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The future is electric

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At its simplest, power distribution refers to electric power strips that allow multiple devices to be powered from the same power outlet. At its most complex, it refers to complete energy management systems designed to ensure uninterrupted energy supplies for key applications, such as data centers. BACHMANN’s involvement spans both ends of this spectrum and everything in between.

Having started with relatively simple electrical products in 1947, the company turned its back on the low-tech end of the market in the mid-1990s.

“When my father took over the company, he started off with simple products such as electrical cables,” says Managing Director Peter Bachmann, who is now responsible for steering the company’s fortunes after the retirement of his father. “He started producing power strips in 1980, but it was not until I joined the company in 1995 that we began to become involved in power distribution. We operate in specialist niches and sell through added-value channels rather than the DIY sector. However, advances in the professional sector nevertheless tend to find their way into the domestic environment as well.”

A good example is BACHMANN’s kitchen solutions. What started out as a facility application can now be found in the kitchen. “Our TWIST, ELEVATOR and POWER FRAME COVER socket outlet systems are modelled on solutions for the office sector but are just as useful in the kitchen and combine elegance and convenience,” says Mr. Bachmann. “TWIST is even the recipient of a Red Dot Product Design Award.”

TWIST is a power strip for the kitchen, office, lounge and other areas. It features a compact design and low installation depth, making it ideal for integration into kitchen worktops as well as office desks. It is part of a broad range of integrated power outlet solutions that help to eliminate the need for trailing flexes and provides convenient and attractively designed power access wherever it is needed.

“We continue to expand the range based on feedback from the market and customer ideas,” adds the Managing Director.

Power access has become much more innovative over the years. It has been matched by the development of data access points as data storage becomes centralized on network servers and accessed by peripheral devices. BACHMANN’s facility solutions comprise a host of combined data and power connection panels and systems for fitting on and in desks and workstations.

BACHMANN offers a range of 2,000 standard products. It also has a modular range which can be customized to suit the client’s needs and adapted over time as these needs change.

“Flexible solutions are increasingly popular as the high-tech sector continues to evolve,” says Mr. Bachmann. “We do our best to future-proof our products and ensure that investment in power and data distribution hardware is an investment in the future and not just the present.”

The trend in the power distribution market is towards concealment. This is best achieved by integrating hardware into the fabric of the building at the construction stage. Products such as BACHMANN’s consolidation point under-floor distribution system for power and data offers a simple but effective solution based on the MUTO (multi-user terminal outlet) concept.

“The consolidation points for power and data are linked to the floor distributor in the conventional way,” explains Mr. Bachmann. “Floor outlets and desktop power strips from the Bachmann facility range complete the installation kit. After the consolidation point, the floor outlet allows power and data to be conveyed with ease to the workstation. This dispenses with complicated and inflexible installations such as traditional floor box systems.”

This new solution reflects BACHMANN’s customer-oriented approach to new product development. It is designed to be flexible, future-proof and cost-optimized.

Where concealment is not possible, BACHMANN works to enhance the design of its solutions. “The challenge for our designers is that, in many markets, they are constrained by plug and socket designs that have been in use for decades and which have resisted attempts at harmonization,” highlights Mr. Bachmann. There are over 15 different electrical plug and socket types in use around the world, presenting a headache for designers.

“Our core market is Europe, but we are active worldwide,” says Mr. Bachmann. “We set up production sites in Romania and China not just to take advantage of low-cost manufacturing, but in order to break into those markets. We are also poised to be more active in the US market and the Asia/Pacific region, all of which have their own electrical standards.”

As well as providing power supply hardware, BACHMANN also provides the accompanying software to manage energy usage. “Under our BlueNet brand, we offer a total solution for structuring, controlling and monitoring IT power networks,” explains the Managing Director.

BlueNet allows large electricity users to monitor and optimize energy costs. The software captures relevant data such as current, voltage and power. On the basis of this information, it is able to distribute loads so that failures due to circuit overloads no longer occur. This is vital in energy-critical environments and is in itself an extremely energy-efficient and space-saving solution.

“BACHMANN BlueNet PDUs save energy twofold,” says Mr. Bachmann. “The technology used has some of the lowest operating consumption levels for intelligent measurement systems in the world. At the same time, the tiny amount of space needed by the PDUs leaves room for cabling and air conditioning in the rack. Our BlueNet Basic Monitored series is one of the most compact power metering solutions with integrated network and sensor interface.”

Power management systems are growing in popularity as more companies seek to manage their energy costs. BACHMANN has seen its business grow by double figures year on year for the past ten years.

“Energy efficiency is a huge topic for us and the market,” says Mr. Bachmann. “Two years ago we founded BACHMANN Systems to develop innovative solutions on the basis of forward-looking scenarios. It is involved in developing smart services and solutions related to the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as solutions for direct current technology.”

BACHMANN has identified DC technology as a significant factor in the creation of more sustainable power technology. As a result it has developed a direct current solution that can save between 10 and 15% of the required energy. As the first of its kind in Germany, its new data center in Stuttgart has been consistently and uniformly designed for the use of 380 V direct current combined with solar cells.

All of the electrical devices, including air conditioning, lighting, and all servers and devices are supplied with 380 V direct current. As well as serving the company’s own needs, the data center acts as a convincing argument and showcase for clients interested in seeing the effectiveness and sustainability of the new concept first hand.

“Our goal for the future is to continue to innovate not just in terms of our products but also in terms of our corporate culture,” says Mr. Bachmann. “Ours is a ‘we can’ mentality that means we can overcome any obstacle.”

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