When it comes to energy, most business customers tend to simply focus on the price.  And whilst energy is certainly an unseen commodity, like any product, it is only valuable if delivered on time, and to agreed standards.  The quality of the energy supplied to sensitive and valuable business equipment can have a dramatic impact on operating efficiency, equipment life-span, health and safety, down-time and profitability.   If the quality of your energy supply is reducing your business performance and productivity, Selectricity can provide an independent Supply Quality Audit to detect the presence of supply quality issues, and confirm their likely source.

Evidence of Poor Supply Quality

There are many noticeable signs that provide advance warning of sub-standard electricity supply quality :

  1. Circuit Breakers constantly dropping out or failing due to no obvious cause.
  2. Flickering images on computer screens.
  3. Excessive noise or humming from the Main Switchboard.
  4. Excessive heat from the Main Switchboard or electrical cables.
  5. Unexplained breakdowns of photocopiers, fax machines, telephones, security systems, and other electronic equipment.
  6. Unexplained and consistent motor failure.
  7. Intermittent problems with computers and software applications.
  8. Unexplained increases in energy usage or maximum demand.

Possible Causes

Whilst it is always easy to blame the local electricity distributor, not all supply quality problems are caused on the external electricity network. In fact, supply quality is often influenced by internal equipment, supply infrastructure as well as neighboring sites. 

Over the past twenty years, many new technologies have emerged that have developed well-earned reputations of reducing supply quality.   Such technologies may benefit production efficiency, but can also have a detrimental impact on more sensitive electrical loads.  Complex electronic equipment and control systems now have unique supply sensitivity characteristics.  As such, a supply distortion caused at one site may go unnoticed at the source, whilst having a negative impact on the business next door. 

Regardless of where the problem originates, only a systematic approach to recording, verifying and tracking supply quality issues will enable identification of the source, and thus improve the chances of a successful and sustained solution.

How can Selectricity assist you?

Selectricity has developed a tailored service to address the impact of poor supply quality.  Whilst not all causes can always be identified, a methodical approach will generally reveal most on-site causes. When facing this challenging issue, we recommend and adhere to the proven process outlined below:

  1. Assess the degree of the problem and  impact by consultation with the client.
  2. Conduct a site inspection to identify and report on any obvious causes.
  3. If likely causes remain unknown, provide quotation for installation of Supply Quality Recording Equipment.
  4. Install a Power Quality Recorder at target area to verify the presence of the supply quality problem.
  5. Provide report on the recorded data, together with comment on possible cause and solution scenarios.
  6. If problem originates from the external electricity network, address report findings with local electricity distributor.
  7. If problem originates from internal cause, report to client and evaluate potential solutions.

Once a problem has been verified, and the cause is known, questions then arise as to what to do next.   For example, whilst a supply distortion may originate from an on-site machine, the most economic solution may not be to remove or alter the machine.  Rather, a more cost-effective solution may be to simply install supply protection on the incoming electricity supply to the equipment that is particularly sensitive to the distortion.

Electricity Supply Quality is constantly influenced by the changing demands on electricity networks, business neighbors, emerging technologies, the weather and other more unpredictable variables.   For this reason we believe that only a realist approach will achieve workable and lasting solutions. 

Not all problems can be attributed to the local electricity network, and not all external causes are within their control.   In the long-run, it may simply pay to invest in a small solution for your own needs, rather than rely on others to fix a larger and more costly problem.

Self-Preventative Measures

There are many ways to help prevent problems related to Supply Quality :

  1. Only purchase equipment that is compatible with the Australian electricity supply system and its tolerances.
  2. Use Uninteruptable Power Supplies, Line Filters and Surge Diverters where appropriate.
  3. Design and maintain your electrical system in harmony with the size, location and duty cycle of your electrical load.
  4. Prevent internal generation and transmission of supply disturbances and harmonic distortion.

We consider Supply Quality to be one of the major energy issues facing our clients.   Whilst competition has achieved substantial savings, cheaper energy only offer increased value if converted to improved business profit.  Our focus on providing a comprehensive “energy partnership” ensures that we apply both a technical and financial understanding of this challenging energy issue.  For an obligation free discussion, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Supply Quality Audit