On Tuesday, March 24 I participated in a webinar at Panoramic Power entitled “Enabling Operational Excellence with Energy Intelligence.” As is often the case, there were too many questions to address from the audience in the time allotted, which I’ll address below.
For those that were unable to tune in to the event live, it was focused on the evolution of manufacturing sustainability. What started as a reaction to environmental movements and compliance imposed by governments is now something that can drive significant business value. By viewing sustainability and energy management holistically, leading companies are optimizing their people, processes, and technology to reduce their carbon footprints, build higher quality, more sustainable products, and drive value for all stakeholders involved. Specifically the webcast covered:
- The integration of operations and sustainability goals to deliver on high-level business goals
- The main drivers behind sustainability programs today
- The evolution of how companies are viewing and defining sustainability
- How to better capture energy data and apply energy metrics—an area where many companies struggle
- The challenges around metrics and energy expenditures
- How culture and energy awareness factors into sustainability programs
- How technology fits into the sustainability equation
The full on-demand recording of the webcast can be seen here.
Questions & Answers
Q. Do industrial energy management solutions help ensure compliance with industry standards and/or regulations as well as incentives?
A. Yes. In our research we’re finding that companies taking a holistic view of sustainability, making it a cross-functional priority with top-down support, and implementing processes, supporting technology, and metrics programs to measure success, are leading the way in industry standards and more quickly meeting compliance. Particularly in the process industries where energy intensity is such a large percentage of overall cost, companies that have these capabilities in place are in many cases doubling energy reduction percentages as companies who don’t, so we’re talking big dollar amounts as well.
Q. Can you explain the difference between device level monitoring and sub metering?
A. Sub metering is using traditional metering technology to measure energy consumption at some level more granular than the site level, but not necessarilly all the way down to the device level. As the name suggests, device level monitoring is always at the most granular level, i.e. the device or asset being monitored. It also does not necessarily use metering technology to do so; new sensor technology that is IP enabled, intelligent assets, or the control system itself could be providing the monitoring technology.
Q. How does benchmarking help me save money?
A. Understanding how you stack up against competitors and industry standards is important to gain a real insight into how you’re performing and areas for improvement. It can be used as inspiration to fuel continuous improvement initiatives when they go stale and can also focus attention on those plants or assets that are the biggest energy offenders.
Q. How do you see the Internet of Things and Energy Management intersecting? Is IoT just a buzz word?
A. IoT is definitely more than a buzzword. While there is a long way to go in creating the type of futuristic, ubiquitously connected industrial and commercial network that grabs headlines in tech and trade publications, we’re seeing several applications of IoT today that are driving business value. In industries like airlines, water treatment, mining—we’re seeing organizations use IoT generated data from devices embedded with sensors to achieve real-time intelligence that’s allowing for new levels of uptime in production assets, much greater efficiency in things like air ventilation (in mines) and the start of a migration towards new business models. In the case of airlines, today the aerospace division of Rolls-Royce has begun to sell engine thrust hours rather than selling the engines outright, and maintains ownership and maintenance costs. As IoT advances we will begin to see new business models and capabilities never before possible.
Q. I am a facilities director at a large university. Would these types of solutions benefit me as well? How?
A. The real-time monitoring of energy consumption coupled with analytical tools can not only help industrial companies but also any facility or fleet operator where energy is a significant portion of costs. Many of the systems in the physical plant of a large campus as well as the systems in buildings can benefit from more granular analysis with quick ROI paybacks, especially as the cost of monitoring drops with the advent of IoT technology.
Q. I already am using a Building Management System. Can asset level energy data co-exist with my BMS?
A. To get the full picture, do deep analytics, and/or root cause analysis it is important for energy intelligence software to easily integrate with all legacy systems across a manufacturing facility. This integration can include building management systems, automation systems, manufacturing execution systems, and data historians. It is also important to note that the standards across these different systems are not always (almost never) "the same standards," so this can be a source of expense in many cases.