Features

Machine builders help customers connect manufacturing and IT by using information-enabled machines explains Andrew Smith, commercial engineering team leader for architecture and software, Rockwell Automation

As manufacturers converge data between the plant floor and business office, machines that leverage the power of these domains have become a machine builder's competitive advantage. Information-enabled machines arm manufacturers with a valuable resource for gaining critical operational insight they need in today's knowledge-based business environment.

While helping to differentiate machine builders in the marketplace, information-enabled machines have another advantage: they help machine builders reduce total cost to design, develop and deliver those machines to the market. As the economy has cooled, demand for information-enabled machines has heated up. Why?

Machines with embedded intelligence offer an innovative way to wring more productivity out of the manufacturing operation. That's because these machines generate data and diagnostics that leads to meaningful analysis. That analysis helps control engineers precisely identify how to improve their processes.

Industry standards help
Fortunately for machine builders, industry standards such as EtherNet/IP have made building these sophisticated machines easier than ever. The EtherNet/IP protocol allows users to control, configure and collect information over the same network while still having the ability to support standard Ethernet functions such as e-mail, web page browsing and data sharing.

With such broad capabilities and performance, Ether- Net/IP can serve the functions of multiple network levels. This converged network infrastructure simplifies a machine's design, and in turn helps machine builders lower their design costs.

The savings are even greater for machine builders that pair EtherNet/IP capabilities with controllers that have advanced text string handling instructions. With supporting hardware, EtherNet/IP-enabled controllers can initiate e-mails to multiple addresses to deliver reports that maintenance personnel can use. For example, maintenance can check alarms, provide manufacturing proficiency data to management or deliver machine diagnostic data to the OEM.

This deep understanding, along with remote access capabilities, helps keep machines running. Embedding intelligence-gathering devices into machines helps machine builders provide customers with self-diagnostic equipment that can predict and prevent failures. This improves productivity and can reduce repair costs.

Some machine builders provide an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) report and other advanced information displays via the human-machine interface (HMI), giving operators instant insight to these diagnostics. In addition, the end user can relay machine condition information back to the machine builder for value-added monitoring  and analysis services. Technicians can then securely connect to the machine to monitor critical parameters and take action before a machine fails.

Savings beyond the machine
Machine builders traditionally designed equipment with a focus on meeting the needs of the controls engineer. However, they also need to consider the needs of IT professionals. At Rockwell Automation we have developed tools, technologies and resources to help OEMs both address and facilitate this top-floor to shop-floor integration. New products help machine builders manage real-time information flow by reducing network latency and jitter. Modular managed switches can now address the network convergence activities by offering features for both IT professionals and control engineers. Fixed managed switches can also give users cost-effective control over their Ethernet/IP network, which can work especially well for applications with small or highly distributed network devices or devices connecting to the controller.

Achieving high performance
Information-enabled machines are essential for giving operators and managers the insight they need to technologies and resources, machine builders can reduce their overall cost to design, develop and deliver these sought-after machines. Machines that effectively bridge the gap between the shop floor and the top floor ultimately help OEMs meet customer demands for high-performance machines.

The standard IEC 61850 [1] covers the communication in utility automation systems. More  and more substations use a communication system according to this standard incorporating GOOSE and Sampled Values. This article describes Omicron's new test set, CMC 850, which was developed to fulfill the requirements of customers working in pure IEC 61850 environments

CMC 850
The CMC 850 is the first test set dedicated to IEC 61850. It focuses on the described real time communications utilising Goose and sampled values. The device is controlled by the well proven Omicron Test Universe software. Additional features can be accessed through a new web interface.

The device was developed for the IEC 61850 standard, working without classical secondary values. The result is a small and light weight device which is compact and easy to carry having a width of just 80 mm and a weight of only 1.7 kg. Conventional I/Os and analog outputs are not available.

The capabilities of CMC 850 regarding IEC 61850 are the same as their ‘big brothers' CMC 256-6, CMC 256plus, CMC 353, and CMC 356:

The CMC 850 has the capabilities of simulation and subscription of up to 360 data attributes up to 128 Goose messages, and the generation of up to three sampled values streams (one stream contains 4 currents and 4 voltages).

The supported sampled values version and more specifically the option with 80 samples per cycle is in accordance with the implementation guideline of the UCA International Users Group [2], (widely known as "9 2LE").

Additional Features
The device provides additional built-in functionality, which cannot be found in other CMC test sets. These functions are accessed with a normal web browser. One feature is the visualisation of received sampled values in a multimeter or oscilloscope view.

Subscribed sampled values are used to calculate the phasors, which are then provided as synchro¬phasors according to IEEE C37.118 [2]. Recorded network traffic (in PCAP-format) can be played back through the device.

Time Synchronisation
Time synchronisation is an important issue when dealing with sampled values. The CMC 850 is delivered with the CMIRIG-B interface which allows synchronization to IRIG-B or a pulse-per-second (PPS) signal. Time stamping of Goose messages and sampled values is made possible through the use of Net¬work Time Protocol (NTP) or Precision Time Proto¬col (PTP) according to IEEE 1588-2002, V1).

Segregation of Networks
The CMC 850 is equipped with two independent Ethernet-Ports.
Each of these ports can be used for controlling the test set with a local PC, or for sending/receiving Goose and/or sampled values. This allows maximum flexibility in the configuration and a segregation of IEC 61850 data combined with the control protocol for the test set.

Applications
The CMC 850 test set is perfect for use in the IEC 61850 environment. It is particularly suitable for use in the development of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and for factory and site acceptance testing. The device is also ideal for demonstrations of IEC 61850 IEDs and for training purposes.

Summary
Omicron was the first vendor to provide testing solutions for IEC 61850. This device, equipped for current and future testing in the IEC 61850 environment, is the result of vast experience, technical skill and collaboration with international standardisation committees.

Omicron

Tel: 01785 251 000

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.omicron.at/

 

Stephen Trotter, division head of ABB Power Systems UK, explains how hybrid switchgear  modules that combine the virtues of AIS and GIS technology can offer greater flexibility for substation design

The term ‘hybrid' refers to the combination of both conventional air insulated switchgear (AIS) and the newer metal-clad gas insulated (GIS) switchgear. This hybrid solution, as found in ABB's Pass MO design - rated up to 170 kV, uses existing, tried and trusted GIS components together with a conventional and extremely reliable AIS bus to connect the various hybrid modules. All the necessary substation switchgear bay functions, including a circuit breaker, one or more combined disconnector/earthing switches, bushings for connection to single or double busbar systems and a current transformer are integrated in one compact module, eliminating the need for separate pieces of equipment for each function.

