The recent growth of internet-connected industrial and personal devices is dubbed the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) revolution. Yet, this trend is really an evolution that has been underway for quite some time.
The intelligence that allows IoT devices to communicate in a bidirectional fashion is not a new concept. Physical infrastructure electronic devices that are able to sense, generate and transmit data have been around for nearly 50 years. In 1968 Schneider Electric invented the first Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Today, we are helping to drive Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing standards by integrating IoT with the entire value chain seen on factory floors. This means that traditional cyber-physical systems can communicate and cooperate in real time with each other, and with humans, resulting in fully optimized processes.
The concept of remote control and automation of ‘things’ is thus quite familiar. The difference lies in the amount of ‘things’ or electronic devices that are now being connected to the internet and generating data. Since the cost of IP enablement is now so low, all sorts of devices are free to participate in the more open IP-style network.
Another important factor that is enabling faster IoT growth is the shift in human behaviour and the changing workforce. The desire to measure and compare the effectiveness of objects that humans interact with is leading to a rapid acceleration in data creation, and more visibility to that data.
All of this ‘connectedness’ allows the Power Distribution realm to take great strides forward in assuring energy consumers that their power is safer, more reliable, efficient, sustainable and securely connected.
The next generation of high power low voltage circuit breakers – like our new Masterpact MTZ air circuit breaker (ACB) – is an excellent example of a key piece of hardware that businesses have used and depended on for decades, and now has evolved to include new digital capabilities. As a young engineer 30 years ago, I was a part of the team that launched the first Masterpact circuit breaker. I witnessed how a ‘thing’ evolved firsthand to fully embrace current technology and take advantage of it to better serve the people that depend on it.
Having built-in connectivity, the Masterpact MTZ exemplifies what is needed on the hardware level to serve up real-time data for monitoring to ensure safe and reliable operations. The ability to monitor and control the circuit breaker safely with a smart phone as a main Human Machine Interface (HMI) is possible, even in the event of a power outage.
These essential circuit breakers are built for harsh environments, have embedded Class One 1 metering (saving project time and energy usage), and are customizable with digital modules for ultra-flexibility and operational efficiency without downtime.
The free-flowing yet structured management of the new data allows stakeholders within organisations to improve real-time energy and automation tracking in order to cut costs and operate more safety, reliably, and efficiently – truly redefining the power distribution system we all depend on.