The 7 tasks that require the most time of energy and utilities management teams

Submitted by Dayane Machado on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 14:31
7 tasks of energy and utilities

Companies can be seen as large collections of processes. All areas have a set of procedures, patterns, and workflows that define their form of operation.

In this scenario it's not unusual to find management teams with routines based on large amounts of manual labor, which in the world of energy management is analogous to saying that your day revolves around a daunting number of spreadsheets, each one having equally staggering complexity.

With the lack of time and tools dedicated to energy and utilities management, the difficulty arises of going beyond operational activities of energy and utilities management, thereby compromising improvement initiatives. Identifying these activities that consume the team's time is a key step in promoting process optimizations.

Below we list 7 tasks that require a large amount of time of energy and utilities management teams:


1. Controlling data using spreadsheets

Many companies manage and monitor energy and utilities using innumerable electronic spreadsheets, which are used for collecting data, cross-checking, publishing reports, and so on. In scenarios where the energy management team only has spreadsheets to perform these controls, a number of problems arise, including multiple versions of the same file, lack of security in terms of access or changes to information, lack of automatic alerts about possible incidents (which inhibits agility and makes action planning more difficult), dependence on experts who know how to handle complex formulas, among others. All of these factors contribute to delivery delays, information incompatibility and – most of all – rework.

Click here to see 6 reasons for not using spreadsheets for managing energy and utilities in your company.


2. Management of energy and utilities contracts and invoices

One of the responsibilities of the energy and utilities management area is to manage and periodically close contracts for the purchase and sale of energy and utilities. Another equally important task is the management of energy invoices, which involves operational steps such as digitization and auditing of the invoices.

The management of contracts and costs of energy inputs should take particularities into consideration such as seasonal rates, contracted demands, penalties, and taxation, among other commercial terms.

To avoid unduly paid amounts being unnoticed, each invoice must be analyzed individually. Verification starts with the calculation of values, comparing the consumption history with current values, and possibly with the available measurement infrastructure. In addition, it should be verified that the set of regulations governing providers of electricity, water, sanitation, etc. are being fully complied with. In the case of organizations with distributed operations, which work with a large monthly volume of invoices, if this verification is performed manually the routine is very laborious and often involves a dedicated team.


3. Calculation of energy costs

Most companies devote a considerable amount of their leadership's time and effort to managing costs. The smaller the margins of the business, the greater the sensitivity to cost variations and, generally, the more attention is dedicated. The cost of energy and utilities represents a significant part of the total cost of production of industry, which makes the calculation of these costs essential for improving the economic performance of operations.

Good costing normally requires the appropriation of different cost sources to multiple cost centers. This calculation requires a series of rules to appropriate costs of energy and utilities, including the verification and cleansing of measurement data, the calculation of costing rules, and the returning of results to the organization, which are all performed manually, taking considerable time for those responsible for this calculation.

When teams lack the structure necessary for performing costing, it is common for companies to opt for an assessment where the distribution of costs becomes an exercise in guessing, and all of the technical or management indicators are thus impaired.


4. Tracking of incidents and energy losses

Part of the responsibilities of the area of energy and utilities management of a company is to identify operational incidents and losses, such as equipment defects, leaks, and lost energy (equipment unnecessarily turned on). Pressure to maintain operational continuity ultimately absorbs a large amount of the team's time. If performed manually, without using an alert management tool, response time increases considerably, since a long and complex calculation will be necessary to identify and rectify the incident. In addition there is the financial loss that the incident may cause until its rectification.


5. Scenario forecasting

Many energy management teams encounter difficulties in scenario forecasting, for example, to perform consumption planning without a dedicated tool.

The ability to rapidly anticipate scenarios of energy and utilities consumption of a productive unit or even of an entire site from production plans is very important and brings savings as well as a reduction of operational risks.

Analyzing these data, using metrics that are anchored in manual processes, for inputting information, generating reports, graphics, and projections starting from scenarios and synergy between areas is extremely complex and specific, which requires a significant amount of the team's time.


6. Integrated data visualization

Having a complete "macro" vision of the entire process of consumption, generation, and emissions allows for more cohesive and agile management. However, energy management teams that do not have an integrated management system encounter great difficulties in trying to visualize and compare data between areas, units, plants, or sites. In addition, a large number of sources need to be accessed to obtain this macro vision and the availability of other teams must be relied on for sending information. In addition to rework and lack of agility, it becomes very difficult to understand consumption and contextualize it.


7. Identify opportunities for reducing energy costs and emissions of pollutants

One of the main functions of the energy and utilities management area is to visualize possibilities for reducing energy costs and emissions of pollutants, and to promote energy efficiency initiatives in operations. There are several practices that bring the expected results of cost reductions, from changing certain processes to the replacement of equipment.

However, for the team to dedicate itself to identifying new opportunities for reducing energy costs and emissions it is necessary that the team not be using all its time on manual tasks that could be automated with a good energy management system.

In addition to performing the functions mentioned above in a faster and more automated way, some disciplines can be considerably improved through an integrated energy and utilities management system. Through the automation of existing processes, the company achieves agility and efficiency in the planning and execution of the operations of the energy and utilities management area. Thus instead of spending hours in front of spreadsheets cross-checking data and assembling reports, teams invest their time better and concentrate their efforts where interest is greatest: in improving the company’s energy efficiency.

Click here to see 10 capabilities that should not be missing in an effective energy and utilities management system.

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. Learn more about our products.

Customer Success Coordinator , Viridis

Customer Success Coordinator at Viridis, trained in electrical engineering with an emphasis on energy, and an MBA candidate in the electricity sector, both at PUC Minas. She has more than four years of experience in the energy management area, having worked in the energy management and strategic planning area at Vallourec, participating in the implementation of the NBR ISO 50001 standard, and at CEMIG in a research and development project on strategic planning. 

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