Whether you work in defense, healthcare, or education, electrical switchgear is essential to any large facility. Switchgear modernization delivers several benefits, including improving safety, reducing liability, improving capabilities through multi-functional components, and extending warranties. However, depending on your budget, planned modernization can take several forms, and you may have to choose between what can and can’t be done in the short term.
Budgeting for Switchgear Modernization in 2024
If you’re considering switchgear modernization in 2024 but want to ensure you’re getting the best value, we’ll look at how to prioritize components and guarantee the best ROI.
Assessing Your Needs
The first step in any switchgear modernization plan is identifying what needs to be replaced and how critical that replacement is. Older components may be corroded, outdated, or out of warranty, leaving you open to equipment downtime, hazardous situations, and potential litigation. The replacement level should be identified as part of this assessment, noting whether single parts, major components, or complete replacement is required.
Your electrical switchgear components should be assessed in terms of what needs to be replaced for safety reasons and how modernizing certain components can improve reliability and productivity. This detailed evaluation will give you a clear roadmap for the year ahead of what needs urgent attention and where the greatest gains can be made.
Incorporate Smart Technology
Advances in smart technology, such as automatic and remote controls, programmable devices, and IoT sensors, are revolutionizing how electrical infrastructure integrates into power distribution and industrial processes. Data gathered through smart technologies can also provide predictive analytics, real-time monitoring, and allow for better remote diagnostics.
Incorporating smart technologies into your switchgear modernization plan can save money through more efficient power usage and better maintenance scheduling. It can also improve production processes, reduce the need for manual oversight, and allow for 24-hour operations where staffing can be difficult.
Repair, Refurbish, or Replace
When implementing switchgear modernization on a budget, understanding what components need to be repaired, what can be refurbished, and what needs complete replacement plays a significant role. Suppose a switchgear panel is in generally good condition. In that case, a maintenance check of components (testing breakers and cleaning and lubricating components) may reveal obsolete or damaged circuit breakers or control relays that need replacing. Refurbishing the panel means replacing necessary components or restoring them to “like new” quality. However, their warranty may be out in some cases, or the part isn’t made anymore, so total replacement is necessary.
The total replacement of a switchgear panel will require disconnecting relevant circuits, removing the panel, and replacing it with a newly built one. Understandably, this costs more and causes greater disruption but is necessary when the switchgear poses a safety risk and no longer meets relevant regulations, such as UL 891 and UL 1558.
Energy costs are increasingly significant for many facilities, especially industrial complexes and data centers. On top of that, ESG efforts to improve sustainability and lower carbon outputs require more focus on where energy is being used. Switchgear modernization can help on both counts, reducing energy costs and carbon outputs. Modern switchgear can help implement power factor correction, data-driven load shedding, and improved energy management and distribution systems.
Though keeping within your budget may make advanced technologies a hard sell to your financial executives, the long-term ROI of modernizing your energy systems, reducing consumption, and lowering operating costs make a strong business case.
A key part of any modernization strategy is identifying whether your electrical switchgear complies with relevant legislation. For electrical switchgear, the two that deal directly with them are UL 891 and UL 1558. However, NFPA 110 for emergency power systems and NFPA 70 for electrical systems in general will also apply. Maintaining compliance ensures risk reduction, minimizes the danger to operators and machines, and reduces liability.
Building for the Future
Bringing your electrical equipment to a state that allows it to adapt to emerging technologies so they’re easier to integrate in the future will significantly improve your capacity to scale. Additionally, improved monitoring and control mechanisms within your switchgear boards will give greater oversight to operators and feed data into how all your systems are functioning.
Modernize with Enercon
Creating a switchgear modernization strategy has several benefits. Primarily, ensuring the adequate function of switchgear, reducing risk to operators and equipment, and ensuring compliance. Modernizing switchgear can also help improve your facility’s processes by improving remote monitoring and control via smart technologies. The business case for modernizing your switchgear is also improved by the fact that advanced switchgear can reduce costs through more efficient energy usage and lower operating costs.
At Enercon, we provide a range of switchgear services ranging from the complete design and fabrication of new switchgear installations to the retrofitting of existing systems. To find out more about how we can help you modernize your switchgear in 2024, contact our team here.