The recent arrival of Schneider Electric’s FlexSeT technology into the Canadian market is far more than an advanced low-voltage switchboard, a device that controls, measures, and protects electric power in a building; it can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions, a senior executive with the company says.
Michael Lofty, senior vice president of power products at Schneider Electric North America, in a recent interview with Channel Daily News, described it as a complete digitally-connected offering in every step – “it’s digital in the way you order, it is digital in the way you configure, it’s digital in the way you build it.”
According to a release issued by the company when it first launched, the product features a number of enhancements to eliminate the need for manual processes that can be slow and inefficient. These include:
- Digital integration: A modern design provides easy assembly, and simplified installation and maintenance, all monitored and managed with digital apps
- Full traceability: Partners can track assembly progress through scannable QR codes on each accessory, and simplify future maintenance through interactive digital twins of all installations
- Customized configuration: Flexible order designs mean switchboards meet specific project and customer needs, and a modular design allows for seamless upgrades for future enhancements
- Faster deployments: Lead times as little as 72 hours, with simplified installation requiring just two hours for a team of two.
Lofty described FlexSeT as an example of a way to fulfil the need to digitize when ever possible, particularly now when both organizations and nations have pledged to be carbon neutral by either 2030, 2040 or 2050. A fact sheet from Schneider Canada notes that “the (federal) government has outlined an ambitious plan for Canada to reach its goal of reducing emissions to 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050.
“In order to achieve these goals, the use and implementation of systems and technology solutions to monitor and reduce energy consumption in Canadian buildings have become more important than ever.”
Those goals, said Lofty, can only be achieved through a three-prong effort that, for an organization or government, involves decarbonizing supply chain initiatives, reducing energy consumption, and increasing the use of clean electricity.
As for point one, he added, that “everyone is complaining about supply chain challenges, everyone has been struggling with supply chain capacity, everybody’s been struggling with delays in deliveries.”
The core concept of a FlexSeT installation, he said, is that, once an order is received, rather than taking 10, 20, 30 or 40 hours to build, depending on the complexity, as an average switchboard might, “two technicians can build a two-section FlexSeT configuration in four hours, with next-day delivery on site.
“Partners are sharing in the engineering work and a) are adding value and b) serving their customers both faster and better.”
The need for change, he said, is paramount: “At Schneider, to really lift Industry 4.0, Electricity 4.0, and really tap into both, involves creating an ecosystem system of partners – partners to build, partners to co-develop, and partners to sell and work together.”
There is, he said, a new industrial revolution occurring. “I think we are all going to see a fundamental shift in the way we look at our supply chains, in-house production and how can we leverage an ecosystem and a circular economy.”
In terms of FlexSeT distribution activity, Schneider recently announced that Guillevin International would be the first distributor of the switchboard in Canada.
“We have a long standing partnership with them across all their locations in Canada. They have been a fantastic partner,” said Lofty. “Hence it was a natural progression that they will be one of the first customers and partners that we have in Canada. They raised their hand and said, ‘we will dedicate space, people and a sales force to draw FlexSeT into the Canadian market’.”
As for specific pricing information, a statement released by Schneider indicated that it “will vary significantly depending on the feature set and how many sections are needed for a customer’s specific requirements.”