Hybrid advantages
The advantages of the hybrid switchgear design include:
- AIS busbar: The AIS busbar is relatively inexpensive while offering proven reliability.
- All live contacts in SF6: Experience has shown AIS disconnector switch contacts require relatively high levels of maintenance, while experience with GIS is exactly the opposite. The use of SF6 technology makes the hybrid switchgear virtually maintenance free, this combines with a high level of reliability to ensure a lower global life cycle cost.
- Fewer switching elements: Use of GIS technology allows rationalisation of switching elements.
- Factory pre-assembled and tested: The hybrid modules are fully pre-assembled and tested in the factory. This ensures a higher quality of finished bay than if it is assembled under site conditions, minimises installation time on site - typically two days per bay, reduces the possibility of delay due to adverse site conditions and there is less need for skilled resources on site.
- Monitoring and on-line diagnostics: The integrated nature of the plant facilitates the use of electronic monitoring and on-line remote diagnostics.
- Substation modularisation: A modular approach to substation design offers cost and time savings during the design and construction phases. The use of standardized components reduces the number of possible variations and hence the risk of design errors. More predictable costs also offers a higher level of confidence in the project estimation process.
- Space saving and reduced civil works: The hybrid design can save up to 70% of the space normally required for a conventional AIS substation, while also reducing the need for civil works such as foundations, steelwork and cable trenching operations
- Combined disconnector/earthing switch: Pass MO is equipped with a combined disconnector/earthing switch. The mechanism has a minimal number of mechanical components and is intrinsically reliable and maintenance-free.
- Circuit breaker: The Pass MO circuit breaker is a single pressure interrupter that operates by means of the well known selfblast principle. The energy for interrupting currents is partly supplied by the arc itself, this reduces the energy the operating mechanism needs to provide by around 50% compared with a conventional puffer type circuit breaker.
- Versatility: The Pass MO range offers a series of modules for HV substations including: single bus bar (SBB); double bus bar (DBB); double circuit breaker (DCB). It can also be installed as a high voltage bay on a mobile truck for use in emergencies or if work has to be carried out on existing HV bays.
- Transportation: The Pass MO fits into a standard truck container and does not require any packaging. No special arrangements are needed for shipping and transportation, and once on site just a simple 30° rotation of the outer poles is needed for the final layout.

Tight fit for Breamish Street substation
Well over 2,000 Pass MO bays have been installed worldwide. Following its approval by the ENA (Energy Networks Association) one of the first UK projects to feature the range was CE Electrics UK's new 66/11 kV Breamish Street substation on a brownfield, urban site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The new primary substation is helping CE Electric UK to deliver an additional 18 MVA of firm capacity to meet the growing demand for additional power, and need for load transfer, created by the significant urban redevelopment programmes on the north bank of the River Tyne. The restricted space available presented a particular technical challenge, since the Breamish Street site is not only compact in size, it is also hemmed in on all four sides by a hotel, a pharmacy, a residents association and the 18th century St Ann's church.

The space-saving capability of the design has been utilised to construct a new substation comprising two 66/11 kV 15/30 MVA CER transformers, a 66 kV in/out unit and a 13 panel 11 kV switchboard. A 66 kV feeder unit has also been installed at Fossway, the closest CE Electric UK substation.

Providing vital construction space at Reading
Hybrid switchgear has also provided an innovative interim solution for the new Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) 132 kV indoor GIS substation at Reading, currently under construction by an ABB and Balfour Beatty consortium. The site presented a particular challenge as it was already completely full with time expired AIS switchgear that needed to remain in service until the circuits could be transferred to the new substation.

At first, it appeared the only possibility would be to extend the site onto the local, heavily wooded, green space to offer the additional room needed for the construction of the new indoor GIS building. However, extending the site would have involved considerable planning time and expense and significant project delays.

An innovative alternative was found by using ABB switchgear as a temporary measure to provide additional space to enable the new GIS building to be built within the existing site footprint. Firstly, ABB dismantled the generator circuit breakers that used to serve the old North Earley power station, which was demolished some years ago. This freed up just enough space to install the Pass MO modules to take over the operation of the AIS circuits at the far end of the site. This enabled the old AIS switchgear to be dismantled to make room for the new GIS substation. After all the circuits have been transferred to the new substation the Pass MO modules will be removed.

        
                     

Jim Wallace of Seaward, explains how advances in test technology have increased the range of test instrument options available to contractors

For contractors involved in electrical testing there has never been a wider choice of test instruments available.

In recent years the instrumentation industry has been at the forefront of innovation and technical advances. These changes have been made in recognition of the situation for electrical companies, particularly during difficult economic conditions, the challenge is to balance the provision of efficient, high quality test services with a competitive price tag and value for money offering.

The test companies that flourish will be those that combine a fast and effective service that does not compromise the quality of testing undertaken - and who can build on existing customer relationships.
In fact customer service and satisfaction levels have become a crucial area for electrical test companies. With less work around existing relationships become even more important. It follows that an ability to enhance existing customer services through the provision of a cost-effective and added-value test service can do much to both reinforce a company's reputation and maintain a positive profile with influential prospects.

In addition, as well as a wide variety of testers available, the ability to provide a seamless link between test instruments used in the field and central test record systems that produce test certification and other reports also takes on even greater importance.

The good news for large and small contractors is advances in test instrumentation mean a range of options are available to meet specific test needs - and budgets - for periodic electrical installation testing or portable appliance testing.

In 17th edition testing
The HSE's Guidance Note GS38 provides guidance to electrically competent people involved in electrical testing, diagnosis and repair. The note identifies three main test instrument categories - those that detect voltage, those that measure voltages and those that measure current, resistance and (occasionally) inductance and capacitance.

The first named forms an essential part of the procedure for proving a system dead before starting work, whilst the other categories are more concerned with commissioning and testing procedures and fault finding.

Guidance note GS38 provides details of the risks associated with the use of unsatisfactory test equipment and includes a list of safety precautions and requirements all professional electricians should be aware of.

However, in terms of selecting appropriate 17th Edition test instruments, electrical contractors are broadly faced with a choice between ‘multifunction/combination' testers or single application specific testers.

As the name implies the latter are designed to carry out one specific function - RCD testing, insulation, earth resistance etc - and the ‘all in one' type testers are single units designed to carry out a wide range of tests including earth loop, insulation resistance, continuity, RCDs etc.

Choice invariably depends on the scope of work to be carried out, but increasingly it is the multifunction testers that have become the preferred tools of the trade for those involved in 17th Edition testing. This is for both practical reasons, in terms of using one meter constantly rather than swapping and changing between testers, and also for budget considerations - buying, maintaining and calibrating one combination tester is invariably cheaper than buying three separate ones.

Multifunction 17th Edition testers carry out the required circuit tests and display the test reading for transfer onto the test certificate manually or alternatively, readings can be recorded on a PDA and transferred to a desktop application for certificate printing. Some testers are also linked with smart phone and portable laptop applications which work in the same way by gathering test data collected in the field for subsequent transfer onto a master certificate.

The latest generation 17th Edition testers eliminate the use of intermediary devices by storing a replica of the test certificate within the tester so test data can be automatically incorporated onto the certificate as testing is undertaken.

