Features

Many pump and fan systems are designed with safety margins which can make them grossly oversized. This in turn leads to inefficient use of energy, but the efficiency can be vastly improved with the use of variable speed drives

Of all the resources used in modern manufacturing, energy is arguably the most fundamental. This resource has long been taken for granted, but rising energy prices and concerns over greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly leading users to critically assess their energy usage.

In many technology areas, significant energy savings are difficult to achieve and gains of a couple of percent are then celebrated as breakthroughs.
There are technologies, however, that can deliver very significant reductions in energy use. Foremost among these is the variable speed drive. It doesn't make much noise or develop extreme temperatures or go through complex motions. In fact it sits in a cabinet and usually doesn't even get a mention when the overall process is explained. However, it can deliver great cuts in energy consumption, frequently nearly halving the consumption, and if applied in all relevant plants worldwide, it can deliver energy savings that equate to the electrical consumption of a country such as Spain.

The principle is simple: In the past, the motors that powered pumps were usually run at full power all the time, with the output controlled with valves. A drive regulates flow through direct control of the electrical power fed to the motor, so eliminating friction-based controls and the associated losses.

The lack of system standards
However, a lack of system standards for energy efficiency may result in up to 90 percent of pump installations being incorrectly sized, leading to energy waste.
"We have standards for everything," you may argue. However, in the area of energy efficiency there are still important gaps. While there are standards for pump designs and many for the hydraulic data such as developed head, efficiency and net positive suction head, a search for standards providing guidance in system design is less likely to produce a result.

To use an analogy, if somebody were to buy a three-ton truck for use on shopping trips, it would do the job, but would not be a demonstration of energy efficiency - even if the truck selected boasted the best efficiency figures for three-ton trucks. 
 

When planning a system, there is a degree of uncertainty as to the shape of the system curves (friction, pipe cross section changes and the number of bends in the final pipe layout all take their toll). These factors all add to the risk that the expected operating conditions will not be met. There are three basic ways to address the changed operating conditions: 
- If the changed condition is permanent, then the pump or fan size should be changed to match the load. 
- This adds to the installation cost
- The pump or the fan speed can be changed, or the impeller can be modified. 
- A throttling device (such as a valve, damper or guide vane) can be added. 
- Both of these options can waste energy. 
 

The cost of energy is the all-dominating part of the lifecycle cost of a pump or a fan. Energy consumption is the best place for optimization to start.

How systems get over-dimensioned
Systems get oversized throughout the design process, but variable speed drives can be used to conserve energy.

Despite careful analysis and design, many systems do not operate optimally. One reason is that many systems are simply sized too large to start with, resulting in higher operating and investment cost. To illustrate this, the case is considered of a system with a fan in a process plant.

In this example, it is assumed that the ‘true' nominal condition for the application is 100 units of flow, requiring 4000 units of pressure. 
 
In order to be on the safe side concerning the maximum flow, the figure for the fan communicated to the engineer is 110 units of flow. With the assumed system curve, this would require a fan with a higher capacity that can deliver 110 flow units and 5000 units of pressure. 
 

When establishing the fan capacity, the engineer estimates the overall pressure drop that these 110 flow units will cause. The pressure drop value that is calculated is increased by a 10 % margin because is difficult to foresee whether the assumed number of bends in the duct will conform to that estimated (possibly the installation contractor will have to add bends to avoid other equipment). Also, the cross-section of the duct may be uncertain. A smaller cross section would lead to a higher pressure drop. This therefore means that a 10 percent margin is not unreasonable. 
 

So what data are finally sent out in the requests for tender? Flow: 110 units at a pressure of 5500 units. Even if the original assumptions were correct, the fan is now grossly oversized. At 100 units flow the necessary additional pressure drops over the damper must be about 2800 units. This corresponds to 70% of the assumed correct total pressure. However, it is rare that 100% of the design flow will be needed other than for very short bursts. Assuming that most of the time, 80% of the flow rate will be required; the additional throttling needed across the damper will be about 6000 units. This corresponds to 150% of the assumed correct total pressure.
 

The steps illustrated in this example are more common than they may seem. An additional factor is that, when it comes to the selection of a fan, this choice must be made from a standard range of fixed sizes. The next larger one will usually be chosen, with a motor sized to suit.

The correctly sized fan for this example at point ‘g' should be 100 × 4000 = 400,000 power units, and the normal running at point "l" will require 80 x 2500 = 200,000. The case above produces a requirement for a fan of at least 110 x 5500 = 605,000 power units (150% of the optimum). Correcting this with damper control leads to high levels of wasted energy. The additional losses at the 80% flow point amount to 80 x (8100 - 2500) = 448,000 power units (120% of the full power of a correctly sized fan). These figures will in practice become worse, because the fan will not be working at its optimum efficiency throughout the operating range. With a speed controlled fan instead of damper control, nearly all of this energy can be saved.

Old pumps given energy boost
The Corus site at Port Talbot in Wales is one of the biggest steelmaking plants in the UK with an annual output of 5 million tonnes. Energy is Corus' second highest cost after raw materials. The costs and revenues of the business are fairly fixed, so high productivity is crucial to stay competitive.

As part of a plant-wide energy saving programme, 24 ABB industrial drives, ranging from 140 to 400 kW, are being installed to control pumps on the hot strip and cold mills, plus three fans on the coke ovens. The pumps recirculate cooling water in the mills, while the fans are used for dust extraction at the coke ovens. The cost of the drives about £1m; the whole project including pumps, cabling etc. is around £2.5m.

"The pump and fan motors were clearly oversized and running longer hours than necessary," says Guy Simms, leader of the energy optimisation team. "Much of the equipment on the site was installed during the sixties, seventies and early eighties. At the time, it was common practice to oversize the equipment by as much as 50%, to make sure it was sufficiently robust. In many ways this was a successful policy - after all, it has lasted all these years. But with the ABB drives we are now installing, we can fine-tune the applications to a degree that just wasn't possible in those days."

The applications have varying demand but until now, the pumps and fans have been running continuously at full speed. Running to demand will not only reduce energy costs, a million pounds in annual energy savings is expected, but also save water and improve control, particularly of the cold mill, which could potentially result in better product quality.
In any process where a restriction is used to control flow, energy can be saved, and in any process where volume can vary, energy can be saved.

Picture top right: 24 ABB drives, controlling pumps on the hot strip and cold mills, plus fans on the coke ovens, will be saving a million pounds in energy annually at Corus Strip Products in Port Talbot

The behaviour of a building's occupants has a large effect on energy consumption. In addition, one of the biggest complaints in buildings is the lack of individual environmental control. A recent seminar held by the CIBSE Intelligent Buildings group addressed these issues and described new ways of achieving personal control of the environment by using sensory networks embodied with agents which profile environmental preferences for the occupants. This article looks at the background to personalisation

There are several reasons why we should consider how far individuals can control their own microenvironment. Firstly there is the natural human tendency to want to have some degree of personal control over ones working conditions and not to have it dictated from a central point. There is much research that shows personal control of your environment leads to higher productivity. Secondly the main difference between water and energy consumptions in buildings is due to occupancy behaviour and so it is essential we begin to understand the various patterns of behaviour distinguishing individuals and groups of individuals. This will not only give important feedback to the facilities managers and to help them better understand the combinations of conditions which are preferable to people in an organisation but will also provide useful data for refurbishment or future new buildings. It is now agreed that post occupancy evaluation should be a formal part of the design and management process.

