The Managed Power Infrastructure: New Opportunities Emerge With loT-Connected Systems

Today’s progressive electrical contracting business is really all about delivering proactive services that keep customers' systems up and running reliably. Servicing the customer throughout the year instead of a once-and-done attitude lets contractors stay connected to these clients and benefits their facilities with assured connectivity.

As every part of the facility becomes connected and integrated with the internet of things (loT), a new digital landscape is rapidly changing power distribution, building operations and management. This new, emerging landscape also offers contractors an opportunity to offer power distribution management services, according to Mohamed Shishani, EcoStruxure Power deployment leader, Schneider Electric, Nashville. EcoStruxure is an open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform.

“It’s a journey, a transformation of power distribution,” he said. “Power is the central nervous system of the building, and a connected environment unlocks features you can’t get with standalone devices. A circuit breaker by itself does a fantastic job. But what good is a circuit breaker if it doesn’t ‘talk’ to a downstream meter? Now, you can unlock features you didn’t think about before. Better power quality and visibility can also help electrical contractors extend their revenue streams. Now, they can offer a service on top of the service—monitoring power quality and asset status with cloud-based tools that automate maintenance operations and quickly apply corrective action in case of an outage.”

Shishani said EcoStruxure Power leverages advancements in the loT to deliver new levels of efficiency, performance and sustainability, so contractors can better compete in the digital world. Ultimately, it’s designed to help power professionals and building customers take advantage of new technologies and deliver better uptime, safety and energy efficiency without compromising daily operations.

EcoStruxure Power distribution focuses on three core layers of technology innovation: connected products that collect and distribute information from internet-connected circuit breakers to meters; edge control, which allows real-time control of operations to maximize system reliability; and apps, analytics and services that allow customers to make informed and timely decisions to ensure reliability, reduce costs and boost efficiency.

“EcoStruxure injects loT into projects early into the process and the ROI is simple and attainable. Now, there are no more blind spots, and you can have the knowledge about the electrical distribution to identify issues early.”

According to Shishani, one Schneider Electric customer recently experienced issues with its office buildings. EcoStruxure Power monitoring software indicated below-threshold fluctuations and was able to determine the likely source of the disturbance. The company resolved the issue, avoiding downtime and possible extensive equipment damage.

“In the digital age, data is currency," Shishani said. "What we are doing with this platform is taking care of the data crunching and IT aspect and giving that information to the contractor. The end user gets predictive data while the contractor gets all the information in one place. The actionable reports generated are also are a win for the contractor and the end user significantly gains from the fact they don’t have break-fix instances in their electrical distribution.”

Shishani said the company wants to make it as simple as possible for contractors to join this evolution and has launched the Certified EcoXpert Partner Program.

“Everybody is looking at the next job to keep their business pipeline active," he said. "You cannot just be the guys running cable and moving onto the next project if you want to compete successfully. Imagine if you bring the loT into that pipeline. You have the project and the recurring revenue business.”

He also offered this advice for electrical contractors: focus on the talent you are hiring for your business.

“You need to invest heavily in training and need people who know what IP is and can have a technology conversation,” he said.

About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer

Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at dlocommunications@gmail.com...

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