy data gathered provides the information needed to be proactive and understand the effects of power anomalies and energy usage within an electrical system.
That said, meters, relays, and other monitoring equipment provide information for single points across an electrical system or equipment. To make sense of all those data points, there are solutions that help aggregate that information with the ability to access data remotely to simplify management.
Collecting data, saving time
Devices called gateways bring diverse power components into a system that can be monitored and managed. These solutions help collect data from serial communicating monitoring devices and other intelligent electronic motor control and power distribution components.
The gateway is a data acquisition tool and protocol translator. Fundamentally, the gateway provides a way to collect electrical parameters and aggregate data from electrical equipment like meters, relays, and circuit breaker trip units into a system that can be monitored and managed.
The electrical data that gateways typically collect includes volts, amps, watts, kilowatt-hours, power-factor, and other parameters to give users a blueprint of what is happening in their equipment. Further, gateways can also provide alarms and event status on communications, over- and under-voltage or current, and other available alarms from serial devices.
Gateways provide users with a single point of secure access to view real-time power and energy data, and log and trend data in an easy-to-understand web page from devices downstream. Gateways enable quick access to the data monitored by meters and other devices, so that users and OEMs can see what is happening without having to log the data from the meter (or other device) manually. Gateways collect and consolidate that key data for real-time viewing, and log historical data to detail up to 30 days of energy usage, alarms, and events in 24-hour periods.
One gateway can acquire data from up to 96 serial communicating devices on a Modbus RTU or Incom serial network. Gateways with flexible communication protocol support can allow users to collect data through a web browser using http(s), or pull that needed data into an existing client monitoring system using Modbus TCP, BACnet IP, or SNMP.
Monitoring equipment, controlling costs
Use case 1: Controlling service costs for global OEMs: Manufacturers are shipping equipment to customers worldwide. Power availability and reliability vary greatly around the world. Gateways can help OEMs demonstrate that equipment is operating according to specification, and that downtime is caused by poor power quality. In other words, gateways enable manufacturers and users to review power quality and energy usage remotely, troubleshooting and even resolving issues without sending a technician-if the problem is power quality coming to the equipment.
Use case 2: Avoiding downtime in continuous process industries: Understanding efficiencies (or wasteful practices) in equipment or process is crucial in continuous process industries. The data collected by gateways can help reveal a host of issues, including undersized and worn motors and drives; all this can be determined by reviewing the power and energy data from your system. Also, gateways can help manufacturers identify power-factor related issues associated with poor performing equipment that could be generating electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) noise, and causing problems with other equipment in the process. The information collected by gateways can be used to schedule maintenance and drive efficiency improvements.
Selecting functionality, get just enough
Gateway devices have been around for about a decade, and there is a range of models available giving users the flexibility to select the feature options to meet their needs for power and energy monitoring. It is important to look for devices that can collect data from various manufacturers, as most systems include equipment from multiple manufacturers. Gateways that use open protocols enable communications with devices that communicate via an open protocol like Modbus, regardless of the manufacturer.
The newest generation of gateways provides faster system response times, increased data transfer rate, memory to support log depth, and a variety of models to serve a range of requirements. Typical features include limited device type monitoring, viewing of real-time data only, expanded device types and historical logging, and the ability to create custom events with a consolidated user view. Basic devices provide real-time monitoring and integration with energy and building management systems, whereas higher-functionality devices are able to store and trend historical data, create logs, and email notifications to report events. In addition, some devices can be used as a stand-alone solution that logs and trends data with outbound communications, and provides a 30-day log or report on energy or power values.
Gateways are configurable through a web interface. The process of getting started is rather analogous: Plug the USB cable into the gateway and enter an IP address. Then log in as the administrator and configure to suit the specific application and machinery.
Communication efficiency, lower cost
There are effective ways to reduce power starts with a historical knowledge of how power is being used. Quantifying and analyzing energy consumption is required to both identify an effective energy management strategy and to validate if it is working and power consumption is reduced once that strategy is put into effect. These important processes can be simplified by using gateways.
The information that gateways are able to aggregate, including power status, energy consumption, and other electrical parameters, can help organizations reduce costs. The range of gateway solutions available in the marketplace today also enables OEMs to select the level of functionality required to reduce equipment support costs, which helps to create an incredibly scalable and cost-effective solution for improving operational efficiency and reducing energy costs.
- Rick Schear is product manager, Eaton; edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monitor power and energy to control service costs.
- Gateways can increase operational efficiency and lower energy costs, providing data acquisition and protocol translation capabilities to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to select the level of functionality required to reduce equipment support costs.
- Smart meters, relays, and other monitoring devices on power distribution and manufacturing equipment can show real-time power quality and energy use.
Think you're losing money or opportunities if increased connectivity can increase efficiency and lower costs?
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