Five ways to reduce energy consumption in your plant

Electrical power management systems deliver intelligence required


Establishing a dashboard view to identifty equipment or system issues that occur can help you achieve operational and safety objectives. Courtesy: EatonYou can’t manage what you don’t know. But there can be too much of a good thing. Most power distribution systems incorporate a host of equipment that can communicate and provide a vast amount of data. Alarming can help identify a problem, but when there are a number of alarms going off simultaneously, it is hard to zero in on which alarm should be addressed first.

Establish a dashboard view to identify equipment or system issues occur and ensure that your facility is on track to:

  • Meet financial goals
  • Achieve operational and safety objectives
  • Realize sustainability initiatives
  • Accommodate environmental standards 

Move beyond alarm notification to manage, analyze and trend electrical component availability and usage. So you can proactively and predictively manage energy in your facility. 

1. Gather and analyze energy information

Monitoring and managing power distribution systems is critical to successful, energy efficient and reliable operations. With an electrical power management system (EPMS), you can track real-time and historical data to identify, track and improve wasteful energy practices.

Today, it’s easier than ever to obtain power and energy information to make operating decisions proactively and efficiently. Power monitoring no longer needs to involve solutions that are expensive to install and update, and are outdated when the electrical system changes

New web-based software solutions are designed to be quick to install and configure so systems can be up and running quickly. Additionally, updates are intuitive, making it easy to add or remove devices as electrical systems change; so that the EPMS continues to provide an accurate picture of the electrical system over time.

Further, an EPMS can integrate third-party products and other critical facility systems (including building management systems (BMS), security systems and fire alarm systems). This will help compile complex data in to a unified management platform for informed decision making. 

2. Make sure systems are operating according to plan

An EPMS can help verify that a facility’s power distribution systems are installed, calibrated, and perform according to expectations and goals. Know that your system is working according to plan and make adjustments as needed. Electrical distribution systems evolve over time as new equipment is acquired, systems are adjusted, and processes change. An EPMS can help you make sure that all your electrical distribution equipment is working most effectively and identify improvements.

Additionally, by simply monitoring your power distribution equipment, you are likely to find ways to reduce energy costs. As the Hawthorne effect indicates, you are likely to modify your behavior by simply measuring it. By keeping tabs on energy consumption, you can find ways to realize savings. 

3. Manage operations

An EPMS constantly collects information and provides the ability to measure availability, loading, and consumption in real time. For facilities with hundreds of devices to manage, monitor and track, a central system is required to pool data from the device, circuit or load into understandable, actionable information.

An EPMS makes it possible to monitor the operation and status of all of the electrical components that are running in the buildings, and trends measurements on those components over time looking for changes. When changes are detected, the information can be used to investigate and respond proactively prior to service-impacting failures.

Using an EPMS, you can compare equipment or facility energy consumption and identify inefficient practices. The software can help you calculate the return on changing habits and replacing equipment. 

4. Identify issues

View only the device information that you want to see. Simplify alarm management. Check out energy usage and demand data. Compare and trend data, and view a one-line representation of your electrical system.

An EPMS’s user-defined dashboard view provides the information needed at a glance, so you can pinpoint the energy and power anomalies required to achieve cost savings, prevent equipment or process downtime and support sustainability initiatives. A dashboard view also helps to identify equipment or system issues before major problems occur.

5. Change bad habits

Software makes it easier to see where energy is being wasted and savings can be realized. Whether it is a matter of simply turning off the lights at night, staging motors or equipment to reduce demand charges, or shifting operations to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates, use an EPMS system to optimize your facility’s energy use. Establish goals toward reducing peak power demand and identify operations and systems that can be shifted to reduce energy costs. Use an EPMS to understand how operational changes can impact the bottom line – without updating or upgrading equipment. 

The payoff

Power monitoring and management capabilities deliver confidence—confidence that power systems are doing what they should, that personnel will be immediately notified of alert conditions in time to resolve, not just react, and the confidence of being able to predict and prevent problems before they occur.

For today’s complex industrial facilities, an EPMS is not a luxury item. It is a tool that keeps your plant running effectively and efficiently.

There are many different suppliers of EPMS and many different levels and cost points. When searching for the solution that is right for your facility, select the one that best meets your business needs, while always keeping in mind that an effective EPMS should provide simple expansion as your system grows and greater value over time.

Marty Aaron is the product line manager at Eaton for software and connectivity products and has more than 25 years of experience in the electrical industry, with expertise in both industrial motor control and power quality.

Jonas , Singapore, 12/15/13 09:38 AM:

Electricity is one important source of energy to manage. Other energy sources requiring energy conservation measures (ECM) are steam, chilled water, and compressed air etc. ECM may include unit-wise consumption monitoring and cost accounting as well as tracking of improvements being done and sustained. This requires consumption measurements on each process unit. This is not being done in plants today. These are “missing measurements”. These missing measurements can be covered by a second layer of automation for pervasive sensing based on WirelessHART transmitters. These are easy and low risk to deploy in an existing plant.

Monitoring steam traps for failure is another big piece. Lots of energy is lost due to steam trap failure. Steam traps can also be monitored using WirelessHART acoustic transmitters.

Lastly efficiency of heat exchangers and cooling towers is also important. If they foul, they are inefficient. WirelessHART transmitters and asset monitoring software can be deployed to detect fouling to more effectively schedule cleaning.

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