In this way the instrument combines the functions of a multifunction test instrument and data logger. When inspection and testing is complete, the certificate held inside the tester can be transferred to accompanying PC software for the completion and print out of formal certificates.

As a result the time consuming (and therefore costly) practice of recording results on paper, a dummy certificate or a PDA is avoided. In addition, because the tester warns the user if any certificate fields appear  incomplete or invalid, verification of data can be carried out on site immediately and without return visits.

Recently the concept on ‘on board certification' in testers has been extended with additional features aimed at large testing organisations or the testing of large premises.

For example, the moist advanced 17th Edition testers now have the ability to upload certificates generated on a PC into multiple testers. This is particularly useful in situations where a number of test personnel might be working on the same large installation, such as a hospital development or shopping mall and enables specific test work to be allocated to a number of engineers very easily.
Once testing has been undertaken, the software enables test results downloaded separately from different testers to be merged into a single certificate for the premises concerned.

Another new feature is the ability to ‘clone' certificates from an existing master document. This allows the user to select an existing certificate and use this as a template to create multiple certificates for identical or similar electrical installations.

The cloned certificates will contain all of the distribution boards and circuit details held in the original and therefore represents an easy way of generating certificates for, say, 20 or more  houses on a street which all have the same electrical configuration.

In these combined testing and certification testers, all data transfer between the PC and the instrument can be achieved easily using Bluetooth connectivity. This means a certificate can be uploaded to the tester, the required test and inspection carried out and the information downloaded to a PC and the final certificate printed directly onto pre-printed NICEIC, ECA, ECA Select or Napit stationery.

With such a wide range of test instruments and accessories to choose from, electricians and contractors involved in 17th Edition electrical testing can be sure the right test package solution is available to meet their specific needs and budget.

In recent years substantial technical development has gone into the development of new test instrumentation so the ‘tester' can now be used in a much more effective manner - improving operational efficiencies, adding value to the test process and enhancing customer relationships.

IEC 61850, the new standard for substation data networks, is creating a lot of interest and  excitement. It's also creating more than a few challenges, says Romain Douib of Megger, not least for substation control engineers who spend their lives creating and working on interlocking schemes

One of the biggest challenges substation control engineers face, is not how to implement interlocking schemes based on IEC 61850, but how to test them. The problem is particularly acute, because at present IEC 61850 is being more widely used for interlocking than it is in protection applications.
Of course, options do exist for testing IEC 61850 interlocking schemes. However, these almost always involve the use of protective relay test set that supports IEC 61850. This approach, however, is far from ideal. The first concern is that, in most cases, control engineers are not protection engineers. They are unlikely, therefore, to be familiar with the operating a protective relay test set. They could, of course, learn, but that's a pretty steep learning curve for something that is not central to their work.
Another issue is protective relay test sets are necessarily costly, since they incorporate high-performance precision amplifiers and other elements that are expensive to develop and produce. Yet these are not needed for testing interlocking schemes, so using a relay test set in this application is not only overkill, it also needlessly ties up expensive capital equipment.

It's clear there is a pressing need for a reasonably priced instrument that is simple to use and provides all of the facilities needed for testing IEC 61850 interlocking schemes, but does not incorporate the expensive extras needed for protective relay testing.

It's not difficult, in principle at least, to imagine how such a test set would work. First of all, it would monitor the Goose messages IEC 61850 installations use to communicate and it would convert them to the ordinary type of on/off binary signal that control engineers are used to working with in non-networked installations.

The test set would also be capable of working in the opposite direction. That is, it should take signals from ordinary contacts and convert them into appropriate Goose messages. In effect, a test set of this kind is simply an interface between the Goose messages on the bus and the electromechanical world of the control engineer.

Of course, there's rather more to be considered than this very basic overview initially suggests. For example, the conversion between Goose messages and binary signals must be fast enough so as not to materially affect the timing of the interlocking system. In practice, a conversion time of less than a millisecond, which is achievable with careful design, will be fast enough to satisfy the most demanding of requirements.

Next, it is clearly necessary to be able to associate particular Goose messages with specific inputs and outputs on the test set. This is best accomplished with software but, if it is to be intuitive and easy to work with, the software needs to be carefully designed. Further refinements can also be envisaged. For example, LEDs that provide instant visual confirmation of the state of the instruments binary inputs and outputs would be an important benefit for users.

The ideas mentioned in this article have driven the development of Megger's new Goose Message Interface.. This embodies a number of unique technical features for which patents are pending, and offers the most efficient and cost-effective solution currently available to the challenge of testing IEC 61850-based substation interlocking schemes.

That is, however, by no means the limit of the capabilities of the Goose Message Interface. While it may not be particularly interesting to control engineers, the unit can also be used to adapt a conventional protection relay test set so that it can be used to test IEC 61850 protection schemes. This is a big benefit for users that already have protection relay test sets - whether they are units supplied by Megger or by others - as it is offers a very straightforward and cost-effective upgrade path.
It also creates an attractive option for consultants and smaller organisations who can now purchase a Goose Message Interface and a modestly priced relay test set, to cover all their relay and interlocking test requirements for both conventional and IEC 61850 schemes.

Equipment that allows convenient and dependable testing of IEC 61850 interlocking schemes has, until now, been difficult or even impossible to find. This situation has now been addressed by Megger's Goose Message Interface, an instrument that provides the added bonus of facilitating the testing of IEC 61850 protection schemes.

Premier League footballer and World Cup hopeful Gary Neville's recent application for a new luxury eco-home complex incorporates cutting edge intelligent building automation technology alongside impressive green credentials

Neville's new eco-mansion - dubbed the ‘teletubby' house in the press due to its setting in the West Pennine hillside - spreads over 8,000 sq ft and features solar panels, a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump.

High-end developments like Gary Neville's can disguise the fact that intelligent building automation has entered the mainstream. They are no longer the preserve of the rich and famous (and WAGs).

Core intelligent building automation functions such as lighting or climate control are becoming the norm. Customised options are limited only by the size of the client's imagination and bank account.

The average householder in the UK now expects a level of sophistication in building automation undreamed of 10 years ago.

Buildings that are energy efficiently designed are becoming increasingly popular. Most modern buildings incorporate some form of Intelligent Building Technology (IBT) ranging from automatic lighting and climate control to door entry and security systems.

Intelligent Building Technologies

With the increasing demand for ‘green' buildings, Intelligent Building Technology systems can contribute to significant energy savings over time and offer tangible benefits to end users - both residential and commercial - and also represent added value to electrical contractors in terms of the work involved.

The operation of heating, lighting and blinds among others can be aligned with external climate conditions or adjusted by an interface to pre-set levels.

For example, lighting can be altered depending on the amount of natural light detected or people present in the building. Heating, cooling and ventilation can be measured by temperature sensors and adjustments made where necessary.

Cabling

Despite the extended functionality of these intelligent building technologies (IBTs) the wiring systems used are actually remarkably simple.

