Each year in the United States alone, manufacturers spend $200 billion to power their operations. The energy cost assigned to lights, conveyor belts, fans, HVAC systems, and more can easily eat into profit margins if it isn’t carefully managed, and facilities often use power meters to track usage. In this case, it’s common to assign employees to walk the facility and manually collect data from each individual meter, which takes away from other important tasks and allows for the introduction of human error in recording or transcribing the data.
However, with the growth of the Industrial IoT (IIoT) and the rapid digitization of facilities across the globe, there are now ways to more accurately and efficiently track, analyze, and act on facility-wide energy data that influences utility usage, savings initiatives, and ultimately, the goals against which success is measured. Whether through stand-alone industrial smart sensors, or smart, connected devices such as intelligent LED fixtures, data readings across the whole facility are captured and then tracked, verified, and transmitted to a cloud-based software application. A facility manager can then access current and historical insights and see specific details like how many kilowatts were consumed last week or last quarter.
With the IIoT, there are valuable opportunities to identify, understand, and optimize energy usage, or reduce waste. Here’s how using the IIoT for power metering and power monitoring can help boost energy savings and even contribute to the overall productivity of a facility.
Power Metering: Establish Usage Benchmarks and Reduce Waste
IIoT-connected devices placed strategically across machines and/or production lines can automatically collect and centralize power metering data in regular intervals over a long period of time. The result is a reliable, data-driven snapshot of how much energy is being consumed, and where, as well as the opportunity to identify or establish power usage benchmarks. With an energy usage benchmark in place, facility managers can more easily understand when they can schedule machine downtime without impacting productivity, thus lowering energy expenses while maintaining the necessary output.
Example: When an automotive parts manufacturing plant first begins power metering all shrink wrap machines to establish regular usage patterns on a normal work day, the machines are on 24 hours a day. A month of power metering data demonstrates that the machines sit idle, powered on but unused, for at least two hours each day. Over the course of a year, those two hours a day adds up to a lot of saved energy. Through power metering, the facility manager was able to confirm the daily usage pattern and identify an opportunity to reduce energy and save money, with no change to productivity.
Power Monitoring: Identify Operational Abnormalities
We’ve established that power metering collects data intervals over a long period of time. Power monitoring is often about the identification of more sudden usage changes or anomalies that may signal a problem, and help facility managers to proactively address issues that might lead to unplanned downtime or expensive repairs.
Example: A busy food processing plant uses compressed air to package its final product. As a significant amount of energy is used to churn air from the tank to the hose nozzle, compressed air can be a meaningful, and often uncontrolled, utility expense. Through IIoT-connected sensors, the facility manager is able to establish a reliable benchmark for the energy spent solely on compressed air during a regular production day, making it easier to spot usage spikes.
With usage benchmarks in place and real-time data insights, the facility manager is now able to monitor energy usage as it relates to compressed air, and soon notices that it is trending eight percent above normal. An increase in energy indicates an increase in compressed air usage–but production hours and yield rate have remained the same. A brief investigation of reveals a leak in one of the hoses at the packaging station, and the facility manager is able to fix the leak before any more air, energy, or money is wasted.
For a growing number of facility managers, the IIoT creates the opportunity to easily introduce (and manage) power metering and power monitoring applications, and gain new insight into the when, the where, and ultimately, the why of facility-wide energy use. The net result is a facility that runs more efficiently, in terms of operating costs, energy use, and sustainability.
SiteWorx Sense, Digital Lumens’ facility and process monitoring IIoT application, enables metering and monitoring of energy and other critical utilities, as well as alert functionality that triggers email or SMS notifications when usage data strays from a pre-identified range.
Learn how SiteWorx and the IIoT create new efficiencies and value for your industrial facility: