Archive | Energy Management


1:38 pm
August 14, 2017
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Highly Charged Reliability

Bill Myers performs preventive and predictive maintenance at the West Chester, OH, AstraZeneca facility.

Bill Myers performs preventive and predictive maintenance at the West Chester, OH, AstraZeneca facility.

Bill Myers spearheads an Electrical Maintenance Program that helps AstraZeneca’s West Chester, OH, facility become safe and reliable.

Bill Myers learned the hard way that sometimes we are taught more by our mistakes than our successes. In the end, he was able to learn from both.

“Ten years ago, a small mistake was made with an electrical connection, and it turned into a big issue,” said Myers, AstraZeneca’s senior engineering technician at the West Chester, OH, facility. “In this line of work, mistakes are dangerous. You must learn from them, and quickly.”

The biggest mistake, he said, was not having a program in place to prevent small mistakes from becoming big ones. So he did something about it.

Myers found inspiration from a Winston Churchill quote, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” He began creating and implementing an Electrical Maintenance Program that includes data collection and visual and infrared inspection. “This program has been instrumental in identifying electrical issues that would have impacted the facility,” Myers said. “Early detection provides the time needed to make repairs before a breakdown.”

For the past decade, Myers has been responsible for maintaining the facilities/utilities equipment that serves the two-building, 550,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing campus. The main product at this location is used to treat patients with Type 2 Diabetes. There are more than 2,000 assets in the sterile manufacturing facility. “Within the different elements, there are many, many details that must be considered to make a safe electrical program,” Myers said.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 8.31.37 AMExperience

Myers’ electrical career began in 1998 when he worked as an apprentice installing wall receptacles at a local elementary-school project. Throughout the past two decades, his career has evolved into developing critical strategies that help identify issues with technical equipment and planning the downtime needed for repair. Along with a team of five technicians, he uses technologies such as infrared thermography, precision alignment, ultrasound, and vibration analysis.

Special programs

Myers refers to the incident that occurred 10 years ago as the inspiration for building the Electrical Maintenance Program. “It was a bad connection, but we realized we could have found it and prevented it if we only had a program in place.”

Developing the program took a few years from start to finish and was fully in place by 2013. “It has evolved and now we use it very effectively,” he said. “We now dictate to the machine instead of the machine dictating to us.”

This program consists of making regular voltage, amperage, and resistance measurements and then entering the data into the CMMS. The Electrical Maintenance Program includes visual inspections and thermal imaging. The program was applied to all critical electrical-distribution systems, as well as critical equipment used to support manufacturing. Many issues have been discovered and resolved solely because of this program, he stated.

Around the same time, the Facilities Engineering team worked together to set up a vibration-analysis program. The program has also created significant improvements in the department’s ability to provide uninterrupted utilities to manufacturing, identifying motor issues, and making repairs before a catastrophic failure happens. It also helps identify equipment that may need precision alignment to improve efficiency and increase reliability.

Electrical readings are taken for panels and motors, including high-voltage readings. “One thing we look for is voltage unbalance,” Myers said. “The industry standard is 3% unbalance. This is significant enough to cause additional heat and reduce the life of a motor. We track these readings. If unbalance is found, further investigation is performed to determine the root cause.”

Myers’ involvement in electrical reliability doesn’t end there. He also works with the company’s Electrical Steering Committee. The goal of the committee is to ensure that procedures are in place to maintain electrical safety, such as ensuring an arc-flash analysis is completed and posted at the equipment, reviewing energized electrical work permits, and drafting or revising any electrical-related SOPs.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 8.31.49 AM“Several years ago it was evident that there was a need to better manage electrical safety,” Myers said. “At AstraZeneca, we regularly evaluate electrical safety and constantly make an effort to update how we manage it. So the current Safety Health and Environment (SHE) director created the team and asked me to be a member. Shortly after that, I took on a very large task, to build a custom electrical test board and design a test that all technicians that work on electric equipment in their departments would have to take.”

This test was designed to comply with NFPA 70E regulations and determine if an employee is electrically qualified. As a result, the site has had no electrical injuries.

Myers also serves on the Electrical Improvements Team, which was formed to reduce any impact on manufacturing caused by the electrical system. An example of one effort was a project to ensure the panel schedules match the field tags, and that when the breaker is turned off it actually goes to the appropriate equipment.

