Energy management: Brave new world

U.S. companies are launching energy management initiatives regardless of regulatory climate, based on efficiency and sustainability goals, according to providers of energy management technologies.

By Kevin Parker, content specialist, CFE Media January 9, 2012

To help industrial manufacturers address global energy challenges, the major global automation vendors have quickened the pace at which they are introducing products and services for better industrial energy management.

The need for more intelligent use of the globe’s energy resources is one of the most compelling issues of our time. Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., recently estimated that U.S. sales of industrial energy management products and services will rise from $960 million in 2011 to $5.6 billion by 2020.

Vendor approaches vary based on the industries, geographies, and processes served. Some want to support manufacturers negotiating with utilities and preparing for the Smart Grid. For others, the point is making the manufacturing process itself as efficient as possible.

The manufacturing and process industries are not the largest consumers of energy. Transportation uses more energy, for example. Yet, according to the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, the manufacturing and process industries and their automation infrastructure and processes present some of the greatest opportunities for energy savings. It estimates energy savings of about 15% can be achieved through process automation alone.

“There is a definite shift taking place in the way industrial companies view energy procurement and use it internally,” Pike Research President Clint Wheelock said.

In much of Europe and elsewhere, government mandates many of the steps discrete and process manufacturers are taking energy-wise. Governments also provide subsidies that make energy conservation more immediately cost-effective. In the U.S., regulation plays less of a role. Yet several factors point toward action, including profit motives.

For example, Minnesota Power, Duluth, Minn., supplies steam to a nearby paper mill. It recently retrofitted one of its boiler controls to increase steam production from scrap wood; optimize air usage; and reduce boiler fuel costs. The goal is to maximize responsiveness and maintain environmental standards.

Mixed motives

“Our main driver is that we’re trying to burn more wood because it’s considered a renewable energy and use coal only when we have to,” Luther Kemp, renewable operations control specialist, Minnesota Power, said. “The bigger picture is that this gives us a solid control foundation. With environmental regulation changing from year to year we’re able to change our goals as well.”

To upgrade its capabilities, Minnesota Power used Emerson Process Management’s SmartProcess Boiler software. At the recent Emerson Exchange, its annual user group meeting, Emerson introduced a new Industrial Energy Group, as well as SmartProcess Boiler software and Energy Management software. The two are the first in a series of solutions that apply multivariable control, other types of advanced process control, and predictive analytics to industrial energy management.

Emerson says its new group will focus on modernizing “powerhouses,” the on-site utilities that provide steam and electricity to industrial operations, while also improving how the manufacturing process itself consumes energy.

-SmartProcess Boiler real-time combustion control addresses the inconsistent nature of renewable and waste fuel sources, automating and simplifying management of sudden changes in BTU content or the availability of those fuels.

-SmartProcess Energy Management is a closed-loop control software application to balance steam systems, manage electrical demand swings and upsets, identify opportunities to buy and sell power, and run an industrial utility at the lowest cost.

“With industrial manufacturers consuming an estimated 50% of the world’s energy, combined with rising fossil fuel prices and global mandates for reduced emissions, our customers need more than incremental efficiencies in energy management,” Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management, said. “We have seen tremendous growth for certain projects, such as biomass-to-energy conversion, where we have many customers running on renewable fuels 95% of the time. We anticipate 25% to 35% growth in industrial energy projects over the next five years.”

Working ahead

Despite the seeming rush of energyrelated initiatives, it’s not the case that energy management, especially in “heavy” industries, has been ignored to now. “Many companies have been doing energy management with control systems for a long time and had power systems that integrated with automation. They’ve focused on energy management using their current architecture,” Cliff Whitehead, manager, business development, Rockwell Automation, said. But it’s not native functionality in most control systems. It’s a layer on top.”

Recognition has grown, however, that automation data can be applied to energy optimization, and that data stranded in field devices should be available for this purpose. “Variable frequency drives, for example, have energy data in them because they can measure the load put on them. But in the past, programmatic means had to be used to extract that information out of the device and get it into the system,” Whitehead said.

With the introduction of standard network protocols and architectures, such as Rockwell’s PlantPax, the cost of bringing energy as a parameter into the automation mix is considerably reduced. Rockwell also is a member of ODVA, an organization that promotes use of the network as a transport medium for data extraction, that is, without having recourse to programmatic means.

“Getting those devices on the network is the first step, and for Rockwell that’s a Logix-based control paradigm,” said Mary Burgoon, market development manager, sustainable production, power generation and energy management, Rockwell Automation.

Founded in 1995, ODVA’s media-independent network protocol, the common industrial protocol (CIP), encompasses DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, CompoNet, and ControlNet. Besides Rockwell, ODVA members include Schneider Electric, Rexroth Bosch Group, Omron, and Cisco Systems, among others.

