Electricity + Control

The 21st century has brought us many innovations. One that’s having a big impact on everyday life is the internet of things (IoT) – smart objects that can connect to the internet and link the physical world to the digital world.

Schneider Electric SF61

Not long ago we could hardly imagine being able to control the lights in our house or open the garage door through our cell phone, but today it’s a reality. IoT and smart technology isn’t just about connecting gadgets through your home, though. It’s also transforming medium voltage switchgear and other areas of the MV network.

The medium voltage industry is traditionally conservative when it comes to decisions like capital investments and updating technologies. This isn’t surprising. The typical lifespan of electrical equipment such as switchgears tends to be 15-30 years, or even longer, yet equipment standards and technology is changing at a much faster rate. The main function of electrical equipment operators is to keep the network running and in good condition. So, the question arises, why install new technology that requires a shutdown of equipment as well as training and support for operators?

The answer is simple – a more reliable, safe, and cost-efficient MV network.

Innovation is the way

One of the trends in recent years is to decentralise activities within the administration of a building or medium-size industrial plant’s services. This is because it is expensive to have specialists monitoring each of the services individually, such as water, electricity, internet, access, and security. The challenge is how to give facility managers tools to manage these services collectively.

Traditional protection, control, and measurement systems have also been evolving toward better service. However, their functionality has been limited to protecting equipment in the event of a failure. But how can we prevent a failure within the equipment and ensure that the component responsible for correcting the fault is operational? Furthermore, how do we do this in real time?

By increasing connectivity, greater visibility of the facilities and more control over operational health is possible. It also offers edge control capabilities, so that the right decisions can be made at the right time to improve uptime and operational efficiency. This technology maximises data’s value by converting it into clear and future-oriented plans.

Major benefits of adding connectivity to MV switchgear 

Reduce downtime and gain greater efficiency

Connectivity provides real-time information on the health of your system. This lets you identify areas for improvement, prevents network downtime by identifying problems, reduces maintenance costs, and improves efficiency.

Increase safety

Electrical switchgear failure can cause serious injuries and damage. New, connected switchgear includes features like integrated arc flash detection, which reduces the risk of harm to people and equipment. Adding connectivity also allows local or remote monitoring and control of the switch/fuse-switch functions for improved safety and efficiency.

Improve monitoring capabilities

Connectivity gives greater visibility into operations and uses real-time data to support effective decision making, thanks to innovative condition monitoring tools.

Monitor power connections condition

Thanks to 24/7 thermal monitoring of hot spots, abnormal conditions can be identified, either on cable and busbar connections, and users will be alerted to potential problem areas and take preventive measures avoiding for unplanned shutdown.

Monitor environmental status

Online device that monitor condensation within the switchgear helps prevents fast aging in harsh environments.

Monitor circuit breaker performance

Real-time monitoring of circuit breaker performance provides up-to-the-minute insight, and data on performance can be used for better predictive maintenance and the creation of long-term maintenance plans.

The energy business is changing as it faces day-to-day challenges such as increased demand and a greater drive toward decarbonisation. The current trend shows that this situation will continue. It’s time for you to consider whether your service or business has the right technology to meet future goals.

Article Credit: Lucas Icandri, Schneider Electric

 
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