Energy monitoring solution – plant floor linked to SAP

15 May 2012

A smart energy monitoring prototype has been developed as part of SAPs Future Factory Initiative, which aims to integrate plant floor energy usage information into SAP solutions for effective monitoring and recording of energy data.

As different countries introduce different measures to combat global climate change, the emphasis for industry is now on reducing carbon emissions. In practical terms, this requires them to make a reduction in energy consumption.

The first step to reducing energy consumption is to accurately monitor energy usage and with this aim, Mitsubishi Electric has been working on a solution to monitor and record energy consumption, which has resulted in the development of an integrated smart meter. The ME96NSR panel meter is designed to provide integration with the company’s iQ Platform, via a CC-Link network, with the information then being transferred to a SAP solution, where the data can be recorded and analysed.

This energy monitoring prototype was developed as part of the Future Factory Initiative of SAP Research. Managed by SAP Research in Dresden, the Future Factory Initiative is a joint project with SAP industrial partners to foster co-innovation, research, and development for the manufacturing and process industry. It poses a variety of real-life scenarios to leading-edge software and hardware, SAP products, and prototypes from over 20 project partners in a typical discrete manufacturing environment.

Mitsubishi Electric is one of the project partners and has collaborated with SAP Research on a number of projects for the manufacturing industry. The smart energy meter and integration with SAP solutions is one of the first practical results of this collaboration, offering an effective, tightly integrated way of measuring, recording and analysing energy usage data.

Measuring load status
The small, DIN-sized panel meter measures load status and displays various values taken from the high voltage/low voltage circuits of power distribution systems. An integrated CC-Link interface allows it to be networked to the iQ platform.

The ability to seamlessly pass such data between plant floor processes and higher-level business systems is a challenge for manufacturers that can only be addressed with a unified solution to provide a transparent view of the business and manufacturing systems. Mitsubishi Electric has addressed this challenge with e-F@ctory – its vision for manufacturing that unifies control hardware and networks with enterprise IT systems from third-party partner companies.

One such partner is ubigrate, which has developed a custom software solution to enable manufacturers running SAP software to link Mitsubishi iQ-based automation equipment to the SAP production management system. Any Mitsubishi iQ automation platform system fitted with a Mitsubishi CPU module on its backplane can be linked with SAP applications via established SAP interfaces.

For energy monitoring, data from the panel meter can be transferred through the CPU module to SAP solutions via the ubigrate software. The software processes the data and, using SAP Research middleware for device integration, this data can be forwarded in real-time to SAP solutions, giving users the information and the tools they need to make informed decisions about energy usage, to maintain records as required in the legislation of individual countries, and to analyse trends in energy consumption that will help to optimise the energy usage of the manufacturing process.

Commenting on the solution, Chris Hazlewood, e-F@ctory Alliance manager of the Factory Automation - European Business Group of Mitsubishi Electric Europe BV, Germany, said: “Legislation on climate change impacts on energy consumption by industry in different ways in different countries. Legislation in Japan, for example, requires energy consumption to be recorded, and will require ongoing reductions in energy use in the coming years. In the European Union we have the Emissions Trading Scheme, and the US continues to look at how climate change legislation will be implemented. The key in all cases will be to accurately measure and record real-time energy usage information, and to be able to use that data to make informed manufacturing decisions. Our integrated energy monitoring system builds on the software developed with ubigrate, to provide an important solution as part of SAPs Future Factory Initiative.”

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