How digital capabilities are transforming the way we work

by FM Media
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digital switchgear

Digital capabilities help facility managers plan more effectively, to ensure continuous, long-term productivity.

Electrical systems have, until recently, been managed in a rather traditional way, with regular, routine maintenance activities being carried out to prevent switchgear from becoming unsafe or breaking down. But with companies increasingly looking for improved productivity, continuous operations and high reliability, the way we service these electrical systems is evolving at pace.

ABB NeoGear low-voltage switchgear technology has paved the way for a smarter future, with next-generation safety inbuilt by design and minimum risk of failure and reduced need for maintenance.

As a building or facility manager, the more information you have about its electrical systems the better, so that you can understand when and where maintenance may be required or when equipment should be replaced. The idea behind ABB’s digital switchgear solutions is not only to measure and monitor conditions more closely, but to provide our customers with technology that takes care of itself, freeing them up to focus on other areas of their business.

The benefits of digital capabilities

Temperature monitoring is just one of the processes that has been made easier by the advent of digital switchgear. The temperature change of an electrical connection is always the first and best indication of the existence of bad joints. In traditional environments, facility managers and operators need to have maintenance teams available up to three times a year to safely enter the switchgear room and measure  the temperature of accessible joints.

However, with digital switchgear this exercise becomes redundant, thanks to integrated sensors that monitor the temperature 24/7, as well as fluctuations in other conditions such as load changes, without the need for human verification. Not only does this enable a clear and ongoing understanding of any abnormal activity, it also ensures operators only intervene when necessary and, if they must enter the environment, it informs them what safety wear is necessary. Ultimately, the process is less disruptive, more cost-effective and safer.

Beyond this, operators can monitor the mechanical and electrical condition of devices in the switchgear, such as circuit breakers. Information is also collected about the environmental conditions where the switchgear is operating, which can
impact the lifetime of components.

ABB NeoGear revolutionising energy distribution:

  • no exposure to live parts
  • reduces the physical switchgear footprint by up to 25 percent
  • increases cooling efficiency to reduce heat losses by up to 20 percent
  • reduces overall operational costs by up to 30 percent through predictive maintenance, increasing uptime and performance
  • 30 unique parts versus up to 400 in traditional busbar
  • 90 percent fewer electrical joints for highest switchgear availability, and
  • arc ignition protected zones keep maintenance personnel safe.

Industry 4.0

To make technology even more intelligent, the challenge today is, firstly, being able to collect enough data over a long enough period, and, secondly, having the right tools in place to effectively analyse it, both automatically and continuously. That’s why our next step is to look at artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, to help us to better understand the data being collected, so that we can turn it into actionable insight for industry – optimising processes, improving safety and making better business decisions.

Just as new digital technologies are coming into the marketplace, the electrical engineers coming into the workforce today are digital natives. As such, they want to be able to access the information needed to do their jobs on their smartphone or tablet – as they would in other areas of their life. They expect to be guided by the technology, prompting them as to when and where they need to carry out maintenance work and the steps necessary to carry out that work.

This technology is already a reality, and many of our customers reap the benefits of the ABB Ability Condition Monitoring for electrical systems (CMES), installed as an integral part of the switchgear assembly. The CMES allows switchgear operators and building maintenance engineers to monitor and manage electrical distribution systems and the motor control centre via their mobile devices, in real-time, to optimise maintenance, operational costs and energy consumption.

To stay one step ahead of workers’ (and customers’) expectations, companies must continue to push the boundaries, using digital technologies to create smarter, more intuitive ways of working. Five years ago, nobody thought it possible that we could create a digital switchgear like ABB’s NeoGear. But now that it is here, it has changed the way we work with and maintain this vital electric power component.

Download this white paper to learn more about NeoGear and its application.


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