Understand the importance of energy and utilities management systems having capabilities that contribute strategically to the energy planning of organizations.
Today the big concern of companies in various segments is the balance between streamlining the consumption of energy resources and of other inputs without decreasing productivity and the quality of products and services offered.
Areas such as energy management are pressured directly for reductions in consumption to be made without compromising existing operations. Given this, energy management sectors seek solutions to implement programs that aim to raise the level of energy efficiency by controlling consumption of energy and utilities in real time, obtaining certifications that focus on continuous improvement of processes and on the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG), among other things.
However, new strategies for reducing the consumption of energy and utilities entail new demands for the areas of energy management, which makes the process much more complex.
Energy and utilities management systems: allies beyond consumption reduction
In order that the function "energy and utilities management" is focused on energy efficiency and on consumption reduction, many companies look for ways to automate the processing of the enormous volume of data involved and monitor the consumption of energy, thus allowing processes to be improved.
Many solutions, like PIMS, MES, ERP, the use of spreadsheets, among others, are in many cases not used in an integrated manner, which can result in the divergence of data, multiple version of the same information, decreases in productivity of the energy management team, only a superficial view of the production capacity of certain equipment, insufficient data for simulations of operation and process optimizations, among other limitations.
Whether for industrial companies or not, the implementation of an effective energy and utilities management system can be an ally that goes far beyond consumption monitoring. The solution supports the control of data acquisition and quality, the management of the parameters of interest of the energy purchasing contracts, the optimization of the energy performance of equipment, consumption prediction, budge management, among other actions that cover the management of energy and utilities from point to point, that is, promoting the energy efficiency of production processes and of management.
Below we list the ten principal functions that should not be missing in a good energy and utilities management system:
1. Stratified, analytical, and real-time management of consumption
With all of the measurement data captured in real time, it is possible to provide a cohesive vision of all of the company's energy consumption, promoting better vision of the consumption of monitored equipment, identifying opportunities for process improvement and increasing the energy efficiency of organizations.
2. Stratified, analytic, and real-time management of the generation and conversion of energy
It is important for an energy and utilities management system to be able to monitor in real time the performance of the management and conversion of energy, detailing the consumption of inputs involved, the energy and co-products produced, and the efficiency indices of the management and conversion of each process.
3. Stock management and inventory reconciliation
Unlike inputs sent through distribution networks, other inputs require transport and storage logistics. Starting from the detailed monitoring of what is being consumed, it is possible to monitor the stock of these inputs and evaluate whether what is being flagged as available is what is really in stock, which contributes to improving control of volumes and costs related to energy inputs.
4. Direct appropriation of costs starting from consumption measurement
With stratified monitoring of energy inputs in real time it is possible to signal directly to consuming areas the cost of each one with production, eliminating the need for assessment. Starting from the costing rules determined by the company, the costs are presented directly for each area.
This capability allows each sector of the company to understand its actual level of consumption, contributing to the cohesion of the budgeting process and to more detailed monitoring of energy and utilities costs.
5. Simulations of production plans, as well as consumption and its impact on contracts
In large consumers, such as industrial plants, using previous consumption data it is possible to evaluate opportunities for improvement by directing coherent levels of consumption to the actual need of each piece of equipment, line, or site of the company to evaluate the impact that a given production change could have on contracts associated with it, increase energy efficiency, reduce costs, and mitigate risks.
6. Management of contracts and invoices
Large consumers that operate in the free energy market aggregate multiple energy contracts. An energy and utilities management system is a great ally, since it makes it possible to manage contracts taking into consideration their different characteristics of seasonality, contracted demand, tolerances, rate classes, variants, etc., in addition to deployment (manual or automatic), auditing, and analysis of invoices in accordance with the assessment of the present period.
This capability is important for the company to know its real energy costs, increase team productivity with automation of routine management and consolidation of information, in addition to monitoring if what was acquired in the contract is in agreement with what is effectively spent.
7. Planning and management of budget cycles
With the integrated real-time monitoring of energy inputs, an energy and utilities management system facilitates the management of the entire budgeting cycle of the organization, orchestrating procedures of prediction of consumption and prediction of corresponding costs, and offering information for planning that is more appropriate to the reality of the company and its objectives.
8. Management of multiple types of inputs and their distribution networks
An energy and utilities management system should promote the monitoring of consumption in each meter and machine of all of the energy and utility inputs of interest (water, steam, electric power, etc.) and the organization of this data around a distribution network.
With this capability it is possible to exploit existing redundancies to improve data quality, detect problems of balancing and losses, and automatically identify incidents that should be resolved, increasing the efficiency of the production area and mitigating risks.
9. Management of the continuous improvement cycle of operations
The monitoring of energy inputs, management of contracts and invoices, direct rather than assessed costing for areas, data analysis, and adjustment of planning starting from actual consumption and amounts spent on energy and utilities contribute directly to improving the management processes of the company.
However, a good energy and utilities management system should also allow the management of continuous improvement projects with a focus on energy efficiency from their identification and prioritization, including the organization of all data relevant for the contextualization of variables of interest for the project, as well as the effective measurement and verification of the results captured by the initiative.
10. Integration with industrial and management systems
Finally, it is not enough that an energy and utilities management system have monitoring, planning, and energy efficiency functions; it must also automatically integrate with other systems, avoiding manual deployments.
Energy consumption data can be captured directly from the automation systems or from historian systems (Plant Information Management Systems); the context of consumption data – for example, production orders, equipment status, etc. – will often depend on information originating from automation systems and production management systems (Manufacturing Execution Systems); data on budgeting and costs associated with energy and utilities can be recorded and/or consulted in corporate systems (Enterprise Resource Planning).
Many capabilities can be found in an energy and utilities management system, and the benefits obtained will depend on what your company needs to achieve its short, medium, and long-term goals.
Nonetheless, adopting a platform that combines all of the disciplines of management, planning and monitoring of energy consumption from point to point coherently promotes an increase in energy efficiency, equipment productivity, process improvement, and cost reduction.
The Viridis platform for energy and utilities management provides capabilities to directly support energy efficiency initiatives of industrial organizations, covering functions including monitoring, planning, contracting, costing, simulation, and optimization of energy consumption. The monitoring functions permit the identification of opportunities for process improvement, stratifying energy consumption in terms of different dimensions, in addition to allowing the quantification of gains in terms of costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The integration of monitoring data with planning functions strengthens the efforts of the transformation initiatives, since it confers greater sophistication, consistency, and accuracy in the prediction of future consumption and, consequently, in planning of costs and the comparison with the actual values. Finally, the Viridis platform enables integrated management of projects of continuous improvement with a focus on energy efficiency, seeking strategic alignment from the conception, implementation, and evaluation of the investments carried out by the organization. Learn more about our products.