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Future-proofed Power Management

Future-proofed Power Management

When UK leading supplier of electrical control systems Boulting Technology identified a trend in industry power management needs, it teamed up with ABB to design and manufacture its first 100kA low voltage (LV) switchboard. The Boulting Power Centre (BPC) is fully BS EN 61439-compliant and the company designed it to match exactly the needs of industrial and commercial buildings’ power applications, which require high fault tolerance levels. To make the product flexible, future-proof, and reduce its footprint, Boulting Technology used the world’s first smart grid compatible low voltage circuit breaker, ABB’s SACE Emax 2.

The gradual move towards ‘smart’ technologies, in factories, homes, buildings, cities and energy grids, has created new industry demands in terms of power generation, usage, quality and protection.

Many buildings now use multiple energy sources, complementing traditional grid power with renewable energy including solar photovoltaic panels or wind energy. Building and industrial automation advancements have also created the need for more flexibility in terms of device connectivity and power management, slowly but surely nudging everyone into the Industry 4.0 age. All these factors, combined with advanced industry standards for higher safety and energy efficiency, have led to the development of a new generation of safer, more flexible and more powerful switchboards.

Boulting Technology quickly reacted to the industry trend by designing and manufacturing a new range of low voltage switchboards that would accommodate heavy electrical loads in commercial buildings. The product responds to increased energy efficiency demands and growing energy costs and is suitable for applications with current rating up to 6300 Amp and 100kA fault rating.

Boulting’s new low voltage switchboard is perfect for projects that involve the management of large amounts of critical power coming into a site. It is ideally suited to applications including new builds in the construction market, office buildings, industrial premises, hospitals, stadiums, university campuses, utilities, power stations and more.

Smart circuit breaker

A close-knit collaboration between ABB and Boulting was at the very heart of the project and accounted for the quality of the new LV switchboard range. ABB provided its latest generation of circuit breakers, while Boulting designed and tested the new future-proof, fully compliant low voltage switchboard.

In fact, Boulting Technology was the first supplier of low voltage switchboards to see the potential of ABB’s new SACE Emax 2 circuit breaker. The breaker ensures protection from abnormal voltage and frequency loads and monitors power flow and offers greater levels of performance than previous generations of switchgear.

The design of the SACE Emax 2 reduces switchboard dimensions by up to 25 per cent, making it perfect for applications where space is limited, from ships and submarines, to busy urban environments. Because ABB embedded the wiring and software in the breaker, it requires no external relays, current, voltage sensors or multimeters, which results in significant cost savings for both panel builders and users. Furthermore, less wiring also means fewer potential errors and easier troubleshooting.

The software specifications of ABB’s SACE Emax 2 allow the breaker to monitor the network and make data available on demand. This means it can identify any anomalies in the system and sends alarms and network data to relevant users’ personal computers or mobile devices, allowing them to make a decision before any real issues occur. Remote data access and control are extremely useful for service engineers and can save users significant maintenance and downtime costs. The integrated IEC 61850-communication module enables connection to automation systems and intelligent networks such as smart grids.

Finally, the built-in load manager also allows the breaker to switch off a maximum of 15 non-critical loads in case of an emergency. In a hotel, for example, non-critical loads like swimming pool heating can be turned off when energy demands are high and reinitiated when the demand drops.

Tested to perfection

The implementation of the BS EN 61439 standard on November 1, 2014 brought significant changes to the safety and performance testing of electrical switchgear assemblies.

BS EN 61439 has meant significant changes for original equipment manufacturers and panel builders in terms of the design and testing of low voltage switchgear assemblies. Electrical engineers, contractors and consulting engineers looking to purchase switchgear need to make sure the product they choose is compliant with the new standard.

Temperature rise testing is one of the areas where the new BS EN 61439 standard contains more guidance and, at the same time, more restrictions than the previous one. Regardless of which testing method is used, verification is time-consuming. Connecting all the circuits, balancing the current and inserting the thermocouples is a long-winded and costly process. During the testing procedure, current needs to be applied to the switchboard until conditions stabilise and temperatures in critical areas like covers, operating handles or cable terminals need to be monitored.

To achieve the best results in temperature rise tests and eliminate the need for electric fans, airflow switches or their alarms, Boulting used an innovative design that naturally ventilates the BPC. The new design also reduced running, maintenance and replacement costs.

Flexible power management

Intelligent design, energy efficiency and a reduced footprint are already key requirements for low voltage switchgear. Add a long-awaited and complex standard to the mix and you are bound to be confronted with a difficult purchasing decision.

A good manufacturer fully understands the specific power needs of each facility and is flexible when it comes to design, installation and maintenance. By using ABB’s latest generation of smart SACE Emax 2 air circuit breakers and performing all the relevant safety and performance testing, Boulting has ensured its new Power Centre fulfils all the requirements of modern industrial and commercial buildings, from limited space to better power management and control, as well as the integration of several energy sources.