Recent developments in the sensor market place mean it is easier and cheaper to install sensors to monitor a variety of conditions. The building design should plan for post occupancy evaluation and collecting useful data. There are a number of options: 
- Setting up a sensor system to monitor individual environmental conditions
- Development of a sense diary to let individuals register there overall reaction to temperature, indoor air quality, lighting and sound
- Developing an intelligent agent at an individuals preferences can be recorded and used to have some degree of control of the systems
- Develop a coordinated data management system which uses post occupancy evaluation techniques.

People spend, live and work most of their time indoors. Sustainable intelligent buildings should provide healthy, comfortable and productive environments. In addition more than 40% of the total energy use and the associated carbon dioxide emissions is building related (Levin, 1997; Pyle, 1996; DEFRA, 2003). To reduce this enormous energy demand in buildings, a number of strategies can be applied both in the design phase and during building operation. Apart from using high-performance building envelopes, energy efficient HVAC and lighting systems and other engineering solutions, energy consumption can also be lowered by changing the attitudes and behaviour of building occupants towards energy use (Crisp 2002; Clements-Croome, 2002).

Facilities management aims to maintain and control buildings in order to satisfy human requirements and at the same time to achieve the best building performance regarding energy consumption. This is a challenging task that is reflected in the high rate of complaints associated with the building environments worldwide (Mendell, 1993; Burge et al., 1987; Bishof et al, 1999). Effective facilities management requires gathering of information about the physical environment but it is equally important to collect direct feedback from the building occupants about their perception of the indoor environment in relation to their work activity and behaviour. Today's technologies give us the opportunity to collect together such information instantaneously and store them in databases for post-occupancy evaluations, or even to use these data for optimized control of the existing building services. Wireless sensor networks are a solution that can enable a proper cohesive data management system to be organised for buildings. For example the ZigBee Protocol became a standard-based wireless platform for remote monitoring and control applications, which was simple, reliable, low-cost and low-power. These technologies will help us to understand the strategies required for operating the building so that energy savings are achieved; and to achieve healthier environments and closer relationship between occupants and buildings.

There are ways in which the relationship between the building occupant and the building with its associated systems can be captured using sensor technologies. Occupancy behaviour is a principal reason affects consumption of energy and water but until now individuals have had little information about how they impact on consumption. The value of this work is that new criteria can be developed; the facilities manager will have a co-ordinated data management system relating occupants, systems are building (Clements-Croome et al 2006). This will help to maintain healthy conditions in the workplace besides helping to improve existing or future designs.

For more information on the Cibse Intelligent Buildings group or its events, please contact its chairman, Professor Derek Clements-Croome, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Currently, there are well over 4,000 substation automation systems installed worldwide, providing positive proof that power utilities now accept these systems and understand their benefits. However, since until quite recently there was no overall standard for the serial communications in substation automation, the majority of these systems are based on proprietary standards. This meant each system was limited to using components from a single supplier, or complex and costly protocol conversions had to be applied. Andy Osiecki, substation automation manager at ABB reports

There is a natural desire for the power utilities to want to safeguard their investment in substation automation equipment. This has resulted in a growing demand for flexible, future-proof systems able to cope with changing requirements, philosophies and technologies. In the early years of this decade, the industry responded by developing and releasing a new standard, IEC 61850 Communication Networks and Systems in Substations which is the first and only global standard that considers all the communication needs within substations.
The main goal of IEC 61850 is interoperability. This is the ability for IEDs (Intelligent Electronic Devices) from one or a number of different manufacturers to exchange information and to use it for their own functions.

Furthermore, the standard allows a free allocation of these functions and accepts any system philosophy, from a distributed architecture (such as decentralised substation automation) to a centralised configuration (such as Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) based).
The standard is also future-oriented, taking into consideration developments in communication technology move faster than developments in the functionality of substation automation, protection and control equipment. In addition, the standard provides for ease of system engineering and maintenance.
 
New IEC 61850 compliant products
As well as its role in drawing up the standard, ABB has developed a new common range of products that fully embrace IEC 61850, rather than simply upgrading older platforms. In creating this new 670 Series of protection, control and monitoring IED we adopted an evolutionary path that builds on our many decades of protection experience. The protection and control algorithms, as well as parts of the hardware platform, have been carried over from the 500 Series - with over 40,000 units installed world-wide.

Currently, the 670 Series covers the following applications:
- Line distance protection 
- Line differential protection 
- Transformer protection 
- Bay control 
- Bus and breaker failure protection 
- Generator protection
Each IED is delivered ready-to-use, pre-configured and type-tested for different types of application. This makes them easy to use, from selection to operation and maintenance. There are also three or four different option packages available for each product, enabling them to be easily adapted to meet specific customer requirements.

The existing series of transmission and distribution products can also be used in 61850 data buses with corresponding protocol converters. This ensures seamless upgrades to the new standard as far as connectivity is concerned.

In addition, we have released a number of other products that comply with IEC 61850, including: REB 500 busbar protection V7.3; PCM 600 tool for  the 670 Series; MicroSCADA Pro substation and network control products.

Verified IEC 61850 conformance
ABB has established a System Verification Centre (SVC) in Baden, Germany to verify the correct implementation of IEC 61850 throughout its portfolio. This is the only vendor test centre in the world with official qualification by UCA International, an independent user organisation for IEC 61850.

Each and every product, system component, application and tool is tested in a real-life system environment to prove its appropriate working and performance - functionally and interactively. Certain products have also been certified by independent agencies such as KEMA.

Successful trial of  RED670 with National Grid
As part of our planned implementation of IEC 61850 compliant IEDs in the UK market, in 2007 we carried out a nine-month site trial with National Grid in which the GPS- based RED670 line differential protection IED was installed on 400kV substation circuits in North Wales. The extended trial enabled ABB to demonstrate the RED670's capabilities in a realistic ‘in-service' environment, without exposing the power system to undue risk.
The RED670 is designed for protection, monitoring and control of overhead lines and cables with up to five line terminals. Its phase segregated line differential protection enables reliable single/two/three pole tripping and auto-reclosing with synchronising and synchro-check. In addition, the RED670 is capable of handling transformer feeders and generator and transformer blocks.

We had of course carried out extensive laboratory testing with the RED670. But as far as the customer is concerned there is nothing like real-life experience to show how a system behaves when subjected to the electrical noise and RFI found at a working site. This trial enabled us to install devices in a three-ended 400kV substation circuit between Trawsfyndd, Legacy and Deeside. They were connected alongside the existing protection systems where they were subjected to same working environment and fed the same live input data. The only difference from a fully live installation was that the RED670 devices didn't perform any actual tripping. Instead, we monitored their outputs to check that they were analysing the data correctly and making the right decisions.

As well as mimicking the behaviour of the existing site protection systems, the devices were subjected periodically to additional tests to monitor their stability under abnormal conditions. This involved planned route switching of the communications channels and simulation of the loss of the GPS signal, both individually and simultaneously. There were also times when the devices were subjected to unplanned communications interference, they performed appropriately under these circumstances and then even better when the problem was resolved.

Lightning strike
The devices performed very well under what were relatively normal operating conditions. Ideally, we wanted to see how they would behave under exceptional conditions, such as a primary circuit fault. But of course that is a condition you can't create as a test on an operational network where you can't risk interrupting the supply to customers. However, near the end of the test programme there was a lightning strike that created a transient primary fault on the overhead line close to Trawsfyndd. This kind of event makes a lot of different things happen very quickly on a network, especially a large, sudden increase in current.  We were very pleased to report that the RED670 responded well, providing exactly the right switching response.

The test programme was coordinated by the ABB office in Stone, Staffordshire. We enjoyed a very high level of team work and cooperation from both National Grid's asset policy team and the substations communications network provider, Cable & Wireless. 

