By Aaron Dudley
In this article, we’ll discuss how to incorporate power quality considerations into greenfield projects and maximize the value of related investments. (For our purposes, “greenfield” doesn’t solely refer to a brand-new facility. It also applies to any project with an opportunity to install a new end-to-end power distribution system without the need for integration with older components.)
Why power quality gets overlooked in greenfield projects
Some industries prioritize power quality and incorporate the latest power distribution technology from the outset. For example, data centers often use highly standardized facility designs. They include advanced power metering and quality analytics due to high downtime costs and equipment sensitivity.
However, power quality often needs more attention in industries where facility projects are infrequent. In such cases, the approach to design and planning often needs to be more standardized. Unlike sectors that constantly build new facilities, these companies don’t have the same urgency to integrate sophisticated power quality measures. These projects often have the most to gain from increased emphasis on power quality. Early planning prevents expensive retrofits and adaptations later, preserving the value of your initial investment.
Cost also significantly affects the type and scope of power quality solutions integrated into the facility. Capital Expenditure (CapEx) budgets usually fund these projects, leading to a focus on immediate construction needs. But decision-makers should also consider power quality’s long-term impact on Operational Expenditure (OpEx). Poor power quality can result in higher maintenance costs, equipment failures, and unplanned downtimes – offsetting initial savings.
Choosing the right approach
In greenfield projects, the speed of construction and sticking to the budget are core considerations. Any delay can disrupt project timelines, affecting processes like equipment installation and commissioning. You can maximize speed and quality by choosing turnkey electrical distribution gear that is pre-integrated, factory-tested, and backed by strong service guarantees.
Opting for a turnkey solution brings long-term benefits. These solutions come pre-tested and validated, reducing the risk of issues down the line. While upfront costs might be higher, extended warranties and service plans can make them more cost-effective. Quality and reliability in such solutions diminish long-term risks, making them a sound investment.
The power of data
Companies that aim for long-term cost-effectiveness should consider investing in advanced power quality metering, monitoring, and analytics. These systems provide real-time data for predictive maintenance, reducing unexpected downtimes and extending the life of critical equipment.
Accurate one-line diagrams serve as the roadmap for your electrical distribution system, guiding everything from routine maintenance to emergency response. The electrical load profile can shift when your facility changes, whether an equipment upgrade or a layout alteration.
This shift can affect power quality variables like harmonic distortion or power factor, potentially impacting equipment performance and energy costs. Automated tools that update these diagrams in real time enable better decision-making, optimized system performance, and cost savings.
OT and IT management and security considerations
Security, especially in the context of Operational Technology (OT) and power distribution, demands a robust strategy as cyberattacks increasingly target industrial control systems and other crucial infrastructure. OT security goes beyond basic firewalls or anti-virus solutions. Even a minor disruption can have significant ramifications in an OT environment, affecting data, physical equipment, and processes. Cybersecurity measures such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) tailored for industrial protocols and zero-trust architectures are essential.
Some organizations treat power distribution as high-value intellectual property, choosing to host power distribution software on-premises. On-premises solutions might offer more direct control, but they also place the burden of security entirely on your organization. Cloud-hosted solutions can provide better overall protection, scalability, resiliency, and the ability to focus on power quality insights rather than infrastructure management.
Making power quality a cornerstone of greenfield success
In greenfield projects, prioritizing power quality from the start offers immediate and long-term benefits. Today’s choices will affect operational effectiveness, security, and sustainability for years. Whether the focus is on sustainability goals, reducing operating costs, or both, power quality should be a fundamental aspect of your facility’s design and