It’s not uncommon to drive about any major city at night and see many buildings illuminated despite the fact that the workers went home hours earlier. Likewise, manufacturing plants the world over often have equipment unnecessarily consuming energy during idle periods. Power plants create and store energy everyday and use energy distribution grids to distribute energy to users, but are they doing it “smartly?”
With rising concerns about global warming, this immense waste of energy undoubtedly hurts the environment, but it also hurts business. Offices, manufacturing plants, commercial spaces and power grids all stand to benefit financially from better and “smarter” energy management.
How IoT Reduces Energy Usage for Businesses and Manufacturing
In his article, “Report: Lofty Energy Management Goals Far Ahead of Reality,” (Panoramic Power, August 5, 2015) Jon Rabinowitz points out that most companies receive data on their energy usage only at the end of each billing cycle, which is usually a month at a time. By incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) technology, energy consumption data will be available in real-time, and energy-reducing measures can be implemented as soon as a problem gets detected (rather than waiting until the end of the month). Integrating smart devices through IoT technology will provide greater visibility into energy usage and help both industrial and commercial enterprises save energy, and as a result, save money.
Starting with simple, smart and low cost sensors, like User to User Information (UUI) and Feature Driven Development (FDD) devices, businesses can reduce energy usage and cost by dimming lights, turning off unnecessary equipment and improving the use the cooling/heating apparatus. Software that collects and correlates granular usage data, performs analytics and then converges information to increase efficiency will make manufacturing plants “smarter,” and thus more cost-effective.
Local and remote sensors that detect points of inefficiency quickly and perform triage to decrease waste will also reduce the need for maintenance as constant monitoring will detect small issues before they become big problems. Continuous optimization through 24/7 monitoring will assure that energy is not wasted during slow periods in between high-usage spans, while maximizing the use of energy-demanding equipment at critical times.
Specific Use Cases – Energy Production and Management
- General Electric’s Asset Performance Management software connects disparate data sources in power plants, enabling data analytics to guide energy usage and to increase efficiency (“10 Real-Life Examples of IoT Powering the Future of Energy,” Internet of Business, Freddie Roberts, Oct. 7, 2016).
- Duke Energy, a Florida-based electric power holding company, has developed a self-healing grid that automatically reconfigures itself when power goes out. Using digital smart sensors at sub stations and on power lines, the system automatically detects, isolates and reroutes power in the most efficient way when problems occur (Roberts).
- Pacific Gas & Electric Company is testing drones as a means to monitor and evaluate electric infrastructure systems in hard-to-reach areas. The ease of access will allow more frequent and consistent monitoring and drastically reduce the amount of methane leaks and other unwanted disruptions. (Roberts).
Energy Saving in the Auto Sector
Nissan (manufacturer of the world’s best-selling electric car, the Leaf) and ENEL (Europe’s second largest power company) have teamed to develop an innovative vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system that creates mobile energy hubs, which also integrates the electric cars and the power grid. The system allows Leaf owners to charge at low-demand, cheap-tariff periods, while allowing owners to use the energy stored in the car’s battery to power their home during peak periods, or when power goes out. Owners can store excess energy, or return it to the grid, making the entire system more efficient for everyone (“Nissan and ENEL to test first Grid Integrated Vehicles in Denmark,” Copenhagen Capacity, December 11, 2015).
As evidenced by these specific use cases, IoT technology is making energy-intensive systems in power generation and in manufacturing far more efficient. It’s good for the environment, but it’s also good for business. Intelligent implementation of energy saving technology stands to benefit every business, from small commercial enterprises to the largest power producing utility companies in the world. It’s time to make the move to smarter energy usage, for both the environment and for your bottom line.
Originally published on the Unified Inbox blog
About the Author
Richard Meyers is a former high school teacher in the SF Bay Area who has studied business and technology at Stanford and UC-Berkeley. He has a single-digit handicap in golf and is passionate about cooking, wine and rock-n-roll.