Manufacturer’s focus on manufacturing, industrial buildings
Manufacturing and industrial facilities have some unusual engineering requirements, especially air handling, power needs, and fire/life safety systems. Two manufacturers provide feedback and advice.
Kurt Carpenter, Tracer XT Product Manager, Trane, Minneapolis
Bhavesh Patel, Director of Marketing, ASCO Power Technologies, a business of Emerson Network Power, Florham Park, N.J.
CSE: What trends are you seeing in manufacturing and industrial buildings?
Kurt Carpenter, Trane: With the challenging business climate, companies are looking to improve efficiency to stay competitive. There is an increasing emphasis on using information better and faster. For instance, data centers are calculating their infrastructure efficiency, power, and energy usage effectiveness, while a plant such as a juice processing plant may be interested in their energy performance indicator. All of these key performance indicators require data and measurement systems that can deliver it. Automation systems need to be designed to make nearly any key performance indicators possible. The building environment represents another key focus, including the infrastructure that supports the overall process, involving activities such as process cooling, compressed air, lighting, power distribution, water, and similar activities. The interaction between manufacturing systems and HVAC systems can be complex, but if comfort energy demand is managed independently of manufacturing assets, then efficiency gains in one area can be easily offset by the other. Production automation, energy metering, and climate control systems typically use different communication protocols. Bringing all of the systems together allows for more efficient use of both the manufacturing assets and comfort assets. Therefore, the need for an enterprise control solution to have broad support for system integration is increasing rapidly.
Bhavesh Patel, ASCO Power Technologies: The concept of “big data” is encroaching into many facilities. Most industrial equipment today is capable of communicating with each other or a central system for status, alarms, operation, or diagnostic information. These equipments are built with advanced sensors that feed micro-processor controls to monitor proper functioning, warning for maintenance, or problem prevention. So the movement is toward use and deployment of intelligent facilities, which can become the first line of defense for facility managers. And all the data that is collected now needs to be properly organized and used for beneficial use. One can say all such data for a facility needs to be managed like an integrated and lean supply chain, which has to constantly compare and adjust, rather than a warehouse full of data that you only pull when necessary. Facility managers are also designing facilities for analytics, not just monitoring. Specifically in power reliability area, facility managers want to view details about their critical power infrastructure all as integrated solution with synchronized time clocks for easier interpretation of how everything is functioning.
CSE: What’s the most important advice you could offer an engineer considering your products?
Patel: Since power reliability is critical to keeping the digital economy thriving, there is a strong push to implement solutions for power continuity. But all the electrical components have to meet the codes and standards prescribed for the intended use of such components. It is an engineer’s responsibility to ensure their designs specifically call out for equipment approved and tested for the application it is used for. This avoids potential delays during audits or approvals from authorities having jurisdiction as well as preventing challenges in case of safety issues or insurance claims. For example, many data centers are considered as “optional standby load” because they historically did not have direct/indirect life safety consequences due to non-performance. But with implementation of NEC Article 708, which elevated the criticality of many such facilities due to need of their continued operation to keep the U.S. economy functioning, engineers’ should re-visit the codes they design such facilities to.
Carpenter: It’s ideal to work with a company with domain expertise that understands the interaction between the process and surrounding environment and how to optimize it. This means looking at a manufacturing site as a single system that can be optimized. A recommended practice when assessing potential solutions is to require that manufacturers provide documented case studies and success stories highlighting equivalent installations and the benefits that the systems offered the user. It is also important to involve the domain experts in the design process as early as possible. Use their experience to help in the design and selection of the right control system components and in identifying the integration requirements for the job. Trane integrates HVAC domain expertise on an enterprise solution that allows engineers to package the experience of separate providers on a shared platform. This capability allows users to combine the knowledge of multiple providers on a project, while delivering the system it as if it is single sourced.
CSE: What factors do engineers on such building projects sometimes overlook?
Carpenter: Sometimes looking at the total system is overlooked. It’s critical for engineers to look at a building project holistically. When that doesn’t happen, they typically end up with a facility with multiple independent systems with very little synergy or connectivity. Taking a less-than-holistic approach adds to upfront costs and burdens the facility with unnecessary overhead that must be managed going forward. The technology exists to bring discrete units and subsystems together into an overall system and to proactively manage spend on a per unit cost basis. Therefore, it’s important to gather as much detail as possible about the integration needs as early as possible in the system design process. This will allow the engineer to ask detailed questions about how well the integrated control systems will meet the company’s needs. Many times a system that is designed only for HVAC is employed in production or critical control setting and limitations in functionality become clear after the facility is put on line. Correcting this situation often requires changing many of the controls and the enterprise interface to industrial quality products, which can be expensive and is also disruptive to production output during the transition.
Patel: Besides ensuring facilities are designed to local electrical codes, sometimes engineers may overlook the geographic requirements like seismic or hurricanes. Another reason for such oversight is due to fact that some of those requirements, while applicable to electrical equipment, are listed under the building construction portion of the specifications. Another factor is designing for all intended use of a facility. For instance, local hospital may also be a designated community shelter during disasters, which means code mandated backup power would not be adequate for continued use of a facility during extended outages. Also important is ensuring that critical equipment does not submerge in water during flooding condition even though codes do not specify such requirements. Essentially, engineer should use codes and standards as the starting point then build up the design to meet common-sense needs of the facility.
