Cost of energy to resiliency: Three top-of-mind topics for health care facility professionals

Most successful companies have a marketing, product or supply chain strategy, but there is one more important area to consider when wanting to maximize profit; an energy management strategy. Today, a well-planned energy management strategy can help health care organizations improve their financials. Moreover, making the right energy choices also help organizations improve the reliability of their operations and advance their sustainability efforts. 

Given the importance of energy in health care, let’s cover three top of mind topics associated with energy for health care professionals. 

No. 1: Cost of energy continues to be a critical lever to deliver superior financials for health care facilities

Today’s modern health care facilities are not only tech marvels, but intense users of energy. In fact, hospitals are identified as the type of building with the second highest energy use intensity (EUI) by Energy Star1. A median size hospital would use over 12 times more energy than an average size office building. 

Healthcare - Cost of energy to resiliency
Health care facilities such as hospitals and medical offices have high energy use intensity. 

With this, it is no surprise the top two topics C-suite executives are most interested to learn about are cost control and expense reduction, according to Becker Hospital Review2. As this trend on cost control continues, health care facility leaders will increasingly be rewarded in their efforts to cut down energy costs. 

Typically, a health care facility acquires energy in the form of electricity from the power grid and separately burns natural gas to produce heat or steam. Purchasing electricity from the grid brings the advantage of convenience but at a significant cost for the health care facility. This cost is due to the inefficiencies in centrally producing the electricity and distributing it through large geographies. 

Healthcare - Inefficiencies in energy waste
Inefficiencies and energy waste in centralized generation result in higher energy costs for customers.

In comparison, on-site combined heat and power (CHP) applications can offer 70% to 90% efficiency while delivering electricity and heat to the facility. This heat and steam are commonly used for sterilizing medical instruments, keeping patients and staff at a comfortable temperature and maintaining facilities’ humidity level. Some facilities, such as Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, also pursue tri-generation to further improve energy efficiency. Tri-generation systems produce cooling in addition to heating and electricity offered by CHP applications.

This increase in efficiency could translate into an energy savings up to 35% for the health care facility, depending upon size and facility structure. Health care facilities with access to natural gas can take advantage of CHP applications with lean-burn engine generators that use natural gas as the fuel to produce electricity, heat and steam. These systems could be as small as 300 kilowatts or as large as several megawatts. For instance, a Sydney hospital partnered with Cummins on a cogeneration plant providing 4 megawatts electric of base load power to improve energy efficiency and to meet emission targets.

No. 2: Health care facilities can improve financial performance and resiliency with emerging power system technologies such as microgrids

Did you know that average U.S. electricity customer disruption was over seven hours in 2017, almost doubling the average disruption in 20163? Take a look at how changing weather patterns impact our grid and cause more power outages. Most health care facilities are legally required to have emergency back-up power systems. These systems provide peace of mind and security for the facility and its patrons but are also costly assets that might sit idle for most of the time. 

Facility leaders that aim to have superior financial performance are leveraging microgrids to monetize their energy assets, including existing emergency back-up power systems. A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously4. Microgrids commonly feature advanced control systems and software to track electricity prices and usage at the facility, and they decide whether to buy electricity from the grid or to produce it on-site through the microgrid assets. In summary, micro-grids convert the existing on-site power generation systems into financial enablers for the facility leaders. 

Facility leaders can also leverage microgrids for resiliency purposes. Microgrids take the resiliency of traditional emergency back-up power systems to the next level by integrating additional energy assets to the existing back-up power system. These additional energy assets could be electricity sources, such as solar photovoltaics and CHP generators, storage assets such as batteries, and control systems and software. Integration of additional assets creates redundancy in electricity generation and increases the resiliency of the system. 

No. 3: Health care facility leaders leverage digitization of power systems to manage their facilities

There is substantial news coverage on penetration of digitization in health care with respect to patient experience. On the other hand, not everybody sees the impact of digitization in health care with respect to facility management. 

