by Brianna Crandall — April 11, 2018 — Generac Industrial Power recently developed a control platform for the company’s generator sets, unveiling the controller on its new 625 kW gaseous gen-set for commercial, industrial and institutional use.
According to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 77 percent of Americans own smartphones. That’s why when Generac developed its own control platform — the new Power Zone — specifically for its industrial generator sets, it chose to make the interface emulate a smartphone, for familiarity and ease of use.
Joel DeWall, product manager, Controls Group at Generac, explained:
We wanted to utilize icons as much as possible, so that interacting with the Power Zone was intuitive — just like using a smartphone or an app. The icons and the ability to scroll allow users to easily navigate through status and information screens.
The Power Zone’s 7-in. color touchscreen display provides run-time status at-a-glance, providing quick and immediate access to the most critical generator and engine parameters. But DeWall said that alarms and warnings are easily identified, as well.
When viewing the home screen, a large green indicator lets the customer know the unit is ready or operating normally. When something does occur, you’ll see the indicator change to a large yellow exclamation mark, and one of the value bars will change to yellow. Clicking on the alarm icon takes you to more in-depth information about what’s going on and why.
The unit’s display isn’t the only way the Power Zone controller makes it easy to access generator data. It is said to be the first industrial gen-set control platform on the market with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LAN and Webserver, putting monitoring and control within easy reach of any mobile device or PC. Regardless of which type of mobile device is connected, the graphical display is the same as that on the Power Zone controller itself, so it remains intuitive.
We consider controls to be one of our core technologies. We integrated a lot of IoT technology into the Power Zone but tried to keep it very simple for the user. With the remote monitoring feature, if users connect the Power Zone to their building management system, they can set up an e-mail box, and the controller can send them e-mails for alarms, warnings or status.
The Power Zone controller also controls paralleling functions when the generator is used in a Modular Power System (MPS) configuration. Communication between generators is performed with a reportedly industry-first redundant Ethernet. Other features include paralleling control (synchronizing), reverse power, loss of synchronization between gen-sets and load and VAR sharing. A permissive and load-shed assembly is available for MPS applications to sequence multiple transfer switches.
The new control platform includes “pre-event” history functionality, in which it archives critical engine and alternator data before a fault occurs. This makes root cause analysis easier. Power Zone collects historical data, such as generator date/run-time, operating hours and kilowatt hours (kWh) produced.
Not only does the Power Zone control platform include built-in programmable logic controller (PLC) logic, programmable input/output (I/O), and built-in diagnostics, it also has digital third-party governor control with fully adjustable gain (PID), soft start ramping and synchronizing.
As a provider of spark-ignited power generation, Generac Industrial Power unveiled the Power Zone on the company’s new 625 kW gaseous gen-set, its largest gaseous-fueled node to date. Available in single-set or MPS configurations, the 625-kW unit is designed for demand-response applications as well as emergency standby for data centers, commercial and industrial facilities, health-care applications, infrastructure projects and the like.
Generac’s new 33.9 L spark-ignited engine drives the 625-kW generator. Engineered from a proven diesel block, it is touted as the first engine to utilize fuel and spark systems from the company’s recent Motortech acquisition. The result is a larger displacement platform with high power density — a strong competitor to the performance of diesel platforms.
The 625-kW generator with the Power Zone controller is available to ship now.