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4 Reasons Continuous Power Quality Monitoring is Good Policy

Posted on 2/9/2016 9:57 AM by Bhavesh S. Patel

ASCO Power Technologies

Good power quality and uninterrupted power are extremely important goals at many types of facilities, ranging from commercial and government buildings to data centers, healthcare centers, and manufacturing plants. When it comes to reliability of power in a facility, foresight is a lot better than hindsight.

Compromised power quality can cause damage to costly electrical equipment, reduce productivity, and – if severe enough – disrupt daily operations. Variations in power quality can result from voltage spikes, swells, and sags; harmonic disturbances; and short and long interruptions of power lasting from a few milliseconds to over two seconds. And any of these events can occur at any time.   

Sophisticated proactive monitoring of power, 24/7, incorporates hardware - sensors and meters - to measure electrical sensitivity and software to record and interpret the data. It can also include wired and wireless communications to inform facility personnel about  what is negatively affecting power quality and where in the electrical system the event occurred. There are a variety of reasons that continuous power quality monitoring should be included in your playbook:

1) Fast Recovery 

Detection of a problem early on, before it escalates and when it is easy to address, minimizes the likelihood of costly damage to equipment or costly interruption of business-as-usual. The ability to review stored, continuously recorded waveforms and spot anomalies such as sags and swells, transient harmonics, and power outages helps in the diagnosis of problems. The early detection can enable proactive scheduling of repairs in a timely fashion, rather than emergency repair at a time when maintenance or service personnel are not readily available or when shut-down of a load would be inconvenient.

2) Enhanced Analytics 

Power quality analytics enables development of a baseline that can be used to evaluate the performance of electrical equipment and components over time. Comparison to baseline can detect performance trends which can impact preventive maintenance programs. The comparison to baseline also provides useful information that can help in predicting future power requirements and help in developing plans for purchasing additional electrical equipment such as servers or variable frequency drives.

Power quality analytics also supports forensic investigation into how a chain of events occurred as it did, such as why a particular breaker tripped the PDU (power distribution unit) and resulted in a switchover to the UPS. In such a scenario, analytics could pinpoint the root cause - for example an electrical spike, a short, or a floating ground. It can also pinpoint power quality problems that can age equipment prematurely.

3) Accurate Information

Where good power quality and operational continuity are critical, facility management benefits from both a building management system (BMS), which operates on a narrow bandwidth at relatively low speed, and a dedicated critical power management system (CPMS) that complements it. Operating at a very high bandwidth and a very high speed, a CPMS monitors and analyzes the operation and status of the electrical components of the normal power and emergency power systems from multiple points of access. The very high rate of speed is necessary to generate power quality details such as transient harmonic displays or wave form capture. A CPMS can monitor current, normal and emergency voltages and frequency, power and power factor, and can indicate transfer switch position and source availability. Web-enabled communications can provide access to any/all of the information, including automatic alerts, from anywhere in the world.

4) Compliance Benefits

A CPMS may also have the capability for testing to comply with regulatory reporting requirements. For example, specific reports can help meet various requirements such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70, NFPA 99, and NFPA 110.

Additioanlly, the associated improvements in the efficiency and reliability of a facility’s power infrastructure can save on the cost of energy, minimize occupant complaints about power issues, and preserve good relations and reputation with tenants, creating benefits throughout the organization.

Bhavesh S. Patel is director of marketing and customer support at ASCO Power Technologies, reach him at customercare@asco.com.



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5 Benefits of a Dynamic Company Floorplan

Posted on 2/5/2016 11:13 AM by Aaron P. B. Morin

Making sure a workspace is positioned to handle change is important. An agile workplace is a happy workplace. Essential to preparing for change in the workplace is the implementation of a system that can organize workspace in an efficient way while allowing employees to choose where they want to work. This system should feature an ability to track and control space usage with meaningful data that allows managers to quickly reorganize a company floorplan based on the insights. Though there are a wealth of products and combinations of office management practices that try to achieve these requirements, only a dynamic company floorplan can holistically address space usage management in the workplace.