While building management systems (BMS) have been around for decades, today’s BMS are ever more digitized as sub-systems ranging from heating and ventilation equipment to power systems being digitized. 

Digitization is also changing how health care facility professionals do their jobs; being more focused on preventative actions driven by rich analytics to avoid potential future issues. They are also increasingly partnering with vendors beyond a purchase transaction or service event. 

Let’s take health care power systems as an example. Modern remote monitoring systems such as Cummins PowerCommand Cloud help facility teams reduce downtime by providing teams remote access to make decisions and act on them quickly. Moreover, facility teams can partner with a local Cummins distributor, which can handle routine issues remotely and mitigate potentially serious situations by scheduling proactive service calls based on the data they see. 

In summary, health care facility leaders focused on financial gains could explore CHP applications to cut their energy costs, and microgrids to monetize their on-site power generation assets. Facility leaders focused on resiliency should also learn more about health care microgrid applications. 

To learn more about trends in the health care industry follow Cummins on Facebook and connect on LinkedIn. To learn more about power solutions for the health care industry, visit our web page. To learn more about how Cummins is powering a world that’s “Always On,” visit our web page.

Think your friends and colleagues would like this content? Share on LinkedIn and Facebook.

References: 
1 EnergyStar Portfolio Manager Energy Use Benchmarking. [PDF file]. n.d. (2012, October). Retrieved August 18th, 2019 from https://www.energystar.gov/ 
2 Lazerow, R. (2018, July 11). What 146 C-suite executives told Advisory Board about their shift in priorities this year. Retrieved from https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/
3 n.d. (2019, July 31). Annual Electric Power Industry Report, Form EIA-861. Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/ 
4 Lantero, A. (2014, June 17). How Microgrids Work. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/

 

Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

What does the future hold for the construction sites of the world?

Worksite of the Future

Introducing our 'Worksite of the Future' series of articles, where we look at the trends that will shape the future of the construction industry. 

For the construction site of the future, equipment and site managers could be checking on their dozers and excavators before they ever leave home. Using a dashboard on their laptop or phone, they could check to see what maintenance has been performed overnight and what maintenance will be needed to maximize uptime over the next few days. Some predict a time will come when equipment and site managers never have to leave their home, performing their jobs remotely. Their autonomous equipment could be controlled remotely, too.

It may be a while before any of this happens. But as the construction industry evolves, Cummins Inc. will partner with construction customers to develop innovations that work for them. In fact, some of these advancements are around the corner.

We want to share our vision of the future worksite, how we see the evolution affecting our customers and what we are doing to evolve with it. We will bring this information to you through a series of short articles over the next several weeks. 

A natural starting point is understanding the driving force behind a technology shift and how these advancements can address the challenges facing this critical industry. By outlining a few key elements driving change around equipment powertrains, we will explore how we are adapting current technology to meet the need of today’s construction industry.

We believe advanced diesel power has a long future in the construction space, but there are alternative power solutions available that make sense for certain applications. Beyond technology advancements with the equipment powertrain, we can deliver productivity improvements with digital products, through the internet-of-things (IoT) and machine learning.    

As the series progresses we will explore the power solution technologies of the future and even showcase some current test cases. We will look at specific job tasks each application performs on the site, and how that duty cycle aligns with the strengths of some future technologies. With any new advancements, the rate of adoption will depend on many factors, so we will discuss these items and how they might adjust the way construction projects are planned. 

Today, equipment managers are projecting things like fuel consumption, filter replacements and lubrication changes. In the future, those same equipment managers might be considering electricity consumption, charge schedules and how that might impact infrastructural support. For example, will portable charging modules be required, or should the site install charge towers tied directly into the electrical grid or a series of generators?       

As the power solutions used to move construction equipment evolves, so will the support that is required. Our service tools and support models will evolve with emerging technologies. Digital technologies that monitor and automate service actions across multiple worksites and product lifecycles will contribute to keeping construction sites running efficiently. The same prime mover technologies that will be showing up on the site will also be used in service vehicles to deliver energy storage and replacement parts, maybe by leveraging predictive algorithms.