“You would be surprised how many discrepancies are found during this process,” he said. “The team also looks to increase its robustness and reliability by ensuring electrical feeds come from different switchgears when it makes sense. A couple of examples would be that we have many environmental chambers that house product and samples of product. They are very critical to the site. Some of the critical units have two feeds—a primary and a secondary. It was discovered that both feeds came from the same panel. This was identified as an issue because electrical maintenance is performed on switchgears every three to five years. When the switchgear would have been de-energized for maintenance, power to the chambers would have been lost, potentially putting all that product at risk.”

To resolve the issue, a plan was engineered to change the secondary feed to a panel from a different switchgear. This solved the problem and has provided redundancy for the system. The team has experienced issues where redundant feeds were not an option to the equipment. “We found this on our freezer that houses very critical contents,” he explained. “To resolve this issue, I came up with a plan to install an ATS (automatic transfer switch). This switch uses the original feed as the primary feed. A secondary feed was provided from a different panel that was also from a different switchgear. This has given the site confidence in the electrical system.”

Best practices and challenges

Myers said his overall maintenance/reliability philosophy is to strive to be proactive and predictive. He uses the “Five Whys” technique to determine failure, data collection, CMMS use, and when to use predictive-maintenance technologies. “It’s important to just continue to ask as many ‘Whys” as possible until you get to the root of the problem,” he said.

Myers is part of a team that includes five technicians, each with specific skills—electrical, mechanical, HVAC, boiler operation, and the lead technician. “Most issues require some combination of people and their skills to quickly solve the issue the first time,” he stated.

Personal inspiration

The 42-yr.-old Myers finds inspiration from his wife of 16 years and two children (ages 13 and 9). He entered the electrical field after serving in the Marine Corps. “A high-school friend was working as an electrician at a local union, and I was very interested in the electrical field and in learning more about how electricity works,” he said. “After an apprenticeship, I was inspired to learn more about reliability when I saw several electrical issues causing unnecessary downtime.”

Now, with 19 years of experience, he clearly sees how a focus on reliability can truly make a difference.

“I like the fact that I can work with many different systems and equipment at our facility,” he said. “Each has its own unique characteristics. This helps keep the work new and interesting.” MT

Bill’s  Top 5 Tips for Effective Reliability

• Collect data.
• Lubricate properly.
• Keep your equipment clean.
• Train employees.
• Make a commitment to your programs, and stick with it.

Michelle Segrest is president of Navigate Content Inc., and has been a professional journalist for 28 years. She specializes in creating content for the industrial processing industries. If you know of a maintenance and/or reliability expert who is making a difference at their facility, please email her at


1:27 pm
August 14, 2017
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Tomato Processor Boosts Steam, Cuts Emissions

Morning Star Packing Co. supplies 40% of the U.S. ingredient-tomato-paste and diced-tomato markets. Its site in Williams, CA, (shown here) is the largest tomato-processing facility in the state.

Morning Star Packing Co. supplies 40% of the U.S. ingredient-tomato-paste and diced-tomato markets. Its site in Williams, CA, (shown here) is the largest tomato-processing facility in the state.

Plant-expansion project keeps packing operation up and running.

Morning Star Packing Co. (Los Banos, CA) is a major producer and packager of tomato-ingredient products. As part of a plant expansion initiative, it recently installed new boilers, combustion systems, and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system at its facility in Williams, CA. According to Jon Ikerd, Morning Star’s project manager, the equipment not only increased steam-generation capacity at the plant twofold, it also lowered NOx (nitrogen oxide) output.

Tomatoes = big business

California is an agricultural-production juggernaut. Within the U.S., it far exceeds the output of any other state. In tomatoes alone, it produced 14 million tons in 2015 (98.5% of the nation’s overall output).

Morning Star began in 1970, with founder Chris Rufer working as a one-truck owner/operator hauling tomatoes to canneries. From those humble origins, the company has expanded to account for more than 25% of California’s tomato-processing production. Today, it supplies 40% of the U.S. ingredient-tomato-paste and diced-tomato markets (including food giants such as Heinz), with sales of approximately $350 million.

