Power systems engineers help facility managers

Power systems engineers (PSEs) can identify faults and optimize electrical systems in facilities.

05/13/2018


Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaFrom installation to maintenance, all the way to modernization, electrical equipment needs care and attention to ensure its longevity. Throughout a facility's lifecycle, electrical distribution infrastructure should be consistently maintained to ensure equipment performs reliably and reaches its full life expectancy (thus lowering overall total cost of ownership). While facility managers have the know-how to identify and fix issues within electrical systems, third-party experts with wider reaching knowledge are available to take a more holistic view to optimize the system's efficiency. Power systems engineers (PSEs) are the go-to specialists with the expertise to modernize, ensure proper operation, and increase efficiency of electrical systems.

As helpful resources who can correct issues that arise in electrical systems, PSEs are often only brought in when there is a problem in the facility. However, PSEs can offer more to facility managers than just fixing problems and their knowledge can prove useful throughout any state of an electrical system's life. For almost all projects, PSEs can offer counsel as early as the planning stage to influence the most efficient way to design an electrical system. After installation, PSEs can be engaged with to handle a variety of tasks including commissioning, conducting engineering analysis, modernization, and addressing safety compliance issues. 

Performing an engineering analysis

PSEs are very proficient in performing engineering analyses. Part of an engineering analysis is defining the current state of an electrical system and tasking the PSE with finding a way to improve it. PSEs are highly skilled in being able to look at the electrical system to identify any faults, or simply find areas of improvement. Through their analyses, they can pinpoint specific areas of the system that may not be performing as well as they should, and offer realistic solutions that a facility manager who works with the system daily may not recognize. PSEs have specialized knowledge bases surrounding different parts of electrical systems, giving them a breadth of knowledge on very specific details. PSEs may specialize in one area but also can realize how their specialty can affect the performance of the system. Thus, PSEs can effectively guide facility managers on when to address electrical system concerns and offer counsel on the most efficient way to do so. 

Risk mitigation

When facility managers implement a new project, a variety of risks and complications may arise, including financial, safety and operational issues. PSEs can help mitigate these risks by offering their knowledge throughout planning and implementation. PSEs can impose strategies to reduce risks:

  • Financial risk: Facility managers are interested in having an operational electrical system that can be an asset to their business. However, due to budget constraints for facility management, they often run into issues concerning how much money they can spend on a project. PSEs can help in the planning stage to ensure the electrical project can be implemented as cost effectively as possible.
  • Operational risk: Having a cost-efficient electrical system is only part of the battle; facility managers need the entire power system to be fully operational and functioning. They can rely on the expertise of PSEs to ensure maximum operation and reliability when the project is completed.
  • Safety risk: In addition to their knowledge of operational efficiency, PSEs also are highly knowledgeable with the most current safety compliance procedures, allowing them to ensure the project's output operates safely once it's construction is complete.

PSEs are valuable partners to facility managers at any stage of a project. Bringing them in early allows them to offer their counsel from the planning and development stage and provide the knowledge around how to maintain and modernize the electrical system as it gets older. Their skills in identifying ways to improve electrical systems makes them reliable resources for addressing safety concerns as well as reducing the financial burden a project may place on a facility. By using PSEs' expertise in engineering analysis, facility managers can have a better understanding on how to increase operational efficiencies for their electrical systems.

Eddie Jones is an engineering manager at Schneider Electric. Edited by Emily Guenther, associate content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, eguenther@cfemedia.com.

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KEYWORDS: power systems; power system engineers (PSEs)

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