Neville's eco-mansion plans to draw energy from a range of wind turbines and solar panels, with any extra energy being fed back into the national grid - further reducing its carbon footprint.

As part of the growth in renewable energy sources, the demand for specialist cables to meet this need has increased as well. While once again the cables used to link solar panels are actually very simple - the installations can often be in hostile environments.

UV light for example can be extremely damaging to conventional PVC cables, breaking down the standard insulation over time. The FSC range of solar panel or photovoltaic (PV) cables are designed to work in extreme conditions with a temperature range or up to 120°C and excellent UV stability.

KNX - ‘The Green Home Automation Solution'

One popular system for intelligent building design is KNX.

KNX is an ideal solution for consultants, specifiers, designers, installers and end users as a flexible, user friendly and energy efficient system.

The KNX standard is an internationally recognised system for home automation and building control combining ISO/IEC (14543), CENELEC (EN50090) and CEN (13321). It also combines and replaces previous Bus systems - EIB, EHSA and BatiBus.

The harmonisation of these standards and systems offers designers, installers and end users a flexible, versatile and ‘problem-free' solution combining certified devices across a range of approved manufacturers - ensuring conformity, interoperability and quality.

All KNX certified equipment has been tested and certified to meet this high standard and only equipment meeting this can carry the logo. This ensures the quality, reliability and guaranteed compatibility of all KNX devices and equipment.

Substantial energy savings can be achieved through efficient building technologies.

Using a KNX shading control system for example can achieve energy savings of 40%. A KNX individual room control can offer savings of up to 50% and a KNX lighting or ventilation control system can provide as much as 60% savings over traditional building management systems.

KNX also offers advances in home or building security. For example, motion detectors, alarm systems and shutter control can all be automated and controlled through the same Bus network.

Notwithstanding the complex technologies it controls, a KNX cabling system is actually remarkably simple with devices and systems interconnected using a single twisted pair cable. This simplicity is one of the many benefits to designers, installers and end users.

FS Cables as member of the KNX association now offers a KNX certified cable.

This features two twisted solid conductor pairs with a foil screen in a green jacket. It has been tested and certified as being suitable for use in KNX systems and bears the KNX logo.

KNX is particularly attractive to consultants and specifiers at the design stage where the flexibility of an entirely open solution allows for the creation of simple installations right up to complex building management functions.

Installations are made easier through clear and simple wiring and with a KNX certified cable installers can be confident of a hassle free installation.

While the KNX system is responsible for monitoring and controlling the data and communication aspect of the network, we have seen an increase in demand for Niltox low smoke halogen free signal and control cables - in particular LF-319. Niltox LF-319 covers a range of conductor sizes and is available either number or colour coded, from 2 to 25 cores.

Applications in IBTs tend to centre around providing power and control to automatic heating and ventilation control systems. The low smoke halogen free properties of these cables make them ideal for installations where the safety of people or sensitive electronic property could be compromised in the event of fire.

Residential Applications

On a more mundane but just as crucial level the universal HIP (Home Information Pack) with its green energy efficiency rating for homes on sale has familiarised vendors and buyers in the home market to the need for energy conservation and efficiency.

Intelligent building automation has a significant role to play in energy conservation.

Owner occupiers are now required to provide a ‘green passport' in the shape of the Energy Performance Certificate which measures both the current and potential energy efficiency ratings of a home.

Commercial Applications

Just as the home owner needs the HIP to demonstrate environmental performance - there is increasing pressure on businesses to prove their own green credentials. Intelligent Building Technologies can provide benefits to businesses through reduced costs, increased efficiencies and higher employee productivity.

Commercial premises have much to gain with significant ROIs being available through intelligent building automation.

At FSC, we have recently been awarded ISO14001 accreditation which required a critical evaluation of our environmental capabilities.

As a result of this evaluation we identified the need to replace the sodium low bay lighting in the warehouse with movement detecting T5 fluorescent lamps. This ensures that energy is used efficiently and only when required. ISO14001, through systems like this enabled us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

Benefits to the end-user

For the end user, a KNX system represents a modern, cost effective and ‘barrier free' solution to home automation and building technology.

Tremendous flexibility is offered as any changes or upgrades to the system over time are possible without the need for rewiring.

Benefits to the Electrical Contractor

The implications of building automation systems for installers are far-reaching and provide a new commercial horizon for the enterprising installer. New build projects and retro-fit schemes offer exciting possibilities in both residential and commercial applications and are an effective way of adding extra value to a job.

In many cases, the hardware and labour costs are outweighed by the value-added benefits for the client.

Using a KNX system has multiple benefits to the electrical contractor. Firstly - the interoperability of devices across a range of manufacturers and regions and secondly - quality assurance whereby product quality is ensured through testing and certification.

Conclusion

While the future for intelligent building automation seems clear the jury is still out on whether Capello will take Neville to South Africa this summer.

If he stays at home, Neville will be able to entertain himself with some high-end gadgetry for his new home. If he goes, he will be able to control his home from his hotel room in Rustenburg, perhaps recording the England games - and hopefully one of those trademark crosses for Rooney to score.

 

Useful links

http://www.knx.org/

http://www.niltoxcable.co.uk/

http://www.fscables.com/

David Hatherill, engineering manager for Finning Power Systems, outlines the process of  generator synchronisation to the mains

If you've watched enough films you will have inevitably seen a few chase sequences and stunts where someone jumps from one moving vehicle to another.

In many ways this is similar to the process of generator synchronisation. Fortunately though we have the assistance of accurate instrumentation and control equipment, which means that the process is rather less risky, and in the majority of cases fully automatic.

We can't however see whether two electrical circuits are in phase or at the same frequency so it's always been necessary to have some form of visual aid. Initially these took the form of two (or in some cases three) synchronising lights - the set being in phase and at the correct voltage when both lights were extinguished.

More recently electronic synchroscopes have been used which give a much better visual interpretation of what is going on. These evolved into having a combined check sync relay, and finally into the modern auto synchroniser used today, which has some limited indication, but has no opportunity for manual intervention.

The fact the process has been automated to the point of the system ‘pressing the button' for you, doesn't mean that the fundamentals of what it's doing doesn't matter anymore. The design of much of the rest of the system is much the same, so we'll now look at some of the other design aspects of synchronising and connecting to the grid.

To synchronise successfully we first need some form of common reference point, and generally this is the neutral on an LV system, which is why we normally want a three pole synchronising circuit breaker. We then need to match the voltage to the supply by adjusting the regulator settings, and make sure the frequency is the same and in phase which we do by adjusting the generator speed. Assuming that these are all correct we can close the synchronising breaker. Once the synchronising breaker is closed we must then increase the engine fuelling to export electricity.

One of the first parts of designing any system is to determine the functionality we desire, and in this case that is whether we want to synchronise generators to each other, to the grid, or both.

If we want to connect in parallel to the grid, then the local REC should be an early port of call to check that they will be happy to connect you. This is important as they may have limitations caused by infrastructure which will limit how much can be connected or impose other design limits. A good example of this may be fault level, which even if you do not export, still has an impact on their network if parallel running is required.

