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Benefits of a Transfer Switch Monitoring Portal

ASCO Model 5170 Communication Module

Company X distributes dry goods and fresh foods to retailers. On a Monday morning, its regional facility manager learns that one of the firm’s satellite warehouses had lost utility power over the weekend. A fallen tree had damaged the overhead utility wires that bring power to the building. The backup generator started and supplied emergency power. Nevertheless, one of its cold storage rooms had warmed unacceptably because a distribution breaker supplying its refrigeration system had opened. The genset was now low on fuel. Staff at the site were trying to arrange electrical repairs and fuel delivery, while others were preparing to dispose of spoiled inventory.

Sound familiar? Power outages commonly affect businesses. In this instance, the facility could have responded quickly and limited the impact to its business and customers if key personnel had learned of the outage when it occurred.

Challenges

In running their facilities, personnel are routinely affected by a lack of real-time awareness of critical power conditions. These challenges include understanding the status of the normal and emergency power sources, learning when outages occur and when gensets start, and seeing the status of key power distribution devices and load equipment.

And it's not just during utility outages. Even during routine operations, access to power information can impact productivity and performance. For instance, for facilities without a power monitoring system, personnel may have to check the status of equipment manually, which requires someone to go to the equipment locations or the locations of any remote annunciators to check for alarms.

The impact of the lack of information increases with the distance between the operator and the backup equipment. Large facilities require greater time for staff to inspect equipment and annunciators, and remote facilities require someone to travel to the site to evaluate system status. In these scenarios, power events and conditions may be discovered only long after their initial onset.

Solution

Transfer switches provide functions that are vital to the effective use of backup power sources. Because they are located between power sources and loads, they are the perfect location for accessing information from the transfer switch itself as well as upstream power sources and downstream devices. Placing an ASCO Power Technologies monitoring and communications device into the switch enables it to be used as a gateway for critical power system information.

Connectivity

The Model 5170 Transfer Switch Communication Module (Accessory 72EE2) is ASCO Power Technologies’ solution to the problems that challenge facility personnel. Installed in ASCO Transfer switches, it connects, monitors, controls, and secures equipment in backup power systems. With four Ethernet ports, it can be connected to other transfer switches; to an engine-generator set to monitor its status and power acceptability; to a utility breaker, a generator breaker, or a power meter; or a downstream distribution breaker. Hardwire contacts are also available to annunciate and control generators, circuit breakers, and other power devices. Two proprietary ports can be used to connect the device to other ASCO power equipment. A conceptual configuration is shown below.
Monitoring

The 5170 offers embedded device-responsive webpages for monitoring connected ASCO transfer switches and meters. A computer, “smart phone”, or tablet and an Ethernet connection to the 5170 enables an authorized user to view power data from connected equipment. These features enable:

• real-time views of equipment status and power data from equipment in remote locations
• dynamic one-line displays of transfer switch or bypass-isolation switch positions
• viewing of equipment alarms, event logs, and active timers
The embedded web pages make the information easy to see and evaluate. The 5170’s real-time messaging capabilities provide the information quickly so that users can respond immediately to outages or power conditions. It can also send notices of power outages and equipment alarms via SNMP protocol notifications or emails to authorized users. Emails can be sent to as a many as five recipients.

Control

Connected and showing active data, the 5170 can also be used to control transfer switches and other equipment. When appropriately configured, the webpage interface enables authorized users to:

• remotely transfer loads between sources
• bypass active transfer time delays on demand
• remotely exercise and test engine-generators using the Module's webpage
• select fail-safe sequences for load control if a communication delay or failure occurs

Outcome

For our hypothetical example, Company X would have benefited from using an ASCO 5170 Transfer Switch Communication Module in the following ways:

• Up to five key contacts, such as the regional and facility personnel, could have received immediate email notice of the outage.
• Connected to the supply breaker for the refrigeration system, the 5170 would have notified those contacts when the breaker opened, enabling them to take corrective action before perishable goods spoiled.
• Throughout the event, authorized personnel could have monitored the status and operational data for all connected equipment. In this case, they would have been able to see the fuel level and would have received low fuel alarms, if so configured.

Each of these actions would have enabled the firm to respond quickly to minimize or completely avoid negative impacts to its business, customers, and bottom line.

Application Considerations

Security

The ASCO 5170 Transfer Switch Communication Module offers features to ensure secure communication with authorized users. These include:
• user-authentication levels to manage who can connect, monitor, and control equipment through the module
• a signed boot loader and firmware to prevent the introduction of malicious programs
• 128-bit encryption to enhance data communication security

For more information about these and other security features, consult the product literature.

Range of Application

The 5170 works with most ASCO 4000 SERIES and 7000 SERIES transfer switch controllers. An alternate device, the Model 5140, offers similar features, but without IO capabilities. It works with select ASCO 4000 SERIES and SERIES 300 transfer switches.  

Availability

The 5170 is available as an option for newly ordered ASCO 4000 SERIES and 7000 SERIES switches as Accessory 72EE2. It is also available as a field kit for retrofitting existing ASCO transfer switches.

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For additional information about the ASCO 5170 Transfer Switch Communication Module, view the product webpage, review the ASCO Digital Binder, or consult a local ASCO Power Technologies representative.

For related reading:

ASCO White Paper - Data Communications for Critical Power Management Systems
ASCO Technical Brief - Three Benefits of Automated Critical Power Reporting
ASCO Technical Brief - Basic Automatic Transfer Switch Functions
ASCO Technical Brief - Elements of Time Delays

For additional information, contact ASCO Customer Care.