NICAP
National Grid imposes exacting requirements on any equipment connected to its network to ensure that it can always maintain the highest level of customer availability. Now the RED670 has complete this onerous test programme we are utilising the device as part of ABB's bay solution for substation protection and automation systems based on National Grid's standardised NICAP (National scheme for Integrated Control And Protection) engineering philosophy and specification. It is featuring on our current 275kV substation project at Stalybridge, as well as new NICAP projects at Greystones, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Willington and Wilton.

Mark Andrews, chief executive, NG Bailey

Never before has the construction industry been so focused on the long-term future of the built environment. And, with sustainability, in every sense of the word, remaining high on the agenda, the onus is on building services professionals to provide customers with an approach that will meet the environmental, economic and social needs of their buildings today and for the future.

As a building services provider, NG Bailey sees this increased focus as an opportunity to deliver a ‘whole-life' approach to construction, so much so, that it forms the cornerstone of our business strategy for the next ten years.

We want to work more closely with our customers and their clients, to encourage a more joined up approach to building development, where activities are coordinated from the outset based on reducing whole-life costs through innovative specification and ongoing maintenance, rather than simply concentrating on the short-term build cost. We adopt a complete ‘cradle to grave' responsibility and all  the work we do is focused towards better environmental efficiency and creating a better life in buildings for occupiers.
We consider not only cost minimisation and emissions reduction, but also take into account the cost to run a building and maintain its value throughout its lifespan - instead of just focusing on the initial capital expenditure.

In fact, we employ, 70 full time members of staff in our design team, who achieve lifecycle savings on all our construction projects - when we can get involved with a project early enough to contribute. With services such as this in place for the benefit of our customers, it's frustrating when a fixed design specification prevents us from implementing such sustainable measures.

Mechanical and engineering costs make up as much as 30 per cent of a total building cost in the commercial market and it is forecast that this could rise by as much as two per cent in the future, because of the increased focus on cleaner buildings. To enable a successful whole-life approach it is essential that the planning and design team of a construction project involves companies such as ours, at the earliest possible stage. 

So can this approach really benefit clients? We have been putting the whole-life value approach to the test not only for a number of clients, but in some of our own offices.
Work started late last year on NG Bailey's new Scottish HQ, which should be ready for occupation by 130 staff in the Autumn of this year. The project at Strathclyde Business Park will see the sustainable development of an existing commercial design achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent' rating. The two-storey, 19,674 sq ft standard-plan building will demonstrate how our investment and engineering expertise can deliver a building with first-class green credentials. Once occupied the site will become a showcase for the very best in sustainable products, services and innovations from NG Bailey.

Strathclyde HQ will feature sustainable technologies including solar thermal collectors to heat water, photo-voltaic glass and a ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling. We will be assessing our initial investment in green technologies against payback in order to demonstrate the achievable return on investment.

We have also recently completed a number of BREEAM ‘Excellent' rated projects for clients. These include The Scottish National Heritage building in Inverness, which achieved a rating of 84 per cent. The Home Offices' Vulcan House in Sheffield, which has also achieved an ‘Excellent' rating from BREEAM - the first for any building in Sheffield. It will operate as a HFC-free environment with no ozone-depleting gases and this development is considered a benchmark in sustainability and energy management.

Projects such as this really do underpin our forward-thinking business strategy and prove that as a leading building services specialist, we're not afraid to put our money where our mouth is!

Changes in the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution industry including demand for energy, greener solutions and deregulation continue unabated. This has provided an opportunity for companies operating in this sector to provide expertise to users spanning many different continents and time zones. This trend towards globalisation brings its own unique set of challenges in creating a truly world-wide business model that ensures the most effective solutions are developed for the global market, but still meet the necessary regional and local requirements

When working with a supplier offering global, integrated solutions, customers are looking for long standing experience and knowledge in providing advanced technology to the market. These specific requirements form the foundation of the Centre of Excellence, established by Areva T&D in Stafford. Andrew Klimek, automation products R&D director at Areva T&D discusses the challenges the energy supply industry faces and the reasons behind the decision to create a Centre of Excellence.

The generation, transmission and distribution industry has evolved dramatically in recent years due to the change in business model brought about by deregulation, ecological urgency and an increased demand for power. Deregulation has put limitations on monopoly power by fuelling the need for competitive change within the energy market. Legislative reform has paved the way for free trade, allowing complete flexibility of trading arrangements, on top of the historic monopolist infrastructure. This has the advantage of lowering prices for consumers while giving them increased choice through open competition. Due to the very structured nature of the energy market, innovative ideas have to be developed to support the capacity for free trading and free flow of power. Furthermore, solutions need to be flexible in order for companies connecting to the grid network to be able to utilise new energy sources such as wind and solar. This cannot be facilitated unless businesses within the sector develop and incorporate sophisticated control systems for energy management and limitations on trading in order to make this marginal market available to the transfer of energy power.  

Increase in competition associated with the long life of energy infrastructure has, however, led certain functions within utility organisations such as grid engineering to gradually reduce. This regression, often driven by the need to reduce costs, has led to utilities repositioning its business strategy towards planning and strategic management.  This has meant there is now a need for suppliers to create new and innovative products, services and management tools as well as the necessary technical training, which will in time, benefit the whole industry.

Stakeholders within the energy market are also increasingly aware of the environmental challenges the industry faces such as reducing CO2 gas emissions, but ultimately, these challenges are centred upon sustainable resource management. This has led to increasing constraints upon the market place with utilities and suppliers having to take greater responsibility for the role they play in their contribution to such problems. This creates a challenge for utilities and, as a result, opportunities have arisen for suppliers to design and deliver innovative and efficient techniques for the transmission and distribution of power which can then be implemented globally. The success of such solutions will be based on the formulation of new accessible strategies for operational management within the market place.

The environmental constraints put on the energy markets are juxtaposed by the explosive expansion of newly industrialised countries such as China and India. Globalisation has seen China grow an astounding 10.5% in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years, followed by India with a 9.4% GDP increase. Asia's increasing need for high yield energy puts substantial strain on grid infrastructure and use of resources to generate power. To sustain high yield energy supply for today and the future, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) need technology that can distribute efficiently without overloading the energy grid network.
Further strain is put on the grid infrastructure with the increase in renewable energy sources being connected to the energy supply network. This is due to the fact most renewable energy techniques, such as wind power, have unpredictable output profiles since they are condition dependant. This causes technical problems when they are connected to the grid which was originally designed for consistent high yield power. A solution that can provide grid management with the ability to integrate and control the energy flow will solve such challenges.

The Centre of Excellence forms the platform where innovative thinking and global expertise merge to provide advanced technology solutions crucial to overcoming the industry challenges in this rapidly evolving world.  To meet a balance between the constraints put on the energy market and the global requirements for power, the Centre of Excellence offers accessible, end-to-end innovative solutions for grid management, power transmission and local distribution.

The Centre focuses on driving Areva T&D's business across all territories worldwide based on globally recognised processes which deliver a common standard of quality and performance that achieves the highest standard of customer satisfaction. The vision for the Centre of Excellence concept will not only result in the significant improvement of internal business processes but will also encourage more and more talented people to have the drive to want to join the Areva T&D team. Furthermore, the development of the Centre of Excellence will bring global benefits to the whole industry in terms of research and development, implementation of best practice and recruitment of high quality candidates to secure the future of the industry. Areva T&D's successful application of the Centre of Excellence is already evident through its alliance with National Grid in the UK where knowledge sharing is an integral part.