A document called Engineering Recommendation G59/1 covers the requirements for connection and specifies what protection devices should be fitted to enable parallel running. For larger installations, above 5MW, you need to apply the requirements from document G75/1.

For a generator that synchronises at low voltage (LV) these protections will include: under and over voltage, under and over frequency and loss of mains. The latter incorporates rate of change of frequency (ROCOF) and vector shift of the voltage vector.

If the connection is to be at high voltage (HV) further protections are required. These may include: neutral voltage displacement, earth fault, over current, and reverse power, although these are not ‘prescribed' and are to some extent down to the discretion of the local REC's engineer.

Strictly speaking G59/1 applies according to the connection voltage to the grid of the site, but the spirit of the regulation and the general implementation is it is the synchronisation voltage that is considered.

A further document; (Engineering Technical Report) ETR 113 was issued to ‘clarify" some of the requirements of G59/1, but it should be noted some of these clarifications actually impose additional requirements. Also it does not take into account the strength or otherwise of the local network, so the document is not a clarification in the usual sense.

In the longer term there is intent to combine G59/1 and G75/1, which will make ETR 113 redundant, but this hasn't reached fruition at the present time.

In many ways paralleling to the grid is the easy option because the grid does not interact: you simply have to fit in with what it's doing. The synchronised generator also cannot see load, even on its own part of the system, so can run in a very controlled situation with no transients.

The fact the generator can't see load in this situation probably requires a little more explanation as it's a concept that's not at first obvious. Quite simply, the generator set load is controlled by the engine governor; the governor looks at throttle input and compares this to the desired setting. If the engine speed slows it increases fuelling, and if the engine speed rises it decreases the fuelling. When the generator set is running paralleled to the grid the speed does not vary as the frequency does not vary, so the governor does not sense the load. Further to this, since the generator can't see load, it also can't see other generators, so no particular instrumentation is required to coordinate the activities of other units, even if they are on the same leg of the network.

There is also a common misconception load can be controlled when running in parallel by changing the excitation of the generator, and that if the generator output voltage is raised the generator will carry more load. This is not so.

If the generator voltage is increased beyond the bus voltage this causes the voltage vector to shift which alters the power factor, and all this achieves is to make the power factor worse. In fact tight control of excitation is how generators control their own power factor. They cannot correct load power factor.

When running in island mode with multiple generators the scenario is much more complicated. Firstly generators do see load, and they also see each other, so some form of load share governing system is required. This essentially allows the sets to communicate so that as load is applied or removed from the system they all react together in a coordinated way.

This is particularly important if dissimilar generators are connected together. The reason the generators see load in this situation, and each other, is as load is applied to the system there is no infinite bus to buffer these changes. As such the load on, and therefore the speed of, the generator increases or decreases, and this is reacted to by the engine governor.

All of the above are the very bare essentials of what you need to connect a generator to the grid. Today's customers expect so much more than just a generator which can be started and synchronised to the grid. Modern schemes such as hospitals, banks, data centres, sports stadiums, air traffic control centres and supermarket warehouses all require systems that can not only start and pick up load, but also reconfigure the site distribution system, carry out building management activities, switch high voltage switchgear and the list goes on.

When it comes to generator synchronisation it is best to approach a supplier that has the relevant experience and can demonstrate packaged solutions that are reliable and easy to use.  After all it is a legal requirement to show compliance with the regulations when synchronising generator sets to the mains, and there are always the financial benefits of peak shaving. It is likely such benefits will only increase in the future with the continued strain placed on the utility grid.

The provision of fuel-powered generators is an integral part of the construction of modern  buildings such as hospitals, data centres, prisons, banks and modern schools and academies. They rely on this emergency fuel supply in the event of a power failure, to ensure they can continue to operate vital systems. Yet despite this, these systems are often not given enough consideration at the outset of a project. Caroline Bowie, PLX brand manager at Durapipe UK, discusses the benefits of using plastics in power generation

In a culture where electrical power is fundamental for day to day living, power cuts have shown how, within a modern day society, we are left utterly helpless and vulnerable when denied electrical power. Power failures have the potential to cause widespread catastrophes and as a result, the need for a high performing emergency power supply is absolutely essential.

Unfortunately, whilst we enjoy the benefits of extensive technological advancement in the 21st century, we are still very much reactionary when it comes to problems that occur. For instance, we often hear after an incident it could easily have been prevented should a certain measure have been taken beforehand. What is more, we frequently see that whilst the problem may have been a technical failing - our own legal or health and safety regulations were not what they should have been leading up to the problem.

Power cuts are by their very nature unexpected, meaning emergency power systems need to be regularly checked and updated to ensure they will perform to the required standards, should they be called upon in an emergency. As a result, it is essential the utmost thought is given to the specification of these systems at the outset of a project, as they have the potential to prevent large scale problems in the event of a power cut.

However, due to careless installation or low performing systems, emergency power generators themselves have also been known to fail leaving buildings without a back up plan and in potentially serious danger. One incident occurred in a Los Angeles hospital in 2008: due to the faults with the emergency power supply, 200 patients were left without power for nearly four hours. This included 24 patients who had been reliant on ventilators, some of the patients being new born babies. Although the situation was eventually resolved, the situation would not have reached the worrying heights it did, had a suitably performing emergency power system been in place.

Fuel powered generators are popular systems to use to provide power if the main power source fails. They function through a pipework system transporting fuel to a emergency generator, which will then provide a temporary power supply whilst the main system is repaired or replaced. There are two typical pipework systems that are used to provide the fuel supply, underground pipework systems or imperative fuel flow systems.

For fuel supply applications, it is important that contractors specify secondary containment (pipe-in-pipe) systems due to the potential safety hazards caused if fuel was to leak into the atmosphere. Secondary containment pipe systems are becoming compulsory for many pipework applications, and are the preferred solution for fuel conveyance. However, Durapipe is keen to stress not all secondary containment pipe systems are the same and they all offer different performance and installation capabilities.

Traditionally, steel pipework has been specified as the preferred pipework solution to provide the generators with the fuel they need to function, although frustratingly, these pipework solutions are also known to sometimes fail. A common cause of flawed systems can be fuel not reaching the emergency generator, meaning it has no way of functioning. This can occur for several reasons, including complete corrosion of the pipework, where the fuel or the environment has penetrated the pipe or there is clogging of the pipe bore, resulting in fuel not flowing at a consistent rate.

In some steel pipework systems, the presence of limescale in the inner bore can contaminate the fuel, which will then result in long term damage to the generator itself. These issues highlight the need for rigorous and frequent quality control checks, on pipework systems that cannot offer a long term product performance.