The company’s rapid growth was triggered by the establishment of a tomato-paste-processing plant in 1982, that introduced two industry innovations: the dedicated production and marketing of industrial tomato paste for major food producers and the marketing of tomato paste in 300-gal. containers.

In 1990, Morning Star added another facility in Los Banos. Although this new site was capable of processing 530 tons of tomatoes (producing 180,000 lb. of tomato paste) per hour, soaring demand led to the opening of another plant in 1995. Located in Williams, CA, its ability to handle approximately 630,000 tons of tomatoes (producing 200,000 lb. of tomato paste) per hour makes it the largest tomato-processing facility in the state.

California produces more than 98% of the overall U.S. tomato output. Morning Star Packing’s facility in Williams, CA, can process 630 tons of tomatoes (200,000 lb. of tomato paste) per hour.

California produces more than 98% of the overall U.S. tomato output. Morning Star Packing’s facility in Williams, CA, can process 630 tons of tomatoes (200,000 lb. of tomato paste) per hour.

Earlier boiler issues

“Morning Star revolutionized the tomato-processing industry by being a primary processor,” said Lou Brizzolara, a sales engineer at AHM Associates (Hayward, CA). A division of Bay City Boiler & Engineering, AHM is a manufacturer’s representative serving energy users and producers in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii.

After issues had arisen with a boiler at another Morning Star plant, AHM assisted in the selection of new boilers for the Williams site. As Brizzolara explained, the previous problems were related to installation and welding of the other boiler’s steam drum. This meant the system didn’t initially meet its guaranteed production levels.

At Williams, Morning Star opted for a solution incorporating multiple elements: two boilers from Rentech Boiler Systems (Abilene, TX), and register burners and an SCR system by John Zink Hamworthy (Tulsa, OK). All of this equipment plays a vital role in the facility’s production processes that use steam to boil, dehydrate, and concentrate the paste.

As Ikerd described the process, steam is used to cook the moisture off the product under vacuum, which keeps the boiling point low. “The boilers have been wonderful,” he noted, “but the success of the installation was very much a collaboration between our burner representatives and Rentech.” 

Personnel from AHM and Rentech worked closely with burner and fan engineers Steve Bortz and Craig Biles of John Zink Hamworthy to ensure project success. Bortz and Biles had been involved in the previous boiler project. “While earlier boiler installations had not been as successful and didn’t meet their performance guarantees during the first year, they eventually achieved them due to the work of these engineers,” said Ikerd. 

The team brought many lessons learned from previous installations, coupled with a solid understanding of the tomato-processing industry. This insight proved invaluable in avoiding the same errors that had occurred in the earlier boiler project, including, for example, challenges associated with ultra-low NOx burners.

A recently installed system, incorporating new boilers, register burners, and an SCR, at the Morning Star Packing Co. facility in Williams, CA, has boosted the plant’s steam-generating capacity while maintaining emissions within acceptable limits.

A recently installed system, incorporating new boilers, register burners, and an SCR, at the Morning Star Packing Co. facility in Williams, CA, has boosted the plant’s steam-generating capacity while maintaining emissions within acceptable limits.

While those burners had been effective in narrowing the window of combustion and reducing NOx to below 15 ppm, Ikerd said this made boiler operation more finicky and less reliable. If ultra-low NOx burners were to be avoided, the Morning Star Williams operation had to find a suitable alternative. California, after all, is known for its rigorous environmental regulations. Areas of the state where air pollution levels persistently exceed Ambient Air Quality Standards (AAQS) are designated non-attainment. The standards for non-attainment counties are tough for a reason: to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Counties falling outside of such standards are still required to meet emissions levels that fall far below those of most other states.

While the Williams plant is not in a non-attainment district, it still has to satisfy stringent requirements. The county air-quality control office set a strict limit of 25-tons/yr. of NOx for Morning Star. This made it difficult for the company to execute its expansion strategy. If it had opted for the same boilers and burners as usual, it would have greatly exceeded its NOx quota. However, the combination of the John Zink Hamworthy register burners and SCR, along with Rentech boilers meant that capacity could be greatly increased while remaining in compliance on emissions levels. The register burners selected for Williams brought NOx levels down to less than 30 ppm, which the SCR then reduced to 5 ppm.

The expansion project effectively doubled steam-generating capacity at Williams. Previously, capacity was around 680,000 lb./hr. The new boilers have raised that to 1,360,000 lb./hr. Increased capacity and lower emissions are only half the story. 