The need to produce higher yields of energy to support industrial development world-wide brings with it unique challenges ranging from physical grid management to the need for expertise and knowledge on global business models. Furthermore, there is a need to invest in sustainable development to ensure that the use of resources and the environment today does not restrict their use by future generations.   Systems must be put in place to ensure efficient generation, transmission and distribution of power not only for today's use, but with consideration to future requirements. Areva T&D's investment in the Centre of Excellence aims to ensure all the knowledge, skills and techniques are available to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and beyond. This will help make certain that the global generation, transmission and distribution industry can thrive for many years to come.

Rockwell Automation has hosted the 16th annual Automation Fair event. This year's event showcased the ways manufacturers use industrial automation technology and services from Rockwell Automation and its partners to enable innovation.

As one of the largest free educational forums for manufacturing technology, Automation Fair and Manufacturing Perspectives – the international media day before the main event – provide a place to hear the latest success stories from manufacturers and hear from those leading development in manufacturing technology. Manufacturing Perspectives allowed more than 80 editors from 22 nations access to manufacturing experts, global trade leaders and Rockwell Automation’s own customers to share best practices, explore technologies and discuss key issues, the main theme of the day ‘ Automation Enables Innovation’. Attracting over 10,000 visitors over two days, the event is unlike anything seen in this country, and raised many important issues surrounding the future of manufacturing globally.
In October 2007, Bob Ruff was appointed senior vice president of the Control Products & Solutions segment reporting directly to Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO.. Ruff was previously senior vice president, Americas Sales.

Ruff joined Reliance Electric in 1976 and progressed through increasingly responsible positions in both business and sales roles including broad experience in Rockwell’s solutions and services activities. He received his degree in electrical engineering from Akron University. With the recent split of Rockwell in to Architecture and Software?(A&S) and Control Products and Solutions (CPS)?segments, what are the implications for the company as a whole. Where does CPS fit into the global Rockwell Automation?

BR: We made the split when we spun off the power systems segment, the Reliance Dodge offerings. The reason we did it was we had to segment report the company differently when power systems left, publically, because we’re publically traded, and we felt if we didn’t split up these businesses, we may expose some of the businesses in the financial market, and we were not comfortable doing that. It makes sense when you see how well the businesses go together. Steve Eisenbrown looks after architecture and software, I have the other piece of the business.

Mine is the biggest piece of the business, we are now a $5.5 billion dollar company, and I am $3.4 billion of that. People-wise we are fairly evenly split, though we may have a little more, purely because of the size of the manufacturing facility. CPS is a lot more people-intense in its manufacture obviously.

What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?

BR: On our side of the business we made a couple of key acquisitions. Components have always been important to Rockwell, they are the foundation of what we build our products on, but going forward Keith (Nosbusch – CEO and chairman), sees us evolving in to a more solution-based and services company. We have started making some acquisitions in those areas, and we will continue to look for good, viable candidates in those areas to help us complement that business.

If you look at our business in general, it is a very healthy one, I’m referring to control products and solutions. Inherently, with where we want to go on the solutions side, I think if we can gain more direct skills, some inherent knowledge, it will help us get credibility faster in the marketplace. You can surely develop that knowledge internally, but as with IPC Triplex [a recent acquisition], we immediately gained credibility in the SIL-3 safety system side of the business. Those are the key areas we will continue in. ProsCon, is another example. Both these acquisitions fit very well in to the MPS (manufacturing and process solutions) segment, and I think we will continue to look for acquisitions to complement this side of our business.

Could the ProsCon and ICS Triplex acquisitions not have been viewed as competitive to some of your own offerings?

BR: Not really, ProsCon could have been viewed as competitive to our MPS business, but really it complements it. Again, because they had a domain expertise in life sciences that MPS was trying to develop, and I think it would have taken us a while to get there. They had it, so we picked it up! We have had very good feedback, globally, on both these acquisitions.

Rockwell’s sales in the process market grew by 27% globally in 2007, can this market maintain this growth?

BR: Yes. The process space is three times the size of the PLC space, in the overall global market. Rockwell, although we are growing very nicely, is still a small player in that process piece. In the PLC base we have dominant market share, especially in North America.?Regulatory compliance makes process a very, very, very high growth opportunity. 27% is good, but why isn’t it 35 or 40%!

Discussing major trends for 2008, Keith Nosbusch has spoken of greater emphasis on efficiency. What measures is Rockwell taking to improve energy efficiency with the use of its products, services and solutions? What more could it be doing?
I think there is a lot more we can do. In most of those cases, the efficiencies that are applied today are applied on a local basis, not a systems basis. I think there is a big opportunity for us to take some of that individualised efficiency and implement it on a plant-wide basis, and can show some real return on investment. It allows Rockwell to leverage a couple of things. Firstly, it shows we have a core competency in that area. Secondly, it gets us out of the individual pricing dilemma we are in, competing globally, The customer starts to look at value, if you can show them payback. If they are spending, for example $1m, but you can give them $10m in payback over the first year, well they stop price checking you. That is where Rockwell could gain immensely. Our solution businesses have a great opportunity to go out and become industry experts in energy efficiency or energy management and gain market share. We only have a couple of competitors that have the breadth of what we do, the Siemens and ABBs. Because the niche ‘ankle biters’ that might do variable speed drives and motor control centers, cannot compete with us on a broad spectrum.

Russia and Eastern Europe continue to be strong areas for Rockwell, in what areas do their strengths lie?
BR:?We have a great engineering capability and have built a great team of service people who give customers a confidence in Eastern Europe, We are not just there for the short term, we are there to support them long term if they make in an investment in us. One of the first things Jordi Andreu (president of Rockwell’s EMEA region) insisted on as we started moving in to Eastern Europe was for every sales person we put in there, we put in three service people, building that service foundation base. Russia is natural-resource rich, now its currency is a little more stable and has some value to it, and will provide some great opportunities for us. This may be in some of the more traditional industries like steel, or maybe oil and gas.

The skilled labour shortage in the US is dramatic. What measures does Rockwell take as a company in educating and training a future workforce?

BR: Rockwell was started in North America but we learned from Asia, when that market took off, that we needed to go and support educational institutes. I think because we were successful in doing that in China, we are able to use that in Eastern Europe now. Looking at the institutes, we make sure that we are getting technology to them so they have it in their classrooms, we are sponsoring – providing some sort of financial incentive, allowing people to enter the engineering field. The skills shortage is a shortage we feel everywhere. We have to make sure we always have that lifeline of good people coming in to the organisation. Human resources is the number one issue.

2007 saw European Union leaders agree to binding targets on the use of renewables in a bid to rapidly expand the use of green energy sources. The government signed up to a deal to ensure 20% of all European energy was to be derived from renewables sources by 2020. The UK alone has committed to cutting its emissions by 60% by 2050, although without a sufficiently skilled workforce in place to design install and maintain new technology this may not be achievable

The building services engineering (BSE) sector has a major role to play in meeting UK targets by ensuring that training structures are in place to support the move to renewable energy, which include solar thermal, photovoltaics, micro-wind, biomass, ground and air source heat pumps, and micro CHP.

As the sector skills council for the BSE sector, SummitSkills is heavily involved in a variety of activities to ensure the industry is geared up for the shift to renewable energy.

Research conducted by SummitSkills at stage two of its Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) - the Assessment of Current Provision - established that some qualification content is out of date or not suitable for sector needs, in relation to specific renewables and environmental technologies. Consequently, the UK is lagging behind in the requirements to be able to design, install and maintain technologies. As a result, SummitSkills has been updating the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the sector to integrate renewable technologies into mainstream qualifications and ensure approved training and assessment is put in place as soon as possible.

At government level, the organisation is currently working centrally and regionally to reinforce the crucial role the BSE sector has to play in the development of the environmental technology market; with specific reference to renewables.

