Manufacturer’s focus on manufacturing, industrial buildings
CSE: System integration is becoming more prevalent. How is your company/product meeting this need? Provide a recent project example.
Patel: All our products have ability to communicate either with a central monitoring and control system, or as a standalone management from remote location. With all the inter-connectivity now possible for industrial equipment, we are fulfilling the needs of standard communication design using Ethernet connectivity and open protocols, yet with sophistication to ensure security and safety similar to what is deployed in the banking world. An example of such integrated solution is the Prentice Women’s Hospital in downtown Chicago, where our transfer switches and switchgear are controlling the backup generators located in a parking garage across the street due to space constraints. It was made possible using the fiber-optic network to control equipment rather than run pure signal cables which would have voltage drop and/or command clarity issues. Additionally, all critical power equipment including UPS, circuit breakers, etc. is on a comprehensive monitoring system for improved electrical reliability.
Carpenter: Trane offers a range of solutions to meet the specific needs of industrial customers, including Tracer XT, which delivers the ability to integrate SCADA and traditional HVAC, lighting, life safety, and more into a single platform. Actionable information is displayed on easy-to-read dashboards that provide a holistic, real-time view of the building climate and the critical systems in the facility. The integrated system allows operators to monitor, control, and troubleshoot discrete systems to improve building efficiency and create an optimum physical environment for operations and the occupants. An example of this is a recent installation at a GE data center where the centralized control platform tied together new and existing GE and non-GE standalone/overlapping systems into a simplified master system. This master system has provided 11% energy savings, and a 50% reduction of chemicals.
CSE: Large manufacturing facilities traditionally require a great deal of power during peak hours. What resources can you offer engineers to help meet these short-duration, high-power goals?
Carpenter: In order for energy reduction strategies to be effective, it’s imperative to know where to focus efficiency initiatives. The full process requires data acquisition and data analysis to identify where the majority of energy is being used. It’s also critical to know how to implement changes to the controls or HVAC system, and have a method to validate the savings that have been generated. Trane offers advanced energy analysis tools that provide insight into energy use, cost, and system performance. In addition, Trane offers LEED Accredited Professionals and HVAC specialists who design, build, and support energy-efficient HVAC systems. Trane uses HVAC and energy expertise to recommend demand shedding control strategies in the existing control system, to recommend changes in usage patterns, and to make enhancements to the existing HVAC system. These changes may include solutions such as an ice enhanced chilled water system that can shift electrical demand during peak energy periods, improve the operational efficiency, measure the savings, and sustain the system for the life or the facility.
Patel: Many facilities are in similar situation. Even office buildings typically reach their peak demands for few hours on a hot summer afternoon. Average load requirements for such facilities could be about 50% of such peaks, so there is a lot of wasted capacity sitting idle. Engineers take advantage of peak shaving or cogeneration solutions using the soft load transfer scheme, which shifts power from central source to on-site one without any disruption. They can also use the critical power management systems to ensure their key equipment is always prioritized in case of supply/demand imbalance or when there is a desire to remotely turn-off non-essential load contributing to such short duration peaks.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.