Schneider Ups the Ante for Data Center, Building Management Tools

Schneider Ups the Ante for Data Center, Building Management Tools

Schneider Electric this week convened dozens of journalists and a number of top U.S. executives at its 15th annual Editors Day (see "Schneider Electric: Transitioning from Transistors to Smart Grids" for an overview of the event), and in the process announced nearly a dozen new products, updates or expansions covering building management, data center management and overall organizational focus.

InfraStruxure Upgrades

In the IT space, APC by Schneider Electric unveiled a new generation of its InfraStruxure management software, one that uses 15 percent less floor space and boosts data center capacity by 25 percent. Among the new features of InfraStruxure are:

• A new Data Center Lab application that enables the design and simulation of new data center build-outs or data center upgrades without impacting data center operations.

• InfraStruxure Capacity's updated Impact Analysis application provides an instant overview of data center physical infrastructure operations including UPS, power distribution and cooling independent of the types and brands of equipment present in the data center.

• And InfraStuxure Efficiency 1.1, which lets IT managers report on monthly energy consumption of their data center subsystems, including CO2 emissions, PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) and DCIE (Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency).

All together, the InfraStruxure upgrade lets IT managers align capacity with demand at row, rack, and server levels; monitor the data center physical infrastructure with instant status notifications and alarms; and reduce non-IT power consumption and wasteful excess capacity in order to increase overall data center efficiency.

Manufacturing Energy Efficiency

The first of several new products announced this week, Schneider Electric released MachineStruxure, an automation solution for industrial machines that is part of the company's EcoStruxure holistic energy management platform.

The platform is based on a new SoMachine software suite, which has features to help companies reduce design time and time to market for new products, optimize machine performance and energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities, and in the process increase profitability. Schneider Electric estimates that MachineStruxure can cut design and implementation time by up to fifty percent by streamlining the controller design and development process.

Hotel Energy Management

Schneider Electric this week also unveiled Cassia Energy Management System, a tool designed to quickly manage energy use in hotel rooms. The system, which Schneider Electric executives said will take about 10 minutes to install in a hotel room, can save between 25 and 44 percent of the energy used per guest.

Using room automation and energy monitoring software, Cassia can increase efficiencies in three areas of major consumption: Heating, cooling and lighting. The system uses Zigbee wireless technology, so can be quickly installed and easily upgraded and retrofitted.

Cassia lets guests to control their temperature and lighting settings while in the room, but wireless sensors bring temperatures to the most energy-efficient levels and turn off unneeded lights when guests leave. The system is also able to restore guests' settings upon their return to the room.

"Due to rising energy costs and mandates, the hospitality industry is looking for innovative ways to save energy and reduce operating costs while offering a high quality experience for customers," Tony Gentile, vice president of Installation Systems and Control at Schneider Electric, said in a statement. "With the launch of the Cassia Energy Management System, hotels and multi-unit facilities now have a system that can be implemented quickly to reduce their impact on the environment and energy costs without compromising service or guest comfort."

Collaboration and Education Tools

Schneider expanded its Energy University online-learning solution this week as well, adding 21 new courses and making all 34 courses available in additional languages, including a full version of the site translated to Chinese.

The education tool launched in June 2009, and has more than 21,000 registered users. The courses are usually less than one hour in length, and cover a range of topics, including data center management, energy efficiency audits, demand response and the smart grid, building automation systems, and many other areas.

The company also unveiled an integrated project-management tool, called the Collaborative Project Portal. The portal combines project-management tools useful for scheduling, assigning and tracking tasks with collaborative working tools that let users share documents, photos, video and any project materials instantly, from anywhere on the globe. The portal also includes technical guidance for clients working their way through energy management projects and access to Schneider Electric professionals.

Finally, Schneider Electric this week announced a significant expansion of its long-term partnership with the University of North Texas, in Denton. The company was awarded a $42.4 million performance contracting project to improve energy efficiency, operations, reliability and comfort in 5.4 million square feet of the university's main campus facilities.

After 10 years of working with the university, Schneider has cut the campus's energy use by $13.8 million; in the next 20 years, Schneider expects to be able to further cut energy use by 17 percent and cut the school's water use by 15 percent.

Details of all the announcements from Schneider Electric are available at http://www.schneider-electric.us/.