Industrial IoT Sets the Stage for Energy Optimization
The Benefits of Energy Optimization
Energy used in a building, factory, or plant comes in several forms. The most common forms of “energy” are electrical power, natural gas, and water. Electrical energy provides climate control for buildings, power for motors in manufacturing, and power or natural gas to heat water and create steam. In industrial plants, steam is used in heat exchangers to heat gases and liquids. With steam turbines, steam can also be used to create mechanical motion. Measuring our consumption of electrical, gas, and water energy provides reference of energy use and can highlight opportunities to reduce energy consumption.
Measuring electrical energy use within a facility should be done at the energy consumption device level, or at least at the circuit level. With continuous monitoring, patterns of energy usage become clearer. We can see energy use from plant motor driven equipment, lighting, chemical process, and even IT/OT infrastructure. Comparing energy consumption with optimal use offers opportunities to reduce energy consumption.
Here are some electrical energy items to look for:
- Are our conveyors running when the belt is empty?
- Can our larger motors benefit from soft starters or variable drives?
- Do we leave the lights on when there is no human in the room?
- Is our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning optimized for human traffic patterns?
- Is the power factor of larger motors less than desired?
Measuring water and steam is also important in facilities using steam energy. Consumption from supply and return wastewater should be measured. We will also want to measure cooling water and steam delivered and returned from the process. With continuous monitoring, we can baseline our usage and look for usage that is higher than expected.
Here are some water energy items to look for:
- Water loss at rooftop cooling towers
- Steam loss due to steam trap leaks
- Water valve leaks in piping and water closet facilities
There are many questions we might ask about our power consumption. These cannot be answered without data. With the advent of the Internet of Things, there are a wide range of voltage and current sensors usable for energy monitoring. We may also look at water pressure and flow, humidity, and temperature sensing to help with optimizing our environment. We might deploy handheld tools or permanent sensors for identifying steam and compressed air leaks. The challenge for any organization is determining which sensors to use, orchestrating the collection of power data, creating dashboards, and identifying opportunities for improvement in all forms of energy consumption.
In sum, there are several benefits to energy optimization. The first is gaining a comprehensive understanding of your energy infrastructure in real-time with consumption-based monitoring. The second is lowering energy costs by identifying potential energy waste. And the third is maximizing operational efficiencies by managing and controlling energy consumption, aligned with business operation.
Organizing an Approach to Energy Optimization
Often our first step in energy optimization, is to assess the information systems and sensors we may already have in place. With respect to buildings, there is often some building automation system in place. These systems utilize industry standard communications protocols such as BACnet, Lonworks, and Modbus to communicate with end environmental controls and to share data and information with higher level systems. In the plant, our motors receive their energy from motor control centers. Smart motor drives have energy sensors we can access, and we can add energy sensors where needed. There may be additional energy monitoring sensors in use in our control systems. We can tap into all these sources with available peer to peer communications tools.
At CBT, our IT/OT domain expert systems integration practice helps navigate the options, with a focus on the end goals set out by a discovery process. CBT works closely with our clients at the onset to understand their current energy state and challenges. We listen for industry challenges, human performance, equipment energy productivity, company goals, and expected future or target state of the operation.
With our QuickStart process, CBT works with your team to identify larger energy equipment consumers, to map out energy flow, and to identify potential monitoring tactics.
As a result of our Quickstart, we produce a series of energy optimization plans. These include a high-level energy flow diagram, a high-level energy stakeholder review, and a review of candidate technology additions (sensors) that will provide the insight needed to manage, control, and potentially reduce energy consumption.
Building a Team to Implement the Approach
We then build a team with the client, as it takes a team to implement energy targeted Industrial IoT. We need to work with operations, maintenance and reliability, leadership, and information technology to integrate all the power monitoring sensors and applications. Building from CBT’s domain expertise and that of our partner ecosystem, we work with the client team to design an energy monitoring system, procure needed infrastructure components, and oversee physical installation. We validate data flow and data storage, and we create dashboards with actionable information, viewable in web browsers and mobile devices. In short, the systems work to identify energy loss and recommend action to reduce energy consumption.
As a leading Industrial IoT solutions provider, CBT takes on the challenges of coordinating the administrative, operational, technical, and management aspects of the Industrial IoT journey. CBT provides a strong framework based on decades of experience that allows visibility into the journey, coordination of team resources, and reporting of milestones and project status.
The CBT team includes a project lead, project manager, an integration team, and ecosystem partners. The Client team includes a technology lead, domain experts, end users, stakeholders, and perhaps most importantly an executive sponsor.