Attacking energy costs
New energy-management solutions
Gates says customer demand for this type of control over energy systems has influenced product development strategy at GE Intelligent Platforms in recent years. The result is a number of new hardware devices and software systems that allow manufacturers to do everything from connecting their own energy-generation systems to the Smart Grid to tracking how much energy is used to create specific products, and thus treating energy as a raw material.
One of those products is Proficy for Sustainability Metrics, which Gates says can provide plant managers a “three-click-down view” of their entire world as it relates to energy consumption.
“If you want to monitor gas, electricity, and water usage in a plant, within three clicks you should be able to get down to the area that’s consuming that particular source of energy,” Gates explains. “At the same time, you can get a high-level view of what the entire plant is doing—how much energy is being consumed, how much is being conserved, whether the plant is consuming more water or air than it should be given the time of day, the day of the week, or the amount of production the plant is doing at the moment.”
The system also connects to a data historian that allows for analyzing energy performance over time. “You need to do that type of monitoring to sustain your energy savings,” Gates concludes, “and you also need to collect the history on these efforts to make your program better.”
Growing demand for energy management solutions also is prompting business alliances among technology vendors, such as the one recently announced between Yokogawa and Soteica Visual MESA. This partnership, unveiled in February, will help manufacturers effectively blend the two sides of energy management that exist in industrial plants, according to Teo Kim Hock, a Yokogawa senior vice president.
Kim Hock says one side of energy management involves maximizing the efficiency of energy coming from utilities, such as steam and electricity, and used by production equipment. The other side entails optimizing the energy used in the production processes themselves.
“Yokogawa has a competitive edge in advanced control solutions for the main production processes,” Kim Hock says. “At the same time, the company has lacked utilities optimization solutions that can be used to achieve the optimum mix of conventional and renewable energy sources, based on factors such as process operating conditions and energy prices. Until now, the company has had to devise solutions for such requirements on an ad-hoc basis.”
Soteica Visual MESA, which Kim Hock describes as “a global technology leader in the energy and emission optimization field,” has solutions to address the process-optimization side of energy management.
“Soteica Visual MESA has a strong track record of working with major oil companies,” Kim Hock says. “The partnership will allow Yokogawa to sell Soteica Visual MESA’s well-proven Visual MESA energy management and optimization solutions, extending the range of services we can offer.”
Kim Hock says Yokogawa and Soteica Visual MESA engineers already are collaborating on projects designed to create a new business model for solutions and services that can help industrial companies optimize both sides of the energy-management equation.
If they succeed, they also will be helping companies control energy costs.
Sidney Hill, Jr., is a CFE Media Contributing Content Specialist, sidhilljr(at)gmail.com.
This article is part of the April 2013 CFE Media supplement, Industrial Energy Management. See other articles linked below.