Power Bytes

World Class Generator Set Sizing Tool

March 02, 2020 Caterpillar Inc. Season 1 Episode 3
Power Bytes
World Class Generator Set Sizing Tool
Power Bytes
World Class Generator Set Sizing Tool
Mar 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Caterpillar Inc.

Get an inside look at the latest updates to SpecSizer. We'll talk about the work, customer insights and more. Feedback?  Email us at powerbytes@cat.com

Show Notes Transcript

Get an inside look at the latest updates to SpecSizer. We'll talk about the work, customer insights and more. Feedback?  Email us at powerbytes@cat.com

Lou:  Good Day and welcome everyone to Power Bytes!  I am your host Lou Signorelli of Caterpillar’s Technical Marketing team and Power Bytes is your destination Podcast for power generation topics.  As always please know how much we appreciate you, our listeners.  We hope you find our topics helpful and interesting.  There are several ways for you to get in touch with the show. You can send us an email at powerbytes.com, visit us at Cat Electric Power on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Please leave us a 5-star rating wherever you listen to your favorite podcast; It really does help.

Lou – Today I'm joined by Chad Dozier.  Chad Dozier has been working in the Electric Power industry for over 25 years, with experience in large diesel generator sets, switchgear, UPS, solar, and energy storage solutions.  He is currently the program manager for Cat's sizing tool called SpecSizer.

Chad: Thank you, Lou.  Happy to be here.

Lou:  Chad, Caterpillar has a very popular system sizing and design tool called SpecSizer. Chad, I was doing some research and learned that since being released SpecSizer has 0ver 21K users?  When I saw it a few months ago for the first time and I was quite impressed by how powerful this tool is!   Let's start with a little background about the tool.  How long has it been around and something of its evolution? 

SpecSizer is our free sizing software.  It was first released in 2006.  Since its release, it has gone thru many iterations, like moving from a physical CD to the web and then out to the cloud.  And for the last 12 months, we have increased focus on the usability and expanding the functionality of SpecSizer.   

Lou:  Can you give our listeners some examples of the usability improvements?

 • We started by talking to actual users of SpecSizer.  I personally participated in over a dozen of these sessions, which consisted of the users providing feedback on a SpecSizer mock-up.  This confirmed what the team believed - that SpecSizer, while a solid tool, was not intuitive to use.     This started us on a path to completely re-write the code base for SpecSizer - keeping the algorithms in place while refreshing everything else.  Everyone is using apps today.  We are bringing a similar experience to SpecSizer – a very simple, intuitive interface.
 • Initial focus for changes was the process to build the load profile for a project.  I'll be honest - before we started it was a bit clunky.  Now it is a simple matter of dragging and dropping loads.  
 • Another area we looked at was the project folders.  I know - does not sound like a big deal.  But we have users with 20, 50, 100, some with over 500 saved project files.  Keeping track of the files and finding old files was not easy.   So we refreshed the interface to make it feel more like a standard windows interface - like you see when working with emails. 
 • A third enhancement was on the product data side.   We heard loud and clear that the users wanted to get more data on their Cat generator set.  So we have been adding more content - a user can now get spec sheets, drawings, detailed engine and technical data.  
Lou:  So you mentioned the cloud.  Why is that important? 

Chad:  One advantage is that SpecSizer can be accessed from any computer connected to the web.   Sizing files are saved to the cloud, so the user always has access to their projects.  
Second advantage is velocity. Both in the speed to our users and speed for updates.   From the user side, we can spin up processing power when we see heavy usage – something we’ve already done a couple of times since moving to the cloud.  This allows for a smooth experience when using SpecSizer – the user should always see the same performance, no matter how many people are online.   From an update standpoint, we are using Agile project management which gives us a process to quickly review, test, and introduce enhancements, based on user suggestions.