There is a close link between the skills of existing sector routes and new technologies. SummitSkills views this link not as new career roles, but as an extension of existing careers and industry approved qualifications, with additional specific technology training related to the work carried out. Consequently, SummitSkills has been working with the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE) to develop of the minimum technical competence requirements for the integration of environmental technologies into the appropriate Competent Persons Scheme.

Microgeneration needs
Microgeneration is a key part of the government’s strategy to help combat climate change, and is currently promoted through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

SummitSkills is the sector skills council for microgeneration and commissioned a report in early 2007, supported by Engineering Services Training Trust Ltd and the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA), to assess current provision and the measures in place for training on microgeneration technologies in the UK.

The report spelt out the need for the industry stakeholders to work closely with SummitSkills to champion renewable energy training on a local, regional and national level to ensure a skilled workforce.

The report resolved there are currently few microgeneration courses in combined heat and power and hydro, with only a limited number of these actually leading to a recognised qualification, particularly in wind and solar-PV. It also highlighted the lack of benchmarks for best practice in the installation of renewable energy systems, which SummitSkills feels is responsible for hindering the development of training courses It also recommends that funding is increased to improve the training facilities available.

Manufacturers and sustainability
In addition to its focus on training provision, SummitSkills also operates a Manufacturers and Sustainability Interest Group to identify and support emerging environmental technologies.

The group links with employers, professionals and employer associations to drive the government on the development and uptake of best practice in renewables. Part of its remit is to ensure technical skills training is in place, and to involve manufacturers in competence and accreditation schemes.

This group complements SummitSkills’ Interest Groups that enable employers to air their views and develop solutions for skills and training requirements in the BSE sector. This helps to form future strategies and objectives for SummitSkills.

Renewable energy in Wales
SummitSkills has been involved in liaising, on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, with residents to reduce the planning process for small-scale renewable energy generation equipment, such as solar panels or wind turbines.

Current laws make the process unattractive to homeowners, proving lengthy and expensive. Professional installers, surveyed by SummitSkills, believe this market could grow significantly if the planning process is improved, leading to greater productivity. The Welsh Assembly Government plans to improve energy efficiency in 200,000 Welsh homes by 2020.

Moving forward
Extensive research has established the need for change in the education and training provision in the sector. As part of its sector skills agreement, SummitSkills has taken this research and incorporated it into stage three of the project - a draft action plan that reveals five key skills priorities to be addressed in order to develop and maintain a skilled workforce.

The five priorities are:
- Professional image and competence – promoting a positive image of the sector
- Communication and information – creating a knowledge centre for all sector skills development needs
- Training provision – ensuring proactive, quality and relevant training
- Funding – flexibility in funding to meet fast-changing needs
- Management and leadership – supporting the sector to plan and develop profitable and competitive business

Tackling environmental technology provision relates directly to the third skills priority – training provision. As part of this priority SummitSkills lays out a proposed solution for the lack of appropriate skills, building on its existing work on developing and implementing National Occupational Standards (NOS) for current and emerging environmental technologies to embrace craft and professional occupations. It is key to ensuring that environmental technologies are fully integrated within other activities, such as the careers strategy and apprenticeship training frameworks.
SummitSkills’ work encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, all key to ensuring that the BSE sector has an appropriate infrastructure in place to succeed on renewable energy training strategy. It is vital not only are installers and engineers trained in these technologies, but they are trained to a recognised standard. In order to achieve this successfully, SummitSkills needs commitment from all partners within the sector for continuous improvement – only then will we see a competent, highly-skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of the industry.

For further information on progress in environmental or renewables specific skills, visit www.summitskills.org.uk/renewables.

Liam Warren of ABB’s UK power service operation explains how the latest state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques can help to predict potential transformer faults well before they become a problem


Power transformers are mission-critical elements in many industrial, utility and power generation installations. Should an unexpected failure occur, it can result in a lengthy downtime, with consequent loss of operating revenue, and expensive repairs. Planned maintenance is the best insurance against transformer failure and that’s where advanced diagnostic techniques come in. They offer an efficient, cost-effective way of assessing the overall condition of a transformer fleet so areas of potential concern can be flagged and action taken well before a potential failure develops into a serious fault.

Furthermore, if an operator has a transformer that is already causing concern, then diagnostic tests can establish the severity of the problem, locate the fault and help the service team to provide expert advice on what action to take. For example, with regular testing it might be possible for the transformer to continue in service, while operating under a safe, reduced load, until a planned service interval is reached.

ABB’s transformer diagnostic service utilizes four main techniques – SFRA (Sweep Frequency Response Analysis), FDS (Frequency Domain Spectroscopy, winding resistance measurement and oil sampling.

SFRA
The SFRA (Sweep Frequency Response Analysis) test, carried out by a Pax FRAX-101 system, is an important tool for identifying potential winding geometry changes. It consists of a low-voltage, off-line, measurement of the impedance of the transformer windings as a function of frequency. The test is performed by injecting a variable frequency AC voltage into each individual transformer winding and plotting the responding current as a curve.
We recommend SFRA reference curves should be captured in the factory to provide a baseline ‘finger print’ of the windings in an as-new condition. However, for installed transformers, a field test can provide the baseline curves. SFRA testing should be performed periodically during the service life of the transformer, or after a specific incident that has caused significant fault currents. An alternative approach is to utilise a type-based comparison between sister transformers with the same design. Under certain conditions, a construction based comparison can be used when comparing measurements between windings in the same transformer.
When interpreted by an expert, comparison of the SFRA test with the transformer’s original baseline curves is an excellent method to check for movement or displacement of windings or winding circuits that could affect its ability to withstand faults. It is much more definitive than low-voltage impedance tests routinely performed on transformers, it helps avoid catastrophic failures and can even locate the exact position of a fault.
Figure 1 shows a typical SFRA analysis in which the pronounced dip in the frequency response curve of one of the transformer phases indicates a potential fault – most probably due either to a winding failure or core movement.

FDS
FDS (Frequency Domain Spectroscopy), carried out by a Pax IDAX-206 system, is used to assess the integrity of a transformer’s insulation system. The test determines the volume of moisture and presence of contaminants in the solid insulation, as well as the conductivity and power factor of the oil. This is an extremely useful tool in an overall condition assessment programme as standard power factor tests alone do not yield this type of information.

The FDS test measures the dielectric properties (capacitance, loss and power factor) of the transformer’s insulation as a function of frequency, This off-line test utilizes the same type of connections as a standard (Doble) mains frequency insulation power factor test . However, by covering a much wider frequency range – typically 1 mHz to 1000 Hz – the test offers increased sensitivity to insulation issues.

An important primary use of the FDS test is to determine the moisture content of the cellulose insulation structure of power transformers. It is difficult to obtain a reliable assessment of moisture content by oil sample tests, as the water is transferred between the solid insulation and the oil as the temperature changes. An oil sample has to be taken at relatively high temperatures, when the transformer is in equilibrium. But this is a relatively rare state for a transformer and can result in unreliable assessments.

An illustration of the advantages of FDS is provided by an exercise in which a customer provided ABB with a list of seven suspect transformers. In each case, moisture in oil test results had indicated the need for oil processing and drying. By carrying out FDS tests we were able to show that only two units actually needed drying. So our recommendation was to dry these two, while keeping the other five under careful surveillance. The customer not only made a very significant saving in operational and maintenance costs, preventing unnecessary drying operations on five transformers also reduced the risk of over-drying and loosening of windings.

Winding resistance measurement
Winding resistance measurement tests are carried out by an Omicron CPC 100 system. This is used to inject a DC current of up to 2kV through the transformer windings and it then measures the voltage drop across that winding - enabling the resistance to be calculated.

