5 Tips for Optimizing Energy Consumption Through IoT and Connected Devices
Data from the Internet of Things can be used to analyze operations and help make things more efficient.
Entrepreneurs and business people juggle many responsibilities: corporate profits, employee effectiveness, efficiency of the operation, corporate sustainability and more. They must make decisions on the fly, optimize their processes and constantly monitor the heartbeat of their industry and competitors. It’s a tough job!
When technological modernizations are developed to make that job easier and keep business people juggling successfully, the savvy take note. One such disruptive innovation comes from the Internet of Things and its improvement of energy management. (For more on IoT and real-time data, see Internet of Things (IoT) and Real-Time Analytics - A Marriage Made in Heaven.)
By connecting a business’ devices through the IoT, monitoring and gathering energy consumption data, and addressing the actionable insights provided by intelligent energy management systems, business people can improve operational efficiencies, increase profits and ensure sustainability.
Tip #1: Connect Devices, Not Panels or Zones
While tracking the energy profiles of systems is preferable to relying only on the energy data provided on a month-end utility bill, it is inferior to connecting actual devices. Take an HVAC system, for example. By tracking the energy consumption of the entire system, you could discover its off-hours consumption and can gather energy data that can be analyzed. However, by tracking each compressor and blower separately, you get real-time visibility that not only helps reduce waste, but also optimize maintenance.
Tip #2: Base Maintenance on Data
Tracking each system component and uncovering anomalies may signal an impending equipment failure. Facility managers have found great success in transitioning from a time-based preventative maintenance schedule (which often includes unnecessary and expensive service calls) to a predictive maintenance method that is based on data. This way, when a compressor’s energy usage profile signals that it is overloading or idling, the compressor can be serviced immediately to reduce downtime and improve overall performance.
Tip #3: Get Real-Time Alerts and Act on Them Immediately
By connecting energy usage to the company’s production goals using granular data, organizations are able to quickly identify system performance inefficiencies. The strong data collection capabilities and real-time alerts translate into actionable intelligence that helps improve system efficiency and optimize production. For example, an inefficient conveyor motor that is overloading and tripping out, creating a bottleneck in the process, would typically go unnoticed. However, with device-level monitoring and real-time alerts, facility managers are able to take immediate action.
Tip #4: Use Data to Instill Behavioral Change
A lot of the wasted energy in an operation is not caused by the devices themselves, but rather by those who operate the devices. When the devices are monitored and their consumption can be tracked, business people can use the data to empower employees. It is not enough to tell employees to power down machinery at the end of the day. When workers are armed with data about specific devices and insights on how their actions can optimize energy usage, they can be empowered to take action.
Tip #5: Be Green to Save Green
We have explored how each one of these tips is inextricably tied to the bottom line (as that is often the main concern of business people and entrepreneurs). While optimizing maintenance schedules and eliminating energy waste have a direct impact on reducing expenses and thereby increasing profits, there are other benefits to sustainable business practices that also have an effect, albeit sometimes an indirect one, on the bottom line.
Sustainability programs often result in increased brand loyalty. Consumers who are committed to sustainability often become brand advocates for the businesses that are committed to reducing their carbon footprints. In this way, sustainability can positively impact income as well as cut expenses. (For more on this, see 5 Reasons Why Green IT Is Pure Gold for Business.)
Furthermore, sustainable practices may make businesses eligible for rebates and incentives.
All of these “side effects” coalesce to result in increased profits for business.
The End of Juggling?
Will device-level energy monitoring mean that business people no longer have to juggle their many responsibilities? It will not.
It will, however, give them the information and insights to make educated decisions that improve their bottom line – while they continue to juggle operations, suppliers, employees, facilities, production, customers, regulations and more.