How integrated energy and utilities management can boost your company's energy efficiency

Submitted by Nathália Cioffi on Wed, 10/23/2019 - 21:23
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From an economic point of view, the improvement of energy performance is a common concern for large consumers. In this article we discuss how companies can boost their energy efficiency with an integrated energy and utilities management system. Check it out!

 

The objective of energy and utilities management is to improve energy performance, including energy efficiency, use, and consumption. Given this scenario, energy management teams develop solutions to control energy and utilities consumption in real time, obtaining certifications that implement programs to increase energy efficiency through continuous improvement of production processes, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Although the economic point of view is the principal concern of companies, energy management goes far beyond reducing costs, and involves all stages of the process – from the factory floor to the corporate headquarters. An integrated energy and utilities management system serves all of the technical and administrative sectors of the company, allowing extensive access to indicators of interest.

Pillars of the Integrated Energy and Utilities Management System

Stratified, analytical, and real-time management of consumption

Starting from the data collected in real time, it is possible to have a coherent view of the whole map of energy and utilities consumption of the company – promoting a more cohesive view of the consumption of monitored equipment, identifying and prioritizing the opportunities to improve the process, and increasing the energy efficiency of the organization.

Stratified management of energy generation and conversion in real time

By monitoring the performance of energy generation and conversion in real time it is possible to detail the consumption of the inputs involved, of energy and the byproducts produced, in addition to the efficiency indices of generation and conversion for each process.

Stock management and inventory reconciliation

Detailed control of consumption of energy inputs helps to monitor your stock and assess whether what is indicated as available is actually on hand, which contributes to improved control of volume and costs.

Direct appropriation of costs starting from consumption measurement

With stratified control of energy inputs in real time it is possible to directly signal costs to each consumption area and their impact on the final cost, eliminating the need for estimates. Starting from costing rules determined by the company, costs are directly introduced into the proper accounts payable and, after regular closure, into the ERP system for each area.

This capability allows each sector of the company to understand its actual costs of quantities consumed, increasing the precision of the budgeting process and allowing more detailed monitoring of energy and utilities costs.

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, electricity, 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.

Simulations of production plans, as well as consumption and its impact on contracts

The first intention of consumption forecasting starting from production plans is to develop future consumption plans. After consolidation, these plans are priced based on energy contracts. Simulations of consumption and budget plans also greatly contribute to reducing energy costs.

Management of contracts and invoices

Large consumers that operate in the free energy market aggregate various contracts for energy inputs. An energy and utilities management system is a great ally in this task because it makes it possible to manage contracts, taking into account their different characteristics of seasonality, consumption amounts, contracted demands, flexibility, rate categories, etc. The ability to perform automatic invoice auditing is another function that brings agility and other advantages to your company.

This functionality is important for the company to learn about its real energy costs, increase team productivity with automation of management routines, and consolidate information. In addition, through the management of contracts and invoices it is possible to have more predictability of costs, reduce financial risk, and, consequently, contribute to creating competitive advantage. If your company also generates energy, good management of contracts can make a big difference in financial results if there is good synergy and integration with industrial operations.

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 costs - starting from the contracts mentioned above- offering information for planning that is more appropriate to the reality of the company and its objectives.

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 continuous improvement of the management processes of the company. The opportunities for improvement directly influence the efficiency of your management system. 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.

Integration with industrial and management systems

Automatic integration with other systems is a crucial part of an energy and utilities management system.

Energy consumption data can be directly captured from digital meters, from automation systems, or from historical data systems (PIMS - 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 (MES - Manufacturing Execution Systems); data on budgeting and costs associated with energy and utilities can be recorded and/or consulted in corporate systems (ERS - Enterprise Resource Planning).

Management systems like Viridis manage contracts and invoices, and are also able to create the annual budget for energy and utilities, in addition to analyzing the prediction of future consumption using machine learning to optimize all processes and thus make them more efficient. Viridis also covers all of the pillars cited above, contributing to process optimization based on stratified management of energy consumption and generation, stock, and inventory reconciliation. In addition, the Viridis management system is able to monitor consumption, allowing simulations of production plans and management of contracts and invoices and integrating with industrial and management systems.

When we speak about implementing an energy and utilities management system that works in an integrated way, we soon think of gains in energy efficiency. This is because using a management system involves a series of analyses and processes that allow the simulation of future scenarios, aggregating information for more consistent planning with the operational and budget reality of the company.

The concept of energy efficiency consists in establishing the best performance of a product with the lowest possible energy consumption. In this way the reduction of costs with energy and utilities has been the greatest concern for large organizations that have high energy costs. Appropriate monitoring and planning of energy and utilities consumption and the use of renewable energy are prerequisites for success.

Proactive management

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 for planning functions reinforces efficiency initiatives since they confer greater consistency and accuracy on the forecast of future consumption, and consequently on cost planning.

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Figure 1 – PDCA cycle applied to energy management (see ISO 50001) 

An energy and utilities management system makes possible the integrated management of continuous improvement projects focuses on energy efficiency, seeking strategic alignment from the design, implementation, and validation of investments made by the company.

Therefore to achieve the expected results in energy efficiency it is important to not only invest in a quality energy and utilities management system, but also to ensure its functioning.

Investing in energy efficiency initiatives has become a front-line issue for large companies. Of course, energy efficiency gains make organizations more competitive – competitiveness that converts to better financial results – and greater efficiency guarantees lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing environmental impact, in addition to improving the quality of work, both of which positively impact the community.

Also read: 5 Gaps in Energy Management that may be interfering with your results

Benefits of energy efficiency

  • Reduction of costs and expenses
  • Increases in production levels
  • Greater control of production processes
  • Reduction of environmental impacts
  • Greater predictability of demand and costs of energy inputs
  • Increase in competitiveness
  • Reduced emission of greenhouse gases
  • Reduced specific consumption of energy

We already know that there are a number of benefits for your company in adopting an integrated energy and utilities management system. Benefits that go beyond economic and operational gains. Therefore it is crucial to invest in a quality energy and utilities management system and raise awareness among your company's employees to think and act in sustainable ways.

Read more: 7 Reasons for Investing in an Energy and Utilities Management System

Content Trainee, Viridis

Nathália is a content trainee at Viridis and studies journalism at PUC Minas in Brazil. She previously worked as a communications assistant for CREA-MG, the Regional Council of Engineering and Agronomy of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Nathália has experience in digital content production and press relations. 

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