ODVA is working on a data model for energy usage, Whitehead said. “Users won’t have to use programmatic means to get a true picture of energy usage, and vendors will be able to incorporate energy management into their controllers.” Rockwell is incorporating ODVA energy specifications into its products, with the first enhanced products scheduled for November release and native ODVA energy functionality found in products beginning in 2012.

“Industrial segments such as mining and metals already address energy management,” Burgoon added. “They’re probably working with their utility to schedule for off-peak times or find ways to reduce energy consumption while maintaining productivity. Further, our global accounts in food and beverage and automotive have expressed particular interest in embedding these capabilities in their architecture.”

Real-time energy insight

Rockwell competitors say ODVA basically looks to use advanced routers as an infrastructure for data collection and communications via wired or wireless Ethernet, and note the participation of Rockwell partner networking provider Cisco Systems.

The Wonderware Corporate Energy Management Application from Invensys Operations Management, first introduced in 2009, assumes networking capabilities are already in place, either by means of the Invensys Archestra infrastructure or otherwise. It also believes that an effective energy management system must be part of a larger infrastructure.

“We are talking about bringing energy management into the manufacturing execution system,” Bill Schiel, manager of energy management solutions, Invensys Operations Management, said. “A stand-alone energy management system reads meters, totalizes, and a report is produced. It becomes an information silo. It’s not prescriptive. You need context to understand what is optimal. A platform approach gives you that context. You can then derive energy usage per batch, or from a cold start. You begin to look at energy usage in terms of events.”

Companies say they’ve been managing energy for 40 years, Schiel said, but looking at it as “event-based” is new. A refinery may be considered a steady-state process, but with batch manufacturing the case is very different. “In the past, in discrete manufacturing environments, the electric bill was considered a base cost and appeared on balance sheets as an allocation,” Schiel said. “But if energy is managed as a controlled variable, it appears on bills of material or recipes just as with other resources, highlighting it as a priority. It can then be a factor in compensation plans and bonuses, ensuring it receives all due attention as an issue.”

The key performance indicator (KPI) of choice is energy intensity, defined by ISO 50001 as energy use per unit of output. Using the Corporate Energy Management application, “We can track actual financial cost in real time by means of a meter object,” Schiel said. “Within that object we have energy price, taking into account any time-of-use costing, day-ahead pricing, or co-gen operations that might apply.”

Open market, open systems

How technology markets for industrial energy management will unfold remains an open question, Schiel said. “Most companies, having bought a bunch of sub-meters from their utility, just do basic data collection. They want reduced costs and have acted on the low-hanging fruit. Going to the next stage will call for some investment. Work on ISO 50001 and other specifications will lead to certification programs for energy management. Valuebased energy pricing is already happening, but managers will need more information to hand if involvement in demand-response is foreseen.”

Regulatory compliance is a major driver for energy programs, according to Gary Peacock, global marketing leader, Honeywell Process Solutions—energy efficiency and emissions. “But it’s also increasingly a competitiveness issue. Energy cost is only going to go up, and companies in mature markets need to increase efficiency, including equipment that is in urgent need of upgrade or replacement.”

Honeywell thinks of energy programs in five steps— compliance, awareness, control, optimize, and sustain, Peacock said. “It all starts with the right granularity of insight into energy usage. In the control room you want to be able to monitor each piece of equipment, operations is looking at energy usage by shift, and the boardroom is looking years ahead.”

In November, Mitsubishi Electric Automation will be announcing its own energy program, which will include services for doing energy audits at client companies, use of Mitsubishi products to monitor energy usage, and the packaging of Mitsubishi products in one solution.

“Some of the big sources of inefficiency are old-fashioned compressed air controls, conveyor lines, and other type equipment that don’t idle properly,” said Christopher Cusick, product manager, LVS and energy products, Mitsubishi Electric Automation. He points out the need to furnish equipment with stand-by modes and quick startups as an immediate way to achieve energy savings.

Finally, a survey released in October by management consultant CSC confirms that companies are pursuing the financial and competitive advantages derived from sustainability initiatives such as energy management.

“This year’s survey results highlight that companies are taking in—and preparing for—expanded and more complex product regulations and deriving more value from their sustainability programs through an emphasis on energy management,” said Chuck Deise, vice president, process industries, CSC. The survey concludes that companies see ISO 50001 as “most important,” and capital investment is increasing. While still in the early stages of managing production energy costs, companies have metering and measurement tools, but they are not yet connected for real-time capture and monitoring. 

German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association

Also read: Energy management at Rockwell Automation Fair – Online energy savings calculator offered for free download.

This is part of the Control Engineering December 2011 Industrial Energy Management supplement.