IoT value-adds: Reduced energy expenditures and improved facility performance
The Internet of Things is the great transformer of our times: It can alter and improve the way we live, work and play.
In our homes, our workplaces and in our global society, the Internet of Things is disrupting:
Our watches are connected to our TVs for personal convenience; our heart monitors can talk to our pedometers for health optimizations; and, in enterprise-level facility management, the IoT enables us to monitor our devices in ways that help our businesses to consume less energy, spend less on utilities and improve the operation of our critical systems and facilities.
How does it work?
In simple terms, the Internet of Things connects our devices to each other, enables them to communicate, tracks and aggregates the data produced, and analyzes patterns and trends to generate insights that drive change and improvement.
New technology available today allows facilities managers to gain unprecedented levels of energy data by equipping each system and device with energy-monitoring sensors. The sensors clamp on to the circuit breaker’s outgoing electrical wire and harvest its magnetic field as a power source. They wirelessly send energy consumption data through a communications bridge every 10 seconds.
That data is then aggregated by a machine-learning analytics engine at which point advanced intelligence systems analyze the data to deliver sophisticated reports and statistical analyses on detailed energy and operational consumption.
How does IoT reduce energy spend?
With device-level granularity and facility-wide visibility available through the Internet of Things, businesses are armed with the information they need in real-time. This level of visibility uncovers devices that operate after hours, BMS schedules that have been overridden, or systems that operate inefficiently (i.e., machine idling).
Once detected, these anomalies can be corrected in real time to realize immediate savings while improving processes.
Though definitely helpful and cost-reducing (in fact, many companies can achieve positive ROI based only on these alerts), these kind of notifications are not the epitome of an IOT-enabled facility.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the real power (excuse the pun) comes from benchmarking the data gathered.
For example, a restaurant chain like McDonalds can measure the energy profiles of fryers at comparable locations to detect anomalies that may signal a need for maintenance or behavioral change. Innovations like these enable them to save over $14 million in energy costs.
Manufacturers like Dow Chemical can learn about production anomalies based on the energy consumption patterns on their equipment. This results in improved product quality and consistency and a higher yield from the same (or lower) energy spend.
With advancements like these, they were able to reduce their GHG emissions from 47 million to 35 million metric tons since 2006 (while increasing revenue from $49 billion to $58 billion).
When the American Society for Quality (ASQ) surveyed manufacturers that had connected devices through the IoT, 82 percent reported increased efficiency, 49 percent experienced fewer product defects, and 45 percent experienced increased customer satisfaction.
How does the IoT improve maintenance?
Preventative maintenance programs are much better than their predecessor, Corrective Maintenance (also known as “reactive”), in which equipment is fixed only after problems ensue.
With the preventative approach, equipment is serviced regularly to avoid problems before they happen. However, this practice is often wasteful as equipment is serviced based on a schedule and not necessarily a need.
With IoT-generated information, companies can transition to a predictive maintenance, which uses energy consumption patterns to predict equipment failures and delivers maintenance only to the equipment that need it. This eliminates the cost of unnecessary maintenance as well as the indirect cost of equipment downtime for that maintenance.
Is the Internet of Things for every company?
Are energy efficiency, cost savings, and improved maintenance only for giant conglomerates like MickeyD’s and Dow? Not at all.
The Internet of Things makes smart devices available to everyone. Just like you can own a smartwatch and a smart TV, your company can reap the benefits of a smart operation.
For more insights on technology and the Internet of Things, check out our sister site, Business Review USA, or click on one of the articles below:
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.