The difficulty with steel, is although it has been felt to be a durable pipework solution for certain applications, the lifespan of this durability is limited and has shown no signs of improvement. This provides concerns for emergency fuel solutions, as although the hope is that it will never be called upon, if it is, it needs to perform. Contractors need to be aware with an estimated fuel carrying lifespan of just over five years - steel is a solution that cannot guarantee performance capabilities over a long period of time, and corrosion may prevent it from performing when it needs to.

In terms of the installation process, this can be lengthy with traditional metal systems such as steel. Whether these systems run under, or over ground, it requires skilled installers to fit the pipework. In the case of installing underground pipework systems, hot works permits are needed, which can result in an extremely complicated and timely installation process. Considering these issues raises the question of why innovative materials, such as plastic, are not being readily exploited by contractors and specifiers.

Plastic, is an example of a reliable alternative material that can be used to provide pipework solutions for emergency fuel supply. Lightweight and easy to install by nature, plastic pipework eradicates the complex installation properties associated with metal competitors. Plastic systems simplify the installation process for contractors, as they do not need a skilled welder to install the system due to the innovative electrofusion jointing system. What is more, they do not require the use of hot works permits when being installed, which greatly speeds up the installation time as well as saving contractors money on labour costs significantly. These sorts of economic savings can be extremely beneficial for contractors in a time when project timings and budgets are continuing to be ever narrower.

Plastic pipework system, PLX from Durapipe UK, is an example of a viable pipework alternative that can be used for emergency fuel applications. Manufactured in a robust polyethylene material, the secondary containment (pipe-in-pipe) system provides good resistance to long term stress cracking and is suitable to carry a wide variety of fuel based liquids. Additionally, its durability gives it a design life of 25 years - making it suitable for use for applications such as emergency fuel supply, where it is imperative to install a system that does not have to be regularly maintained or replaced.

Alternative pipework solutions that build on the performance quality of steel whilst addressing its limitations are available to contractors and need to be more readily explored in the initial specification process. In an industry continually looking for higher performing and more reliable products, it calls for a reassessment of just how well traditional materials such as steel, are working within the emergency power generation sector and why alternatives are not being explored at the outset of projects.

Motor manufacturers have been challenged in today's low carbon environment to target one of  the holy grails of the motoring community, energy efficiency. Two significant approaches have found their way into mainstream motoring, automated stopping of the engine when idling at traffic lights, and conserving the energy generated in braking to optimise the fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions. In fact the second approach even found its way into Formula 1 as a way to get a performance boost. Jeff Whiting of Mitsubishi Electric looks at how inverter drive technology, in the form of the regenerative drive, answers real issues in industrial environments, and indeed demonstrates a number of other operational benefits

Until a few years ago, when drivers stopped at traffic lights or a level crossing, they simply left their engines running. But now there are many campaigns to encourage switching off - in California it's already a legal requirement for commercial vehicles. But restarting an engine, even a warm one, requires an extra squirt of fuel, leading to extra CO2 and NOX, so regenerative technologies are being used to capture braking energy that was previously dissipated through hot brake discs and provide a carbon neutral kick start when the lights go green. A number of car manufacturers have automated this approach bringing clear energy reductions.

Historically in industry, an electric motor was started and left running throughout the shift. There was often a good reason for this as starting motors usually took a huge energy inrush until it got moving and built up its own resistance. This power inrush could be up to 12 times the working current of the motor and therefore motors are usually rated with a number of direct starts allowed per hour. Leaving the motor running seemed quite a realistic approach. However, fitting a motor with an inverter offers a much softer starting regime, and is far less restricted in terms of available starts. This really opens up the opportunity to only run the motor during operational requirements, and to save significant energy by switching the motor on and off.

A inverter drive offers even more energy ‘bang for its buck' by optimising energy used in the electric motor whatever the load, and also by running the process at lower speeds which can also save significant energy and therefore costs. The best savings can normally be made when running a fan or pump, as a slight reduction in speed can really impact the power consumption. Maybe this isn't a realistic goal of Formula 1, and wouldn't attract much of an audience, but it is well known that a smooth driver uses far less petrol than a boy racer. Uncharacteristically, Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear colleagues demonstrated this sometime ago by driving large cars from Paris to Liverpool on a single tank of petrol. By maintaining a steady, moderate speed, avoiding stop/start driving, rapid acceleration and hard braking, fuel consumption was kept in the optimum range and the total mileage proved to be way beyond what is normally achieved.

The savings gained by using inverters in real terms are both financial, affecting a business' bottom line and ecological in the reduction of CO2 used. In fact it has been calculated that the CO2 savings made by the inverters sold in the UK each year relate to the CO2 used by 100,000 Business cars doing normal mileage.

An inverter doesn't just save energy or allow a process to be optimised for changing loads and requirements. There are many types of industrial processes driven by motors. Some of these applications bring a number of other challenges which are easily addressed by today's high performance inverter drives. Typical of these is where energy in the process overhauls the power of the motor. To keep the process under control, this energy must be dealt with, and if possible used to power other parts of the production cycle. This was the principle of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System used for a short period of time in Formula 1 racing, but finding a far more appreciative audience in today's high efficiency and hybrid cars. Normally, under braking conditions, the weight of the car generates heat in the brake disks. With the latest technology, KERS uses this condition to capture the energy and release it during the driven part of the journey, thereby reducing fuel consumption.

Consider an escalator at a deep London Underground station at rush hour. The ‘up' escalator will be working hard to lift maybe a hundred people over a considerable height. The ‘down' escalator will be carrying just as many people - and it will be creating energy as they descend. In power terms, the motor requires power to be fed into it to drive the loaded escalator upwards, whereas when descending, the motor has a load driving it, making the motor act as a generator. Under these conditions the power has to be controlled for the passengers need to descend in a safe manner. This is generally done by using an inverter to ensure safe control and a measured stopping function. Without this, an uncontrolled stop could have huge repercussion with people thrown every which way - mainly downwards into a big heap of limbs and bodies. People could be hurt and the legal repercussions last for years.

To achieve this continuous control under all load situations, an inverter has to shed this extra energy somewhere. There are many mechanical ways to collect some of this energy - counterweights, winding sprints, etc - but most of them are fairly crude and only partially effective. As this generated energy is in the form of electricity, it is general to dissipate it in that form. In the past, vast banks of braking resistors were used to dissipate the electricity into heat. This could become a considerable fire risk anywhere, but doubly so in a dusty, hot underground machine room. However, a specially designed regenerative drive, such as Mitsubishi's Regenerative A701 drive, controls the load under all conditions and sheds the excess power by converting the kinetic energy into electricity and pumping it safely down the mains or even sharing it with other drives by connecting their power reservoirs together. The energy generated during the lowering stage can be dissipated and lost, or captured and reused. By contrast, a regenerative drive captures all of the energy and feeds it back into supply mains giving welcome savings in electricity bills.

The basic requirements of a soft start-up and stop can be programmed into a regenerative drive quite easily. Throughout a normal day's operation of the escalator, the drive will still be minimising the energy used. As you can imagine, during rush hour the escalators are fully loaded with people rushing to get to and from work, yet for most of the day there will only be a trickle of people using them.

