Gaining energy intelligence

06 September 2022

Gaining vision of site-wide energy consumption – especially at an equipment and process level – can transform both energy and operational efficiency, says Jakob Gossmann.

Rocketing energy prices and the urgent need for climate action make it a good time to push energy and operational efficiency further. But, to achieve this step change it is necessary to have an understanding of how, when and where energy is being used across an entire site.  

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) innovations now make it possible to capture, analyse and visualise site-wide energy consumption, including on-site generators and energy intensive equipment.

When it is understood how much is being spent 24/7 and on what specific assets or processes across the becomes possible to make informed business decisions to deliver cost, carbon and production savings. 

IoT technologies can provide  energy insights at a circuit-level of granularity by linking a cloud-based analytics platform to utility meters and wireless sensors that monitor critical assets – such as energy intensive equipment and production processes, HVAC components, lighting and cooling systems. It is now possible to attach self-powered, non-invasive sensors onto the outgoing electrical wire that powers each device, without disrupting operations. 

The sensors and utility meters, together with any distributed generation assets can then continuously collect critical energy intelligence. Data can be delivered in real-time to an energy management platform to create a single, holistic view of energy footprint – providing up-to-date visibility of energy performance at the required level of detail. 

Monitoring energy usage at a device-level helps identify hidden waste – creating opportunities for high impact energy efficiency improvements that can reduce costs and help relieve the impact of higher tariffs. It can also help inform and influence employee behaviour change to further improve energy performance.

Cost savings in action
Textile manufacturer, Pincroft used a Centrica energy insights solution to transform its energy management. Sensors collect real-time energy data from over 100 critical energy-consuming assets and also capture third-party meter data to monitor hot and cold water, steam and gas. This has reduced weekend energy spend by 94% and weekday energy spend by 29% ¬– putting Pincroft on track to achieve annual CO2 savings of 648 tonnes. The project provided a payback on investment in just three months. 

Plastcoat, a division of Magna International, is using our technology to drive significant cost savings, while also improving predictive maintenance, operational efficiency and productivity.

Consuming less energy means lower carbon emissions – enabling industry to work towards net zero targets and meet  increasing environmental pressures from consumers, regulators and other stakeholders. 

Altex Group is using a Centrica solution to cut energy costs by 8%, while reducing CO2 emissions by 53,553 tons. Wireless sensors were used in each production facility to capture the energy consumption data of refrigeration equipment, air compressors, cooling towers, evaporators and other critical assets. 

With access to the energy data, it was identified that energy consumption could be reduced by 4% if timers were used to switch equipment off during non-operational hours. A further 12% reduction in energy consumption has also been achieved by analysing different sequencing of compressor operation to optimise their usage.

One of the biggest benefits of using device-level data in industry is improved operational efficiency and business resilience. Anomalies picked up by energy analytics software can identify deep-lying faults in equipment or weaknesses in operational performance that are difficult to detect. Data can also inform maintenance requirements, including predictive 24/7 alerts to reduce downtime, increase productivity and extend asset life. 

Centrica partnered with a global cement and asphalt producer to measure energy use and pinpoint consumption across different equipment, buildings and plant. By monitoring real-time energy usage of critical energy-hungry machinery and using its PowerRadar platform to examine the data, it was identified that a conveyor motor was not working correctly which was creating a bottle neck in the process. Fixing this increased production output to achieve an annual £211,383 saving at just one location. Further cost savings have been made through identifying unnecessary out-of-hours energy use across buildings and plants.

Data intelligence also informs opportunities to use energy flexibly for cost reduction and revenue generation.  For example, it can indicate how you can shift loads to avoid peak time power costs and where there's flexible power capacity to drive payments from Demand Side Response (DSR) activities and other trading opportunities. 

IIoT-based technology underpins the flexibility and market optimisation strategy of one UK paper manufacturer.  By capturing data from meter points, BEMs systems and their CHP plant, the company has complete visibility of site-wide energy usage and can pinpoint efficiency and flexibility opportunities. The technology provided by Centrica to achieve this is integrated with an AI enabled utility optimisation platform to manage market opportunities and unlock significant revenue streams  for the company.

With increasing regulatory and legislative oversight of Scope1, 2 and 3 emissions, having a proactive approach to monitoring and measuring your energy consumption ensures a clear view of your emission sources and effective compliance. 

Jakob Gossmann is customer success manager EMEA & APAC at Centrica Business Solutions.

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