Power Bytes

Advanced Control Features in Genset Controllers

May 04, 2020 Caterpillar Inc. Season 1 Episode 6
Power Bytes
Advanced Control Features in Genset Controllers
Power Bytes
Advanced Control Features in Genset Controllers
May 04, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Caterpillar Inc.

Vic Williams joins Power Bytes to discuss some important features available in the Cat Genset Controller.  Please send us feedback at powerbytes@cat.com

Show Notes Transcript

Vic Williams joins Power Bytes to discuss some important features available in the Cat Genset Controller.  Please send us feedback at powerbytes@cat.com

Intro to Podcast: Welcome to "Power Bytes" sponsored by Caterpillar, the leader in power generation for over 90 years.  Here on Power bytes, we will be discussing important topics related to power generation. I am your host Lou Signorelli and as always we appreciate you, our listeners, and hope you find our topics interesting.  Please feel free to leave us comments or send us an email at powerbytes@cat.com, or leave us a 5-star rating where ever you listen to your favorite podcasts


Lou: Most of us have wanted or needed to complete an electrical project.  We start by doing some research on products and options only to be totally overwhelmed by the vast number of products and solutions.  So we call in an expert.  Today, I want to focus on one small part of the standby electric power system and that is a response to a power outage and the tools available to help us.  First let me introduce our guest Mr. Vic Williams.


Lou:  Vic started his career in the US Navy where he completed the Navy Nuke program and went on to get his Nuclear Engineering degree and MBA.  From there Vic joined Caterpillar where he has been a key contributor in the systems and solutions space since 2004.    Thanks for joining us today!


Vic:  Thanks for having me today.  and it is my pleasure to spend some time with you and the listeners today.


Lou:  Vic the standby power system is a complicated system for most of us.  Today I'd like your help looking at a few features I thought were quite interesting and their important role AFTER the lights go out:

Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) Load shed

Feeder Breaker Control

Load Sense/ Load demand


Vic:  That's why I am here.  :)  The reality is that those are simply functions of the larger system response.  

With the vast portfolio of products that Caterpillar has, from On-package controls to 

Fully customizable Switchgear, there are boundless options for these functions but the basis for each is similar.


Lou: So let's take what seemed to me to be the most drastic of measures:  the ATS load shed.  Can you tell me what that is and when it's important?


Vic: ATS load shed is actually a simple function of load shed at the ATS level.  When systems are being designed, for let's say a hospital, each ATS has a different function or load that it serves.  The load shed scheme is designed to bring back the most essential loads first such as the Operating room, emergency room, and  ICU (life safety) equipment.   

This is done at the ATS level allowing generators to get up to speed and provide power as soon as possible.  

Other ATS loads are brought on as generators are added.  These are typically set up for every generator added to the system a group of ATS are added.  

The falls under the "conditional" load shed label.  

Lou:  So help me out, then, who or what controls the ATSs?  A moment ago you said it's a simple function, but who's in control? 

Vic: The Genset Controller is in charge.  It uses relay contacts to trigger the load shed and add functions on the ATS. 

Lou: Got it.  Moving on to Feeder Breaker Control.  Help us understand that functionality.

 Vic:  Caterpillar's on-package controllers have the ability to control feeder breakers.  This allows added functionality without added cost.  

Each generator can control one feeder breaker allowing for some enhanced load shed/load add functionality with the same 

Gen Set Controller.  Also, depending on the number of feeder breakers a system has or needs there is the ability to control the same feeder breaker from different gen sets, allowing for some redundancy.

 Lou: Thanks Vic.  Next I'd like to hear about a function I'm most fascinated by…. Load Sense / Load Demand?  It makes it sound like it's alive in a sense.

 Vic: The genset controls are talking to each other to the power on the bus as quickly as possible. The goal is to get power to all of your loads that you desired to be powered by the generators as soon as you can.   I say it this way because there are some "non-essential" loads that will remain off during a utility outage.  

But once the system has stabilized, by adding all of its feeder breakers or ATS to power the load from the generator, the system needs to maximize the fuel efficiency especially for any long term outage.  

With load sense/load demand functionality the system begins to  shut down engines that are not needed for the power that is required.  In other words, if I have 4 generators running and really only need two, the system will reduce the number of running generators. 

 It does this by looking at actual load vs. total gen power on the bus.   If I only need two units it will soft unload generators bases on total run time or just by priority set by the user.  

Lou: What or how does the user benefit from this kind of feature? 

Vic:  It's all about "what is the goal"?  Do you want to balance engine hours or do you have one machine that you prefer to carry the load most often?  

It really helps the owner manage their maintenance routines to achieve the desired goals.  

And this all works even if the generators are different sizes.  

Ex:  an owner might have 2x2mw and 2x1mw gensets and the owner might always want the 1mw gens to come off first.  

Priorities can be changed at any time.  Some owners change based on the season or demand on the facility during a known busy time. 

 Lou:  Vic, it seems that there are a lot of nuances to the many capabilities of the genset controller and we've only touched on a few.  Let's see if I understand them:

ATS Load shed: gives the owner the ability to shed non-critical loads in the event of a utility outage.  AND I don't need to purchase additional functionality in the ATS to accomplish this.  Cost Savings!

Feeder Breaker Control: The Cat genset controller can control a feeder breaker thus adding to the ATS functionality and bring loads on and off-line to respond to outages or generator capacity issues.  And I don't have to buy anything additional, it all comes as part of the controller.  Cost savings and simplicity.

Load Sense/ Load demand:  My Favorite!  The genset controller can compare the actual load requirement to the available genset capacity and optimize the running capacity to meet any number of owner goals and ultimately run most efficiently. 

Because there are so many of these "nuances" to system design, it seems like we should be engaging a power system design expert early in the concept process and throughout the design of the sequence of operations?  Would you agree? 

Vic: Absolutely!  Cat has 168 dealers serving 193 countries; all of which are supported by over 100,000 full-time employees dedicated to the success of our customers.

 Lou:  There you have it.  Thank you for joining us today on Power Bytes.  For more information on this and other topics please contact your local Cat dealer or write us here at powerbytes@cat.com or visit Cat Electric Power on Facebook or LinkedIn.  As always don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. Have a great day.