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3 Connectivity Tips for Switchgear and UPS Power Quality Monitoring

Maintenance engineer testing medium voltage switchgear and bay control unit. Relay protection system

As more and more electrical equipment is used in industrial applications, the need to protect these critical systems also increases. Unexpected power outages lead not only to higher maintenance costs of your electrical equipment but also to lower operational efficiency, productivity, and overall business revenue. To ensure a stable power supply, you need to monitor the power quality in your application to protect your electrical equipment from unwanted interruptions and damaging fluctuations.

Switchgears and uninterrupted power supplies (UPSs) are two essential pieces of equipment to consider when developing a comprehensive power quality monitoring plan. In general, switchgears are the first stop when utility power flows into your factories and data centers. These devices transform voltage, monitor power current, and protect your industrial equipment from abnormal fluctuations in electricity. As a result, you need to constantly monitor the status of circuit breakers, surge protectors, current transformers, and power quality meters used inside your switchgears. In addition, UPSs are used to provide nonstop power supply when the main power source fails and your backup power supply, such as a generator, is not immediately available.

Schematisk skiss sensorer kommunikationssystem och EMS

To monitor the real-time status of your application’s power quality, switchgears and UPSs need to connect with an energy management system (EMS) so that operators can make instant decisions to minimize system downtime. Establishing a reliable communication system in between allows you to monitor power quality and respond to emergencies in time. Here are three tips you can consider when developing your communication systems for power quality monitoring applications.

First, your communication system needs to withstand high EMI. As for your electrical equipment, communication systems for power quality monitoring also need to be protected to ensure operators can receive the real-time status of power quality. Your communication devices are usually located near power systems that generate high EMI, which can easily interrupt network communications.

To minimize these interruptions, you need a reliable solution with EMI immunity. Fiber cables provide strong EMI immunity over long distances and are an ideal option for transmitting data from the power equipment to the control center. In addition, your connectivity devices should feature additional protection mechanisms, such as dual-power and dual-port inputs, ensuring nonstop operation if one of the power sources or ports fails.

Second, your communication system requires rapid recovery to reduce downtime. Connected devices for power quality monitoring are usually serial-based and use industrial protocols, such as Modbus RTU. On the other hand, EMSs usually use Ethernet-based OT/IT protocols, such as Modbus TCP, SNMPv3, and BACnet/IP. It usually takes a protocol gateway to enable communication between these devices and systems that use different communication protocols.

When communication errors occur, operators cannot receive the status of power quality in time, making it difficult to spot abnormalities for incident responses. Furthermore, it is challenging for engineers to perform root cause analysis when they lack sufficient information and need to overcome the increased complexity of troubleshooting across different protocols. When choosing a protocol gateway for your communication system, check if it comes with troubleshooting tools that can help you quickly identify the root cause of an incident and get your system back online quickly.

Third, plan wisely for your communication network and get your power data online easily and securely. A variety of sensors related to power stability are available. When you develop a power quality monitoring application, you need to collect not only power-related data but also environmental data to ensure a stable power supply without environmental interruptions. Both power and environmental sensors come in a variety of interfaces, so choose connectivity solutions that are easy to install and maintain in a space-limited cabinet.

Your network plan should also include connectivity security. When your switchgears and UPSs are connected over public networks, they may expose your systems to potential threats. Thus, your networking devices need to be protected so that vulnerabilities cannot be exploited by hackers.

As a leading expert in industrial connectivity, Moxa has helped customers implement smooth, reliable, and secure communication systems for power quality monitoring applications. Download Moxa case studies and see how other companies developed communication systems for their switchgears and UPSs with Moxa solutions.

Do you need help selecting connectivity or networking products for your project? Download Moxa E-book 101 and learn about the key criteria for choosing the right products for your needs, or contact Cat AB.

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