Intelligent circuit protection

In today’s digital age, business leaders are under increasing pressure to improve revenues whilst lowering all costs. More than ever, facility managers and operators are being tasked with extending their switchgears lifespan from around 10-30 years to lasting more than 40 years.

Extending the life of the equipment and preventing unnecessary damage may seem an obvious thing to do. However, it also avoids unnecessary business disruption and costs. To avoid this and ensure smooth operations for the future, cutting edge technologies can be used to enhance circuit protection and facilitate a more effective maintenance strategy.

The cost of maintenance and servicing is an almost universal challenge faced by businesses. This stems from a need for regular check-ups for equipment. Yet this ultimately results in an overreliance on time-based preventative maintenance strategies, where equipment is checked at set time periods regardless of the status of the equipment.

In this setup, faults and electrical damage are often discovered too late, at a great cost. Organisations would greatly benefit from being able to anticipate and predict problems such as electrical faults, cable overloads, short circuits and insulation faults before they become a costly issue.

Fortunately, recent advances have led to the introduction of intelligent circuit breaker sensors which provide for a more effective, condition-based approach. Based on operational and environmental data, this technology is key to protecting critical infrastructure systems and reducing the costs associated with frequent maintenance.

Schneider Electric’s PowerTag supports an alternative, maintenance strategy through its connectivity. As part of the EcoStruxure Power offering, PowerTag is a smart, IoT-enabled sensor device that attaches to circuit breakers. It provides real-time data on power flow, energy and device health for building managers to improve the health of a facility’s strategic assets.

Solutions like PowerTag increase reliability and efficiency by helping to monitor and measure current, voltage, power factor and energy.

This makes it easier to manage critical loads, reducing the risk to the electrical circuit posed by cable overloads and faults. It also measures device status in real time, and sends alerts to managers of issues and downtime on their mobile devices.

The ability for remote monitoring is a key technological advancement, allowing for increased visibility with the ability to receive updates on the system at every hour of every day, from any location.

Ultimately, this is what makes a truly predictive maintenance solution. Simply, it helps service teams to quantify real-time conditions that will affect their circuit breakers performance. By acquiring a continuous stream of operational data from the circuit breaker, the performance of each one can be closely monitored and analysed. In doing so, damage is reduced and maintenance is conducted only when necessary. This prevents breakdowns, downtime and unplanned expenses. These invaluable insights make it possible to protect a business’ crucial electrical infrastructure.

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