Mar
30

Electrical Rooms Likely to Grow Larger

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 New 2020 NEC egress requirements around large equipment will require more space.

When designing future projects to meet the requirements of the 2020 Edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), chances are your electrical rooms, power distribution centers, and substations will grow a bit larger. Why? There was one simple sentence added to Sec. 110.26(C)(2), which states: "…Open equipment doors shall not impede the entry to or egress from the working space…".

The electrical equipment being referred to in this Section specifically includes any piece of electrical equipment containing "overcurrent devices, switching devices, or control devices" if the equipment is either: (1) rated 1,200A or more and over 1.8 m (6 ft) wide, or (2) the service disconnecting means installed in accordance with Sec. 230.71 where the combined ampere rating is 1,200A or more and over 1.8 m (6 ft) wide.

Even though this requirement was added to Sec. 110.26 (1,000V or less) by way of Sec. 110.30, this change will apply to ALL large electrical equipment meeting the above-mentioned criteria, regardless of the voltage level. This change will most likely result in a substantial increase in the size of most rooms containing large motor control centers or switchgear.

For many years, most Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) have categorized most cases where there are two pieces of opposing equipment fronts to be a "Condition 3" situation [either NEC Table 110.26(A)(1) or Table 110.34(A)]. It will be interesting to see if AHJs will now require the requisite 24 in. egress space where opposing equipment doors can be fully opened simultaneously. This condition could occur either where the open doors are directly across from one another or at opposite ends of the working space. If the new requirement gets applied in this manner, the electrical room size could increase even more.

This rule change is new to the 2020 NEC, but it's just a matter of time before it is incorporated into OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart S. However, in the United States and its territories, OSHA inspectors already actively enforce the NEC as part of worker safety required by the General Duty Clause 5(a)(1), which requires employers to provide safe working environments and conditions. So, the inevitable inclusion as part of 29 CFR Part 1910 is somewhat irrelevant.

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Mar
23

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Micro Data Center Webinar

Simple. Secure. Low Profile. That's our new Micro Data Center.

Join us, Thursday, March 26th at 2:00pm EST as we deep dive into our newest 6U EcoStruxure Micro Data Center during our first webinar of 2020. This webinar will feature Gail Fredrickson, Director, Channel Marketing & Strategy Execution, Chelsie Ritarossi, Sr. Manager, Channel Marketing & Communications and Jeremy Edwards, Director, Channel Sales as they discuss...

  • The features & benefits of the new 6U EcoStruxure Micro Data Center
  • How to leverage this offer for distributed edge and network environments
  • Where you can deploy this next!
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Mar
18

P3: Ready to Serve - Response to COVID-19 Pandemic


Building Confidence in Power 



The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic is requiring changes in the way we do business and redefining the new normal. Critical facilities and systems that were overlooked in the past are now at the forefront of our future. Server rooms and wiring closets can be the pivot point between what happens remotely and what is needed on-site. We specialize in keeping the power on and protecting these systems.

As we all struggle to navigate this new normal, we want to remind you that P3 - Power Protection Products, Inc. is here to help your company strengthen and reinforce your critical infrastructure and support systems. P3 has a team of experts that are on the job and available via a variety of electronic methods to support the projects we are collaborating on together and assist with any critical equipment requirements and inquiries. If you need more run time, we can provide batteries. If you need more capacity, we can rapidly upgrade your system. If you need monitoring and remote control, we can help with that as well.

If you are looking for ways to remotely manage your critical facilities, we are here for you! P3 provides remote monitoring services for ALL brands of Mission Critical equipment and it can be installed in most facilities without a site visit. We provide remote monitoring service for your critical equipment which increases resiliency and transparency through service personnel equipped with real‑time device data to quickly troubleshoot and dispatch. We make it easy for your team to respond.

