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Article Date: 15th March 2019

Schneider Electric - Customer Frontiers: Combining Design, Connectivity, Supply & Services Across the Divide

Internet of Things - LV Systems - Low Voltage Systems

Schneider Electric - Customer Frontiers

The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) has made data more bountiful than ever before, so much so that it is now difficult to integrate multiple systems and even more difficult to interpret the information in a useable action driven way.

Customers want to reduce the capital expenditure of projects, while also reducing operational expenditure to become more efficient. As well as the need to reduce implementation timescales and mitigate risk, these are major challenges facing all specifiers, panel builders and contractors. It’s time that all these elements are brought together to provide the end user with a safe, efficient and reliable solution.

This will demand a new way of thinking, communicating and supplying. It will apply to all types of application and will require the acquisition of new skills and knowledge by all the participants within a project, driven by the fundamental requirements of the end user.

Embracing a different philosophy
We continue to witness more demanding customers using technologies and installation practices that are changing which, when combined with IoT and on-line services, are changing the face of project requirements. Projects may traditionally use MV and LV systems but also contain BMS, energy management and in the case of data centres, UPS’s, IT racks, PDUs and cooling. These elements are often considered separately, crossing electrical and mechanical disciplines, which inevitably creates inefficiencies.

By putting the customer first, through early engagement, we can not only clearly identify their requirements, but their constraints too. This may be on-site skills, physical space, environmental requirements, budget, procurement preferences and even implementation restrictions.

With this thinking in mind, we can take an application-based approach to any project and combine MV and LV systems to optimise fault levels and switchgear performance. Additionally, connected products will provide insight to help optimise performance, including preventative and scheduled maintenance and energy efficiency.

Providing assistance during the design phase and using optimisation and standardisation where possible, can help to speed up the process. Using a supportive supply chain which fully understands these requirements also enhances response time both in quotation and material procurement again contributes to successful project completions.

The quest for data, information and knowledge
Asset managers are under constant pressure to reduce operational costs while improving efficiency. They would greatly benefit from being able to predict problems or adverse trends in the operation of electrical and mechanical infrastructure, before they become costly issues.

Using our EcoStruxure philosophy, this can be applied across all a system infrastructure within a project simply and efficiently. Using connected products to form the base layer in a switchboard environment, these then connect to edge control software for the collection and display of critical power data for example.

With the onward transmission of this information to an applications and analytics software environment, customers are able to visualise, manage and operate their full asset base within a project in a coordinated way. This may be through preventative or scheduled maintenance programs, viewing energy waste or establishing process efficiencies. The opportunities are vast but implementation through standardisation and optimisation is vital.

The speed of implementation on the critical path of many projects, is a priority to many of our customers. Our EcoStruxure environment is structured to be compatible at all levels using standard communications protocols, ensuring electrical and mechanical disciples communicate effectively and enables customers to assess and operate across functions to maximise effectiveness. This also facilitates simple off-site or on-site commissioning, thus reducing conflict in systems operation and implementation time and cost.

Our world is also changing through IoT and how we use technology to switch lighting and heating on in our home. Remote monitoring tools only make things easier. They help maintenance teams keep on top of monitoring no matter where they are, from a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. In addition, utilising remote services can analyse the health and efficiency of an installation and suggest or provide the best advice and solutions, with a general reduction in permanent on-site skills, activities can be scheduled or targeted in advance or before any on-site presence is necessary, reducing cost and potential down-time.

Bringing support and knowledge throughout the project process from end user through the supply chain, our application-based approach creates value in design, supply and project implementation. It also facilitates the platform to achieve operational excellence throughout the lifecycle of any installation. Using EcoStruxure enables sharing of relevant knowledge about assets and operational performance in a reliable and simple way to those who need it. The more knowledge they have, the faster and more effective their response can be.

By Stewart Gregory, VP power products, Schneider Electric

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