6 reasons why you should not use spreadsheets for energy management

Submitted by Carina Lima on Wed, 05/18/2016 - 18:59
6 reasons why you should not use spreadsheets for energy management


Different employees accessing the same spreadsheet can result in numerous inconsistencies in information. See below 6 reasons for your company not to invest in energy management using spreadsheets.

Many companies manage and control energy-related processes with multiple electronic spreadsheets, in most cases doing everything from data collection to information analysis and report generation.

Energy management teams are faced with the challenge of finding adequate management systems that not only include all of the tools and features needed to manage daily operations and promote continuous improvement, but also that are highly usable, with simple and intuitive interfaces, well integrated to existing systems, and easily accessible from different devices.   

With that in mind, Viridis has listed the six of the main reasons why your company should not rely on spreadsheets for energy management.

1- Problems with data sharing and multiple versions of files

When sharing spreadsheets with other people, we always risk creating more than one version of the file, with no control over changes made, and no way of keeping users from altering and redistributing it. Therefore, information reliability, required for important business decisions, is severely compromised. Despite plenty of alternatives for file sharing in the cloud or in network directories, using multiple spreadsheet files is far from having the same level of convenience, security, and flexibility than sharing information through a single, integrated system.

2- Difficulty to find information

In order to manage energy and utilities for all inputs, equipment, and processes in a given plant, teams ends up creating and constantly updating various spreadsheets, which leads to file proliferation and difficulties to keep and locate information. On the other hand, integrated systems enable specific layouts and settings for each type of information, in an organized, coherent way, built upon a centralized data repository. For instance, Viridis empowers users to build and deploy their custom real time dashboards, including all sorts of widgets from measurement charts to KPIs and alerts, providing information visibility and transparency all across the enterprise.

3- Spreadsheet programming

The more complex and widespread a company’s energy management practice becomes, the larger and more complex its spreadsheets will be. Spreadsheets can quickly become large blobs of formulas and macros, and their maintenance often falls to those few that end up spending more time programming spreadsheets than analyzing and acting upon the data they hold. People with these skills are not only hard to find, crossing and analyzing data via formulas and macros is inefficient, and the results obtained are far worse than those generated by dedicated systems.

4- Information security

Spreadsheet security features go as far as restricting access to specific cells and sheets. On the other hand, dedicated systems like Viridis enable highly configurable profiles for each user type, according to corporate hierarchy and the functional responsibilities of each team member. In addition, spreadsheets do not properly track user activities, failing to provide reliable auditing tools.

5- Integration to legacy systems

Energy management usually requires the integration of a wide set of existing engineering and automation systems (PIMs, PLCs, SCADAs, energy meters), as well as corporate management systems (SAP, MES, IT systems). Trying to implement these integrations using spreadsheets is cumbersome, inefficient, and in most cases simply not possible. An integrated system can automate integration procedures, avoiding inconsistencies and enabling teams to focus their efforts where it matters the most: improving the company’s energy efficiency.

6- No alerts

Spreadsheets are passive management tools, failing to monitor data and trigger alerts should any notable condition arise. Dedicated systems like Viridis can automatically notify teams by e-mail, SMS, HMI interfaces, or even by automatically creating predictive maintenance orders in EAM systems whenever a specific condition, monitored in real time, is triggered.

Also read how a management system helps in the processing of complex events.

The Viridis platform for energy and utilities management provides capabilities of monitoring, planning, contracting, costing, measurement and verification, simulation, and optimization of energy consumption – in an integrated way. This integration completely eliminates the need to use spreadsheets, in addition to allowing greater control, security, and quality of information. Data concerning energy consumption can be captured by the platform in real time, immediately treated in terms of quality and inserted into a contextualization mechanism that facilitates more robust and comprehensive analyses. Otherwise the Viridis platform also facilitates the incorporation of processes and tools that are commonly implemented in spreadsheets by users: forms for manual entry of data (for metrics that do not have physical meters), production plans used for prediction of energy consumption, forms for entry and verification of invoice data, spreadsheets that represent business rules in specific tasks and pivot tables for querying and visualization of combinations of data – all are of course covered by the Viridis platform and its interface components in order to facilitate the internalization of the tool and the rapid capture of value by users. 

Marketing Coordinator, Viridis Energy

Marketing Coordinator at Viridis, holds undergraduate degree in Event Management and a graduate degree in Marketing and Communications, certified in Inbound Marketing by Hubspot, with great experience in digital marketing, corporate event production, content marketing, copywriting, planning, and SaaS sales.

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