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Optimizing Power Structure - Critical-Power Nightmares Erased

Power-management system takes hassle out of testing and automates compliance reporting. Enhanced energy efficiency resulted to critical-power nightmares erased.

George Evans
Mar 04, 20241 Shares445 Views
Dreaming about critical-power nightmares erased?
It’s a nightmare that facility operations teams dread.
They are three and a half hours into a four-hour mandatory test of a critical-power system when the monitoring-and-control system freezes.
Real load falls below the required 30%. The team takes control manually and works through a time-consuming reboot.
Their only recourse: reschedule the entire test.
Seared into the team's memory, the experience is one example of a power-monitoring and control system that is past its prime.
Chris Liedman, operations manager of engineering and maintenance at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, said:
Its operational deficiencies included logging itself off, ‘losing’ a group of automatic-transfer switches from its database, and operating very slowly due to its serial communications.- Chris Liedman
The 426-bed hospital, with more than 3,200 employees and about 950 staff physicians, is part of HealthPartners, the nation’s largest, consumer-governed, nonprofit integrated healthcare and financing organization.
HealthPartners serves more than 1.4 million medical and dental members and about a million patients, primarily in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Although recognized for its patient care, its testing of critical power was an issue.
Monthly tests, for example, required transferring one automatic-transfer switch at a time from utility to emergency sources.

The Waiting Game

Bill Tester, facilities manager, said:
We would wait and wait. And wait.- Bill Tester
Getting all the hospital’s 34 automatic-transfer switches on line took 15 to 20 minutes. The operations team scheduled an hour on a Wednesday evening each month from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. for testing.
Liedman explained:
The team would hope to complete it in an hour, but often couldn’t because of rebooting.- Chris Liedman
The process took so long they had to reconfigure time delays or manually transfer each of the 34 transfer switches one at a time-twice.
Liedman said:
It was a very big hassle to conduct monthly tests. And four-hour tests became nearly impossible with the system.- Chris Liedman
That’s when the operations team decided to bring its critical-power-management process into the digital revolution with the help of Emerson Network Power’s ASCO Power business in Columbus, Ohio.
The revolution is combining advanced electronics and wireless technologies in ways that are changing facilities management.
It’s helping manage the increasing complexity of buildings by:
  • enhancing their efficiency
  • ensuring business continuity and emergency preparedness
  • solving the problem of making decisions based on too little data
  • doing more as budgets shrink

Satisfying The Must-Haves

To say the team had a critical eye when they evaluated a new critical-power-management system is a bit of an understatement.
Their list of must-haves for a new system included a proven track record of managing critical power for a multi-building campus; thus, providing true, interconnected facility management.
Not surprisingly, other must haves were:
a. the ability to better manage multiple automatic-transfer switches
b. the speed to:
  • quickly manage the volumes of data generated during tests
  • automatically produce compliance reports
Technically, system performance would need to include:
  • distributed processing
  • prioritized and dynamic data updating
  • dynamic throttling
  • diagnostic logging
  • 1,000-Megabits per second (Mbps) Ethernet
In fact, the system needed to be able to monitor a range of critical-power equipment and components, such as:
  • automatic-transfer switches
  • paralleling control switchgear
  • gen-sets
  • multiple brands of circuit breakers
  • bus bars
  • other devices from different manufacturers
Compounding the monitoring challenge were the:
  • equipment’s varying ages and capabilities for sharing operational information
  • different platforms used by equipment vendors.
System performance also would need power-quality analytics to evaluate and diagnose data so the team could make real-time decisions on day-to-day system operation.

Issues - A Thing Of The Past

That was about a year ago.
Today, Liedman and Tester report that problems with testing and managing critical power day to day are a thing of the past.
The new system the hospital installed, the ASCO 5750 PowerQuest Critical Power Management System, meets the list of must haves.
What they like best about it is, as Tester said:
It works!- Bill Tester
Liedman said:
It responds instantaneously. The big win for us is automated reporting and trending, which was all new to us.- Chris Liedman
He added:
Before, everything was handwritten. Now, we generate reports that are tailored to meet the requirements of healthcare facilities so they’re perfect for our monthly run report.- Chris Liedman
Liedman concluded:
That hits the mark for us.- Chris Liedman
Trending shows them power demand history; so, they know where they have adequate capacity and, more importantly, where they don’t.
They overlay that with future construction plans, which help them project critical-power-system scaling to keep it in lock step with hospital growth and kilowatt demand.
While they still manually enter some data, their confidence in digitally managing critical power continues to build and, at some point, they see themselves relying exclusively on auto-generated data.
They also can produce reports on:
  • bypass status
  • critical power settings
  • diagnostics
  • alarming
  • historical logs

Managing The Power Infrastructure

They manage the entire power-distribution system of the hospital campus, beginning at the true dual 13.8-kilovolt (kV) back-to-back utility source feeds.
The on-site power feed design is a main-tie-main configuration with six pairs of downstream, end-to-end substations.
Transformers step down power to 480 volts. The central power plant comprises three 480-volt, 1,000-kilowatt (kW) gen-sets. They provide N+1 power redundancy as the total load on the gen-sets is about 1,500 kW.
Tester said:
Reliability is a big concern of ours, of course. So, the redundancy helps ensure power will be there when it’s needed.- Bill Tester
Ensuring reliability is also why they are about to replace the system’s 25-yr-old generator paralleling control switchgear that synchronizes and manages the gen-sets.
Thirty-four automatic-transfer switches help power loads and range from 150 to 1,200 A, with most rated between 400 and 800 A.
To satisfy the demands of varying types of loads - from data center computer equipment to motors - there are a variety of:
  • bypass-isolation
  • closed-transition transfer
  • open-transition transfer
  • delayed-transition transfer modes of operation
Liedman said:
With the dual feeds, power generation, and transfer capacity and new critical-power management capabilities, we have a power infrastructure that’s hard to beat.- Chris Liedman
They conduct tests with real loads, which include:
  • life safety and critical branches
  • clinical equipment (such as MRIs)
  • some business-occupancy spaces
  • a data center with a 125-kilo-volt-ampere (kVA) uninterruptible power system (UPS) used as a ride through
Liedman said:
We’re transparent with staff when we conduct a test. We notify them as a courtesy, but they almost never realize there’s a difference in the power source.- Chris Liedman

Dynamic Visualization

Monitoring critical power 24/7 is a given, of course, so overnight the boiler operator relies on the power-management system’s dynamic visualization to present information in an easily understandable format.
Tester explained:
The one thing to remember is that modern critical-power management makes our regular duty easier. It’s more reliable and secure.- Bill Tester
In fact, it’s protected with 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, the same encryption used by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The rule of thumb about data security is that if it has value, it should be encrypted.
Transitioning to fuller, faster, and more accurate and capable critical-power management is part of the team’s effort to support hospital operation.
Liedman said:
It’s all about competing pressures on the provision of healthcare. It’s a very competitive healthcare environment here.- Chris Liedman

Final Thoughts

Although patients don’t see the critical power infrastructure, it has to ensure hospital operations don’t miss a beat should the utility source go down.
No more nightmares, just sweet dreams.
With enhanced energy resource allocation, critical-power nightmares erased.
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