“These larger Rentech boilers can go from minimum fire to full fire at the same speed as the smaller units we already have, which allows us to have much more flexibility,” observed Ikerd.  “If the larger units are not at full fire, we can simply shut down one of the smaller boilers, without fear of causing an upset in our processes that we cannot recover from. Thus the plant’s stability has been greatly increased.” 

Boiler efficiency has also been raised: from below 80% to around 85%. For a business whose highest operating cost is fuel, this equates to a welcome reduction in the cost of steam. Due to their size, these D-type boilers with a full-membrane furnace had to have the steam drums shipped separately. The sections were then assembled on site. The reassembly and welding of the boiler components may have proven problematic during an earlier boiler installation project, but not this time.

“Rentech helped us reach our capacity guarantees within the first year while our other boilers took a few years to achieve them due to startup problems,” said Ikerd. “We have now used them for a complete season, during which they’ve run 24/7 for three months straight, without a hiccup.” MT

Visit for more details.


7:01 pm
July 12, 2017
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Interpret the IP Code Correctly

Electrical mill machinery for the production of wheat flour. Grain equipment. Grain. Agriculture. IndustrialPlant personnel often see the terms “sealed,” “waterproof,” and “dust tight” in marketing and technical literature for electrical equipment. In dusty or wet applications, such as industrial slurry manufacturing, offshore oil rigs, water/wastewater treatment facilities, and milling/hulling processes, the level of “sealedness” is of prime importance to avoid contamination. But what do these terms really mean and is there a way to precisely quantify that “sealedness?”

The answer is yes, according to Meredith Christman of IMI Sensors, a division of PCB Piezotronics (, Depew, NY). In fact, an international standard that helps personnel do just that has been in place for almost 40 years.

In a recently posted white paper, Christman cites the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC Standard 60529: Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures that, in 1976, introduced the concept of quantifying a product’s level of “sealedness” with the establishment of the Ingress Protection (IP) Code. Limited to enclosures for electrical equipment with a rated voltage of less than or equal to 72.5 kV, this standard defines protection against ingress of body parts, solids, and liquids toward hazardous electrical or mechanical components.

Christman then goes on to explain how plant personnel can interpret the IP Code. Among other things, she includes details on:

Specified tests

randmIn defining and quantifying the “sealedness” levels of the three ingress protection categories, i.e., “sealedness” against body parts, solids and liquids, the IEC Standard 60529 prescribes corresponding tests. General test requirements recommend the atmospheric conditions during which each test should take place, while specific test procedures stipulate the following:

• location of the contaminant source as compared to the electrical equipment

• length of time that the electrical equipment should be subjected to the contaminant

• amount of contaminant to which the electrical equipment should be subjected.

Specific IP ratings

Once a product has successfully passed the appropriate tests, it can be marketed with a specific IP rating. This rating consists of the IP designation followed by one of four alphanumeric characters, with each character identifying a particular level of protection or a specific nuance about a particular protection level.

Alphanumeric #1: Protection against ingress of body parts and solids (with priority to solids).  Ratings range from no protection to protection against solids as fine as dust. When a product is rated to a particular level, it can be automatically assumed that that product could also be successfully rated to all other levels below it. Performing the tests associated with the lower levels of protection is not required.

Alphanumeric #2: Protection against ingress of liquids. Ratings range from no protection to protection against any liquid during a continuous-submersion application. When a product is rated to a particular splash level, it can be automatically assumed that that product could also be successfully rated to all other levels below it. However, when a product is rated to a particular submersion level, it can only be automatically assumed that the product could also be successfully rated to the other submersion levels below it without additional testing, but not to the lower splash levels. If a product needs to have both a splash and submersion rating, then both sets of applicable tests need to be performed.

Alphanumeric #3: Protection against ingress of body parts if not adequately described in alphanumeric #2.

Alphanumeric #4: Supplementary information.

For more details, download the white paper, “Keeping Out Contaminants: Understanding Ingress Protection Ratings” by clicking here and choosing the “Industrial” tab. MT

Meredith Christman is a product manager II with IMI Sensors, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Depew, NY,


6:14 pm
May 10, 2017
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Don’t Neglect Electrical Equipment Maintenance

Human error and improper maintenance, akin to operating a car and not checking the oil, can lead to catastrophic results to equipment and personnel involved.

