How System Integrator Delivers Value in Today’s Technology

The one great function of system integrators is they are in the industry to help companies solve automation problems. This happens by integrators giving the time, talent, and technology that is crucial to convert a plan into a completed company project. Once a manufacturing plant is prepared to make its operations bigger, the production systems should also upgrade its processes. However, the main question that should be answered is where in the part of the expansion a system integrator can help? 

To help companies answer this question, the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) a body formed for independent, professional service providers that utilize hardware, software, and communications products are ready to give the clients within a specific industry the best options for systems integration. This includes control and information systems. With this in mind, this body dictates that the system integrators create design and implements complicated systems for the end users of the process in different industries. Such as manufacturing, process plants, and other industrial facilities. 

The Siemens Digital Factory is popular with their engineering capabilities and information technologies that helps businesses automate their manufacturing processes. This covers all types of businesses from the plant floor to the corporation and enterprise level. The automation processes enable the company owners and manufacturers have cost-efficient ways and practical energy use. In return, this helps in the increase in production while decreasing the harmful effects on the environment. 

There are articles that discusses about different system integrators. There is one case study that involves water and wastewater treatment plants. In this study, there is PLC involved. The project involves the replacement of the PLCs or programmable logic controllers. There is also converting protocols, upgrading supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system both hardware and software. The second case involves PLC consolidation and the upgrade of SCADA software. With this in mind, both projects are really successful. 

The another case study shows how the users of the systems such as: insurance companies, system manufacturers, different government offices. These companies and offices can identify their need for a process safety system. This system should be designed, operated, and well maintained over its life cycle. In the article, they list the set of key codes and different standards that are very well applicable to the different process of other industries and they give different perspectives about the fulfillment of legacy systems. 

How to Have Control System with Style? Part 1

When a design engineer would like to implement and design a control system with integration project, he/she should start with a set of goals or specifications. These goals should determine the preferences of the end-user and this should be communicated efficiently to ensure that final output satisfies the expectations of all stakeholders in a company. This gives of a good start for any design engineer when specifications are carefully developed and implemented. It ensures the highest success probability of the project and it makes sure that in the long haul, the control system can be maintained and operates efficiently. 

When designing a new control system, the easiest one to develop are the hard-side specifications. Why? Because there are many resources available for this one. Pre-built sections for controllers and software packages in a control system are in the resources of Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Once an engineer cannot find the detail that he/she desires, other control system hardware and software sellers can also provide detailed sections about hard-side specifications. Once the end user are looking for bids from several seller or vendors of this system, the specifications the company would like to have must be carefully developed and consider so that these can be met by several bidders.  

The real challenge comes when a company or an end user would like to set the specifications on the soft-side of controls. To guide them in the decision-making process, they should start with a few basic questions: 

What design should be considered for the screen? 

How is the controller is going to be used by the maintenance or engineering personnel? 

The structure of tags and operating pump colors are hardly addressed in the specifications. These are the elements which determines the UI (user interface) of the control system. 

Once these guidelines are answered, the next step of action is to start the layout with a style guide. Style guides has been existing for a very long time on other fields. There are The Associated Press Stylebook, MLA Handbook for research papers, and in marketing field where fonts, colors, and logos for branding are also guided & monitored across all social media platforms. In this scenario, style guide is also appropriate and applicable. 

With this in mind, there is not limitation what elements and considerations should be added in a control system style guide. However, the following are six areas where there should be standardization of style and these elements has proven to have the most return on investment: 

1. Color 

Like the usual traffic lights, red signifies stop and green means go. With this in mind, mechanical systems and electrical systems also applies the same principles. The main goal of color coding is to keep the operators and personnel safe in company operations. The color does not only signify coding but it should be well implemented in the company processes. 

To start the process of deciding which colors to use for guidelines, determine the list of colors used in a facility where the control system will be used. Look for painted process pipes, pilot lights, control panels, stack lights, etc. The colors used should be familiar with the personnel for a more efficient use of the control guide and better operations. 