P3 has a network of partner Field Service Engineers located in your area to ensure that specific needs are rapidly met. Our supply parts and service organization remain fully operational to support all critical facilities and can be reached at P3 Care 877-393-1223

With almost 25 years serving the mission critical community, P3 stands ready to serve your needs. Do not hesitate to put us to work.

We look forward to partnering with you to prepare for the new normal and the related challenges ahead.

 Leading the Industry in Power Quality Solutions

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Mar
17

Digital Twins Are Changing The Grid

Twinning is the process of linking the physical world and virtual reality with amazing results. 

Digital technology is getting more dynamic every day and harder to understand, but sometimes the most advanced technologies are the result of timing. It's connecting the dots, or perhaps bridging the gap because of the ability to understand the data faster or the flexibility to understand what the technology is saying. The non-technical person may talk about stars aligning or a perfect storm of events, but that isn't the case here. It is taking the old "thinking outside the box" approach to a new level by grabbing existing applications and integrating them into a different function, which is where digital twinning comes in.

The digital twin was introduced almost two decades ago, but some say the concept dates back even further to the period when the first computer-aided design (CAD) systems came into the engineering department. As CAD software matured, engineers were able to develop 3D models of the what they were designing. When combined with automation, the engineers could see how their designs worked. It gave them the ability to see simulations of the devices before they were built.

With that type of a tool, it wasn't long before engineers started asking, "What if we could monitor the actual equipment?" Maybe they could monitor the health of the device or identify problem areas, or improve efficiencies. The potential was there, and it attracted a great deal of attention. A lot of things fell into place, and keeping it simple, these 3D CAD models evolved into the early digital twin theory.

Collateral Improvements

Smart technology with its intelligent sensors and transducers moved theory into the real world. These devices needed to become markedly more sophisticated, substantially smaller, and much cheaper, which they did. This promoted the concept of interconnectivity and fed the development of sophisticated communications systems such as today's 5G technology. In this environment, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology became possible and brought about dynamic monitoring and controlling of industrial assets and processes.

It helped that HPC (high performance computing) was developed and led the way to new applications like the cloud infrastructure, which was an ideal environment for the big-data these systems generated. This setting is making data storage cheaper and more available to the entire enterprise. It is also a boost to big data analytics and the spreading of asset simulations integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality. Overall, this combination of the physical world with smart technology is being called Industry 4.0, but that subject covers a flock of interesting topics that needs exploration, and like eating the proverbial elephant, digital twinning will be our first bite.

What is Digital Twin?

The digital twin has been compared to a bridge between the real world and the virtual world that has produced tangible tools for the heavy industry. Granted, that tactic is really a simplified summation, but it reflects how everything in the digital technology realm is interrelated in one way or another. Before moving on with the digital twinning discussion, it is important to define exactly what digital twins are. Typically a digital twin is compared to a digital copy of physical assets, but that description only scratches the surface and a digital twin is a lot more than that characterization.

To quote GE Digital, "Digital twins are software representations of assets and processes that are used to understand, predict, and optimize performance in order to achieve improved business outcomes. Digital twins consist of three com- ponents: a data model, a set of analytics or algorithms, and knowledge."

The digital twin technology is being used by many industries such as aerospace, defense, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and energy. Heck, it's even been used Formula 1 racing for several years. Basically more end users are coming onboard all the time and the list of major players in the market grows every day too. This includes companies such as ABB, Accenture, Cisco, Dassault Systèmes, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Schneider Electric, and Siemens to name a few.

It is definitely a growth market and a quick check shows some interesting figures. Depending on which study is read or which expert is quoted, the global marketplace was about US$3.8 billion in 2019 and the projected growth is estimated to range from US$35 billion to US$40 billion by 2025 at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) anywhere from 37% to 40%. No matter which figures are picked, the common denominator is the market is growing and it's growing at an attention getting pace.

Growth is being driven by the benefits digital twin technology offers such as asset management, real-time remote monitoring, real-time and predictive performance evaluation, predictive equipment failure, and other money saving advantages. For the grid, probably one of the most promising digital twin features is improved reliability and resiliency by more situational awareness. Being able to mine big-data for actionable information has proven helpful predicting delays or unplanned downtime. The takeaway for any business is simple, there is a digital twin in its future.