Human error and improper maintenance, akin to operating a car and not checking the oil, can lead to catastrophic results to equipment and personnel involved.

Electrical equipment that is not properly maintained is notNFPA 70E compliant and, therefore, dangerous to personnel and business operations.

By James Godfrey, CESCP, Craft Electric & Maintenance

Since the release of the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E, “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace,” there seems to be a tremendous push by companies to achieve compliance, and rightfully so. As noted in this standard, more than 2,000 people each year are admitted to burn centers with severe arc-flash burns.

NFPA 70E states that an arc-flash risk assessment shall be performed and shall determine if an arc-flash hazard exists. Arc flash is the result of an arcing fault that bridges the air gap between conductors such as phase to phase, phase to neutral, or phase to ground. In an article published in Safety and Health Magazine (August 2009) the most common cause of arc-flash accidents is human error. However, such things as the accumulation of conductive dust inside an enclosure and equipment failure, most likely the result of inadequate maintenance, can also cause these arc-flash events. In short, if electrical-equipment maintenance is neglected, something is going to blow. When that happens, it can be catastrophic.

OSHA CFR 1910.303(b)(1) states that electrical equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Simply put, condition of maintenance must be considered. NFPA 70E states that electrical equipment shall be maintained in accordance with manufacturer instructions or industry-consensus standards to reduce the risk associated with failure.

The term “industry-consensus standards,” typically refers to a standard that has been accepted as recommended practice such as NFPA 70B, “Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance.” This standard addresses such things as development and implementation of an electrical preventive-maintenance (EPM) program, recommended intervals for maintenance, testing and test methods, reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), and acceptance testing.

When having an arc-flash risk assessment performed and not addressing the maintenance component of an electrical safety program, some assumptions must be made. These include, but are not limited to, equipment that is operating properly, equipment that has been properly maintained, and condition of maintenance, as well as opening times of over-current protective devices.

If an arc-flash risk assessment has been performed, then the amount of incident energy must be observed before removing equipment covers.

If an arc-flash risk assessment has been performed, then the amount of incident energy must be observed before removing equipment covers.

NFPA 70E states that over-current protective devices that have not been properly maintained can cause increased opening times, thus increasing the incident energy in the event of a fault in the electrical-distribution system. This creates a major safety concern for personnel and their interaction with energized electrical equipment, as well as lost revenue due to equipment failure. As a result, careful consideration must be given to the development and implementation of an effective electrical-safety program to maximize benefit and minimize cost. The arc-flash risk assessment can be a costly endeavor and the results obtained can be misleading or inaccurate because of improper or inadequate maintenance.

Surprisingly, a high percentage of facilities are not OSHA and NFPA compliant and have little knowledge of what it takes to be compliant in the area of electrical safety. Furthermore, some are doing very little in terms of electrical-equipment maintenance and are satisfied with having infrared scans done on the electrical panels because it has been recommended by their insurance company. Infrared thermography is very effective at identifying heat-related issues, but does not satisfy the requirement to maintain electrical equipment in accordance with manufacturer instructions or industry-consensus standards.

Infrared technology generally requires a direct line of sight to the target area, which raises another safety concern. Pursuant to the NFPA 70E requirements, the level of risk must be assessed before removing equipment covers and exposing energized conductors and circuit parts. To properly assess the risk, such things as available fault current and opening times of over-current protective devices must be considered.

Available fault current is the amount of current that may be present at any point in the electrical system as a result of a short or fault condition. If a fault were to occur in the electrical system as a result of equipment failure or human error, the equipment affected may not be rated to handle the fault current and this could be catastrophic. If an arc-flash risk assessment has been performed, then the amount of incident energy (typically expressed in calories/cm2) must be observed and personal-protective equipment selected and put on before removing equipment covers.

At this point, a decision must be made, based on personnel risk, to open or not open equipment and expose energized conductors and circuit parts. If it is determined that removing equipment covers could expose personnel to an unacceptable risk, the equipment should be de-energized before performing any type of preventive maintenance. An infrared scan would be ineffective in this case.

When doing any work on electrical systems, proper personal-protection equipment is essential.

