The value of power systems engineers to facility managers

Power systems engineers (PSEs) offer valuable insights by identifying faults and optimizing electrical systems in facilities.

02/27/2018


Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaFrom installation to maintenance, all the way to modernization, electrical equipment needs care and attention to ensure longevity. Throughout a facility's lifecycle, electrical distribution infrastructure should be consistently maintained to ensure equipment performs reliably and reaches its full life expectancy, which lowers overall total cost of ownership.

While facility managers have the know-how to identify and fix issues within electrical systems, third-party experts with more 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.

While PSEs are helpful resources who can correct issues in electrical systems, they 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. Their knowledge is useful throughout any state of an electrical system's lifecycle. For almost all projects, PSEs can provide helpful insight as early as the planning stage to influence the most efficient way to design an electrical system. After installation, PSEs can 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 an electrical system's current state and have the PSE make improvements. PSEs are highly skilled in evaluating entire electrical systems to identify any faults, or 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 solutions to the facility manager who works with the system.

PSEs also have specialized knowledge in regards to different parts of electrical systems. PSEs may specialize in one area, but they can give insight on how that one area impacts the system's overall performance. This knowledge allows PSEs to effectively guide facility managers on when to address electrical system concerns and how 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 being involved throughout the planning and implementation stages. They can also impose strategies to ensure these three risks highlighted below are reduced as much as possible: 

  • 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 budget issues for projects. PSEs can help in the planning stage to ensure the electrical project can be implemented in a cost-effective way.
  • Operational risk: Facility managers need the entire power system to be fully operational and functioning 100% of the time. They can rely on the PSE's expertise to ensure the system's maximum operation and reliability when the project is completed.
  • Safety risk: PSEs are also knowledgeable about current safety compliance procedures, which allows them to ensure the project's output operates safely once construction is complete.

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

Eddie Jones, PE, 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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