Powertechnic: Data Centers, Telecommunications, Reliability and SLRDs
When Frank Bodi, Director at Powertechnic, used to use reliability block diagrams (RBDs) to model electrical and mechanical systems he was continually frustrated by the fact that the final results repeatedly failed to mirror the system he desired to model. Goaded, Bodi developed a new simulation technique using single-line diagrams which eliminated the inaccuracies and complexities of the conventional RBD approach. Since then, his company has pioneered the use of single-line reliability diagrams (SLRD) to model and analyze complex mechanical and electrical systems. “The cost and reliability of power and air-conditioning for data centers and telecommunications can make or break both projects and stock prices so the accuracy of such simulations cannot be over-stated,” says Bodi.
It needs to be noted that even though RBDs are slowly getting outdated, they are still extensively used for simulation. However, electrical and mechanical (HVAC) systems have behaviors making them unsuited to the RBD approach. At times, developers are compelled to make gross simplifying assumptions which significantly affect the end result, putting the validity of the final model under speculation.
On the other hand, Powertechnic’s flagship product, Analyst Enterprise, performs simulations of complex electrical and mechanical systems on the principle of SLRDs. In comparison to the RBD method, this approach is simpler and less time-consuming. Each component of an electrical or mechanical system is preprogrammed to behave like its real-world counterpart with built-in behaviors. These virtual components have realistic analog and statistical properties.
The results you get actually represent the system that you try to model. This is the main advantage of carrying out simulations using our SLRD method
To provide a lucid understanding of the difference between the two methods, Bodi points toward an instance when Powertechnic was approached by Alion Science & Technology to perform comparison tests between the SLRD approach and the conventional RBD-based approach. There was a significant difference between the two results. The results obtained from Powertechnic’s software tallied with the results calculated for verification purposes; the results achieved from the RBD approach did not. “The results you get actually represent the system that you try to model. This is the main advantage of carrying out simulations using SLRDs,” says Bodi.
The Analyst Enterprise software comes equipped with a library of common electrical and HVAC components to be used to model the target system. Furthermore, connectivity between the Analyst Enterprise software and the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can be used to automatically update the software with the latest site information.
The virtual asset management (VAM) and the facility health index features of the Analyst Enterprise software are the analytic fronts of the software. The VAM and facility health index makes the analysis of complex arrangements easy to interpret. “These features help you to identify weaknesses throughout the facility. They give you a level-by-level indication of the state of the facility,” explains Bodi. He narrates an instance when a client asked Powertechnic to analyze their multi-level facility about which they had some apprehensions. The results obtained from running a simulation of the facility were overwhelming, showing the client when the main transformer in the facility would overload. It was also revealed that UPS systems in the building were not correctly sized and would not have supported the critical load during fault conditions. Subsequent to this modeling the client’s own staff confirmed the results upon attending the facility.
The firm recently developed a new feature for its Analyst Enterprise software that empowers it to run a single simulation of thousands of battery systems, representing the reliability of an entire portion of a telecommunications network. “In a time where data-driven technologies like IoT have gained prominence, enormous amounts of data are being produced. And, we aim to use these new avenues to perform simultaneous data simulation and analysis. This new feature will for the first time, directly relate the reliability of a telecommunications network to the cost of maintaining it through battery replacements. No other software globally has such advanced capabilities,” Bodi concludes.