We are excited to share this evolutionary story, we hope you will tag along and enjoy.

Learn More and Join the Conversation

Join the conversation with #Cummins on your social platforms or visit https://www.cummins.com/engines/construction to learn more about our current and future product solutions. We also have Cummins experts around the world happy to answer your questions. Find your nearest Cummins professional by visiting care.cummins.com or calling 1-800-Cummins.  

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Trade activity to urbanization, trends driving the future of rail industry

Over 50 tons. This is the amount of goods transported annually, per person in the U.S. This shouldn’t be surprising given the device you are reading this article on is likely made from several different minerals and multiple sub-components. These get mined or manufactured at different locations then transported to various locations in-between, before getting shipped to you. 

The transportation sector is one of the pillars of our modern world, and rail is a critical component of this eco-system. This article spotlights a few trends impacting the future of the rail industry to help your organization succeed and keep your perspective of the future fresh with these insights. Let’s look at these three trends influencing the rail industry this decade.

No. 1: An urbanized world needs more efficient ways to transport people

It may be difficult to imagine that only a third of world’s population lived in urban areas just a few decades ago. In comparison, more than half of world’s population live in urban areas today. 

There are good underlying reasons for urbanization: people move to urban areas to prosper, find better jobs, and to get access to education and health services. Meanwhile, urbanization also has its damaging side-effects; we live in urban areas where some face water and air quality issues, poverty and limited housing. When it comes to transportation, congestion and the environmental impact are commonly called out as two side effects of urbanization. 

Urban transportation modes - infographic
Moving people in urban areas with different modes of transportation. 

On the bright side, emerging technologies in the energy sector combined with advancements in connectivity help us create more efficient transportation solutions. These include electric buses, autonomous cars and of course, modern trains.   

Modern trains feature innovations such as the use of renewable fuels, sensors and IoT devices. These enable autonomous operation, increased safety and a reduced carbon footprint. Moreover, rail transportation continues to offer the highest capacity per hour to serve people’s travel needs in a transitway setting 1.

Going forward, urbanization is expected to increase the demand for rail transportation within and across urban areas.

No. 2: Expanding middle class consumes more; increasing the transportation of goods

2018 was the first year 50 percent of the world’s population had enough discretionary spending to be considered “middle class” or “rich,” according to The Brookings Institution 2

There are two sides of this story. On one side, the middle class is under pressure with weakening job security and stagnating income levels. Moreover, the on-going COVID-19 pandemic puts increasing strain on our economies. On the other side, a growing middle class means increasing the number of people with higher purchasing power. This results in increasing trade activity and traffic of goods. 

expanding middle class - infographic
Middle class to dominate demographics by 2030. 

Think of how frequently you replace your electronic devices and the extensive supply chain behind these simple purchases. Minerals to be transported to mills to produce metals. Then these metals get transported to factories to produce goods. These goods get transported to warehouses, then to consumers. Trains have long been a critical component of the transportation eco-system that facilitates this freight movement. 

Going forward, the continued expansion of the middle class is expected to fuel the growth in the rail industry when it comes to freight transportation.

No. 3: Our environmentally conscious society demands greener modes of transportation

Seventy-five percent of the respondents to a PEW Research Center survey were particularly concerned about helping the environment 3
The transportation sector gets the spotlight when it comes to helping the environment by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is partially because the sector produces 15 percent of man-made GHG emissions globally, and is second only to the electricity and heat sector 4.

