The Energy Management Value
It is not so easy to understand what people mean with when they talk about energy management software—what its scope is, what people’s expectations are, and how the software could help companies generate value.
This cycle is realized with the plan-do-check-act methodology:
Plan: At this stage, we analyze the current state of the company energy usage. We identify areas for improvement and define plans of investment.
Do: We start implementing this plan on a small scale. For example, if we want to replace pumps or motors with new technologies, we do that in a test factory or department.
Check: Real energy performance improvements, CO2 emissions, cost-effectiveness and more are monitored during the trial period.
Act: If we achieve positive results, then we plan to deploy at full scale what we have done during the Do step (for example, we plan to change all pumps and engines).
An example of this approach is a project we implemented for a well-known Italian food company, where we monitored about 2,000 energy meters (electricity, water and gas) installed in 12 different sites. The device types are different, requiring different acquisition methodologies and fault management strategies.
A central server hosts the software infrastructure, both the application and historian, which stores the data coming from each plant in a single central database. These data are elaborated and, using Microsoft SQL Server, stored in a structure that is optimized to access and analyze them starting from the plant level, and moving down to the area level, line level or single device level. All the data can be analyzed up to a 15-minute resolution, but typically are reported on a day or shift basis. Energy usage can be correlated even with production data.
Last but not least, an important exception management system allows the date to be filtered and/or retrieved automatically when a measurement device is changed or any other technical problem occurs. In case automatic retrieval is not possible, it notifies users and enables a manual recover operation to guarantee that energy managers have access to reliable data, and maintenance managers have tools to diagnose and manage technical issues in the field.
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