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Tools & Software How to capture energy data more efficiently in machines, plants, and buildings

| Author / Editor: Samuel Krein * / Florian Richert

To operate machines, plants, and buildings energy-efficiently, the consumption values must be recorded with energy meters. What distinguishes modern measuring instruments?

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Modern measuring instruments must be easy and intuitive to operate.
Modern measuring instruments must be easy and intuitive to operate.
(Source: Phoenix Contact )

Energy data acquisition is a common practice in most industrial applications. This is because, in many applications, users rely on energy meters to measure current, voltage, power and other quantities. There are many reasons for this.

Essentially, however, energy consumption should be reduced and/or efficiency increased. To achieve this, the user must install measurement technology on site. However, the focus of the user is usually on other tasks, namely his actual field of activity. Thus, when selecting suitable components, the user is faced with the question of which energy meters provide the necessary data simply and quickly.

With the components of the EMpro product family, Phoenix Contact has developed a solution that meets these requirements. The portfolio comprises three device types - for front panel mounting and mounting rail installation with or without display (Fig. 1).

In the consumer sector, the user-friendliness of devices is a prerequisite today. Thanks to self-explanatory menu navigation and an optimally coordinated operating concept, the user is quickly familiar with the product and can easily use its applications.

The industry still has some catching up to do in this respect. Who wouldn't like to use the already known environmental conditions from the private sector in the same way in the working environment at this point? At EMpro, great importance was attached to the intuitive handling of industrial products. Good operability is essential, especially for complex devices.

Installation wizard supports basic configuration

Connect, switch on, a few clicks with the mouse, done: Energy measurement can be that simple. When the device is started for the first time, an installation wizard appears to guide the user through the basic configuration. Right at the start of commissioning, the user decides whether to perform the basic configuration using the device's operating keys or via the integrated web server, which is accessed via the built-in Ethernet interface. In both cases, the initial configuration of the components can be implemented in just a few steps.

The basic configuration begins with the setting of the IP network into which the device is to be inserted. Whether via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or a static IP address: The user can easily set up his IP network.

Figure 1: The EMpro product family is available for front panel mounting on the mounting rail - either with or without display.
Figure 1: The EMpro product family is available for front panel mounting on the mounting rail - either with or without display.
(Source: Phoenix Contact )

Next, he selects the network type of his application so that the device is aligned to it. The user then has the option of flexible setting the current measurement input from the primary and secondary sides. After checking the device configuration in the configuration overview, the user completes the basic configuration. The device immediately starts recording the data and is in operating mode.

The specialists from Bad Pyrmont offer two variants for current measurement to connect the current sensors. On the one hand, conventional current transformers can be connected with a primary current of max. 20,000 A. On the other hand, the current sensors can be connected with a primary current of max. 20,000 A. The current sensors can be connected with a primary current of max. 20,000 A. The 1 A or 5 A secondary current can be set in each current transformer variant.

Rogowski coils no longer require a transmitter

Figure 2: The direct connection of the Rogowski coils saves considerable time in wiring and configuration.
Figure 2: The direct connection of the Rogowski coils saves considerable time in wiring and configuration.
(Source: Phoenix Contact )

On the other hand, Rogowski coils can be connected directly. The transmitter, which is usually required for signal conversion, is no longer required as the mV signal from the Rogowski coil is processed directly. This reduces the time required to install the converter. In addition to the various Rogowski coils, which can be easily selected for configuration, the devices can for the first time directly process all common Rogowski coils available on the market (Fig. 2).

Device function protects against unauthorized access

The energy meters pay special attention to user-friendliness and can, therefore, be handled intuitively, especially via the built-in web server. In this way, the daily work of users who do not have any specialist knowledge is made much easier. The components of the energy meter not only simplify the intended operation, for example for different monitoring scenarios. Smart device functions also support the detection and analysis of faults as well as service and support.

Figure 3: Due to a smart device function, the backlight of the EMpro energy meters changes to red in the event of a fault.
Figure 3: Due to a smart device function, the backlight of the EMpro energy meters changes to red in the event of a fault.
(Source: Phoenix Contact )

If measurements show that the previously set limit parameters have been exceeded, the display of the components turns red. This advantage becomes particularly clear when many of the instruments are used. The user then immediately recognizes the error, can assign it and take appropriate action to rectify it (Fig. 3).

Unauthorized access to the devices, which is possible via the communication interface or if the password has not been changed on the device display, also proves to be problematic. In this case, the configuration of the components can be deactivated using the control buttons so that the user can only read the values shown on the display.

This means that manipulation via the control keys is excluded. All device types in the product family include an integrated Ethernet interface, which could allow unauthorized access to the components. For this reason, the Ethernet interface can also be switched off here, thus preventing intrusion into the network via the device. The deactivation described only applies to the operating keys or the Ethernet interface.

Viewing register tables via web server

The components provide additional "intelligent" device functions, especially for data handling. For example, the user can export and import configuration files to save time during configuration and commissioning. With the direct transfer of the configuration files, there is an even simpler alternative to data transfer.

If the components are located in the same network, complete and partial configurations of the devices can be sent directly to other participants in the network. This simplifies the commissioning of several energy meters by two decisive factors: intuitive handling and less time required.

Every user of communication interfaces knows that register tables are required to read the data. If these are not available, they must be procured. For this reason, all register tables for energy meters can be viewed and retrieved via the webserver. This means that the user has the required register addresses at hand at all times. The register addresses can be found in seconds using an integrated search function.

Conclusion: What has long been the standard for consumer devices is often still missing in industry: user-friendliness. But intuitive handling is also very important for industrial products and indispensable for complex devices. One example of an energy meter with a well-thought-out operating concept is EMpro: it provides the necessary data quickly and easily and is characterized by self-explanatory menu navigation.

This article was previously published in German on Elektronikpraxis.

* * Samuel Krein is Product Manager Analog Monitoring at Phoenix Contact Electronics GmbH in Bad Pyrmont.

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