When doing any work on electrical systems, proper personal-protection equipment is essential.

Maintenance considerations

An effective preventive- and proactive-maintenance program should take into consideration safety, the age of the equipment, operating environment, and the criticality of the asset. If infrared scanning is the only form of preventive-maintenance approach that’s been employed, equipment reliability and safety have been compromised. That type of situation should be of great concern to plant managers, maintenance managers, technicians, and other employees.

As outlined in NFPA 70B, several available maintenance and testing options are specific to the targeted equipment. Take, for example, low-voltage service-entrance equipment, often referred to as switchgear. Some of the maintenance recommendations outlined in NFPA 70B include energized/de-energized inspection and de-energized cleaning. While the equipment is in a de-energized state, all bolted connections and cable terminations should be torqued, in accordance with manufacturer specifications.

During de-energized maintenance, molded-case/insulated case circuit breakers should be exercised manually to keep the contacts clean and help the lubrication perform properly. This simple maintenance procedure is often overlooked, and breaker failure is a common result. In addition, breaker testing (primary and secondary injection) and protective relay testing are also recommended. These and other factors must be considered when determining what compliance means and developing an electrical-safety program that satisfies the OSHA and NFPA requirements.

We’ve heard that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This phrase should have significant meaning when management is struggling with how to comply with the latest regulations imposed by OSHA as it relates to safety in the workplace.

Among the several elements that make up an effective electrical-safety program, electrical-equipment maintenance is one that cannot be ignored. When the decision is made to have an arc-flash risk assessment performed, consider the condition of maintenance of the electrical equipment and the affect it will have on the results of the risk assessment. This will ensure that employees stay safe and assure management that money appropriated is well utilized. The result of a well-administered electrical-safety program will reduce life-safety risk, cut business interruptions, and extend the life of electrical equipment. MT

Jay Godfrey, CESCP, has more than 25 years of experience in the electrical-contracting industry and is a licensed electrical contractor in Georgia. Godfrey is OSHA trained, NFPA certified and, for the past eight years, has been working as a preventive-maintenance and electrical-safety consultant with Craft Electric & Maintenance, Atlanta.


8:12 pm
January 13, 2017
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Cooling Upgrade Increases Efficiency

QTS Realty Trust Inc. owns, operates, or manages data centers and supports more than 1,000 customers. Upgrading fans and controls at one facility through Vertiv (Emerson Network Power) improved efficiency and reduced operating costs.

QTS Realty Trust Inc. owns, operates, or manages data centers and supports more than 1,000 customers. Upgrading fans and controls at one facility through Vertiv (Emerson Network Power) improved efficiency and reduced operating costs.

Variable-speed technology and intelligent controls combine to reduce data-center operating expense.

There are several reasons to consider upgrading your data center’s thermal-management system, including improving capacity management, deferring capital costs, and promoting environmental responsibility. You may simply want to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. In a typical data center, cooling accounts for approximately 38% of total energy consumption.

Regardless of your specific goal, if thermal-system upgrades are on your mind, you are not alone. A recent survey of information technology (IT), facilities, and data center managers in the United States and Canada found that 40% of data centers have been upgraded in the past five years. Twenty percent are in the process of upgrading, and more than 30% would be upgraded in the next 12 months.

Why the surge in thermal-upgrade projects? There is continuous pursuit for higher equipment reliability, greater energy efficiency, additional capacity, and greater insight into performance. What can’t be overlooked is the fast return on investment (ROI) achieved by those who have recently upgraded. One such company is QTS Realty Trust Inc., headquartered in Overland Park, KS. The company owns, operates, or manages 24 data centers and supports more than 1,000 customers with its data-center solutions.

QTS has experienced significant growth over the past 10 years, going from owning a single data center in 2005 to a coast-to-coast portfolio of 12 centers encompassing more than 4.7 million sq. ft. To ensure continued provision of leading-edge services and optimal performance from its newly acquired Sacramento, CA, facility, the company required improved cooling-system efficiency and greater visibility into system performance. An upgrade of fans and controls, using the latest in cooling technology, was warranted to maintain cooling stability, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.

The aim was to generate enough cost savings to yield a full ROI in 2 1/2 yr. At the same time, the company also wanted advanced monitoring capabilities to continue best-practice data-center management.