Rail has long been considered as one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation both for goods and people. In fact, it is estimated that rail moves 40 percent of freight measured in ton-miles, but is responsible for only 8 percent of freight transportation carbon emissions 5. Meanwhile, there have been significant advancements in road transportation over the last decade to lower environmental impact. These advancements range from trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells to buses powered by fully electric drivetrains

The rail industry is also reducing its already low environmental footprint. Trains powered by electricity supplied through overhead power lines have been in use for a long time. Nowadays, some of these trains produce zero carbon emissions when the electricity used is produced by renewable sources. There is also growing interest in powering trains with hybrid solutions featuring hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, Coradia iLint, launched in France, is one of the first passenger trains powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells and produces zero emissions at the point of use. 

It is an exciting time to be in the rail industry where the macro drivers such as an expanding middle class and urbanization increase the demand for the industry’s services. Moreover, societal changes coupled with emerging technologies in energy and connectivity create the room for the industry to transform itself into a high-tech sector. 

Sign up below for Energy IQ to receive periodic energy focused insights. To learn more about solutions Cummins Inc. offers in the rail market, visit our webpage. To learn more about hydrogen fuel cell trains, visit https://www.hydrogenics.com/hydrogen-products-solutions/fuel-cell-power-systems/hydrail/our Hydrail webpage. 

Think your friends and colleagues would like this content? Share on LinkedIn and Facebook.

References: 

1 National Association of City Transportation Officials. (n.d.). Transit Street Design Guide. Retrieved from https://nacto.org/
2 Kharas H., Hamel K. (September 2018). A global tipping point: Half the world is now middle class or wealthier. [Web page]. Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/ 
3 Anderson M. (April 2017). For Earth Day, here’s how Americans view environmental issues. [Web page]. PEW Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/
4 Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. (n.d.). Global Emissions. Retrieved from https://www.c2es.org/
5 Webber M. (May 2019). Freight trains are our future. Popular Science. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/

Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Cummins dealer co-op program helps WWII Veteran

When the Arkansas Veterans Administration (VA) contacted Cummins dealer, Northside Power, about providing a generator to a local WWII Veteran – Northside Power didn’t hesitate.

“We feel this is one of the simplest things we can do to honor someone who gave their time in service to our country during such a trying time in history,” said Greg Nalley, Owner of Northside Power. 

James Joseph Torres (Jim), 93, was born on May 23, 1926 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Shortly after graduating high school, Torres was drafted into the United States Navy at the age of 18. “I was 1 of 700 people drafted that day,” recalls Torres, “They just told me you’re going to the Navy.” Torres was soon sent to San Diego, California for naval training where he was trained as a fireman. During his three-year enlistment, he would spend most of his time on the U.S.S Massachusetts sailing to different ports all over the world including the Philippines, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal. 

After three years in the Navy, Torres transferred branches and enlisted in the Fourth Army where he served as a Corporal in the 1040 Squadron at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. There Torres set up a M.A.S.H medical unit used to train medics and nurses that were being sent to the Korean War. While working at the Brooke General Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Torres managed to catch a glimpse of the famous General Douglas MacArthur. “He was walking through the hospital smoking his pipe,” remembers Torres. 

After six years in the Army, Torres enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he trained to become a crew chief on the B-52 bomber. “I scored the highest out of all the candidates on the test that day,” said Torres. He was subsequently stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base and retired in 1966 with the rank of Master Sergeant/E8.

Cummins continues to be a strong supporter of the US Armed forces. Supporting veterans aligns with the company’s core values and beliefs. Through the years, the company has provided power solutions to our troops in the field, as well as, mobile power solutions for military vehicles.

Torres yard

After learning that Mr. Torres was in failing health and did not qualify for additional services through the Veterans Administration, Northside Power and Cummins felt compelled to help. Using funds from the Cummins Co-Op Policy program, Northside Power was able to install the Cummins QuietConnect Series generator at no cost to Mr. Torres. 

Jill Weiler headshot

Jill Weiler

Jill Weiler is a Marketing and Communications Senior Specialist for the DBU. She joined the company in 2012, and has served in a variety of roles including Visual Communications as an associate producer and project manager. Prior to joining Cummins, Jill served in the United States Army for 4 years.

