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Building owners and managers are no strangers to the risks associated with over or under investing when it comes to electrical capacity planning. Over spending could lead to surplus capacity, unused equipment, and other waste that typically doesn’t represent best use of budgetary resources. On the other hand, under spending could mean that you may not have the capacity in place to adequately handle your building’s needs in the future.
The same commitment that goes into meeting the energy demands of today should go into predicting the energy demands that will need to be met tomorrow. With growth, site loads can increase and usage patterns will vary, leading to demand growing beyond planned capacity. Although average demand may not be a typical concern, peak demand should be – as even a brief moment of extreme consumption has the potential to cause downtime for an entire network.
Most building management teams can benefit from an in-depth understanding of their electrical system in order to better assess capacity requirements of the future. An effective and time-efficient way to accomplish this is with modern, scalable software solutions that offer tools for capacity management, simulation and planning.
These features allow users to test the impact of momentary electrical load increases, set capacity thresholds and model potential system upgrades – prior to the addition of new electrical equipment – to help reduce the risk of unplanned downtime and ensure adequate system protection.
For example, building managers can take daily power-consumption trends into account to alter electrical loads electrical equipment can be powered down when not needed. The technology can also be used to simulate the addition of new HVAC equipment to determine if adequate overcurrent protection exists.
There are a wide range of electrical power management software (EPMS) solutions on the market that are designed to help track energy usage over time. However, when addressing the future it may be best to look for a platform that can also immediately inform facility management of peak levels and project future demands based on past usage.
This knowledge could prove critical in planning for infrastructure or systems investments, helps to avoid unnecessary expenditure, and simplifies power system adjustments in support of changing loads – ultimately allowing building management to plan for future requirements more reliably.
Marty Aaron is product line manager for Eaton, and can be reached at: MartyLAaron@Eaton.com.
For decades, facility managers have relied on energy management solutions that monitor only one type of equipment – whether it was for metering, EPSS, HVAC, load management or storage. While it’s great for hardware manufacturers and suppliers to lock in their customers to a single-vendor solution, it creates a headache for facility operators who have to manage and maintain different types of equipment separately.
Further complicating the energy management landscape is the fact that over time, facility operators and managers may add new equipment to existing legacy assets because the next-generation technology better meets their feature or budgetary requirements. Take into consideration the overwhelming types of equipment available from a multitude of vendors and the energy management and connectivity challenges can multiply exponentially in a facility.
While BEMS (Building Energy Management System) solutions exist, BEMS providers cannot connect to all types of facility equipment and provide for multi-function operation. A much more comprehensive solution is needed and this solution could pave the way toward BEMS extinction.
Move Over BEMS
The explosion of IP-connected energy equipment has been a major driver for vendor-agnostic energy management software that connects to and monitors any type of power equipment found in facilities. Recently, such software solutions have entered the marketplace and not only provide energy management at the local facility level but also at the enterprise level for organizations that operate facilities spanning multiple locations. The need to tie geographically dispersed facilities has driven a new power management category known as centralized facility management, or CFM.
Because the Internet makes remote management and connectivity cost-effective, facility operators and managers for single-site or multi-site facilities can connect thousands of power-related devices in a quick and efficient way, creating a digital energy network.
The Energy IoT
Implementing an “energy Internet of Things” solution that connects a digital energy network can give facility operators a deep level of insight into operations and the opportunity to monitor and control any connected device. Any operator who has access to the Internet-enabled dashboard can remotely manage power controls or dispatch technicians before anything bad happens with equipment or operational systems. In addition to monitoring energy performance and efficiency, Internet-enabled energy management platforms can allow facility operators to test the energy resiliency of their operations – which is absolutely critical in complex facilities where bad things happen when the lights go out.
Is an IoT-enabled CFM approach right for you?
Here’s a quick checklist that can help you better understand your current environment, potential limitations and if your operations could benefit from adopting a CFM approach:
1) Do you run a critical and complex facility where a power outage could have a devastating effect on operations?
2) Are you unsure if/or how to determine if my facility is resilient enough to overcome a major power outage or related disaster?
3) Does your facility environment consist of “dumb” siloed energy equipment systems that can’t or don’t “talk” to each other.
4) Do you have to log into multiple cumbersome dashboards to get a holistic view of facility health and energy data?
5) Do you own/manage multiple buildings but are only able to view and manage the data of each site individually?
6) Does corporate management have no way to determine how individual facilities are performing against each other?
7) Are you unsure why power usage – at a single or multiple-sites – is so high or how you can increase efficiencies and cost savings?
8) Are buying decisions and capital budget allocations are typically based on equipment age and not necessarily real-time performance metrics?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, a shift in both management and technology approach could benefit your organization.
The bottom line is that the Internet is making it easier to manage critical and complex facilities that have relied on SCADA or BEMS solutions in the past. New energy management software can work for single-site or multi-site facilities and with any energy equipment, providing a single solution that can allow more accurate assessments of your facility’s energy needs. It seems so simple because it is.
Tom Willie is CEO of Blue Pillar.
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