An ABB production facility is showing how a simple energy management upgrade can prepare any factory to become a sustainable microgrid. A cost-effective retrofit solution was the first step in the development plans for the site in Frosinone, in Lazio, central Italy.
Frosinone is a global production hub for ABB’s low-voltage circuit breaker technologies, producing around 3 million units a year. The factory, along with sister plants in Dalmine and Santa Palomba, is a Lighthouse Plant, selected by an Italian government agency as a model for other companies working on digital transformation and Industry 4.0 strategies. With annual power consumption of 9000 MWh and an energy bill in the region of €1.2 million, the facility team saw opportunities for digital energy management and renewables to unlock cost and carbon savings.
“We make technologies that help customers save energy – so we want the manufacturing to be as sustainable as possible,” says Massimiliano Cifalitti, ABB Hub Europe Manager. “The question was where to start. Operations have grown over our 50-year history with the electrical distribution evolving in parallel, so we had switchgear and breakers of varying ages and technology levels.”
The first step towards greater sustainability for the site was to upgrade the switchgear, retrofitting 112 Ekip UP digital trip units, 9 Emax 2 air circuit breakers, 15 Ekip Com Hub devices and a single Lite Panel.The low impact system architecture retained 100% of the site’s existing switchgear assets, with zero interruption to production during the installation work.
With the electrical network connected to the ABB AbilityTM Electrical Distribution Control System (EDCS)*, the system was able to monitor more than 120 electrical distribution points at the Frosinone facility. Developed with Microsoft, the EDCS innovative cloud-computing platform provides access to an ecosystem of features that use advanced algorithms and machine learning to continuously improve a site’s energy efficiency and power asset management.
Insights from EDCS have enabled the team to identify hidden drains on the site’s energy, and to calculate the payback period for any investment in new equipment. Targeted updates to the HVAC equipment, data-driven temperature management and technology upgrades to the site’s lighting are predicted to improve energy efficiency by around 30 percent.
The Frosinone team is working with Apleona, one of Europe’s leading facility management experts, to analyze the real-time energy management data, to integrate the data into facility management strategies and to identify opportunities for new functionalities for the ABB digital offering.
“Everybody can help tackle climate change and achieve cost reductions,” says David Zobel, Regional Contract Director MENA & Southwest Europe at Apleona. “This approach can work for any commercial facility, keeping older hardware in service and using the EDCS to identify energy savings that are easy to implement and good for bottom lines. The system also makes integration of renewable sources simpler.”
Next year, the factory will integrate renewable energy sources and storage systems. The objective is for Frosinone to be able to operate as a resilient, autonomous microgrid. “Climate change, sustainability and the need for greater operational resilience are making microgrids a must for many facilities,” says Fabio Monachesi, ABB Global Microgrid Application Leader. “We believe it’s important to get the right infrastructure in place first. With these upgrades to the switchgear and the EDCS driving our energy management, we are ready for this next phase in our site’s development.”
*The two current and well-known energy and asset management solutions ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System (EDCS) and ABB Ability™ Asset Health for Electrical systems - MyRemoteCare have been constantly further developed and migrating in one single user interface. ABB Electrification celebrates this offering evolution with the new ABB Ability™ Energy and Asset Manager.