The Speed at Which Power is Changing for Industry 4.0

Shane Callanan, Director, Engineering Technology at Advanced Energy


Industry 4.0 along with 5G is top of mind and commanding headlines as we inch closer to a whole new way of life

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Figure 1. The key technologies driving the 4th industrial revolution are impacting the power supply industry in more ways than ever before. How will power designers respond?

Industry 4.0’s impact will dramatically change the world in the same way the preceding industrial revolutions did, only this time automation, artificial intelligence and process power will lead the way. We have already witnessed sci-fi-like innovation in a wide range of industries, from healthcare and telecom to computing and semiconductor chip manufacturing, where process power is crucial to technologies used for etch, deposition, inspection, implantation and beyond. In fact, the process power sector is growing faster than the semiconductor industry, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9% (2014-2019) compared to wafer fab equipment (WFE) CAGR of 7.3%, all thanks to ever-evolving technology requirements and the increasingly advanced and enabling capabilities it provides. Particularly as devices shrink, power becomes even more important, as it resides in the device feature fabrication and is closely tied to the wafer process itself.

It’s worth noting that, without radio frequency (RF) power, there would be no chips, servers or data centers, which have become energy-intensive hubs as a result of the exponential increase and explosive growth in big data, digital content, e-commerce, social media networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), mobility and cloud computing. At the same time, these increasingly sophisticated data centers have also become more vulnerable to outages. Uptime Institute reported that, in 2020, data center outages occurred with alarming frequency, becoming “bigger, more damaging, and more expensive,” with power problems cited as the largest single cause. While the cost of an outage can range from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute, the consequences can be far reaching. Consider the 45-minute Google outage that occurred on December 14, 2020. Although the search engine remained active, millions of users could not access Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs and Analytics due to an internal storage quota.

When it comes to modern power supplies, however, outages like these can be prevented. Advanced Energy’s Artesyn product line offers highly reliable, high-quality data center power solutions to optimize efficiency and power density while reducing the total cost of ownership. Recognizing the evolution of power in large-scale deployments, AE’s Artesyn solutions are designed to help enterprises advance toward Industry 4.0. They enable a shift away from discrete power supplies to a shared approach.  A single power shelf can deliver direct current (DC) power across all equipment in a rack. This allows for highly efficient N+1 availability and lower cost hardware. For power availability as an alternative to traditional uninterruptible power source solutions, power shelves are being paired with battery backup units. The battery backup units can provide DC power to equipment in a rack if there is an alternating current (AC) power failure. Both can be monitored and managed through an embedded controller capable of integration with common data center infrastructure (DCIM) management.

Colocation providers as well as enterprises are also tapping into the growing “pay-as-you-go/use/need/view” model adopted by cloud providers, subscription-based software platforms and streaming services, with software-defined power control platforms that use machine learning and big data analytics to provide awareness and recommendations, including how, when and where power can be optimized by data center, row, rack, workload or tenant. When combined with hardware, the union automates data center operations and power management by workload. This result increases utilization of installed capacity by removing unnecessary buffers and automating service level agreements (SLAs) while mitigating risks and improving workload uptime. Use cases include but are not limited to:

·  Peak shaving: reducing power consumption quickly and for a short period of time to avoid a spike in consumption

·  Phase balancing: ensures that the electrical load on a given system is balanced at every phase

·  Dynamic redundancy: controls redundancy based on the priorities of the workload in the rack and predictive algorithms based on historical load patterns

It wasn’t long ago that power was viewed more or less a basic black box that had one simple function, namely convert energy from one form to another. Today, however, when coupled with matching networks, power generators are complex systems designed with algorithms and power control response as well as accuracy and data gathering capabilitiesthat would have been unimaginable in decades past. Though invisible, energy is ubiquitous in every facet of life and nowhere more critical than the field of healthcare, where research is accelerating and more advanced devices and equipment are launching to market at a rapid pace. These devices not only require a consistent and safe power supply but also must comply with some of the tightest leakage current standards of any industry. It’s not surprising given the high risks associated with defective electronic medical equipment.

In the 1960s and 70s, for example, patient electrocution from defective electronic medical equipmentwas not uncommon. A result of leakage current, which is the flow of electric current in an unwanted conductive path under normal operating conditions, thehealthcare industry was prompted to conduct a wide range of studies to examinethe risk of ventricular fibrillation by electric shock. Eventually, researchers determined that as little as 3 micro amps (0.000003 amps) of voltage applied directly to a portion of the heart during a critical part of the cardiac cycle could cause lethal arrthymia. It is a small amount compared to a lightning strike, which contains a minimum of 5,000,000,000 micro amps (5000 amps). But for patients with health complications, even the smallest voltage can be fatal.

Today’s medical devices increasingly use sensitive analogue electronics, wireless technologies and microprocessors, with advances in power supplies enabling remarkable improvements in surgical procedures alone. Take common knee replacement surgeries, which today have a high success rate—jumping from 50 percent in the 1970s to 90 percent or higher—among the more than 600,000 that are performed each year in the U.S. Many surgeons operate using 3D models, of which pertinent data can be converted and fed into the power supply, which holding to the model can prevent the surgeon from unintentionally removing too much or too little of the knee by shutting down immediately if any slight error is detected. Advanced power supplies have also enabled life-saving thermal solutions. Among the many applications utilizing heating and cooling therapies, doctors are using helmets with automatic and interval temperature adjustment capabilities designed to prevent brain damage in newborns.

Recognizing that the journey to Industry 4.0 is a collective one rather than a solo adventure, Advanced Energy has developing the most advanced and highly engineered precision power conversion, measurement and control solutions for today and tomorrow. Its new facility in Caesarea, Israel, a state-of-the-art R&D lab with on-site services and a repair facility, underscores that commitment. It is not only providing customers with the most reliable, smart technologies and resources but also helping to support regional customers who increasingly require access to high-quality local service for their power systems and controls. While the Israel facility provides an opportunity to expand within Israel’s fast-growing high-tech market, it also enables further collaboration with technology centers of innovation in a country quickly realizing the impact of investing in IoT technologies, 5G and modern data centers.

While change has been slow and significant progress achieved only in the last ten years, advanced power supplies have undoubtedly provided scalable solutions enabling smaller, more reliable and powerful devices that reduce cost, complexity and human error while heralding Industry 4.0.

Advanced Energy