The main purpose of this test is to check for significant differences between the windings, which could indicate field damage or deterioration, and also to ensure that the transformer connections are correct and that there are no severe mismatches or open circuits.

Oil sampling
Just as a blood test can provide a doctor with a wealth of information about their patient, a sample of transformer oil can tell an engineer a great deal about the condition of a transformer, enabling them to effectively manage the asset for extended life and enhanced reliability.
The role of the oil in the transformer is to both cool it and insulate the internal components, and in doing so it bathes every internal component. As a result, the oil contains around 70 per cent of the available diagnostic information for the transformer and laboratory analysis can provide an early indication of a developing condition such as tap changer arcing.
The data generated from an oil sample is only as good as the sample itself. It is vital to obtain a clean uncontaminated sample to BS 5263. This includes taking the sample while warm, and measuring the temperature so that the laboratory can then adjust the results for moisture content, preflushing the sample leg and running the sample quietly into a clean glass vessel to minimise degassing and sealing the sample securely.
We recommend that the best information can be obtained from oil sampling by viewing trends. So it is useful to take a bench-mark sample when a transformer has been energized or an oil treatment performed and to then take further samples at regular intervals so that any variation in quality can be measured in order to monitor developing faults.
Typical tests carried out in the laboratory analysis of the oil sample include:
- Breakdown voltage (dielectric strength)
- Moisture content
- Dissolved gas analysis (DGA)
- Oxidation
Each of these parameters impacts on the other parameters, and they all work together to affect the condition of the transformer.

Summary
In general, power transformers are very reliable devices and will provide excellent service for many years if maintained and serviced regularly. Failures, when they occur, are usually very serious and require costly repairs and inconvenient downtime. The best insurance against failure is a planned monitoring and testing regime. The new generation of high-technology, non-invasive, diagnostic techniques can play a vital role in this regime.

Chris Smith of on365, takes a holistic look at best practice in minimising business continuity risk


Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI), the power, cooling, equipment racks, physical structure, security, fire protection, cabling, as well as the management and servicing of these elements, is the key to minimising business continuity risk.

Without an integrated and reliable NCPI, an IT system is vulnerable. This can impede business processes and the ability of employees to efficiently carry out their tasks, weakening business profitability and competitiveness.
Traditional NCPI based on legacy architecture does not facilitate business agility. It is unable to keep up with unpredictable growth in server rooms and datacentres because of its one-time-engineered and static approach. With multiple vendor components traditional NCPI also increases the total cost of ownership, particularly through expensive service contracts.
Both these factors bring about erratic costs and poor budgeting ability. With limited IT budgets and no ability to allocate costs to individual business units, IT departments installing legacy systems try to predict what their NCPI requirements will be ten years from now and spend money on under-utilised systems that do not match current needs. By guessing power and cooling requirements five to ten years in advance and building that capacity today many organisations end up wasting, energy, capital and operational expenditures.

So where do we start?
If we wanted to build a house, we could get all the required items from the local DIY Superstore. But how do they all go together? Will one manufacturer’s radiator valve fit another manufacturers radiator? What order does everything get built in? Does one contractor’s warranty become void due to another contractors works? The list goes on.
It soon becomes clear that we need a joined up and standardised approach.

Standardisation is such a large feature of modern life we hardly notice it. From watching TV to replacing a battery, its influence is at work behind the scenes. It makes things more convenient, predictable, affordable, understandable, and safe. When we buy a light bulb, we know it will fit in the lamp socket. Our train travel is not interrupted at the border while our carriage is raised up and refitted with different wheels to match the track in the next country. Standardisation is a powerful concept that has established itself as a critical ally in managing progress.

Despite standardisation’s long track record of success in streamlining business, Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) has missed the turn. A steady trend toward chaos has been at work in this industry but, unlike other industries, there has been no catalyst strong enough to initiate a reversal – nothing as publicly absurd as the switching of train wheels. Systems analysts from any other mature industry would be aghast at the level of complexity and inconsistency that exists today in the NCPI of thousands of Datacentres worldwide.

The job of any infrastructure is to be functional and reliable – it is just supposed to work.

The time-tested characteristic that makes infrastructure effective, reliable, predictable, and worry-free is that it is not unique. Because of standardisation, the infrastructure of our day-today pursuits has become part of the woodwork – so commonplace and common sense that we rarely think about it. One would expect data centre infrastructure to follow the same paradigm, but until now there has been little movement in that direction. Nearly 40 years after its birth, IT physical infrastructure is still, in many ways, a craft industry: with a mish-mash of disparate components from different vendors

Apart from having no real catalyst for standardisation are there any other reasons for this poor state of our datacentres? How about P is for planning?

Planning remains a major challenge for all IT facilities. Datacentre build and upgrade projects are typically planned using methods resembling art more than science, in a process often perceived as intimidating, unstructured, and difficult. Plans are poorly communicated among the various business stakeholders within the organisation and take little notice of the principle hierarchy found in any ‘sound foundational design’.
This hierarchy begins with the determination of three fundamental IT parameters that will directly affect the design of the physical infrastructure system:

Criticality – Business importance, in terms of tolerance for downtime
Capacity – The IT power requirement
Growth plan – A prediction of the ramp-up to the maximum power requirement, frequently subject to a high degree of uncertainty.
The ‘IT parameters’ – criticality, capacity, and growth plan – that begin the physical infrastructure planning sequence are merely a refinement of concepts that will have been addressed, to some degree, during IT design. In reality, however, there exists no standardised concept or language for these fundamental parameters of IT design, so they need to be clarified and quantified before they can be used to further guide the planning sequence.

So where can we go from here?
Well a catalyst has finally started bringing in standard products, features and processes. It is cost – or the reduction of it! The IT world is no longer technology led – a black hole consuming money. It is business led and as we know business wants return on its investment.
Also the trends for consolidation, virtualisation and the drive for economies of scale have had a dramatic impact on the traditional or legacy datacentre. It now finds itself on the verge of collapse or indeed has fallen under the strain. This is due to our ability to pack more processing power into smaller spaces. The age of the blade server is upon us and it is like placing a ships anchor on a sailing dinghy. The physical infrastructures of datacentres are quickly sinking under the strain. It could be said that the datacentre is dead – long live the datacentre!
Most organisations do not have the overall expertise to design and build a datacentre. Help is required and this could include consultants, builders, facility engineers, planners, quantity surveyors, architects - the list goes on. All have there own ideas and their own agendas. Unfortunately some don’t even realise the datacentre world has changed.

on365 is a specialist in the implementation and operation of complete NCPI for business IT and communication systems, and can offer pre-planning advice for new datacentres, rationalisation plans for existing ones and complete turnkey solutions for most NCPI requirements.
on365 utilise design architecture and philosophy based on the following pre-determined business/service level goals:
Maximum availability
Scalability
Manageability
Fault tolerance
Ease of maintenance

Minimum mean time To repair (MTTR)
With these parameters clearly defined on365 can provide a complete, single vendor NCPI solution with the customer benefits dealing with just one turnkey supplier provides.

Rising energy prices are motivating industry to explore new methods – such as energy-efficient motor control solutions – for lowering operating costs. Engineers and consultants are tasked with selecting the most reliable motor control solution with the lowest total cost of ownership, which must take into consideration lifetime costs such as installation, operating efficiency, maintenance and energy use, explains Jonathan Smith, field business leader for power control at Rockwell Automation

- Since over 80% of pump and fan applications require control methods to reduce flow to meet demand, those applications are crucial to savings. Process engineers commonly use fixed-speed controllers and throttling devices such as dampers and valves, but these are not very energy efficient.
Variable-frequency drives (also known as adjustable speed drives) offer an alternative that will both vary the motor speed and greatly reduce energy losses. Advancements in drive topology, careful selection of the hardware and power system configuration and intelligent motor control strategies will produce better overall operating performance, control capability and energy savings.
Things to consider when choosing a motor control solution include peak-demand charges, operating at optimised efficiency, power factor, isolation transformer cost and losses, regeneration capabilities, synchronous transfer options and specialised intelligent motor control energy-saving features.