Need For Standards

That said, the power delivery system hasn't been the quickest industry to deploy digital twin. Cloud-based applications like digital twinning bring the challenge of selecting correct data, the validity of the model, maintaining the process, and cybersecurity threats to name a few items. There are also some very real interoperability concerns (i.e., the digital twins from one supplier may not play well with digital twins from another supplier).

There are no standardized digital twin platforms, and that is a major speed bump for widespread digital twin deployment by utilities. It's not hard to imagine a utility or several interconnected utilities having a gaggle of digital twins that will not operate together. It is reminiscent of the early days of smart grid when intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) with peer-to-peer protocols were being introduced.

In those early days, IEDs offered amazing features and benefits, but only a few utilities took advantage because it meant sole-sourcing one supplier, and that kept most utilities on the sidelines when it came to deployment. It didn't take long for all the stakeholders to get behind the development of vendor-agnostic interoperability standards such as IEC-61850. It was hard work, but the results speak for themselves. IEDs have developed into plug-and-play systems that are in use around the world and that needs to happen in digital twinning, but let's look at some examples of digital twin use.

Digital Twin Projects

Back in 2015, GE Renewables introduced the first digital wind farm to the world. The turbines had sensors and transducers throughout their assemblies monitoring how each turbine was working. These monitoring devices sent big-data to a remote operations center where the digital twin powered by GE's Predix software provided visualizations and advanced analytics for the operators. Today GE reports it has more than 15,000 wind turbines operating in the digital twin mode.

American Electric Power (AEP) recently announced it has contracted with Siemens to provide a digital twin of their transmission system. Siemens reported, "The AEP project is the largest and most complex to date, partly because AEP's presence extends from Virginia to Texas. Not only is the digital twin enhancing the utility's previous data governance strategy, the system has to be flexible enough to accommodate its continued evolution by allowing 40 AEP planners in five states access to the model and to make changes as needed, too."

Siemens also said, "AEP also wanted a system to help it automatically perform functions that up to now have been executed manually, such as assuring data compliance with the number of regulatory agencies in the eleven states it serves. The system will ensure reliability and reduce outages in a network that consists of conductors (cables) made of different physical materials spanning varying topographies and differing climates."

According to a press release from Principle Power, the Department of Energy (DOE) has given a US$3.6 million grant to a consortium of partners led by Principle Power including Akselos. SA, American Bureau of Shipping, University of California Berkeley and others. The funding will be used to develop, validate, and operate DIGIFLOAT, the world's first digital twin software designed for floating offshore wind farms on the WindFloat Atlantic project.

Another recent press release announced Nation Grid was partnering with Utilidata and Sense to create a pilot project that is a first of-a-kind digital twin application. It's a virtual model that will represent an "end-to-end image of their electric grid. It will be capable of mapping power flow, voltage, and infrastructure from the substation into the home. The goal is to demonstrate the value of real-time data across the grid.

Digital twinning is making inroads into the electric grid and that isn't surprising. After all controlling the grid is all about data and being able to act on it. To paraphrase some experts, those failing to take advantage of digital twins will be left behind.

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Mar
11

An updated fault current definition and additions to NEC Article 408 help increase safety

This past summer, National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) committee members updated fault current definitions and added new requirements related to switchboards, switchgear and panelboards in NEC Article 408. I believe the updates will make it easier for installers, designers and inspectors to ensure this electrical equipment is applied within their rating for safer power distribution systems.

The changes
New unified terminology for short-circuit current and fault current will provide clarity as these terms had been used interchangeably throughout the NEC.

In parallel, new requirements were added to NEC Article 408 to support the proper application of electrical products concerning short-circuit current rating (SCCR) and interrupting ratings of overcurrent protection devices (OCPDs).

