Siemens says UK manufacturers are failing to recognise the risks posed by critical ageing electrical energy assets. Manufacturers are being cautioned: more needs to be done to strengthen energy resilience plans if the challenges of tomorrow are to be met.
“Critical electrical power equipment, which has accumulated over decades, forms a significant backbone of today’s manufacturing industry. Either housed in a single location or clustered across multiple sites, a complex patchwork of modern and legacy technologies makes up the electrical systems powering UK manufacturing. Interspersed throughout the country, these engineering assets have been added to, adapted, maintained and repaired or replaced over time; all are at various stages and states of health in a sprawling complicated picture of electrical systems,” said Toby Horne, Senior Lead for Siemens Energy Resilience.
“These systems are supplying energy to, in almost all cases, mission critical operations but years of reactive maintenance, planned or emergency repairs and differing or inconsistent service practices have made it near impossible, for a significant proportion of businesses, to accurately gauge how these electrical assets are actually shaping up. Many are not aware of whether their systems can handle even greater demands, others are simultaneously grappling with an energy transition that is adding supply diversification, on-site energy production and decarbonisation targets to their sites – posing additional risks, more points of failure and ever more pressure.”
Siemens offers an energy resilience service designed to help manufacturers provide better insulation against blackouts, the complete interruption of power that halts operations and brownouts, partial or temporary reduction in system capacity. Branded ‘resilience-as-a-service’ the ‘vital signs’ of a business’ electrical estate are scrutinised from every angle, the company claims. The approach comprises three programmes: risk identification, risk management and issue resolution; designed to boost operational efficiency, business performance and minimise risk over the long term.
On how businesses can build more energy resilience into their critical power infrastructure, Horne said: “A lack of visibility makes it difficult to see and understand the level of risk within your power infrastructure, but the outcome of downtime is severe – interruption to operations, damage to reputation, unforeseen costs accrued (in fines or revenues) or even a risk-to-life – requiring a more a proactive stance, instead of the conventional view through a maintenance-lens. Risk can never be eliminated but the right resilience strategy, supported by a knowledgeable and trusted partner, can manage and mitigate the threats.”
During the risk identification process, Siemens professionals perform an audit to identify risks associated with all the installed electrical equipment at the manufacturer. The process is aimed to help identify risks, manage electrical equipment across sites and accommodate changing energy supplies including green energy, decarbonisation and on-site generation and storage. Risk management involves the proactive management of electrical assets and maintenance of its health to mitigate risk and streamline the electrical infrastructure. Issue resolution grants access to global parts sourcing and Siemen’s capabilities to help resolve issues, repair assets on site and understand the optimum pathways for the power estate.
Horne said: “The prospect of imminent power infrastructure failure is ‘real’. There are approximately 65,000 panels of Siemens Reyrolle brand switchgear installed in UK industries, of which 70% predate the 1970’s. All continue to underpin critical power systems and remain fully supported by Siemens. There are also, as many, other similarly-aged assets from different manufacturers and, if not maintained correctly, all could potentially fail and create challenges.”