Electrical Enclosures Applications for Alternative Energy Companies Part 5

Wind Turbines 

To date, the electricity derived from wind is considered to be the most cost efficient source or renewable energy the world has today. To make an illustration, wind power plants does not take large land mass to operate compare to solar energy, but one single wind turbine can provide usable energy to 600 domestic homes. 

We’ve been using wind turbines for thousands of years. While early wind turbines left much to be desired, today’s advanced technologies are powering us to a cleaner future. 

The world has been getting their source of electricity from wind power plants for thousands of years. With the recent changes and technology developments in renewable energy industry it is expected that wind power plants will improve over the course of time. 

How does Wind Turbines work? 

Most of the time, the turbines in wind power plants are installed on a privately owned land. The constructions of these turbines mostly comprises of two to three humongous aerodynamic propeller blades. These blades are then connected to a rotor, and the rotor is lined to a generator inside the main shaft of the wind turbine. 

Once the wind turbines’ blades were turned by the wind, it automatically turns the rotor on. This machine helps converting the kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The rotor is the one responsible for driving the generator which converts the mechanical energy to a usable electricity. The flow of electricity travels as a direct current to down the interior of the wind turbine tower base.  

Once the electricity hits the tower base, a machine is responsible to turning direct current to an alternating current. It is called converter. Then a transformer that can be found inside the wind power plant sends the alternating current of electricity to consumers by raising the voltage for transport. It now sends to substation which is responsible for allocating and distributing usable energy to final consumers. 

What are electrical enclosures used for Wind Turbines? 

The two of the most important things any design engineers should consider for electrical enclosures used in wind power plants are weather and weight. It is important that an electrical enclosure should be light weight and weather-resistant because of the possible haphazard in wind power plants. 

Most of the time, wind turbines in wind power plants are required to be exposed to harsh and extreme environments. Because of this, electrical equipment requires rugged type of protection from electrical enclosures. Usually, companies that use electrical equipment in environments where there is a possible ingress of water or any foreign object, formation of sleet and snow may require the use of NEMA 4 enclosures. However, wind turbines that are near the see or marine environments should have a NEMA 4X rated enclosure because there is a possible corrosion for the equipments. 

Also, there are times where wind power plants use controllers via remote computer monitoring systems to control turbines and transmit information from the machine to the users – such as temperature and speed of the turbine blades. With this in mind, it is recommended to use key for enclosures to protect these remote devices. 

Electrical Enclosures Applications for Alternative Energy Companies Part 4

Geothermal Energy 

One of the most cost-efficient source of energy in the United States is Geothermal energy because it is already being used to heat many homes in the US alone and also across other countries in the world. It is positioned as a source of renewable energy that will play a significant role in the future because of the current advancements in the technology today 

One person has agreed to support this statistical projection – Bill Gates. One of his life’s greatest advocate is stressing the importance of having a cleaner energy source and he has been funding several research grants to further develop the industry for renewable energy. With this in mind, Gates has funded a geothermal startup to help the world convert more earth’s heat into a usable electricity. 

By definition, geothermal energy derives the heat of the earth and convert it to an efficient source of energy to warm or cool down costs. These help home owners to save from heating and cooling cost. Also, what is the amazing thing about geothermal energy is that it doesn’t require burning fossil fuels just to generate heat. It is more natural and it can help the preservation of the nature. 

How does Geothermal Energy works? 

The heat that is coming from the core of the earth helps underground water to warm and increase in temperature. As a result, it creates a steam which then breaks through the earth’s curst.  

Before, companies are having a hard time deriving electricity from geothermal energy because of the outdated technologies. However, there has been a dramatic changes and improvements with our technology and this now helped companies to extract the heat energy from the earth to help people cool and warm their residential homes. 

With this in mind, this technology can now be installed in residential homes. There are few different ways on doing this. One of which, home owners use and install ground heat exchangers to pump fluid inside a closed-loop system. This system is now circulated within the soil and contains refrigerant fluid to help heat the home. 

What are electrical enclosures used for Geothermal Energy? 

There are two types of geothermal power plants: dry steam and residential geothermal plants. Design engineers should keep in mind that outdoor elements that may be present in these environments should be considered in choosing the right enclosure in this type of application. The enclosures that are designed to use outdoors are designed to provide a certain level of protection from dust, dirt, and water ingress. 