Beat peak-demand charges
It’s important to be aware utility companies charge higher peak-demand electricity prices when companies exceed a preset limit or base load of electricity. Peak demand charges often occur when industrial motors draw large peaks of current when started across-the-line. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) help reduce the peaks by supplying the power needed by the specific application, and gradually ramping the motor up to speed to reduce the current drawn. The VFD also automatically controls the motor frequency (speed), enabling it to run at full horsepower only when necessary. Running at lower speeds and power levels during peak times contributes to a reduction in energy costs and increased operating efficiency.
Kraftwerke Zervreila, a hydroelectric power generation plant in Switzerland, was causing a 20 percent under-voltage condition and line flicker on the electrical grid every time it started its 3.5 MW synchronous water pump motors that drew 1,600A in full-voltage starting conditions. In 2000, Zervreila retrofitted its 40-year-old motors with Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 7000 medium-voltage drives, which limited their starting current to 200A, greatly reducing its peak energy demand.

Optimise power usage
In addition to starting the motor, also consider how energy-efficiently the pump or motor operates. In applications where motors are unloaded or lightly loaded, VFDs can deliver additional energy savings and performance capabilities. Centrifugal loads, such as pumps and fans, offer the greatest potential for energy savings when applications require less than 100 percent flow or pressure. For example, significant energy savings can be gained by using VFDs to lower speed or flow by just 20%. If this reduction doesn’t impact the process, it can reduce energy use by up to 50%, which in many operations, can equate to substantial energy savings.
Energy consumption in centrifugal fan and pump applications follows the affinity laws, which means flow is proportional to speed, pressure is proportional to the square of speed, and horsepower is proportional to the cube of speed. That means if an application only needs 80 percent flow, the fan or pump will typically run at 80 percent of rated speed. But at 80% speed, the application only requires 50% of rated power. In other words, reducing speed by 20% requires only 50% of the power needed at full speed. It’s this cubed relationship between flow and power that makes VFDs energy savers.
Energy savings can also be realised by managing input power based on system demand. Vattenfall Europe Mining AG, in Germany, modernised the overburden conveyor systems of its open pit coal mine with 6.6kV Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 7000 medium voltage VFDs. The drive’s inherent regenerating capability allows fast, coordinated deceleration without the need of braking components and without wasting energy. The optimised conveyor loading (OCL) ensures system efficiency by using a material tracking system across an array of conveyors to continuously adjust speeds so that the conveyor belts are fully and uniformly loaded. A partly loaded conveyor wastes energy and causes unnecessary wear.
Vattenfall’s biggest benefit is the reduced amount of installed drive power. Before modernisation, the conveyor required six fixed-speed controllers at 1.5MW each, totalling 9MW to start the motor. The conveyor with a variable speed solution now uses installed power of only three units at 2MW each, for a total of 6MW to generate a smooth start.

Power factor makes a difference
Power factor and how it affects displacement and harmonic distortion is an important consideration in drive selection. Drives that are near-unity true power factor translate to reduced energy use. Leading drives produce a 0.95 power factor or greater throughout a wide operating speed range. An example of the effect of power factor on energy cost compares two 4,000hp drives, one with a true power factor of .95 and one with a true power factor of .98. The annual operating cost for 8,760 hours of use at

Lighting controls can deliver significant energy and performance benefits but it’s important to exploit the potential of the latest technologies, says Stewart Langdown of TridonicAtco

- When specifying lighting controls it’s very easy to achieve the minimum required by the Building Regulations but that won’t deliver maximum benefits to the end user – nor will it help to achieve energy targets that will become the norm for many buildings.
Clearly, the fact the Building Regulations now require lighting control is a step in the right direction, but the minimum requirement is simply for manual switches that are easily accessible and provide switching of lighting in zones. Also, of course, the Building Regulations don’t apply to existing buildings unless substantial improvements are being made.
So, while regulations give us a steer in the right direction, they can’t be relied on to guide specifiers to the right solution for the end user. For instance, the requirement for switches does nothing to eliminate the human factor, and it’s the human factor that forgets to switch off the lighting when a space is unoccupied or there is plenty of natural daylight available.
The real potential for controls, therefore, is to bypass the reliance on people while ensuring they still have some control over their lighting if they choose to exercise it. Obvious examples include dimming of lighting in relation to natural daylight and on/off switching using presence detectors to determine when lighting is required in a particular area. In most cases, these will be linked to a manual override.
In many cases, the maximum benefits will be achieved by combining different types of sensor to suit different areas of the building, different times of day or variable occupancy patterns. For example, the lighting may be linked to a timer that switches the lighting on at 8am and off again at 7pm. During the time the lighting is on, it may also be controlled via a photocell that measures light levels and dims the lighting when there is plenty of natural daylight. Or the lighting may only be switched on when there is someone in the space, and then controlled by a photocell to maintain the required lighting levels with the minimum use of electricity.
To that end, the way the information from the sensors is used to control the lighting is of paramount performance. At the simplest level, a single luminaire or bank of luminaires may be connected directly to a photocell or occupancy detector. The lighting is then dimmed or switched on and off directly in response to the output of the sensor – which is fine for relatively small spaces.
For larger spaces, or control of multiple spaces, a centralised control system will provide optimum control of the lighting while retaining localised control suited to the activities in each space. The more common use of electronic control gear has greatly facilitated the wider application of such control systems.
It’s over 30 years since the very first electronic control gear was introduced and we’ve seen a great deal of change since that time culminating, so far, in the Digital Serial Interface (DSI). DSI is a digital language that allows the user to switch and dim a wide range of ballasts on a pair of control wires and makes power switching a function of the ballast and not the circuit. It also allows a mixture of different lamp types to be controlled on the same circuit and the data can flow in both directions. As a result, information from the luminaire, such as lamp status, can be sent back to the central control point.
DSI has brought a great deal more ‘intelligence’ to the luminaire but the way the information is distributed around the building is also a critical factor in modern lighting control systems. To achieve this, an addressable version of the DSI ‘language’ is used - known as the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI).
DALI enables the user to address up to 64 ballasts on a single DALI network and to program both group and scene information directly into the ballast. This arrangement delivers total flexibility in design, with the added benefit of using software to configure, and re-configure, the lighting. As a result, any changes to the layout of the lighting can be achieved quickly and simply by re-programming the software, rather than altering the hard wiring.
Because it is an open interface, DALI also makes it very easy to link the lighting to other systems in the building. One obvious example would be to link the lighting controls to window blinds to make the maximum use of natural daylight while avoiding glare in the workspace.
A more recent development in this area has been the development of software that provides a ‘gateway’ between the DALI language and the language used by office networks and the Internet (TCP/IP). This has been a major breakthrough because it enables the lighting to be controlled via the building’s existing network – or from remote locations via the internet.
This software ‘gateway’ allows the user to define which buildings, fixtures and zones a particular ballast or group of ballasts is connected to, independent of the DALI circuit. It also addresses one of the key requirements of modern lighting control systems – the provision of some local control. With network based control systems, it becomes possible for each person to make adjustments to the lighting in their workspace via their PC.
Another major advantage is the ability to use the same circuit for mains lighting ballasts and emergency lighting. This means a wide range of tests can be carried out on the emergency lighting with no extra control circuitry – with full recording of results as proof the tests have been carried out. Monitoring and reporting functions include lamp failure, integrity of charging circuit, battery failure and failure of battery to sustain output for full duration.
Just as importantly, use of these systems makes installation and commissioning faster and more straightforward, despite the sophistication of the system. The DALI specification allows all ballasts on single or multiple circuits to be linked back to a local distribution board, with no necessity for special network considerations. The DALI control cables run in the same conduits as the power cables and at the distribution board the DALI signal is converted to a local area network connection.
The growing pressure to use lighting that optimises energy consumption while achieving a comfortable lit environment means that lighting controls are now a vital element in any lighting installation. Specifiers and installers that take full advantage of the technologies available are ideally placed to ensure that their customers get a solution that meets all of their requirements.

