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Consolidate Data to Enhance System Reliability and Simplify Growth Planning

By Marcus Maxwell

How valuable would it be to proactively detect threats that could impact your operations? To receive automatic notifications when issues arise, giving you the opportunity to fix them before they become problems? And, to do all of this regardless of the brand of your equipment and systems?

The latest technology helps run today’s facilities better. However, it is no surprise that equipment that was selected years ago may not communicate with what you have today — especially as time and budgets don’t allow for complete system reworks year after year.

The good news is that software and connectivity solutions are available today that combine third-party device integration with expansive energy management, monitoring and reporting features.

By consolidating the monitoring of all infrastructure pieces, including HVAC, UPS, power distribution systems (meters, motor control, variable frequency drives, etc.), generators, fire-detection, security systems, and other communicating sub-systems from hundreds of manufacturers, all on one screen, building managers can better enhance system reliability and growth planning while enhancing the following areas of operation:

Energy efficiency. Reporting options are available within some modern platforms that allow users to automatically calculate metrics such as Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). These industry-standard efficiency metrics help IT managers understand and track how efficiently their data center is running and how effective improvement efforts have been.

Power balance. A major contributor to harmonic distortion is improper load balancing. Intelligent energy management software tracks load levels by phase, giving instant notification when extreme imbalances begin to occur, and providing the knowledge to take the necessary steps to re-distribute the load before a catastrophic problem occurs.

Power capacity. Platforms with power capacity tools help track the kW and kVA over time, immediately informs of peak levels, and projects future demands based on past usage. This knowledge is critical in planning for electrical upgrades and/or changes to the power chain to support changing load patterns.

Power density. As racks proliferate and expand from TCP/IP networks, servers and other elements of the infrastructure are placed into smaller areas, making power density a critical measurement. Intelligent software platforms can manage power density by device, for a single rack, floor or an entire building, allowing you to identify overloaded racks and incorrect power drains due to device failure.

Energy allocation. The cost of energy has always been of significant concern when managing departmental budgets. By monitoring energy usage by individual circuit, each device can be a part of the energy management strategy. These platforms even allow users to allocate electrical cost to individual and branch circuits, which can then be assigned to individual users of a department or device.

Enhancing safety and productivity. These benefits aren’t limited to the performance of equipment or building systems. By obtaining a comprehensive view of your infrastructure, facility managers can also simplify maintenance and increase safety for personnel.

For example, maintenance scheduler tools offer the ability to preset scheduled maintenance windows within the system to disarm selected devices on which maintenance will be performed. Disarming the devices allows continued monitoring and archiving during the maintenance period while disabling alarms and preventing unnecessary notification of personnel.

You can also predict events, energy usage, environmental and safety issues, among others trends based on current patterns 180 days into the future. With trending data tools, users can easily define thresholds that will alert you to developing issues well before an actual alarm condition is reached.

Increasing flexibility. When configuring a centralized energy monitoring and management solution, the options for customization are vast. Organizations can configure platforms to solve unique needs and specific industry challenges. For example, branch circuit and power flow monitoring can be integrated to enable an even closer view into energy usage.

For critical applications, users can determine the level of encryption needed to enhance the security of data viewed remotely through a standard Web browser. Additionally, redundant servers can be set up to provide the highest level of system reliability possible, with automated backup and protection against unexpected outages.

With the right connectivity and energy management solutions, organizations can optimize their electrical infrastructure for efficiency, reliability, stability and safety. New supervisory, connectivity and protection capabilities provide oversight of your entire power infrastructure — and even your entire facility. 

Data consolidation is the first step, whether your goals include meeting regulatory requirements, new technology demands, facility certifications, specific energy reduction targets or growth planning.

There are many different suppliers of these solutions as well as many different options for depth and cost. When searching for the solution that is right for your facility, select the one that best meets your business needs, while always keeping in mind that an effective system should provide both simple expansion as your system grows and greater value over time.

Marcus Maxwell is a product manager at Eaton with more than 20 years of experience in IT and power management system software in Europe and the United States.