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The power of a simple energy management upgrade

Andrea Temporiti, Head of Digital ABB Electrification and Marco Dolce, Facility Manager ABB Smart Power Division

More than ever before, data capture and analysis are affording facilities managers the insight required to understand and improve their buildings and processes in a completely new way. This greater level of visibility, driven by digitalisation and real-time data monitoring, is becoming an engine for change. For innovators of digital solutions that collect data and connect systems and buildings, there is no greater proof of concept than using your own facilities as a testbed for performance. This is precisely what our ABB team achieved with a simple energy management upgrade at one of our lighthouse facilities in the industrial region of Frosinone, Lazio, Central Italy, using our ABB Ability platform.

This solution empowers real-time, data-driven decisions for safer, smarter operations that maximise resource efficiency and contribute to a low-carbon future.

Frosinone is ABB’s global production hub for low-voltage circuit breaker technologies. The factory, along with sister plants in Dalmine and Santa Palomba, was selected by an Italian government agency as a model for other companies working on digital transformation and Industry 4.0 strategies. The objective was to prove how a simple energy management upgrade can prepare any factory to become a sustainable microgrid.

When upgrading the energy management system at Frosinone, the facilities team used retrofit hardware solutions and space saving, cloud-based energy management systems to showcase what can be achieved with just a modest investment, and with little to no requirement for additional space.

Comprising a number of buildings over a total of 50,800 sq m, including six buildings (30,000 sq m) dedicated to production, ABB’s Frosinone facility had an annual power consumption of 9000 MWh. Facilities managers onsite saw opportunities for digital energy management and renewables to unlock cost and carbon savings.

Retrofitting switchgear without disrupting production

The first phase of Frosinone’s transformation was to upgrade the switchgear in collaboration with Apleona, one of Europe’s leading FM experts. The simple plug & play switchgear devices and easy configuration meant facilities could quickly gain complete end to end visibility from device to dashboard.

With the electrical network connected to the ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System (EDCS*), the team were able to monitor more than 120 electrical distribution points at critical locations throughout the facility. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, the innovative EDCS cloud-computing platform allowed managers access to an ecosystem of features that used advanced algorithms and machine learning to continuously improve the site’s energy efficiency and power asset management.

Predicting the right investment

Insights from the EDCS enabled the team to identify hidden drains on the site’s energy, and to calculate the payback period for any investment in new equipment. Early predictions showed that making targeted updates to the HVAC equipment, adding data-driven temperature management controls and technology upgrades to the site’s lighting would improve energy efficiency by around 30 per cent.

Actioning these predictions in a strategic fashion has led to a number of ‘quick wins’ for the energy efficiency of this facility. The installation of LED luminaries throughout the main production areas and targeted improvements to the HVAC equipment were tackled first, with a data-driven air conditioning chiller retrofit. All derived savings are reflected in a payback time expected in less than three years.

*The two current and well-known energy and asset management solutions ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System (EDCS) and ABB Ability™ Asset Health for Electrical systems – MyRemoteCare have been constantly further developed and migrating in one single user interface. ABB Electrification celebrates this offering evolution with the new ABB Ability™Energy and Asset Manager.

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