A typical energy strategy would be to operate at full loading with optimum transfer speed to get the rush hour passengers through as quickly as possible, and then to slow the escalators slightly for the rest of the day where the speed requirements are not so prevalent. The use of a reduction in transfer speed will bring an immediate energy gain, which will be further enhanced by the inverter's innate capability to shed excess power when there are fewer people on the escalator. The next stage in the developing strategy takes its lead from the stop-start strategies beginning to appear in today's high efficiency vehicles. As previously stated, using an inverter means the motor can start and stop the escalator quickly and safely when required. Maximum savings will occur when there are no passenger requirements and the escalator can be stopped. Implementing controls which sense approaching passengers means the inverters can start the escalators and bring them up to speed before a passenger arrives to step onto it.

Industrial electrical engineers have long known of the energy saving benefits of inverters, and although they might not be in a position to teach the likes of Button, Hamilton and Schumacher a thing or two about fast driving, regenerative drives show they know a lot about efficient recovery and use of kinetic energy in the real world.

Our resident grumpy old man, John Houston, this month turns his attention to the   conundrum that is energy pricing

There are a few certainties in life - aside from death and taxes. Policemen and women do get younger; if you call British Telecom, you'll get put through to any country other than Britain; and energy prices always only ever go up.

Except that in real terms energy prices are actually falling.

In current terms, the price paid for all fuel and light has fallen by 7% between Q4 2008 and Q4 2009. Domestic electricity prices, including VAT, fell by 8.2% in current terms in the year to Q4 2009.

Domestic gas prices, including VAT, fell by 6.0% in current terms in the year to Q4 2009. The price of coal and smokeless fuel increased in current terms by 1.9% but the price of heating oils decreased by 4.5% between Q4 2008 and Q4 2009. Compared to Q3 2008, heavy fuel oil consumers in Q2 2009 have seen prices fall by an average of 17%.

Domestic electricity prices, including VAT, fell by 1.7% in real terms in the year to Q3 2009.

Domestic gas prices, including VAT, rose by 5.9% in real terms in the year to Q3 2009.

Yet, paradoxically, over the same period, electricity consumers saw prices rise by an average of 8%.

Gas consumers, however, saw prices decrease between Q2 2008 and Q2 2009 by an average of 24%.

The entire picture of energy prices becomes blurred when one looks at how energy is purchased, even by domestic consumers. For example, 2009 figures show an average standard credit bill increased by £56 compared to 2008. Average direct debit and prepayment bills increased by £45 and £42 respectively.

However, 2009 figures show a standard credit customer with a non-home supplier, on average, paid £44 less than a customer who had not changed supplier. Equivalent savings for direct debit customers were £52.

Another factor that confuses the real picture is electricity consumption has risen - how many TVs do you have, how many computers, domestic appliances et al? From a low of less than 5% in 2003, energy expenditure now accounts for an all time high of nearly 7% of average domestic budgets. This is accounted for in part by price hikes, but also must be a result of increasing consumption.

All of the above cloud the energy issue. If we are assured energy costs are climbing and that this is one imperative to make savings, how does one reconcile the news real prices are actually falling - albeit not, in the main, being passed on to the hapless consumers?

I understand the need to conserve energy - I've blathered on enough in this column in the past about that. I do also believe carrot-stick-carrot is the best way to incentivise people to change habits - in other words: tempt them with discounts; penalise them with costs; tempt them with offers (grants etc.). 

If, for example, the government (whichever is elected post-spring) were to decree domestic electricity users were to be penalised to excessive consumption, I might applaud that. However, it seems the only parties currently benefitting from the price rise: costs reduction ratios are the energy companies. I appreciate it takes time for a drop in real energy costs to permeate down to enable reduced domestic prices, but if one is a grumpy old man one could suggest that the time taken rather favours the suppliers.

So, against a backdrop of falling energy costs will we see a trend towards lower bills? I rather doubt it. In spite of my rant here, it might not be a good thing for wholesale drops in prices. The long term outlook is for declining energy resources and greater levels of greenhouse gas pollution. What I would like to see is some of the current extra profit generated by the cost:price differential to be channelled into building future energy reserves.

Note: All figures quoted here are taken from the Government Department of Energy and Climate Change as of February 2010. All prices are adjusted using the customary GDP deflator.

Steve Gallon, Managing Director of Electrical Enclosure company FIBOX, comments on the future, and explains how innovation and consistency of service will impact on the market post-recession

With 2010 heralding the dawn of a new decade; this year offers many challenges and opportunities for electrical product manufacturers to self-examine, introspect and outperform the decade gone by. While the beginning of the last decade saw the industry's R&D departments adopting positive attitudes toward innovative technology; the end of the decade saw many of those company's finance directors putting the brakes on innovation and adopting large scale cost-cutting measures and implementing huge rationalization programmes in order to ride-out the effects of the recession.

It wasn't that these companies didn't recognise the importance of innovation, but in reality, investing in innovation was not possible. For them, the recession meant financial resources and extra facilities for investing new ideas were just not available, so instead, their focus was on making more effective use of the scarce resources that they had.

Having been in the industry more years than I care to mention, I ?see the notion of ‘if it's not broken, don't fix it' as committing industrial suicide and instead recommend ‘demand, challenge and probe' become the new paradigm.

If there is one thing history has taught us; it's that as the financial situation returns to somewhere near normal, wealth increases and markets stabilize, the demand from customers will change and therefore in order for those surviving manufacturing companies to prosper, they will be the ones that have looked to the future and continued to innovate.

Right now the ability for the industry to innovate is not just critical to success. It's simply a prerequisite for survival. 

So, what is innovation? Conventionally innovation has been best explained as the initial recognition of a market need and the development of a unique or novel way of fulfilling that need by producing a commercially viable product or solution. However, in today's market, as the current manufacturing industries emerge from the deepest recession since the Second World War, innovation must go further than purely identifying a need. It's about responding quickly to challenges, adopting new ideas and moving fast to seize opportunities.

However, innovation needs to be encouraged at all levels and in all elements within an organisation to be truly effective.

From a corporate standpoint, the most important thing for Fibox, was to emerge from the economic downturn, stronger and fitter than before and in a position to drive strong growth as volumes increase.

Companies who will achieve this best are those that have continued to innovate. It is not good enough for a company to hope to grow ahead of the market solely on the basis of old products. The companies that will show greatest growth potential in recovery are those that emerge with new products and improved services.

The fact Fibox sees innovation as the most important driver of future growth is based on its ability to develop new products for new markets and gain sustainable competitive advantages within them. Yet, innovation is not something it reserves for product development: It is really applied creativity. Given this definition, all Fibox employees are encouraged to rethink processes, streamline job tasks, implement productivity measures, and continue to think creatively.

Innovation in management is important too, because this dictates the speed of production and ensures the development of suitable ideas make it through to commercialisation.

