Electrical Contracting News (ECN) March 2017 - Page 45

UPS & POWER DISTRIBUTION SPECIAL FEATURE POWER DISTRIBUTION FOR THE DIGITAL AGE Gary Buckingham, product segment marketing manager at Schneider Electric, discusses the need for reliable and efficient power distribution in today’s buildings, and how the use of smart devices can enable facility managers to mitigate potential risks such as power outages. We are currently witnessing the rise of a new chapter in power distribution. After all, today’s digital age is going to impact our lives and business as much as the introduction of electricity did at the end of the 19th century. This is going to bring with it a wave of innovations in power that will blur the lines between the energy and digital space. The traditional centralised model is giving way to new economic models and opportunities, which redefine the core basics of power distribution; efficiency, reliability, safety, security and performance. Many of us know the inconvenience of experiencing a blackout at home, but the impact is much more far reaching when it occurs in your corporate facility – from lost revenue and unhappy tenants, to more extreme scenarios like the loss of life. Recently, tourists and shoppers in central London were plunged into darkness after an underground electric cable fault on a high voltage network caused an area-wide power cut. Theatre shows were cancelled and shops were closed, leaving shoppers and store owners frustrated and disappointed. One of the biggest challenges facing facility managers today is the need to maintain existing equipment performance. A call to get smart How can such outages be prevented? At the core of smart power distribution systems are smart devices that enable facility managers to take preventive measures to mitigate potential risks. These devices have become more than just responsible for controlling a single mechanism. They now measure and collect data, and provide control functions. Furthermore, they enable facility and maintenance personnel to access the power distribution network. In many places throughout the power network the existing intelligence can be embedded inside other equipment, such as the smart trip units of circuit breakers. These smart breakers can provide power and energy data, as well as information on their performance, including breaker status, contact wear, alerts, and alarms. In addition to core protection functions, many devices are also capable of autonomous and coordinated control, without any need for user intervention. March 2017 | 45