Investing — in technology, solutions, and people — was the theme of energy-management specialist Schneider Electric's 2012 Editors' Event, held Oct. 24 at the United Center in Chicago.
Forty-five media members covering the buildings, power, and information-technology industries, along with approximately two dozen Schneider Electric employees and customers, were on hand for updates and announcements by company executives, panel discussions on “big data” and smart cities, and a site tour.
Jeff Drees, U.S. country president for Schneider Electric, discussed five market trends — the rise of big data, urbanization, the energy revolution, re-industrialization, and grid instability — driving the company's investments in technology, solutions, and people.
On the technology front, Schneider Electric announced StruxureWare Power Monitoring for Data Centers, the first in a series of software suites intended to address the energy-management needs of customers in key market segments.
StruxureWare Power Monitoring for Data Centers — to be followed by StruxureWare Power Monitoring for Water, for Healthcare, and for Grid in the coming months — enables users to identify, respond to, and investigate the root cause of power-system events; determine utility and facility power quality; measure power-usage effectiveness; calculate power-distribution losses; understand uninterruptible-power-supply and generator-system power loading; and audit generator-system testing.
Schneider Electric also announced a “significant” investment in product development over the next four years to expand its portfolio of power-distribution solutions.
In terms of solutions, Schneider Electric announced it is implementing a 15-year, $7.9 million energy-savings performance contract with the City of Denison, Texas, to upgrade and retrofit equipment and reduce operational costs in the city's wastewater-treatment plant and other municipal buildings. The project, which is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2013, will enable the city to implement long-term energy efficiency in its facilities while saving approximately 20 percent of its energy costs annually over the life of the contract.
In Austin, Texas, Schneider Electric's EVlink Level 2 indoor electric-vehicle charging station will be offered to participants in a consumer energy research program.
Drees said Schneider Electric is “walking the talk,” using its own plants as testing grounds for strategies it implements for customers. For instance, the company announced it has reduced the energy consumption of 160 production and logistics sites by 15 percent since the 2005 launch of Schneider Energy Action, an efficiency program utilizing the company's hardware and software solutions, expertise, and methodology. Through 2011, several million euros were allocated annually to equip the sites with nearly 500 variable-speed drives, 1,900 meters, and hundreds of sensors, controllers, and other building-management systems. Additionally, lighting was replaced with low-consumption systems and more efficient heat engines were installed. By 2014, Schneider Electric is looking to reduce consumption by another 10 percent using measures based on the implementation of StruxureWare software and associated services.
In 2011, Schneider Electric became the first company in the world to achieve ISO 50001 certification — the International Organization for Standardization's highest rating for the development, implementation, maintenance, and improvement of energy-management systems in facilities — for designs and installations implemented in its global headquarters near Paris. During the Editors' Event, the company announced its manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn., has been awarded ISO 50001 certification as well.
Schneider Electric's investment in people includes a three-year initiative to develop more comprehensive energy education and training. At the university level, this includes research and curriculum sponsorship and consulting, internship programs, and competitions to fuel excitement about careers in energy management. At the corporate level, it includes continued investment in the company's Energy University online program, which provides vendor-neutral efficiency-education tools and training in 12 languages, and the company's EcoXpert program, which provides certified training to electrical contractors.