With this in mind, Fibox has continued with its policy of integrating its product innovation programmes in conjunction with its customers' demands, suppliers' needs and specialist distributors' call for specialist and bespoke products complete with specific components.
A lot of the interesting innovation happens when you work in close partnership with people in organisations who are your suppliers or who are your customers and who can perhaps help you in getting products much faster to market.

This ‘open' innovation policy not only creates added value for the company but is a prerequisite for our future innovation capabilities and helps us to inject new impetus, into discovering new market opportunities and develop new ideas and technologies.

By collaborating with our customer partners, correctly evaluating R&D progress and product roll-outs also have important implications for the company beyond any particular initiative. We regularly introduce our key product development personnel to meet with distributors and customers, because unless they are clear what client customers demand; their innovations will have no value for the end user. Innovation, based on the specific needs of customers, is faster, cheaper and a more dependable approach.

Innovation of service has a role to play in the modern marketing mix too. As mentioned before, innovation is based not only on applying cutting edge technology in a novel way; but as about all round creative thinking.

When Dell developed its first products, its innovative idea was not totally product based; it was its web based distribution methodology that set it apart. This new approach allowed Dell to emerge rapidly as a market leader with a range of ‘me too' products.

The art of ‘two-way' communication is an innovation in itself and continues to emerge as a powerful tool in the strategic arsenal of many leading companies.

In order to make company information and product innovations public, expert journalism is required. As such, technical, business and above-the-line promotion in carefully selected media vehicles are adopted. Furthermore, when innovations are professionally presented, it evaluates them and presents them to the customer in a comprehensive way.

In tandem with professional external communication, the contribution of internal communication to the commercial success of our products and revitalised service innovations cannot be overstated. This is especially true when it comes to delivering straight talk. Shielding employees from bad news is condescending and akin to treating them like children; it implies they are not ‘grown up' enough to handle harsh decisions. So why do some companies do it? One reason is because they feel employees will feel totally dejected and then underperform. But we have found just the opposite; tell people what they need to know and they will reward you with solid performance.

Over the last few years, Fibox has implemented firm communication plans, supported by updates on intranets, texts, and even blogs, not to mention, emails, to help employees know how the company is performing. It is important to listen, it doesn't make any sense to spend all time and effort to find and appoint the best people around, if you are just going to ignore their input.

Therefore, from a Fibox point of view, innovation is about encompassing the company's total creativity, novel thinking, original design and often, but not always new technology.
At Fibox we believe this 360° attitude to continued growth is based on innovation of product in combination with innovation of service through precise and well-timed use of technology will be key to our success in the new decade.

With the government placing so much emphasis on carbon emissions rather than  energy savings, the focus appears to be shifting away from technological solutions and moving towards environmental considerations. But is this right? Anecdotal evidence suggests businesses view carbon saving as too distant an issue, as they don't see immediate results. Whereas, energy savings can produce efficient, tangible results on a company's bottom-line. So should the emphasis be more on energy savings? David Lewis from Schneider Electric discusses

When the government signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, it immediately set the tone for emphasising the UK would be judged on its carbon emissions. The Climate Change Act (which the UK adopted in 2008) sets a target for the country to reduce carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

To help meet this target, the government has implemented a number of policies focusing on the reduction of carbon. This abundance of legislation aimed at encouraging businesses to lower their emissions includes the recently introduced Carbon Reduction Commitment, the Building Regulations, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive and The EU Emissions Trading Scheme. However, most of these regulations address thermal and insulation issues, rather than encouraging and rewarding businesses to economise on energy use by the intelligent application of technology to bring about energy efficiency, which would engage engineers and contractors within the specification and installation process.

In addition the majority of businesses see reducing carbon emissions as an environmental concern that should be tackled by bigger organisations and those responsible for energy generation - looking at the way energy is produced as a means to lower emissions. The need to reduce carbon is seen as a distant issue and one that does not always rate highly on a business' agenda when compared to surviving the recession, growing the company or expanding into new markets. Coupled with this, very few companies actually closely monitor their carbon emissions and don't see savings on a daily basis. This view could lead to despondency.

Changing the focus away from carbon emissions towards energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest and cleanest way to reduce energy consumption, meeting Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emissions while presenting an opportunity for contractors to add value to their business proposition and stimulating growth and job creation through greater use of energy efficiency technologies. Energy usage can be lowered by effective control, but those with influence in industry, business and the government need to focus on making energy efficiency a critical target.

For example, achieving economies in energy usage is readily possible in electricity generation and distribution and the way it is used. Contractors could be improving the efficiency of the network and maximising the available capacity to consumers by installing low loss transformers, checking the integrity of the cabling, installing active harmonic filters to reduce harmonics, variable speed drives to control electric motors and utilising low and medium power factor correction.

While controlling energy can be a complex task, by understanding the business' current situation, developing a strategy, implementing plans and constantly reviewing progress, it is possible to achieve maximum results. This will deliver cost savings, eliminate waste, improve profits, provide a positive message that can be communicated to customers and create a ‘feel good' factor. Through experience Schneider Electric knows, by using a four-step approach, ‘Measure, fix the basics, automate and monitor and improve', tangible energy efficiency and monetary gains can be made - a message all those involved within the industry, including engineers and contractors, can communicate to customers.

As the ability to meet targets is unlikely to succeed by simply persuading people to act differently or deploying new energy saving or energy efficient technologies, it's important to tap into the aforementioned key motivators that will drive an organisation to adopt measures and reduce the amount of energy it consumes.

Manufacturers are continually developing more efficient products but it's really the overall energy performance of a system that counts. This is because if an energy saving device is left permanently on standby, it can be less efficient than a higher consuming product that is always switched off when not in use. So, it's vital all elements in a system combine to bring about the maximum energy efficiency possible and contractors are well aware of the extensive range of integrated solutions available.

To do this though, there needs to be a greater understanding of how power is used, in order for a business to take advantage of the technologies available to manage and save energy. Coupled with this, businesses need to realise energy consumption can also be reduced by using electrical control technology, which is where an informed engineer can help make a difference.

Apart from building management systems, there are advanced heating, ventilation, lighting and air conditioning controllers that can all contribute to maximising efficiency. Energy audits by qualified experts are readily available as a stepping stone in the process but there needs to be a will by an organisation to undertake such auditing. Therefore, the challenge for contractors is to build a better understanding among their customers about what can be achieved and how to achieve it.

There are many factors influencing businesses' attitudes and opinions towards carbon reduction but by shifting the focus to energy efficiency, the increase in energy costs and the rising social conscience makes it a more appealing issue for businesses to buy into. But like any corporate vision, the commitment to energy efficiency starts at the top. As businesses grapple with the need to fundamentally change the way they view energy, that leadership is vital and there is a role for contractors to play in influencing this. No longer is energy an overhead cost, a minor company expense that is only marginally controllable. Energy should be viewed as a risk and one that can be managed and controlled through energy efficiency.