By Martin van Zyl, Segment Leader, Consumer Packaged Goods at Schneider Electric

By design, critical industrial equipment provides exceptional longevity coupled with robust quality features that allow manufacturing facilities to run optimally and more importantly, continuously

Martin van Zyl, Segment Leader, Consumer Packaged Goods at Schneider Electric.Photo by Schneider Electric

Martin van Zyl, Segment Leader, Consumer Packaged Goods at Schneider Electric.Photo by Schneider Electric

Very often, little thought is given to the realistic lifespan of this critical equipment, which often results in failures producing catastrophic consequences.

Complacency accompanies the failure to maintain and upgrade equipment. Throw into the mix critical equipment such as generators and uninterrupted power supplies (UPSs) that are operating without sufficient monitoring and the manufacturing plant essentially sets itself up for imminent and dramatic failure.

The reliability of equipment and continuous power supply form a fundamental part of business sustainability particularly when it comes to production continuity and downtime avoidance. This is particularly true for industries such as food and beverage and pharmaceutical where the quality of manufactured products is non-negotiable.

Monitor, monitor, monitor

The importance of monitoring cannot be overexaggerated. At Schneider Electric we understand the value of holistically and deeply monitoring critical equipment, using industry software solutions supported by cloud analytics and expert engineers.

So how does this translate into real-life applications and benefits:

  • Identify and mitigate power quality issues from both internal and external sources through continuous monitoring.
  • Improve power quality to reduce equipment failure, prolong equipment lifespan and eliminate unknown tripping-and-stoppage events.
  • Reduce Energy cost by pinpointing savings opportunities related to operational usage, power quality mitigation measures and utility optimisation initiatives.
  • Leverage contextual information such as busbar temperature, ambient conditions, the number of operations, the loading of the equipment and other condition sensors for insightful monitoring of smart critical electrical.
  • Safety First through connected MV (medium voltage) and LV (low voltage) switchgear that provides remote switching functionality to establish safe environments that keep employees out of harm’s way while also empowering quick response time through remote monitoring and control.

 Power quality

Power quality issues can go unnoticed and have a major impact on operations and processes, leading to equipment damage, degradation of equipment longevity and unplanned downtime.

And these issues are more common than one would expect. It’s estimated that 70% of power quality disturbances originate within facilities and cause between 30% and 40% of resulting downtime incidents.

Here, a power management system has the analytic tools to help manufacturers understand which power quality events could adversely affect operations. Manufacturers can monitor and analyse power quality disturbances to determine specific actions needed to correct issues. This might include the installation of power quality correction equipment, such as Power Factor Correction and Active Harmonic Filters.

Accelerating the benefits

Monitoring and management are great steps forward; however, even more insight can be gained through analysing the collected data in the cloud.

The benefit of Schneider Electric’s cloud analytics is that the data is not only evaluate through machine learning tools together with R&D information; but an experienced Schneider Electric Engineer will also evaluate the results and provide specific recommendations to the onsite team on how to proactively prevent an issue from progressing into a safety or downtime event.

A typical basic example of Cloud Analytics services would be for the monitoring a transformer’s busbar temperatures in context of the ambient operating conditions and load profile to understand when these contextualised thresholds are exceeded that will require immediate intervention onsite such as tightening of Cable or Busbar connections. Cloud applications will therefore evaluate a holistic data set an its relation to critical assets such as a transformers or UPSs to identify potential issues arising long before a failure occurs.

The time is now to focus on equipment reliability; utilising intelligent monitoring and management tools coupled to cloud analytics that predict unplanned downtime events and possible failure.