The implementation of design/build means more power and input for any given specialty contractor on the job site. It puts more responsibility on the contractor and also gives said contractor the opportunity to provide myriad services that extend beyond installation.

The introduction of computer-aided design was the first step toward automating the design/build process and making it more efficient. While it continues to serve its purpose, advances in technology have created new solutions that help take design/build to the next level.

Computer modeling and simulation, such as EDSA Micro Corp.’s Paladin platform, is one of the most innovative offerings.

Power analytics benefits include aiding the power systems’ lifecycle management process. Using the company’s Paladin Design Base electrical design tool, users have the ability to harness the power of computer modeling and put it to use for electrical systems from the early stages of design, right on through to ongoing maintenance.

“Our forte is in the powerful modeling and simulation that our products provide,” said Adib Nasle, EDSA president.

The next step

Building on such software, which had been static until recently, the new way of working takes place online. Intricate designs no longer reside solely at the workstation of the engineer who designed them. They now exist in a virtual environment where engineers, contractors and end-users can access the initial design to monitor current conditions.

EDSA’s Paladin Live, which provides power system information in real time, enables users to view their electrical infrastructures from any location, at any time. It monitors the infrastructure components continually through the use of sensors that are almost always located at various points throughout the electrical system.

According to Nasle, most systems in place are already equipped with sensors. Therefore, such systems go beyond delayed system views.

“With this, the design model is not static. Instead, it mirrors reality,” Nasle said. That is beneficial to both end-users and the engineers and specialty contractors who help support such systems.

When the Live portion of the solution is used, Nasle said, the initial design and the projected operational health are compared against all of the real-time information that is being fed into the system from the sensors spread throughout the entire system.

Contractors and facility operators can watch for potential problems using this real-time comparison. This type of system is like a combination design/build and preventive-maintenance package.

By being able to actively compare thousands of points of data, those using such a system can immediately see where abnormalities lie and match those against the system’s original design. This can mean the difference between the chance to schedule service as required and a total shutdown. It can mean the difference between a facility remaining operational and going down unexpectedly, causing lost revenue.

Nasle illustrated how the system can be beneficial in decision making as well. He explained that if a facility is contemplating adding a chiller, the system could take that information and show the user what the remaining power capacity would be, demonstrating the ramifications of changing or modifying the power system. That information helps all involved make educated decisions based on actual real-time factors.

Another peripheral benefit is that these types of solutions are helpful in achieving such objectives as energy efficiency and the management of energy. Facility managers and owners consider both to be high on the list of facility goals.

Getting involved

This type of solution can be beneficial to contractors in two ways. The first is in regard to the design/build aspect of business. Using this software means engineers have the ability to design systems in a way that 2-D solutions cannot provide.

The second, an extension of the first, is that contractors can work with their customers in a way that almost mimics preventive maintenance arrangements. Comparing and contrasting system conditions on a regular basis means contractors remain in the loop, in terms of service and system work. This could be beneficial in the long run because not only would they get ongoing maintenance work, but they would be privy to upcoming projects since they would be able to see where the system is headed and what improvements need to be made.

This is another way specialty contractors can meld together the various components of their business. Design/build and ongoing maintenance continue to be sought-after options. Solutions such as this help marry the two. For contractors, that means the best of both worlds: being actively involved in both design/build and routine service. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.