With operations in modern industries and commercial complexes growing more complex each day, myriad challenges arise for users regularly. Across industries - be it auto, oil and gas, minerals, metals and mining, data centres, hotels, hospitals etc. - varied problems have to be addressed almost on a daily basis.
Some of the hurdles include continuity and quality of power, safety against fire hazards, effective cooling design, high reliability, minimum downtime, ease of maintenance, flexibility for upgradation, and cost of energy and motor management, amongst others.
Additionally, it is necessary that equipment or processes being used are in full compliance with predetermined standards, use renewable energy sources that drive CO2 reduction and lower carbon trails, have local and remote monitoring/control, contain diagnostic functions, possess process automation and network dynamic stability, record maintenance systems etc.
One way to overcome these hurdles and meet specific needs is by using smart technologies, especially smart power. Deployed in modern technology, such smart power solutions ensure smooth management of the entire network through electrical reliability. The latter includes distribution and protection, power monitoring and control system, power quality analysis, motor management and diagnostics, crisis management and recovery, and source management.
The second benefit is, asset management, covering asset information, asset monitoring, asset use optimisation, maintenance management and critical asset management. The third benefit is, cost and efficiency management for energy savings and sustainability through cost allocation, energy use optimisation, green cost optimisation and green standard compliance.
The above smart power technologies come via various buckets such as smart MV and LV electrical distribution, power monitoring and quality, energy management systems, security and surveillance, critical power, renewable energy and field services, amongst others.
In the form of various products and services, these technologies are used in our homes, buildings, cities, industries and the cloud. In homes, their deployment assures safety, reliability, connected homes, sustainability and style. In buildings and cities, they ensure faster urbanisation; the creation of smart cities; urban efficiency; smart mobility; smart grids; renewable power; and intelligent, green buildings.
In industries, they speed up the pace of industrialisation, advance the Internet of Things (IoT), promote productivity and process automation, lead to faster modernisation of technology and augment sustainability as well as energy efficiency. Usage in the cloud offers benefits such as digitisation, content on demand, creation of data centres, cyber security and ´big data´, while fostering a partner ecosystem.
Elaborate, tremendous benefits and savings are assured in buildings using smart power technologies. But each building can be unique in its design and operation, depending upon whether it is an office complex, hospital, hotel, airport or educational complex, since all have different functional requirements and occupancy patterns.
Therefore, a smart energy management company such as Schneider Electric adopts an integrated approach to building management to reduce energy consumption by up to 30 per cent, curb capital expenditures, lower operating expenses and boost overall business performance. The solutions and technologies for each structure will then differ in some ways.
Broadly speaking, the solutions for homes are offered through automatic room control, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) and lighting solutions. To benefit from these clean technologies, it´s best that developers contact energy efficiency experts during the planning stage. Thereby, even before construction begins, plans are in place to maximise energy efficiency of all systems in the building, while other smart technologies are embedded during construction. For example, automatic room controls can offer efficiencies to optimise room conditions as per four main variables: time, access, function and occupancy. Room controls can range from small, all-in-one-box solutions to highly advanced multi-application centralised solutions forming part of the building management system. Simultaneously, such systems could provide comfort for occupants, while keeping energy costs low.
Safety & security
In essence, there are multiple benefits of smart power systems in homes, offices and elsewhere. The lower use of resources - such as electricity, water, gas etc. - leads to lower carbon trails, mitigating the impact of climate change and global warming. Smart meters regulate energy flow throughout a house, minimising energy use and bills. Automated HVAC systems switch off the moment a room is unoccupied. With CCTVs, motion-sensitive/night-vision cameras and intruder alarms installed in homes, the safety and security of children, elders and bedridden members is completely assured.
In the last case, smart homes equipped with voice command systems can be of immense benefit for bed- and wheelchair-bound patients. Physically-challenged family members and elders also tend to feel empowered through smart systems since it minimises their dependence on the family and other caregivers. On the other hand, family members have more freedom while performing tasks in other rooms or elsewhere, since the disabled/elderly/children can be monitored through remote cameras.
Truly, smart power solutions are imperative in today´s home and office environments since comforts and conveniences are important to reduce the stress of daily life.
Author: Ashutosh Shukla,
Director - Equipment and Solutions Business, Schneider Electric India.