Annoying (Micro) Power-Cuts Cripple Industrial Manufacturing plants

HITEC’s PowerKEM helps secure your world class facility

Industrial manufacturing plants using high end electronic equipment suffer from money-draining Power Quality (PQ) problems. According to the Leonardo Power Quality Initiative (LPQI) survey PQ problems are responsible for 4% turnover losses of EU industries.

A well-known PQ problem is the black out. A situation where there is no supply of electricity at all. This can be overcome by installing standby diesel generators. What is commonly less known is that voltage sags, switching transients and micro cuts are much more frequent, cannot be mitigated by installing a stand-by diesel generator, and as a result cause a lot of damage. Sensitive electronic equipment can be disturbed or in the worst case damaged, resulting in significant loss of productivity and costs amounting to hundreds of thousands of Euros per event, if not more. According to the LPQI survey voltage dips and short interruptions are causing 43% of costs related to poor Power Quality in the European Union.

It is a challenge to identify the problem: is the application too weak (your equipment “should” tolerate certain variations in the utility power supply) or is the utility power supply outside its tolerances. Then there is a need to differentiate between steady state conditions and unexpected events. Having data of the actual performance of the utility supply on site, a detailed understanding of the existing loads and solid estimates of costs incurred is required to reach the right investment decision.

How can an industrial plant be protected against these disastrous events and achieve reliable operations?

Different solutions exist. Although the stand-by diesel generator is a good back- up source to cover for black-outs, it needs time to start (typically: 3-10 seconds). So, additional equipment is required. For voltage sags and surges, electronic or electromechanical stabilizers can be used. To cover the short interruptions Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems are widely spread in different sizes and qualities. To satisfy the utility company, a power factor correction unit is installed in the plant. A vast variety of equipment. All have in common that they dissipate heat, need maintenance and take expensive floorspace.

When it comes to batteries for UPS systems, it’s like opening Pandora’s box. Those batteries typically use poisonous metals like lead or cadmium. The newer lithium-ion batteries are better in that respect, but add to the risk of fire. Besides that, the commonly used UPS batteries need cooling as well, adding to the electricity bill.

Finally, complexity introduces new problems that are harder to solve. Think of incompatible earthing systems or Static UPS systems that are typically not suitable for an industrial environment. In such environments loads are being switched on and off all the time and inrush currents will make the static UPS transfer to its bypass.

The PowerKEM of HITEC Power Protection is offering a simple, ultimate solution to all these issues. The PowerKEM will absorb the harmonic distortion in the current to the load preventing the higher harmonic currents to be passed on to the utility or generator supply. It also corrects the power factor up to 0.98. In case of surges and sags (over- and under voltage), the PowerKEM will compensate and provide a stable voltage to the critical load. Even when there is an interruption in the supply, the PowerKEM has stored energy to continue the supply to the load. For longer blackouts a stand-by diesel generator can be used in combination with the PowerKEM.

The PowerKEM will provide a continuous supply to the load, also covering for the starting time of the generator. The high short circuit current available at the output allows for fast clearing of faults downstream in the distribution and maintain selectivity between protective devices. The PowerKEM is a stabilizer, power conditioner, UPS, active filter and PF correction bank in one, ensuring a stable and continuous power supply allowing you to focus on your core business. Without the use of batteries.

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