DC Microgrid Compatible Technologies for Logistics Centres

Direct current (“DC”) devices are everywhere. We use them to manage our lives, businesses, and assets. In an article published in 2014, Brian T. Patterson, General Manager of Armstrong World Industries, and chair of the EMerge Alliance suggested that “more than 70 per cent of the generated AC power needs to be converted into DC power for use in electronic devices and systems”.

As power delivery dominance moves from AC to DC, the power delivery methods deployed over the last century need to be reconsidered in the light of considerations such as:

  • Which electronic systems natively require AC or DC power
  • How many times power is converted from the incoming power source and the end device
  • System and site power consumption trends, and
  • Renewable energy options, including unique geographic and environmental factors of sites.

This creates an opportunity to significantly improve power efficiency and associated operational costs for businesses, particularly valuable at a time of rapidly increasing energy prices and even the threat of restricted supply.

One solution to these challenges is the deployment of DC Microgrids. Their ability to deliver energy efficiencies, incorporate renewable and intelligent energy strategies and support Net Zero Carbon goals offers a strong business case for their deployment.

What technology systems can be connected to a DC microgrid?

Any device is natively DC that operates with:

  1. A battery,
  2. A microprocessor,
  3. A DC motor, or
  4. Solid state electronics.

Below, we have identified some of the many electronic and technology systems that can be powered by a DC microgrid that might be considered in a logistics centres.  

In-Building Technology Systems

Many traditional M&E systems can be deployed using a DC microgrid instead of using traditional AC infrastructure. These technologies include (but are not limited to):

  • LED lighting, emergency lighting and sensors
  • Wi-Fi
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Alarm systems
  • IT networking equipment
  • Access control
  • Smart parking
  • In-building or small cell 4G/5G mobile
  • Audio
  • Digital screens, including touch screen controllers
  • Scanning devices (e.g. RFID scanners, QR Scanners)
  • Private radio (for security personnel)
  • Personal smart devices (laptops, mobiles, tablets)
  • IoT technologies including sensors, voice controllers, air monitors, and temperature controls.

Material Handling Equipment (MHE)

DC microgrids are compatible with battery charging systems for MHE equipment, particularly when combined with onsite power generation. Charging batteries with a DC microgrid directly from a DC power source, without unnecessary conversions to AC and back to DC again, is significantly more efficient. MHE and other equipment that could benefit from this might include:

  • Forklifts and lifting equipment
  • Automation and robotics.

Transport and Fleets

  • EV charging
  • Portable HGV Refrigeration equipment.

Renewable Energy and Power Storage

Renewable energy is also natively DC. The ROI from their deployment is significantly increased by supplying DC power directly into a DC microgrid. This includes:

  • PV panels
  • Wind panels or turbines
  • Intelligent power management
  • Battery storage.

How much of the total power needs of a logistics centre can be delivered by a DC microgrid?

This will depend on the specific requirements and type of technology systems deployed at each centre. A DC microgrid may provide power for a significant portion of a centre’s needs, particularly for ambient warehouses without specialist equipment. In a typical ambient warehouse site, we believe 60-90% of technology deployment can be powered using a DC microgrid. And with a DC microgrid estimated to deliver upwards of 15% of energy efficiency, this can deliver significant savings.  

A discussion with our DC microgrid experts is the best way to identify specific site requirements.

What savings can I expect from deploying a DC microgrid in a logistics centre?

Landways’ DC mircogrid experts estimate that by deploying a DC microgrid, coupled with renewable energy and intelligent power storage on a 100,000m2 warehouse site, a logistics business could typically save between £8M – £16M in energy costs over ten years.

This calculation is based on an indicative current (Sep 2022) business tariff of £0.77p per kWh, fixed for 3 years, rising by 5% pa thereafter, and some simple energy usage growth assumptions. Day 1 total power consumption is assumed to be 71 kWh per annum per Square Metre, of which 46 kWh is initially distributed over the DC microgrid, which in the upper saving estimate grows to 117 kWh across the 10 years as additional MHE, EV charging and other services are powered from the DC microgrid.

Independent forecasters are predicting electricity tariffs will rise further from the recently updated residential cap of £0.52p per kWh to in excess of £1.00 kWh within the year ending April 2023. Further, business tariffs are not subject to this cap and longer two- and three-year fixed tariffs are starting to be pulled from markets by major energy providers. These price changes mean that the benefits of 15-20% energy efficiency will become even more significant.

If your logistics business is looking for ways to mitigate the rising costs of energy, Landways’ can analyse current new build or retrofit site technology requirements and identify the scope of connected services and their savings potential.

Want to find out more about deploying a DC microgrid in your logistics centre and what you could save?
Contact our experts today for a no-obligation discussion.

Benefits of a DC Microgrid for Logistics Centres

There are several key benefits to deploying a DC microgrid in a logistics centres including:

  • Improved energy efficiency and significant cost savings
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Energy independence and power resilience
  • Streamlined maintenance from a single, multi-use cabling architecture
  • Improved Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rates for key operational systems
  • Improved energy performance, reliability and redundancy.

By combining Landways’ DC microgrids with full-fibre connectivity using our patented Induct™ solution (Patent GB2592955), we can deliver long-life, scalable digital and power infrastructure to support IT and M&E design and delivery. Landways’ Infrastructure as a Service offer provides:

  • Extended-term performance guarantees on connected technology systems
  • A lower Total Cost of Ownership [Future: Link Article] with streamlined maintenance and upgrade programs built-in
  • No upfront capital required, with design, procurement, project delivery and complete system operation for a simple monthly service charge
  • Disruption-free site expansion and new technology deployment options.

Want to know more about deploying a DC microgrid at your logistics centre?

Book a no-obligation discussion with a Landways expert today.