Finding Value in Power Monitoring

Power monitoring, defined as the trending of power system data throughout a manufacturing facility, is an often-overlooked source of insights and financial savings. Service data and substation, switchgear, and motor information can all be collected to provide varying degrees of granularity. While collecting this data can be challenging, the effort can lead to cost reduction, asset longevity, and more.

Three main challenges preventing comprehensive power monitoring in manufacturing are communication, accessibility, and connectivity.

Communication is difficult if there are multiple brands of power equipment in a facility. Each brand may have proprietary protocols and power monitoring services.

Accessibility is challenging when plant personnel need to connect to multiple systems to gather data. Maybe the data isn’t formatted uniformly to the plant standard but rather to the OEM  standard. Multiple logins and screens make for clumsy accessibility.

Connectivity becomes an issue when not all power equipment is connected to the network, making data collection manual rather than digital. Most equipment installed in the last ten years should have ethernet connectivity.

Despite these challenges, value can still be captured from collecting power data. One example is using load studies to make smarter investment decisions. Capital expansion projects are often engineered with very conservative load assumptions because power engineering firms do not want to design systems with capacity issues. However, many systems often have ample load capacity. Power data can show you the actual load capacity and help you make informed decisions on spending and facility expansion.

Here are a few more ways to capture value through power monitoring:

  • Load studies through long-term power monitoring can provide a high return on investment through savings in power distribution gear. They can, however, have a long payback period due to the time required for monitoring power needs.
  • Audits of utility bills can provide a shorter payback period and decent returns. Savings from three percent to eight percent per year can pay back the investment of power monitoring systems in as little as one year.
  • Analyzing like equipment, lines, and plants, assuming they are similar models of operation, can highlight anomalies in production. Similarly, monitoring same state trends across a fleet of similar assets can make odd trends pop out. Proper diagnosis of anomalous asset behavior can extend the life of the asset or prevent unplanned downtime. Analyzing like assets tends to have a moderate payback period within one to two years of investment.

You need to establish a clear purpose to get the most value from your power data. Do you want to focus on sustainability? Cost reduction? Asset longevity? A strong purpose helps turn information into actions. If you need help figuring out how power monitoring can lead to savings and improved operations at your facility, call us today at 712-722-1662.

Dan Riley, Analytics Manager