Together, these changes are important because they reduce the likelihood of electrical hazards. The SCCR calculations and equipment labels will instrumental to informing maintenance practices and future equipment upgrades.

 The rationale for change

Definition language

The definition now states that "available fault current" is the highest short-circuit current that can flow at a particular point in the electrical system. "Maximum available short-circuit current" and "short-circuit current" were also changed to "available fault current."

Markings
Previously, the NEC did not require that switchboards, switchgear and panelboards have labeled SCCR and available fault current values. Now, Article 408.6 does.

The NEC 2020 code review reaffirmed a straightforward practice that's proven quite successful:

  • Know the SCCR of equipment and the interrupting rating of the OCPD
  • Know the available fault current
  • Compare the two, making sure the fault current is less than the rating

What might the future hold?
In my opinion, the changes offer common-sense solutions for everyday issues encountered in the field. But, as with any Code change, I expect some in our industry will have to adjust how they work over the short- and long-term.

"As with any Code change, I expect some in our industry will have to adjust how they work over the short- and long-term. "
Thomas Domitrovich, Eaton vice president, technical sales

Short term

Getting used to the Code

The new language "available fault current" in replace of "maximum available short-circuit current" may give some readers pause. I expect the adjustment period to be short because, while the language has changed, the intent remains the same.

Calculations are a must

This is a significant change due to the sheer volume of equipment that must now be marked with available fault current. I believe the new requirement will drive home the importance of performing fundamental equipment evaluations at install.

Long term

Additional labeling

The way equipment is labeled may need to be examined and changed. For instance, when a panelboard is shipped, the manufacturer often has no way of knowing what OCPDs will be placed inside. The standards for these products require that a label reflect how to determine the SCCR, not the SCCR of the panel, which is dependent upon the lowest interrupting rating of the breaker that's installed. It's up to the installer and the Authority Having Jurisdiction to determine that panelboard's overall SCCR.

Additional SCCR marking requirements for other types of equipment during installation may come to fruition. It's important to remember there are different levels of protection available. When equipment is clearly labeled with SCCR, it will help raise awareness that any replacements or additions should have a minimum interrupting rating per the marking. I believe this will help reduce the likelihood of a technician installing an insufficient breaker when adding a circuit or replacing a faulty device and will raise the awareness of the proper continued maintenance and servicing of equipment after the fact.

Designing big from the start

It's vital to remember that electrical systems change and many organizations plan to expand their facilities. And while most design engineers account for growth, on commercial projects, where the bottom line is king, builders may look to the least expensive option without accommodating the future: motor additions, transformer increases and the like. In my opinion, stepping up to the next interrupting rating is a better choice than cutting it too close. I encourage all designers and contractors to closely align with customers on a comprehensive plan for their system:

  • Designers: Work with clients to understand their growth potential over the next five to 10 years and develop plans that allow for expansion.
  • Contractors: Refrain from "value engineering" builds. Work with customers to access future growth potential and explain how slightly higher costs today can save them time and money tomorrow.

"I encourage all designers and contractors to closely align with customers on a comprehensive growth plan."
Thomas Domitrovich, Eaton vice president, technical sales

Can we define growth overages for fault current?

While the available fault current language changes and additions to Article 408 greatly enhance safe OCPD installation, I believe the NEC can do more to provide a fault current overage baseline to help all understand when to recommend increased protections. I've spoken with numerous inspectors and many feel there's an opportunity to establish effective interrupting rating requirements, perhaps by looking to the NEC's exploration of adding overage requirements for calculations as a guide.

My question to the NEC: can we establish fault overage guidelines for electrical designs? For instance, how close to 10,000 amps should designers get before bumping up to a 22,000-amp breaker? Would a 1,000-amp baseline suffice? Or 2,000 amps? Whether for NEC requirements or industry practice, a dialog regarding guidelines that help designers and contractors understand when it's appropriate to go to the next level of protection to maintain safety if and when distribution systems expand would help drive change.
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