Much like December, March is also a time to reflect on the past (financial) year. As we compare our projections to the actual achievements of previous year and make requests for the budgets for next year, let’s not ignore Power Quality.
“By failing to prepare properly, you are preparing to fail”, said the American statesman, scientist and philosopher Benjamin Franklin. And it’s a fitting thought for the way we plan and prepare to improve PQ.
FY19 is a milestone year for PQ in India, as model Regulations by the committee on Power Quality at Forum of Regulators was prescribed. It has been the first consolidated and perhaps the most comprehensive roll-out on regulatory guidelines dedicated to PQ. In many ways, the model regulations lay the foundation to future of improving PQ in India.
CEA too notified its grid connectivity standard with sufficient coverage to address power quality.
As end-users, utilities, equipment manufacturers, advisors or in any other role, the PQ regulations will touch upon various aspects of the work in the years to come. But regulations alone can do little to improve PQ until they are implemented in spirit and specifications by every concerned stakeholder. Here it’s important to take the drive and show some action. As the first step, in this article, we provide some unique perspectives which can be used to approach, set and monitor PQ goals in your facilities in FY20.
1. SYNC YOUR PQ GOALS TO BUSINESS GOALS FOR FY20!
PQ is vital to your business. Starting from seamless business continuity to long-term performance and life of equipment, PQ holds the key to costs and profitability of your business. For a vast canvas on which PQ exists, there could be several starting points to bring about the improvement. To get a quick buy-in on the PQ improvement initiatives, it is important that your plans are in close sync with the Company’s annual goals.
For example, if your goal is to improve utilisation of critical assets, invest in PQ monitoring at these loads to ensure there is no nuisance tripping or unscheduled shutdown problems are identified and addressed proactively. Buying a PQ Analyser to perform continual monitoring can be budgeted in the beginning of the year.
On the other hand, if you have a relatively old facility and the goal is to go with it for another year or two before major upgrade or revamp, it would be worthwhile to invest in a detail PQ Audit. The audit will help to identify the hidden PQ issues, if any, and suggest specific and urgent upgrades in the electrical network for its seamless functioning. Such a study can reduce the risk of untimely or premature failure of key parts and equipment, driving seamless performance of the electrical network.
Stay true to the company’s annual goals and you will have a win-win situation!
The question you could ask – Which specific initiatives to improve PQ should be budgeted for FY20 to help achieve the company’s annual goals?
2. LEAVE A "PQ LEGACY OF THE YEAR FY20"
The electrical networks are living systems and PQ indicates its vital health parameters. Improving the health takes time, sometimes years of efforts. Take for instance, if you are planning to be a first mover in IoT deployment, it might be worthy to understand how electrical power impacts the collection, organizing, storage and analysis of data? This takes time and may need co-ordinated efforts for years to come in preparing the ground of IoT ready shop-floor.
Categorically, PQ issues in smart grids, modern transportation systems, renewable energy networks, modern Building Automation/factory automation, may take longer and consistent efforts to solve.
Given the low awareness levels in the PQ, a systemic effort to introduce PQ monitoring as a practice itself can be a good starting point and worthy of creating a legacy in the long-run.
When it comes to annual planning and budgeting exercise, it is important to plan for a longer term than perhaps just one year. Borrowing an analogy from the farming, it is congruent to planting a tree this year, so that you can enjoy its fruits for years down the line. So how about thinking of at least one initiative in the plan to improve PQ that will leave a mark on the years to come. Something that will be termed as a legacy of FY20!
The question you could ask is – What are the initiatives to improve PQ that we invest in today and reap the benefits in FY23?
3. CHALLENGE AT LEAST ONE NORMAL THING IN YOUR NETWORK IN FY20!
Every facility behaves in a particular way. Technically, it is termed as the ‘Electrical Signature’ of the facility. But the people managing the facility slowly start to accept the behaviour of the facility as a norm. For instance, tripping of a key equipment in a facility once or twice a month is considered normal. So, instead of choosing to improve the situation, the team treats it as a norm and learns to live with the rate of failure. The efforts to research and find out the root cause of the tripping in the electrical network is not considered, unless it’s business or life-threatening situation at hand. In a majority of the cases, such tripping events are traced to poor PQ. But at the same time, it’s difficult to find out the root cause, given the hidden and interconnected nature of most PQ parameters.
In FY20, you can pick and challenge at least one such norm. The ripples of challenging the norm and solving it with better PQ will be felt on every aspect of the business. For instance, when a large luxury hotel solved a mysterious failure of its Elevator once or twice every month arising due to poor PQ, it not just improved the confidence of the employees serving the guests, but also made a statement that business reputation for being perfect and flawless comes above everything else.
The question you could ask is – What do we consider as ‘normal’ in the electrical network which is actually an abnormality? Can we decipher it?
4. FINALLY, DO NOT FORGET THE SIMPLE POWER OF SMALL DIFFERENCES
Big goals and small targets take up a huge portion of the budgets, work and time space. However, there are always small pockets of improvement. In those pockets, while waiting for your project approvals, or when walking past a mess of cables, do something small. Observe, report, and share simple ways to improve PQ in a small way. Make it a habit to assess and discuss PQ parameters/index of the facility, in addition to energy consumption, in weekly meetings. Bring out the small opportunities to ensure reliable electrical networks such as checking of cable joints once a year or doing a PQ audit before facility expansion. The trick here is to do it as a routine, every time. A small achievement in improving PQ is like a stich in time that saves nine later.
More often than not, the small efforts to improve PQ fall snugly within the bigger picture, and end up bolstering the main goals quite a bit in the process.
The question you could ask is what should I do this week to ensure better PQ?
Various studies suggest that the awareness about PQ in India still remains much low. As FY19 comes to an end, here is your chance to take up a formal appraisal for PQ parameters, just like the annual appraisal for business and individual KPI numbers. This single step will help to drive higher reliability, availability, safety and efficiency for your electrical networks in the years to come.
And as you set a target to achieve better PQ in FY20, do not miss on investing generously in training alongside the technology. When it comes to improving PQ, your People hold the power to bringing about the change!