Electrical Power & Protection

Gaining valuable insights into your power infrastructure

February 2022 Electrical Power & Protection

In an era where South Africa faces a continuous and uphill battle in stabilising its energy provision, many businesses are focused on alternative resources and backup supply such as UPSs, generators and inverters.

However, companies still need to manage their current power infrastructure, which makes a compelling case for electrical power management systems. At its core, a power management system can simplify organisational operations whilst providing real insights into efficiency and processes.

At Schneider Electric we often get asked: why do I need to manage my power? The simple answer is that electrical systems are getting more complex. Loads and process complexities have increased and power systems have become more distributed and sensitive.

Facilities today depend on their electrical distribution infrastructure to keep operations running. These can range from large and critical facilities such as data centres, hospitals and airports to industrial plants and commercial buildings or campuses.

Power management systems help ensure the safe, reliable, efficient and compliant operation of electrical distribution systems, including the assets connected and offer benefits such as:

• Avoiding electrical fires and preventing shock.

• Recovering from outages more quickly and safely.

• Improving uptime by avoiding unplanned outages.

• Finding ways to reduce energy costs.

• Optimising maintenance and getting more life from electrical assets.

• Simplifying the process of acquiring and maintaining compliance to standards and regulations and legislating for things such as energy management, carbon emissions and power quality.

How does a power management system work?

A power management system forms part of the digitalised power distribution network, including connected devices and sensors that collect data from key points across the electrical infrastructure.

Additionally, real-time power information can be acquired from standalone power metering devices or from those that have embedded metering capabilities such as protection relays, breaker trip units, motor control units and variable speed drives (VSD).

All organisational electrical assets can then be monitored 24/7 including transformers, medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) switchgear, generators, transfer switches, power control panels, distribution panels, motor control centres, UPSs and harmonic filters.

The above then provides real-time analysis of power conditions and quality, how efficiently energy is being consumed and equipment health. This electrical power data can then be shared with building management systems (BMS), scada, industrial automation or enterprise energy management systems which don’t have the analytical and visualisation tools required to manage organisations’ electrical infrastructure.

Power management systems therefore provide the operational intelligence required for the real-time operation and maintenance of electrical assets and the power distribution network as a whole

How does it help you?

There have been significant advancements in power and energy analytics tools that provide greater ease-of-use for facility teams. Power management systems also cover myriad applications to address:

• Electrical system health and efficiency, which also identifies overloads and is used for fault finding.

• Capacity management, which includes analysing historical trends. This is especially vital when operating a critical facility with backup power systems, such as hospitals or data centres.

• Equipment monitoring. Often power quality problems lie within your own electrical distribution system. As facilities modernise to improve energy efficiency, the addition of LED lighting, VSDs and automation equipment can produce harmonics and distortion.

• Power event analysis. Electrical distribution networks regularly experience power disturbances that travel extremely quickly through the system and are short-lived. Advanced power quality monitoring devices capture these disturbances at distributed points in the system and provide important analytical information.


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