Five practical tips to keep your facilities and business on through potential power outages

Keep business running through a power outage

Healthcare services, water plants, data centers, greenhouses, food manufacturing and textile facilities producing personal protective equipment (PPE), all play a key role in overcoming the current pandemic. These industries also have another thing in common; uninterrupted access to electricity is critical for the continuity of their operations. 

Fortunately, resiliency and flexibility in our electricity infrastructure is expected to prevent any large-scale blackouts. Moreover, these facilities are also commonly equipped with on-site back-up power generation systems. These systems keep these critical facilities running if the utility power goes out. 

This article outlines five practical maintenance tips for your business’ back-up power system. These tips aim to address preventable and inspectable issues, and are complementary to your scheduled and unscheduled maintenance procedures, not substitutes to your existing procedures. 

No. 1: Regularly exercise your back-up power systems 

Regular exercising helps with reliable engine starting. It keeps engine parts lubricated, prevents oxidation of electrical contacts and uses up fuel before it deteriorates. Exercise your generator set at least once a month for a minimum of 30 minutes loaded to no less than one-third of the nameplate rating. Try avoiding periods of no-load operation, since unburned fuel tends to accumulate in the exhaust system. One testing option is to simulate a power outage by conducting the test with your facility’s load. Alternatively, you can use a load bank during testing if connecting to the facility load is not convenient for test purposes. 

No. 2: Ensure there is adequate fuel; confirm fuel quality 

Start by checking the main and day tank fuel levels to ensure you have enough fuel to operate as needed. Continue your visual inspection by checking for any leaks, cracks or loose connections. Tighten the clamps as necessary. Inspect the day tank float switch; it ensures the day tank is getting filled from the main fuel tank, as the fuel level within the day tank drops. Drain any water or sediments from the fuel system if necessary. Diesel fuel, when stored, is at risk of contamination. Exercising the generator set regularly is one way to address the contamination risk, since the fuel gets used through this planned exercise. NFPA 110 recommends testing fuel quality at least annually to ensure stored fuel has not degraded significantly and to identify treatment opportunities. If there is need, you can consider fuel polishing and tank cleaning. 

No. 3: Confirm that starting batteries are sufficiently charged  

Weak or undercharged starting batteries are the most common cause of standby power system failures. Begin with a visual inspection of starting batteries. The connections at the terminals need to be tight and clean of any corrosion. You can clean the batteries by wiping them with a damp cloth. Corrosion at the terminals can be cleaned with a solution of baking soda and water. Finish up by checking the electrolyte level and specific gravity. Fill the battery cells with distilled water if electrolyte levels are low. If the specific gravity reading is below 1.215, charge the battery. You can also check whether the batteries have recently been replaced; batteries should be replaced every three years.

No. 4: Regularly inspect and test power system transfer equipment

Transfer switch equipment generally requires limited maintenance, compared to power generators. Start by verifying all indication lamps are functional, and the control switches are in the proper (AUTOMATIC) position. Check circuit breakers and fuses to ensure they are free of dirt or corrosion. If your facility is required to be NFPA 110 compliant, test the transfer switches at least once a month. 

No. 5: Conduct daily visual inspections of your back-up power system

A simple daily walk around your back-up power system could help you identify preventable issues before they lead into loss of life, personal injury, property damage or loss of business income. Conduct a daily visual inspection including, but not limited to:

  • Check for oil and coolant levels.
  • Check for any debris, loose or broken parts; check if there are any leakages.
  • Check the operation of the engine coolant heater(s). If the engine block is not warm to the touch, the jacket water heaters are likely not working and the engine may be challenged to start.
  • Keep the area around the generator clear; do not store items around or on top of the generator. 
  • Make sure the generator and automatic transfer switches are locked 

Please ensure to follow the schedule in the operator’s manual for routine periodic engine and generator maintenance in addition to these practical tips. Many of the tips in this article are adapted from the following resources that you can check for further details.

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

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