In addition to this, outdoor enclosures can be made from these different materials suitable for outdoor applications: stainless steel, polycarbonate plastic, and aluminum. It is important to note that geothermal energy processes involves using a hot fluid or steam, thus requiring the enclosure to withstand high temperature environments and processes. 

But one of the materials greatly considered for this is aluminum. Because they are able to endure high temperatures and is a perfect fit as a material for enclosures designed to protect electrical equipment in geothermal systems. 

Electrical Enclosures Applications for Alternative Energy Companies Part 3

Hydropower 

With the current changes in the power plant industry today, hydropower is now considered as the most reliable and efficient way to produce reusable electricity. It can convert up to 90% energy to usable electricity for both companies and households. In case of wide case of blackout, hydropower will be able to provide immediate and temporary electricity to the electric grid.  

Among other sources of renewable energy, hydropower is considered to be one of the most cost-efficient and environmental-friendly source of usable electricity. According to the latest statistics provided by the World Energy Council, this source of renewable energy supplies 71% of the world’s renewable electricity. 

Among the countries that produces hydropower, one of the largest producer of this energy is United States. China goes second as well as Canada and Brazil. All the hydropower plants located in the United States can come in form of small power systems to large power plants. These companies supply electricity to towns and big processing plants. 

How Hydropower plants work? 

When someone says hydroelectric power, it is the electricity that comes from converting energy derived from moving water. In one of those large hydropower plants, water is stored in dam reservoir where it turns and spins rotor located on a turbine. The said machine is now connected to a power generator which generates usable electricity. The usable electricity is now transferred through transmission lines from the power plants to the end consumers. Because of this factor, hydropower is considered to be one of the most efficient and cost-effective source of renewable energy. 

What are electrical enclosure considerations in hydropower plants? 

In a hydropower plants’ operations, these power plants use electrical machine and equipment to modulate flow rates of electricity and the power output it gives. All the machines includes circuit breakers and switch boxes necessary in monitoring the operation’s control systems and it also monitors water tank regulators. 

In order to give protection to these valuable equipment, it is very important for engineers to carefully identify and consider the location where the equipment will be used. If the electrical equipment will be used outdoors in hydropower plants, there is a possible presence of high-moisture environment. Equipment can also be submerged in water. Enclosures that can house these equipment and protect it from corrosion is important. 

The usual recommendation for this type of application are NEMA 6P electrical enclosures. These enclosures are designed to be water-resistant and can be submerged in water protecting the equipment inside. They can also withstand certain pressure under water, this is the reason why NEMA 6P is the perfect choice for this type of applications. Design engineers should also carefully consider the type of materials that will be used in manufacturing NEMA 6P enclosures. 

Not only the design and materials are important, it is also very vital to ensure that enclosures should be watertight to avoid water ingress. Keeping the equipment protected, safe, and functioning well. It can also prevent unexpected operational down time. Design engineers should keep in mind that if they design NEMA 6P enclosures with cutouts, it will lose its rating and it can possibly change. 

Advantage and Disadvantages of using NEMA 3R enclosures for Outdoor Applications Part 2

Pros of NEMA 3R Enclosures for Outdoor Applications Continued… 

However, the biggest advantage of using NEMA 3R enclosure is that it can protect your equipment in a wide range of harsh and hazardous weather conditions while being cost-effective. It is important to note that the higher the protection a NEMA enclosure provides, the higher the cost will be.  

It is important to note that a cost of an enclosure also highly depends on different factors such as material used in making the enclosure and the style & specifications needed. But generally speaking, NEMA 3R is the most cost-efficient enclosure among the rest.  

Cons of NEMA 3R Enclosures for Outdoor Applications 

With all the advantages discuss din the last article, any engineer should note that NEMA 3R while can protect equipment in wide range of applications, it has the lowest protection level among other outdoor enclosures. In case of extreme weather conditions, NEMA 3R enclosures are not suitable. 