As many UK businesses find out to their cost each year, voltage surges on the electrical supply have the potential to cause serious damage to electrical equipment. That’s why the new 17th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations contains strong recommendations for the use of surge protection. Tom France of Schneider Electric explains what’s involved

- One of the most frequent – and most damaging – causes of voltage surges on the mains electricity supply is lightning strikes. It is, however, common for otherwise well-informed specifiers and engineers to believe such strikes are comparatively rare in the UK and thus constitute a very minor problem.
The statistics show otherwise. According to the website of the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO), in a typical year there are around 300,000 lightning ground strokes in the UK. And, on a single day with a high incidence of thunderstorms, it’s not at all unusual for there to be
10,000 ground strikes.
Remember, it doesn’t need a direct strike on an installation to cause damaging voltage surges – a ground strike in the near vicinity is quite sufficient. Also remember there are many other sources of voltage transients, such as the starting of large motors and the switching of large capacitive and inductive loads.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, it is easy to see the risk of damage to a UK electrical installation unprotected against voltages surges is, in truth, quite high. In spite of this, only a small percentage of businesses in the UK have electrical installations that include effective surge protection.
Clearly, this needs to change, and encouragement – if that’s the right word – is being provided by the new 17th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations, which requires surge protection to be at least considered for the vast majority of commercial and industrial installations. In addition, a new standard, IEC 62305, was introduced in January 2006 and is dedicated to protection against lightning risk.
But how can this protection be provided? To answer this question, it’s first necessary to look at the types of transient that are encountered in typical installations. Around 35% of transients originate outside the site. These external transients usually take the form of single impulses with a peak amplitude of anything up to 40kV. They are most often common mode impulses, occurring between live and earth and/or neutral and earth.
The remaining 65% of transients are generated within the site. These internal transients have a damped ringing waveshape, and are considerably smaller in amplitude than external transients. In an industrial environment, for example, around 100 internal transients per year of 1kV peak, plus another 20 to 40 per year of 2kV peak would be considered normal. Internal transients are usually differential mode, occurring between live and earth.
Because internal and external transients are different in type, efficient surge protection requires the use of more than one kind of device. In practice, a three-stage arrangement is needed to achieve comprehensive protection. Unfortunately, the names used to identify the devices intended for each stage of protection are different in the various applicable standards.
In EN 61643-1, they are known as Type 1, 2 and 3 devices, whereas IEC 61643-1 refers to the same devices as Class I, II and III respectively. To complicate matters even further, the corresponding designations in VDE 0675-6 are Category B, C and D. For the sake of clarity, in this article we’ll stick with the EN 61643-1 designations.
Type 1 devices are intended for installation close to the point where the electricity supply, at low voltage, enters the building for some Industrial applications or specific installations. They are principally designed to limit the effect of high-energy external surges, and usually incorporate some form of spark gap. This diverts transient currents to earth when the applied voltage reaches the breakdown value.
After the arc is ignited across the spark gap, the short-circuit current of the power system continues to flow until the next current zero. It is essential, therefore, that the device should be able to handle this level of current, and that the transient protection provided by the spark gap is co-ordinated with the over-current and short-circuit protection provided by the circuit breakers or fuses used in the installation.
Spark gaps are characterised by a very low residual voltage and, when correctly selected, can provide good protection for the main switchboard. Because of their point of installation and their mode of operation, however, they do not provide effective protection against internal transients.
To deal with these, Type 2 devices are used and are usually fitted in each of the installation’s distribution boards. Because Type 2 devices are required to deal with lower level ringing transients, they use a different technology – metal oxide varistor or MOV. Varistors are, in effect, resistors, but their resistance decreases exponentially as the voltage applied to them rises.
This means, when subjected to the high voltage of a transient, their resistance falls to a very low value, and they effectively clamp the transient to some preset – and hopefully safe – voltage above earth. They must be selected so that they are able to dissipate the heat generated by transients, and also so that they exhibit high resistance when subjected to the normal supply voltage.
MOV devices are unsuited for use in most Type 1 applications as they have much lower energy handling capabilities than spark gaps.
Four main parameters are used to characterise Type 1 and Type 2 surge protection devices. For Type 1 devices, the first of these is the maximum impulse current, while for Type 2 devices the first parameter is maximum discharge current. The remaining three parameters are the same for both Type 1 and Type 2 devices.
The nominal discharge current is usually denoted as In. The device must be able to withstand a current of this magnitude 15 times without damage. The voltage protection level, Up, is the voltage that will appear across the terminals of the device when it is carrying the nominal discharge current. Typical values are 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0kV.
The final parameter is the maximum continuous operating voltage, Uc. This is the maximum RMS or DC voltage that can be applied to the terminals of the device without causing excessive leakage current to flow.
While these parameters may at first sound complicated, choosing devices for specific applications is, in fact, relatively straightforward, especially as comprehensive guidance is available from leading manufacturers, including Schneider Electric.
For some applications, a combination of Type 1 and Type 2 protection is all that is needed. However, with the widespread use of comparatively delicate electronic equipment such as computers, photocopiers and telecommunications systems, it is now usual to provide Type 3 protection for selected loads.
The Type 3 devices are, in most respects, similar to Type 2 devices. They use MOV technology, but they are designed to be installed as close as possible to the load, and to have even lower clamping voltages than their Type 2 counterparts. Sometimes Type 3 devices are offered in the form of plug-in socket strips with integrated surge protection.
While the correct selection of protection devices and their use in appropriate combinations are clearly important steps in providing surge protection, there is another factor that must receive careful attention. This is the effectiveness or otherwise of the installation’s earth connection.
All types of surge protection device operate by diverting surge currents to earth. If, however, the earth connection has a high impedance, the usefulness of the protection will be severely limited, no matter how good the devices are, and how well they are matched to the application.
As this article has hopefully demonstrated, the provision of effective surge protection for electrical installations isn’t, in principle, difficult. However, until recently, surge protection devices often had to be inconveniently sourced from specialist suppliers, and they were rarely designed with the needs of the electrical contractor in mind.
This situation has now changed with the introduction of a full range of surge protection equipment by Merlin Gerin, a brand of Schneider Electric. Not only are the devices in the range backed by comprehensive guidance on selection and applications, they also provide protection which is fully co-ordinated with Merlin Gerin circuit breakers.
Additionally, the devices are presented in a convenient DIN-rail mounting format, ensuring that they are easily accommodated in standard switchboards and distribution cabinets. These features make it much easier and more convenient to provide surge protection in both new and existing installations.
When it comes to ensuring continuity of operation in industry and commerce, surge protection is vital. In fact, it is no exaggeration to suggest, in the near future, an industrial or commercial installation without surge protection will be as unthinkable as an installation without over-current or earth leakage protection. Fortunately, as we’ve seen, it is now possible to provide comprehensive surge protection easily and cost effectively.