Business & Policy
Preventing electrical problems
By David Manly
Nov. 8, 2012 – Many commercial operations, both small and large, are steadily increasing the amount of automation done by machines and therefore heavily rely on a consistent flow of power. But, when the running of a business depends on electricity, failures and downtime can be extremely expensive.
Nuvolt (www.nuvolt.ca) has created a novel way to detect such failures before they happen, using its SmartScan Pro technology – remote sensors that analyze electrical data in real-time and inform the user of its status and upcoming problems from motors and other electrical devices.
Jacques Dion, the president and CEO of Nuvolt, says that early detection and preventative maintenance of electrical systems are key to any successful operation.
The technology was designed for mass-market use in commercial buildings, assembly lines and tool equipment manufacturing. However, Dion says that he has received a large amount of interest from industry, heavy manufacturing, commercial shipping corporations and most recently, poultry processing plants.
Last month, Nuvolt reached an agreement with Unidindon, the largest turkey processing plant in Canada, to outfit their St-Jean Baptists-de-Rouville, QB plant with SmartScan Pro technology.
“In a chicken plant, the concern is not the value of the motor, it is when the motor goes down and the down-time associated with fixing it,” says Dion.
The technology will not only help prevent equipment failure, but also increase production rates and reduce energy costs, all through the constant monitoring and logging of real-time information from each electrical device provided by SmartScan technology, he adds.
“A yellow flag will showcase an upcoming problem on a specific motor, but they do not have to react promptly; it is not a fire, as it is a predictive system. If the situation deteriorates, an orange flag will say that the situation is getting worse and that problem should be fixed. The third warning will show a red flag, which means it will be going down soon.”
With a cable or a motor, temperature can rapidly build and cause a fire or even an explosion. Therefore, early detection and prevention is key. According to Dion, while breakers can prevent such an incident, they break at 75 amps (A), when the damage has already been done. “SmartScan Pro technology can detect as low at 200 mA,” he says. “Therefore, as soon as the issue starts, the system has the capacity to detect, analyze and inform the end user.”
The next stage of development for Nuvolt, says Dion, is to create a smaller sensor, reduce its weight and be able to monitor up to 600 HP motors (current capacity only allows up to a 75 HP motor), as well as branch off into the transportation and aviation industry.
But, the hope is to eventually create a cheap sensor that can be embedded during manufacturing in all sorts of electrical equipment he says, from fridges to water heaters, to help customers monitor and control their electricity usage.
“This way, you could control your energy in your house, so the power company will only charge you for what you use.”