The need for improved system visibility that would allow QTS to provide its customers with more uniform cooling, coupled with the desire for cost savings generated from improved energy efficiency, led the company to upgrade the Sacramento facility. Experiencing a very common energy-efficiency challenge in its data center, employees found that the legacy cooling systems were providing more airflow than was required in one area, while another had a deficit. Installing electrically commutated (EC) fan technology from Emerson Network Power, which is now known as Vertiv (Columbus, OH, into 64 cooling units would allow cooling adjustments based on load requirements.

Management sought to partner with a company that could complete the project within a fixed five-week timeline with limited use of QTS resources and manpower. Another key challenge was that only a certain number of units could be off at any one time to maintain the level of redundancy required. This stipulation called for careful planning and coordination to ensure the project could be completed within the parameters specified. QTS also wanted to ensure their upgrade was performed by a service provider that had experience configuring the latest technology for business-critical data centers. As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Emerson Network Power’s Liebert Services, now part of Vertiv, was chosen to ensure high-quality parts and installation from factory-trained technicians.

Originally electing to only install EC plug fans, QTS management quickly realized it was missing the opportunity to optimize the cooling system for maximum efficiency benefits. Company leaders determined it could better achieve its stability and visibility goals through the addition of the Liebert iCOM control system, which enabled under-floor pressure control through building-management-system (BMS) integration. Wireless sensors were also installed to monitor cooling improvements.

This more holistic approach gave the company added flexibility through multiple configurations inherent to the controls that balance loading in the space. These configurations include control by wireless and remote temperature sensors, advanced supervisory control, or BMS control. QTS now has the option to coordinate fans, perform auto-tuning, and customize staging or sequencing whenever it is needed to further improve energy efficiency, availability, and flexibility.

System configurations include control by wireless and remote temperature sensors, advanced supervisory control, or BMS control. The project was performed within an operating data center and completed on time.

System configurations include control by wireless and remote temperature sensors, advanced supervisory control, or BMS control. The project was performed within an operating data center and completed on time.


The entire thermal-system upgrade project, performed within an operating data center, was completed on time without any negative impact on the company or its customers. As a result of the upgrade, QTS earned a $150,000 rebate from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and initially saved $12,000 a month in energy costs. Additional savings are expected from continued optimization.

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, QTS accomplished the following with its thermal-system upgrade:

• Reduced its carbon footprint with more than 75% immediate reduction in the energy consumption using Liebert thermal-management units

• Improved Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) by 0.16

• Provided better intelligence to BMS for improved visibility

• Improved uniformity of under-floor static pressure, allowing adjustment of air flow to match equipment loads by changing floor tiles

• Eliminated air leakage through cooling units that were previously off or in standby using the control’s proprietary virtual damper

• Exceeded minimum ROI estimates by 40% and achieved targeted savings sooner than budgeted

• Maximized free cooling through improved unit airflow and cooling control.

According to QTS western region vice president Ken Elkington, the results of the upgrade far exceeded his expectations. “We took amp draw measurements on the existing fans. As soon as we placed the first new EC plug fan into a unit, even at 100 percent speed, the power consumption dropped 30 percent,” he said. “We were very excited to see that result, but then it got even better. By varying the fan speed to match the load in the zone, the power consumption dropped another 33 percent, and we are now experiencing higher-than-expected energy savings.” MT

For more information, visit


5:49 pm
December 22, 2016
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Beware Dirty Power

randmWhether personnel refer to it as a surge, a sag, a spike, a transient, a fluctuation, an interruption, or noise, “dirty power” reflects an abnormality in the electricity that runs a facility.

According to insight from Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power (, Columbus, OH), dirty power originates outside of and within a facility. Sources include lightning, utility switching, capacitor switching, and faults on the utility’s distribution system, all of which can affect the quality of power before it even reaches the plant’s internal system.

Vertiv’s experts note that daily fluctuations from internal electrical equipment, such as devices that run in cycles or get turned on and off frequently, can cause cumulative and equally damaging power hazards. Even a small appliance can lead to problems with sensitive equipment that shares the same line. What’s worse, the more electrical equipment a site uses, the more transients accumulate. MT

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor


Click to enlarge.

Vertiv is the new name of the business formerly known as Emerson Network Power. For more information, visit