CSE: System integration is becoming more prevalent. How is your company/product meeting this need? Provide a recent project example.
Patel: All our products have ability to communicate either with a central monitoring and control system, or as a standalone management from remote location. With all the inter-connectivity now possible for industrial equipment, we are fulfilling the needs of standard communication design using Ethernet connectivity and open protocols, yet with sophistication to ensure security and safety similar to what is deployed in the banking world. An example of such integrated solution is the Prentice Women’s Hospital in downtown Chicago, where our transfer switches and switchgear are controlling the backup generators located in a parking garage across the street due to space constraints. It was made possible using the fiber-optic network to control equipment rather than run pure signal cables which would have voltage drop and/or command clarity issues. Additionally, all critical power equipment including UPS, circuit breakers, etc. is on a comprehensive monitoring system for improved electrical reliability.
Carpenter: Trane offers a range of solutions to meet the specific needs of industrial customers, including Tracer XT, which delivers the ability to integrate SCADA and traditional HVAC, lighting, life safety, and more into a single platform. Actionable information is displayed on easy-to-read dashboards that provide a holistic, real-time view of the building climate and the critical systems in the facility. The integrated system allows operators to monitor, control, and troubleshoot discrete systems to improve building efficiency and create an optimum physical environment for operations and the occupants. An example of this is a recent installation at a GE data center where the centralized control platform tied together new and existing GE and non-GE standalone/overlapping systems into a simplified master system. This master system has provided 11% energy savings, and a 50% reduction of chemicals.
CSE: Large manufacturing facilities traditionally require a great deal of power during peak hours. What resources can you offer engineers to help meet these short-duration, high-power goals?
Carpenter: In order for energy reduction strategies to be effective, it’s imperative to know where to focus efficiency initiatives. The full process requires data acquisition and data analysis to identify where the majority of energy is being used. It’s also critical to know how to implement changes to the controls or HVAC system, and have a method to validate the savings that have been generated. Trane offers advanced energy analysis tools that provide insight into energy use, cost, and system performance. In addition, Trane offers LEED Accredited Professionals and HVAC specialists who design, build, and support energy-efficient HVAC systems. Trane uses HVAC and energy expertise to recommend demand shedding control strategies in the existing control system, to recommend changes in usage patterns, and to make enhancements to the existing HVAC system. These changes may include solutions such as an ice enhanced chilled water system that can shift electrical demand during peak energy periods, improve the operational efficiency, measure the savings, and sustain the system for the life or the facility.
Patel: Many facilities are in similar situation. Even office buildings typically reach their peak demands for few hours on a hot summer afternoon. Average load requirements for such facilities could be about 50% of such peaks, so there is a lot of wasted capacity sitting idle. Engineers take advantage of peak shaving or cogeneration solutions using the soft load transfer scheme, which shifts power from central source to on-site one without any disruption. They can also use the critical power management systems to ensure their key equipment is always prioritized in case of supply/demand imbalance or when there is a desire to remotely turn-off non-essential load contributing to such short duration peaks.
CSE: How does your technology help engineers make their clients’ manufacturing facilities more energy efficient?
Carpenter: Our unified automation platform can deliver complete visibility to all production and non-production systems and utility spend allowing customers to make real time decisions and improvements. Automated data collection tracks and analyzes vast amounts of data in real time and our advanced energy analysis tools such as regression analysis, deviation, cumulative sum load profiles, and load factor provide insight into energy use, cost, and environmental performance at the organizational, building, and meter levels. When energy saving strategies are implemented, comparison to past performance and cost can be easily made on a day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year basis and can be normalized for weather and critical business metrics to ensure that the efficiencies are maintained on an ongoing basis. This can be done at a single site or multiple sites, allowing benchmarking between facilities, delivering metrics that drive improvement projects. The use of dashboard tools allows for real time tracking of performance against key performance indicators (KPI). Performance metrics are updated, monitored and used as a part of a comprehensive program management process that fully engages the organization in achieving energy reduction goals
CSE: How does your technology help engineers make their clients’ manufacturing facilities more energy efficient?
Patel: While our equipment consumes very little energy for its normal operation, it certainly can play a role in reducing total energy footprint. Especially the power monitoring and diagnostic capability we offer that allows users to define load profiles for most of their system and trigger alarms/actions when actual profile goes outside of prescribed norms. We also enable make/buy decisions for electricity based on spot pricing feeds to our monitoring systems which would turn on existing on-site generation system when normal source becomes too expensive for certain periods of day/month.
CSE: What HVAC issue (air filtration, outside air, building envelope, etc.) comes to the forefront most when you’re supporting engineers in such facilities? How do you help overcome these issues/answer their questions?
Carpenter: The issues vary based upon the manufacturing facility, depending on the product and process. For example, pharmaceuticals and semiconductor clean rooms have critical requirements for temperature control and air quality, which is significantly different from the typical HVAC requirements in heavy manufacturing. Trane experts use HVAC equipment knowledge and system design expertise to help engineers with their HVAC designs. The company also uses sophisticated building modeling software to estimate the heating and cooling loads, the energy usage, and the efficiency tradeoffs between different HVAC and lighting design strategies that could be proposed for a facility. The system modeling and energy analysis tools allow the engineer to effectively select the most efficient design.