For example, NEMA 3R electrical enclosures are not allowed to be exposed in too much sunlight if it is made out of ABS plastic. It can potentially deform in shape after exposing it to too much UV rays. Because 3R enclosures can also be cost-efficient, NEMA 3R can be manufactured using ABS plastics. In addition to this, unlike other enclosures NEMA 3R enclosures are not made with water resistant gaskets thus it should not be used for applications where there is a possibility of water ingress.  

In summary, NEMA 3R are not designed to withstand and tolerate hazardous and extreme weathers that are commonly dealt with in several industries such as: marine offshore companies, waste water treatment plants, and other companies that heavily deals with hazardous chemicals. For these certain type of applications, higher NEMA enclosure type is required to be used to avoid putting electrical equipment in higher risk. 

Commonly used NEMA enclosures for Extreme and Hazardous Outdoor Applications 

If a company requires enclosures to be used for extreme weather conditions, there are other type of NEMA enclosures that can be used. One of which is NEMA 4 enclosures that provides a higher level of protection for water ingress and it can provide protection for sensitive electronic machinery to prolonged exposure to moisture and water.  

Other NEMA enclosure types that are used for extreme and hazardous weather conditions are: 1, 2, 3, 4X, 6, 6P, 12 and 13. It has certain specifications and degree of protection to house electrical equipment both in hazardous indoor and outdoor use. It can give companies level of protection for their equipment from any type of ingress and external ice formation. 

In Summary.. 

Even if NEMA 3R enclosures can be considered as the most economical and cost-efficient choice for an enclosure, they cannot be used in all outdoor applications. Some applications can require protection from hazardous environments and NEMA 3R is not the best option you can have. The efficiency of NEMA 3R enclosure depends on where it will be used and what environment it will be used.  

How to determine if your enclosure requires EMI-RFI Shielding

As the technology of our world advances and continues to develop at a high speed pace, design engineers should keep up with the recent changes. With this in mind, this impose a unique struggle for them to think about. The existence of waves and signals these past years has been increasing because of the existence and amount of electronics everyone has today. 

Because of this, Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) puts a great risk to electronic devices that are being used in different companies today. Without the protection of a right enclosure, it can give potential damage to any machinery and equipment. Without the right protection, any machinery can have malfunctions and it can hinder & delay any processes. 

Design engineers should be careful in ensuring that their electronic devices does not give off signals that can harm equipment and it meets the EMI-RFI standards. There is a possibility that reducing EMI through design will not be feasible and it is smarter to choose the right enclosure to shield machineries. 

The importance of choosing the right EMI-RFI plastic enclosure. 

The material of the electrical enclosure that will be used for shielding EMI-RFI waves should be the following metals: silver, aluminum, or copper. These steels are the most recommended material for EMI-RFI shielding because of their components and element composition. Naturally, they provide a natural barrier for these waves. However, for most of companies these materials are not a cost-effective solution for several industries.  

In some cases, companies use EMI-RFI shielding spray and it considered to be more practical than using metal enclosures. This spray is also used on plastic enclosures to enhance the electromagnetic capability of some of the electronics. The shielding coatings provided by the spray reflect the harmful radiation and it can also provide great protection for your electronic products. 

However, it is important to note that metallic box is not the best solution for EMI-RFI shielding for any electronic design projects. Although aluminum is a good material for this application, this may not be a good recommendation for any projects if these will be used for temperature-sensitive applications. 

Companies that need EMI-RFI shielding. 

The least of the possible scenarios any company would want to have is to have their machineries and equipment goes into system malfunction because of interference of unnecessary radiation and signals. In addition to this, different industries has varying needs for EMI-RFI shielding but there are ones who needed it most compare to other companies. A good example would be companies that are in the medical industry because EMI-RFI shielding electrical enclosures play a crucial role in this industry. Without the features of an EMI-RFI shielding, any medical equipment can go to system downtime because the interference of these signals can greatly negatively influence the well-being of the patients.  

In the same way, the electromagnetic waves can also greatly interfere with mobile phones and some communication lines for first responders. This can have a worst and negative event in case of disaster because rescuers might fail to rescue victims.