Dynamic company floorplans are graphical facilities management interfaces based on blueprints or office layout diagrams. They usually facilitate desk and room booking, asset tracking, searchable seating and equipment location plans, and a collect data about space usage and user interaction with the system itself. Dynamic company floorplans are usually produced by an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) or a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) tool and offer 5 key benefits for FMs:

1) Reduce Facilities Management Workflow Complexity

Office and facilities managers know that keeping track of every asset in the workplace can be a logistical nightmare. Manual recording or using multiple tools to track asset location and details, usage and condition can result in complex and inefficient facilities management workflows. While dynamic company floorplans can record space usage data, more importantly they serve as an up-to-date point of reference for employees as well as FMs. All changes in the workplace are instantly reflected with a dynamic company floorplan which keeps everyone up-to-date, from staff using the system to get around and reserve space in a fluid workplace to managers using the system to plan their next big redesign. By taking care of all these aspects of space usage management, a dynamic company floorplan can significantly streamline facilities management workflows.

2) Eliminate Space Usage Data Siloing

Sharing data is caring about data, and collecting and storing data in multiple locations by many tools and teams only serves to create barriers to accessing this information. This is because teams or individuals relying on this data to make meaningful changes in the workplace spend more time finding it and less time on getting insights to plan and carry out action. Additionally, segregated data about workplace usage provides a fragmented picture of facility operations. If a workflow features space management through a dynamic company floorplan, space usage data is stored in a central, accessible place for employees that need it. Details like contact information, HR records, space and equipment booking metadata and more are typically all accessible from dynamic company floorplans. Additionally, updates to this single source of information can be pushed to anyone else using the data which keeps teams on the same page.

3) Understand Space Usage Holistically

Facility costs are usually the second largest expense for an organization next to payroll. Catching a wasteful trend in space usage early is only possible with a big picture understanding of how employees use equipment and shared spaces. Implementing a dynamic company floorplan to track this behaviour allows for immediate and holistic analysis of space usage. Reporting tools designed to gather insights from space usage data can help in the process of eliminating or repurposing unused space in the workplace. Managers can quickly get to know how individual employees, teams, and departments choose to interact as well. Strategies to make communication, collaboration and efficient equipment usage easier can be visualized and planned for with a dynamic company floorplan.

4) Provide a Searchable Visual Reference of a Workplace

Whether a workplace uses a closed, open, or hybrid office layout, visual references and seating maps are the easiest to use and understand, especially if they are interactive. Searchable dynamic company floorplans organize staff, equipment, workspaces and remote employees in a very accessible way. Large facilities can be navigated in a matter of seconds by searching for details about people, places and tools in the workplace. Easy to use and easy to navigate seating plans are a breeze to prepare with space management software providing dynamic company floorplans. Orientations are much easier, visitors and clients can find who they are looking for faster, and staff can handle moves and changes much more efficiently; offering a searchable dynamic company floorplan just makes sense.

5) Flexible Workplaces Make Employees Happier

HR professionals know that every employee has their own ideal workplace. Affording staff the option to work in any environment that best suits them has obvious benefits. Desk sharing, also known as hoteling or hot-desking, requires precise coordination and instant updates that only a dynamic company floorplan can offer. Open and hybrid office layouts with shared quiet and collaborative spaces allow teams and individuals to work best in their own style. Dynamic company floorplans are an integral part of fluid workplaces because staff can reserve their workspaces in advance and view where their teams and other staff are located in order to prepare for collaboration. Additionally, project managers can determine the best locations for efficient work and equipment use easily.

Flexible Facility Management Needs Dynamic Company Floorplans

If a workplace needs to keep up with how employees use space, facilities managers need to simplify and optimize their workflow with a dynamic company floorplan. Space usage data should be available in a central location to keep staff up to date about the state of their workplace and make planning easier. Anything measured can improve, as Pearson’s Law states, and dynamic company floorplans provide holistic measuring of space usage. Using this information, facilities can be organized in more efficient ways onto easily navigable office floorplans. Implementing a dynamic company floorplan in the workplace affords facilities managers the ability to understand how space is and is not used, and organize assets in a facility in a clear and responsive manner, and give staff the ability to work how they want.

Aaron P. B. Morin is Director of Support Services for BrowseLab Inc., creators of the StaffMap office and facilities management software. He can be reached at aaron@browselab.com.



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4 Reasons Continuous Power Quality Monitoring is Good Policy

Continuous power monitoring could benefit your building's operations – check out this valuable industry advice to learn more.

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5 Benefits of a Dynamic Company Floorplan

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