Lou: Whenever we talk about "the cloud" I like to talk about security.  Can you tell us what Cat has done to protect user data in SpecSizer?
Chad:  At Caterpillar, we take cyber security very seriously.  
 •  Our cloud service provider has over 90 security compliance certifications.    SpecSizer is also protected behind the latest firewall software to prevent unauthorized access.  We have automatic security notification alerting us to any suspicious activity.  And we leverage a front door service to block potential threats based on IP address. 
 • Access to the SpecSizer data base is also protected by two factor authentication, preventing malicious users from accessing it.  
 • Finally, user passwords are stored fully encrypted - we never have visibility to them. 

Lou:  Can you give our listeners an example of the updates?

 • Let me touch on three areas. 
 • We have received a lot of suggestions on working with loads - the longest part of any SpecSizer project.  We are continually improving how a user works with loads - little things like improving copy and paste capability to improvements on how a user works with the loads steps.  
 • Second area is BIM models.  This has probably been the single most requested feature in SpecSizer.  While we have had BIM models for our products for a couple of years now, we just never had a good platform to deliver them to Consultants and Contractors.  As of our February 2020 update, BIM models can now be downloaded directly from SpecSizer.  
 • And finally is addition of a Load optimizer.

Lou:  Load optimizer? I like the sound of that…..  What does Load Optimizer do exactly?

 • The load optimizer is a  Proprietary algorithm to analyze your project loads and place them in an order that results in the smallest possible generator set with the fewest number of steps.  In about 30-40% of the projects, we see the optimizer being able to suggest a smaller generator set when used.   
Lou:  That's great!  Why should our listeners embrace this system over how they are sizing gensets today? 

Chad:  Sizing generator sets is part science, part art.   There are a number of factors to take into account when looking at a project – running power requirements, starting requirements, harmonics to name a few.   Account for these wrong and you could oversize the generator set or, even worse, undersize the generator set.  Oversized generator sets mean you have just specified or bought a larger unit than required – not providing the best value for the ultimate customer.  Undersize a generator set and it will either not start the loads or not be able to power all of the loads.   Both cases can result in unhappy customers.   
SpecSizer will take all of these factors into account when recommending a generator set.  Our loads have been modeled on what is being sold today and common industry design guidelines.  And if you have something unique, the user can change the default values for any of our load types to match the specifics of their load.  

Lou:  Certainly an impressive tool that continues to evolve.  Chad, it looks like the whole platform is done with the end-user in mind and focused on making their work easier.  Would you agree?

Chad:  Absolutely.  Quick and easy to use.  In the market today, everyone is busy.  Anything we can do to shorten the time to size a generator set is a benefit.  And we do this by not being static or fixed in our ideas for improvements to SpecSizer – we are continually talking to our users, gathering feedback on what we can change to make their jobs easier.  Some of the tweaks are minor – like setting a default sort method for projects.  Some are major – like introducing a browse genset function.  

Lou:  Chad can you give me an example of a feature that was driven by user input?

Chad: Certainly.  As we were talking to our users, one piece of feedback was “Hey, I have a 2-megawatt genset.  I just want the data on it”.  Well, SpecSizer was not designed to easily do this – it was possible, but not quick or intuitive.  So we developed a browse genset model.  Where you don’t need to size the genset – just set a couple of basic parameters and select the genset you are looking for.  And we provide the same level of data with that genset as one selected when sizing a project – so all of the technical data, spec sheets, and drawings available to download with the click of a button.  

Lou:  So if I understand you correctly, here are three things I've learned about SpecSizer today 1) Cat has a proprietary algorithm for helping users optimize the size of their genset to best fit the user's application.
 2) Cat puts a tremendous amount of effort into "usability".  Making it easy to use and understand sizing.  
3) Users are provided with everything they need to specify a genset for their facility in one place from drawing to technical specs and all at NO CHARGE.  Did I get that right Chad?

Chad: Absolutely.  And I encourage anyone who has not seen SpecSizer recently to check it out.   

Lou:  There you have it folks, for more information on SpecSizer go to www.specsizer.cat.com.  Remember there is no cost for this great tool.  Feel free to email the SpecSizer Team at  specsizersupport@cat.com for additional assistance
 If you’d like to suggest other topics for the program or have some feedback to share,  please 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.