Amid National Heatwave, Eaton Develops a Distributed Power Infrastructure to Avoid Outages

July 19, 2021 by Seth Price

The U.S. has seen an unprecedented heatwave, which some industrial power grids are finding hard to keep up with. Eaton’s upgraded power management software can help mitigate risks associated with outages.

Recently, there have been numerous power grid interruptions. New York, California, Texas, Oregon, and Washington have all been impacted by higher than usual demand versus power generated. 


Eaton Intelligent Power Manager

Using the IPM to manage industrial power systems. Image used courtesy of Eaton


Eaton develops tools to minimize the impact of power outages, and recently released the Intelligent Power Manager 2 (IPM2) to keep facilities running. Unplanned outages are particularly troublesome, as there may not be IT staff on-site to prevent, predict, prepare, or repair any infrastructure issues. With a power management system in place, automation takes some of the burden off IT staff and plant engineers to minimize this impact.


Industrial Power Management

Eaton’s Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) is a way to monitor and control equipment power usage. These tools allow a plant engineer to monitor and selectively supply uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), power distribution units (PDU), servers, and so on. 

For example, without power management, a brownout may shut down equipment seemingly at random, though it will be the equipment on certain branches of the power system. These shutdowns will vary from brownout to brownout. Some equipment may shut down, and other equipment may keep running, but not necessarily the equipment that the plant engineer would choose. 


The Intelligent Power Manager (IPM)

With Eaton’s IPM, power can be distributed to critical systems first, shutting down less-critical equipment as needed. It also allows the plant engineer to see how power is being used in non-outage conditions, which can help improve energy efficiency overall.


Eaton Intelligent Power Manager 2

Screenshot of the IPM2 dashboard. Image used courtesy of Eaton

The IPM2 has a redesigned user interface with better visualization and control over power usage. It can support up to 600 devices or racks. The dashboard interface allows for quick and easy power management, and integrates with Eaton’s Brightlayer software. Some of the automation features have been upgraded as well, based on feedback from IPM users.


Eaton Brightlayer Data Center

The Brightlayer software package allows the user to automate power management, predict upcoming problems, or get their hands dirty and manually manage the system. Depending on the IT needs of the facility, any of these are an option. 

As plants automate and more work is done remotely, IT staff may not be on-site at all times, and so the Brightlayer automation features can be useful. Eaton designed IPM with edge computing and IIoT trends in mind to simplify the remote monitoring of power.

IPM cannot be upgraded to IPM2, as it is a new platform. A 60-day free trial period allows the user to test and see if IPM2 is the correct choice for their facility. There are options for upgrading the IPM license to the IPM2 license, but a specialist must install the software.

Power interruptions have been part of industrialization since the beginning. They are not going away. Throw in some natural disasters and unusual use cases, and there will be service interruptions. Eaton has developed tools that can help mitigate their lasting and consequential impacts.