Thanks to the Industry 4.0 movement, factories continue to morph into more efficient and cost-sensitive production facilities. The addition of the Internet of Things (IoT) with its hundreds of sensors plus more PLCs and control computers, CNC machines, and robotic workstations has revealed a real need for improved power management.
The same is true for large and small office buildings as they incorporate more automation and other electronic systems including IoT. If you’re designing equipment for these markets, you need to be aware of the power-management issues. This article summarizes the need for power management and offers suggestions for new equipment design.
A series of available white papers reviews the challenges for engineers in selecting the electronic components they use in designing products for the smart-factory and smart-building markets. Some examples show how power-management electronics can come to the rescue.
For an overall understanding of the needs and potential solutions of power management, download these two white papers:
- Meeting the Power Challenges of the Smart Factory
- Meeting the Power Challenges of the Smart Building
This Power Management for the Smart Building design guide reviews the megatrends underlying the smart building revolution and their associated system challenges:
Design Solutions for Smart Power Management
Any new equipment to be incorporated into smart factories and office buildings must meet tough new requirements that include:
- High efficiency
- Small size
- Suitable thermal budget
- Improved reliability
- Increased safety
The Factory Challenge
The smart factory is loaded with processors and connectivity interfaces related to all of the monitoring and control functions that enable the production processes. Data is collected from dozens, or in certain cases hundreds, of sensors that are part of an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) network. The computers collect and analyze that data, some of which will produce real-time control operations.
The benefits to all of this networking and automation is improved utilization of existing equipment and facilities that have increased factory output. Another benefit derived from the increase in computing power and sensor monitoring is predictive maintenance, which can help managers get ahead of possible equipment failures and avoid or minimize expensive downtimes.
While the new equipment, networks, and computing power deliver their promised benefits, they come with some unwanted baggage. The most critical downsides are higher power consumption, temperature increases, and space requirements. The big needs are greater energy efficiency, reduced equipment sizes, minimum thermal impact, and improved safety and reliability.
Key to solving the high-efficiency demands is switch-mode power supplies (SMPS). Their electrical efficiency is as high as 90%, and their thermal characteristics are such that usually a special cooling apparatus (fans, heat sinks, etc.) isn’t required. Small size is critical in saving space and meeting the needs of miniature items like IoT remote sensors. Analysis shows that adopting energy-efficient switching regulators and dc-dc converters can lead to significant savings. That’s the real meaning of power management.
Power Management for the Smart Building
As it turns out, large- and medium-size office buildings have the same problems and needs as the smart factory: improved energy efficiency, size reduction and reliability. The newer smart buildings are loaded with new equipment and networks that create the need for better power management.
A good example is the new systems for monitoring and controlling the HVAC and lighting systems in the building. Managing the HVAC usage based on time and occupancy can maintain a temperature comfort level while saving on electrical power. The same is true of building lighting. Again, time and human-occupancy conditions can predict when and where lighting is needed. That can lead to huge power savings.
Some new smart buildings feature a large IoT network of wireless sensors to collect temperature, light, and human-presence data. This data is analyzed to determine environmental-condition needs. In addition, the newer smart buildings incorporate extensive safety and security systems. Smoke and fire detection systems are mandated in most new buildings. Security systems use sensors and CCTV cameras to monitor activities and control building access.
The impact of all this is more equipment and space consumption. And greater energy consumption. Again, this calls for a power-management approach that delivers the desired energy efficiency, space savings, and better safety and reliability.
A Common Solution
Since every piece of electronic equipment requires a dc power supply, great improvement in power efficiency can be achieved by starting with their design. Consider that the power-management needs of both the smart factory and smart building can be met with switch-mode power supplies, specifically switching dc regulators and dc-dc converters. These are able to deliver efficiencies to 90% and significant size reduction. One such example is Maxim Integrated’s uSLIC modules.
Measuring a mere 2.6 × 3.0 × 1.5 mm, Maxim Integrated’s uSLIC dc-dc power modules are small enough to put almost anywhere.
Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC dc-dc power modules are essentially a synchronous wide input buck regulator with built-in MOSFETs, and an integrated shielded inductor. Amazingly, all of this comes in a 2.6- × 3.0- × 1.5-mm package. Due to the small footprint, the uSLIC is ideal for tiny IoT remote wireless-sensor nodes. Space simply isn’t an issue when you adopt these modules (see figure).
A major benefit of their tiny sizes ensures very low EMI production. These modules are compliant to CISPR 22 (EN55022) Class B EMC emission standards.
Another key feature is their high input voltage range from 42 to 60 V to handle typical supply voltages used in factories and buildings that include 12, 24, 36, 42 and 60 V. The output voltages are settable with two resistors in the 0.9- to 5-V range. In addition, the modules can furnish up to 300 mA.
Some products to consider include the MAXM17552, MAXM15064, MAXM17900, and MAXM17903. Other devices in this mix are the MAXM17532 and the MAXM15462. All are step-down dc-dc power modules. Common applications include:
- General-purpose point-of-load
- Battery-powered equipment
- 4- to 20-mA current-loop devices
- HVAC and other building control
- Industrial/process control sensors
- LDO replacement
Other devices that address the needs of the smart factory and smart building are the company’s reverse voltage protectors. These protect against overvoltage or overcurrent conditions. Input voltage protection is +60 V and −65 V. Overvoltage protection is in the range of 5.5 to 60 V, while undervoltage protection is in the 4.5- to 59-V range. Current-limit protection is up to 1 A. Consider the MAX17608 and MAX17609 and MAX17610 if you’re looking for this type of protection device.
- Meeting the Power Management Challenges of the Smart Factory
- Meeting the Power Challenges of the Smart Building
- Power Management for the Smart Building