Award winners in focus: Technical Innovation of the Year – Products

MK Electric’s Connected Power – a fully integrated solution for effective monitoring and control of plugged-in sources of power consumption in commercial buildings – picked up this year’s BCIA award for Technical Innovation of the Year in the ‘Products’ category.

A standard commercial building has hundreds of electrical outlets, powering plug-in devices from computers and printers to fan heaters. Research indicates that these electrical loads account for up to one quarter of a building’s entire power consumption, but this data is almost a decade old – in reality, it could account for much more today. The lack of recent data reflects an industry-wide problem: energy managers currently do not have an integrated system that can accurately measure or control small power loads. Connected Power addresses this long-standing issue.

The solution incorporates a range of MK Electric smart sockets which are available in six variations: white and graphite antibacterial urea coated standard Logic Plus sockets, white and aluminium Metalclad Plus sockets for industrial locations; and two options of floor boxes for commercial office spaces. These sockets are certified to British Standards for use in commercial environments. Up to 50 sockets (100 outlets) connect to a Connected Power Hub, with up to 50 hubs connecting back to a building management system (BMS) or supervisor system, allowing for up to 5,000 individual socket outlets to be fully monitored and controlled through a central dashboard.

Ideal for new-build or retrofit

Neil Brown, Senior Product Manager at MK Electric, explains: “Connected Power is ideal for new-build or retrofit into an existing socket footprint, installation is as with a normal socket. In fact, until the socket is easily commissioned through a QR code, it will work as a normal socket does. The core benefit for customers is the potential for significant site-wide improvements in energy efficiency.”

Cranfield University – one of the world’s most prestigious post-graduate universities – was one of the first to deploy Connected Power, with an integration into its existing Trend BMS. The result was a reduction in energy use by 60.9% in their Archive area, along with significant savings and insights in other key locations on campus.

Gareth Ellis, Energy & Environment Manager, commented: “At the start of the project we were hoping for some information about the small power loads and to see what we could achieve with scheduling those loads. What we’ve learned so far has allowed is to better manage power usage across the site, and we have already started to see reductions in electricity use from using the scheduling tool, along with key behavioural insights. We are now moving onto a further project to set up Connected Power in the laboratory spaces on site. These spaces tend to have larger electrical loads and better information and control will be invaluable, and this is where we expect greater value overall.”

Unauthorised device use can also be monitored, sending an alarm to the administrator or automatically shutting the device down. In addition, groups of sockets can be locked off or on as required, ideal for waiting areas in hospitals, university communal spaces and locations where it’s imperative that devices and machinery remain on.

Key learnings

Neil Brown adds: “Beyond the direct benefits, Connected Power also provides the opportunity for ongoing improvements. Key learnings can be found from one building or area and replicated throughout an estate, meaning that not only can energy efficiency can be optimised, but the cost of the solution can be focused in areas where it is most needed.”

Commenting on the company’s award, Ashley Clements-Smith, Global Marketing Leader for Connected Power at MK Electric, said: “MK Electric were extremely pleased to receive this Technical Innovation award, particularly from the BCIA as its members are core influencers in the development of the solution. Having led the electrical industry for over 100% years MK Electric are proud innovators, pioneers and now members of the BEMS community. Thank you BCIA.”

The BCIA Awards 2024 will be open for entries soon, so if you think your company has got something worthy of industry recognition – whether it’s a product, a project or an individual – keep an eye on the BCIA website for the awards categories.