Five benefits of using an energy billing management system

Submitted by Angelo Assis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 15:00
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Understand how an energy billing management system can be beneficial to your business planning.

 

A common challenge in several companies is to ensure good management of energy billings, which contributes directly to the increase of control over costs. There are several aspects that can influence this management. In some scenarios, we have large companies where a single plant can consume several different energy inputs, such as electric power, gas, coal, diesel oil etc. Steelmakers are a good example. In other scenarios, we have companies that consume only one or two inputs, but in a distributed way, that is, there are several consumer units spread across several cities and states, each with its own contracts and specific rules. In both cases, a strict control is necessary to validate the recorded consumption and the application of the contracts’ rules. The higher the value of consumption and / or more complex the contract of this input the more critical this control is. With these data at hand it is possible to conduct analysis, make more assertive decisions and achieve more advanced levels of energy efficiency.

Here are the top five benefits that a good billing management system can bring to your business.

1. Adaptation to the ISO 50.001 standards

ISO has created the ISO 50.001 certification, which establishes a management system template to certify companies that meet a minimum process governance requirements and tasks related to the discipline of energy and utilities management.

Some requirements of the standard say that data should be used to have a better understanding and decision making about energy consumption and to always improve energy management. Requirements like these bring different challenges to energy managers. How to meet all of their needs? One of the steps is to automate mechanical work such as typing invoices, verifications, and audits so people can focus their efforts on tasks such as analyzing, investigating, comparing, predicting, and actually manage.

2. Democratization of information

When we talk about the principles of Industry 4.0 it is impossible not to mention the digitization and democratization of information to provide accessibility to information. That is, the data should be shared not only with a restricted audience, but with an increasing number of professionals. The motivation for the democratization of information is that these professionals should be more independent and make their own analysis. This brings a greater agility for having insights. For example, companies that have distributed consumer units can use the data to compare similar units. This comparison can be made by the heads of each unit, since the data will be available, but it can also be done at a higher level by a manager responsible for a larger group of consumer units.

3. Productivity

Typing invoices and maintaining spreadsheets is extremely counterproductive. Many hours are lost by copying data from one worksheet, pasting it into another, generating reports, and creating formulas to do the calculations. For units operating in the Brazilian High-Voltage Electrical Grid, there may be hundreds of invoices per month for a single consumer. Even considering the use of a system, typing is still a work prone to human error. Currently there are technologies that automatically read the invoice file in PDF format, being able to automatically identify consumption, rate values, tariff barriers, interest, injunctions, etc.

4. Audit

A common challenge for large companies is to deal with several tariff classes, each with its rate, whether for consumption, demand, fines, taxes, discounts and subsidy. It is critical that an analyst has sufficient resources to check the power distribution companies' calculations and verify that the rules have been applied correctly. A common situation for companies that only measure energy consumption at the point of entry is to compare the measured value with the billed value. With the use of a system it is possible to automate this analysis and quickly find out if there are differences between the total value calculated by the system and the value calculated by the power distribution company or differences in the collection of ICMS, PIS and COFINS taxes, for example.

5. Invoice Analysis

It is common knowledge that we have many data available today. We are living the age of Information and Big Data. These data need to be analyzed frequently and correctly in order to identify the true costs and savings opportunities. Good analysis guides good decisions, which in turn raise the level of maturity and competitiveness of companies. With a system that allows easy and practical analysis of invoices, it is possible to identify the main consumers, to know consumption patterns for each unit and to set more realistic goals. With this it is possible to analyze the contracts of the consumer units and to study the viability of contractual alterations to avoid contractions above the expected levels or fines. Another example is to use historical data to detect upward or downward trends in consumption.

All of these factors contribute directly to cost reduction. With the automation of routines, professionals can focus their energy on tasks that generate value for the company.

Gerente de desenvolvimento, Viridis

Software Development Manager at Viridis, holding a Master's degree in Computer Science from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Angelo has been working for more than eight years with software and systems engineering, and is also a lecturer at the Institute of Management and Information Technology at Belo Horizonte, teaching MBA classes.

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