Portable Intelligent Metering

Achieving New Levels of Efficiency and Success in Multi-Point and Repetitive Field Testing

Authored By: Ken Kious, Summit Technology

There have always been significant inefficiencies and sources of confusion and error that occur throughout the testing and reporting process of:

– power monitoring studies,

– scheduled predictive maintenance testing, and

– process evaluation studies.

For large studies, the test manager might design a plan beforehand and document a routing list for a single tester or create a large list of all the points for a multi-point study. He might also rely on the notes or memory of the tester to understand and identify the test results as they come to him.

As the number of test points increases, however, the difficulty of doing the test efficiently and without error increases dramatically. Summit Technology, a leading designer and renter of portable power analyzers has seen this problem for years and has taken the breakthrough step of embedding the test plan into its portable test equipment. Embedding the plan into the equipment improves efficiency and eliminates errors and confusion throughout the testing process: from test plan design to recovery of the data.

When the plan is embedded into a test meter, the meter knows exactly where it is and what it needs to do. This shift of intelligence into the meter decreases the chances of error at each stage of the testing process.

Creating and Embedding the Test Plan Decreases Error At Each Stage of The Testing Process.

Test Process – Stages Benefits
Design – Envisioning what will be done – Identify all the tests to be done

– Create a realistic schedule and route plan

– Identify which personnel are responsible for which tests

– Identify which equipment will be used for each test

– Identify any special requirements for each test

Documentation – Distributing the test – Embed the total plan and supporting information into the intelligent meter

– Print out the plan for the personnel, including directions, and leaving room for future notes


Initiating the Test – The meter confirms the location or equipment that it is connected to

– The meter loads the correct setup parameters for the test to be done

– The meter verifies that it is eligible to perform the test


Obtaining the Results – Recover the test data with a single click of the mouse, without knowing the source of the data beforehand

– Automatically rename the test data to suit the needs of multi-point testing, predictive maintenance, or process evaluation

– Automatically store the test data in a folder structure that suits the purpose of multi-point, predictive maintenance, or process evaluation


Manage the Plan – Automatic update of the status of each test point or piece of equipment, noting the date and source of the update

– Incorporate notes from the field for follow-up, cautions, directions for the future, etc.



Examples of this sort of Portable Intelligent Metering is found in the PowerSight line of electric power analyzers from Summit Technology. The TestPlan Manager feature is unique to Summit Technology and its PowerSight analyzers. It was developed after years of servicing hundreds of users doing portable multi-point testing with from one to 100 parallel analyzers and observing the errors and inefficiencies that resulted from conventional non-integrated testing methods.

The TestPlan Manager feature has been thoroughly integrated into its PowerSight software and firmware to achieve the highest efficiency and lowest possibility of error for both multi-point and repetitive testing plans. The integration and benefits of this approach are presented in each of the next sections.

Test Plan Design

The essential information of a test plan design is to identify its name and its test point(s). If the test plan is for predictive maintenance plan or process assessment, there will likely be many motors identified to be tested on a regular basis. If it is a multi-point power study, there will likely be many electrical panels identified to be tested by one or more meters over time.

Here is an example of a simple test plan that will yield significant benefits in efficiency and quality later in the process:

In this case, the user has simply entered in the first two columns: names for each test point and a unique number to each of these test points. Nothing more is required to document the test plan. All other entries have been automatically entered by TestPlan Manager.

In this second example, the user has created a test plan with added planning to get added benefits:

Notice that he entered a “friendly” name for each test point, assigned a meter for each test point of the multi-point study, identified the test parameters to be automatically used during the test, and included descriptive notes for the test personnel to read. The test plan designer could have also specified the personnel for each point for resource management or a scheduled start time for realistic time scheduling.

Documenting the Test Plan

With a click on the mouse, the user pulls up the image of the test plan that he wishes to distribute to test personnel or management.

Notice that he can decide which columns he wishes to include in the printout and can print a copy suitable for test personnel to write on in the field or he can create a pdf to be sent off to management or to the client.

Distributing the Test Plan

In the PowerSight implementation, the test plan and all supporting files and parameters are “distributed” to an SD card with a single click of the mouse. One click is required for each meter that will be doing the test. All SD cards are interchangeable; just plug any of them into a meter to make it fully informed of the entire test plan.

Initiating the Test

Once an SD card is installed in each meter participating in the study, simply initiate the test process.

– The meter checks and sees if it has a test plan embedded

– It asks if you wish to use the test plan

– It asks which test point you are at (offering an intelligent guess of what point it is already at)

The meter then silently

– verifies that it is eligible to do the test

– loads the correct test parameters needed for the specific test

– creates a file structure that uniquely identifies the test and test data about to be collected and then the test begins. All test data is stored redundantly, both inside the meter and onto the SD card.

Recovering the Data

When testing is done, there is no need to return the meter(s) to the office. Simply put the SD card(s) into a baggy and deliver them to your computer. Each card has its data uniquely identified as to what test plan(s) and what test point(s) of data are on the SD card and which serial number created the data (if needed).

With a single click of the mouse, you import the data onto your computer, minimizing the time and error associated with retrieving the data.

During retrieval, the test data files will be automatically renamed and stored in the most logical manner for the test plan type.

For example if it were a multi-point test, like a power monitoring study of many loads, the data will be organized in a folder for the test plan, with each test point’s file name organized by test point for easy recognition and retrieval:

If this was a predictive maintenance test plan, it would make sense to organize the data by the specific device being tested over time, with each data set organized by the date of the test. Here is an example of the Equipment ID folder for predictive maintenance testing, with a folder for each motor’s test data over time.

Each motor folder holds all the test results for that motor over the years for easy access and comparison, both manually and by automated comparison processes.

All the test data was renamed and routed to the proper folder with one click on the mouse eliminating repetitive action, typos, and most importantly eliminating misidentifying data sets.

Clicking on one of those unique motor folders, here is an example of data sets captured for the same motor over several years:

Manage the Plan

As the plan is managed on the computer, the status fields for each test point may be changed by the test plan manager. He can set the status to “On hold”, “In process”, “Completed”, “Data received”, or “Cancelled”.

Whenever a change is made, the Status Change timestamp for that test point is updated.

A more powerful feature is that as the test data is retrieved and automatically renamed and routed to the best folder, the status for each test point is automatically updated to “Data received”. This provides fast and error-free status of what data is yet to be retrieved from the study.

In Summary

Embedding a test plan into portable test equipment significantly improves efficiency and decreases sources of error when doing:

– multi-point logging,

– repetitive predictive maintenance studies, or

– longitudinal process monitoring studies.

The PowerSight line of power quality analyzers have been optimized to perform those sorts of tests at every stage of the testing process.

Formulating a clear test plan before the test begins

– allows realistic resource planning and scheduling,

– promotes thinking ahead about what sorts of test setups are needed, and

– allows 100% accurate test equipment setup upon initiation of the test.

Distributing the plan via printouts to test personnel provides clarity for personnel and embedding the plan into the test meters allows test data to be uniquely identified at the time of creation, eliminating confusion and error later.

Retrieving test data via an automated process from within software, such as the TestPlan Manager software, provides fast error-free retrieval of test data, with it being automatically renamed and organized appropriately for the user’s needs. The TestPlan Manager feature, unique to Summit Technology and its PowerSight power analyzers, was developed after years of servicing hundreds of users doing portable multi-point testing and repetitive testing and observing the errors and inefficiencies that resulted from conventional non-integrated testing methods.

Authored by: Ken Kious, Summit Technology

For full article information, please visit, www.powersight.com

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