This supplement could be better than a new iPhone
Technological innovation is about creating tools to make it easier for us to perform tasks. And there’s an endless list of such tools that we could name, starting with the hammers, chisels, and arrowheads that made it easier for the planet’s earliest human inhabitants to build homes and hunt for food.
Today, when we talk technological innovation, the conversation typically revolves around electronic devices such as PCs, tablets and mobile phones. In fact, Apple recently repeated its now-familiar act of setting the entire tech industry abuzz with the release of its latest must-have gadget, the iPhone 5.
As amazing as this new iPhone may be, there’s one fact about it that appears to be rather obvious, yet rarely is acknowledged. The iPhone 5—and all those that proceeded— would be nothing more than a sleekly designed paperweight without the large ecosystem of apps (more than 300,000 at last count) that allow people to actually do things on the device.
Some of these apps are mere time wasters, but a lot of them really make a user’s life easier. Regardless of where they fall on usefulness scale, all of the apps have one thing in common: they were built to operate on the iPhone, and to peacefully co-exist with other apps sharing the same space.
That, in essence, is systems integration, taking applications developed by separate parties and allowing them to work together in ways that create value for users. In the mobile computing world, users can use apps that turn cell phones into full-fledged tools for communications, productivity and entertainment. Many users find these devices invaluable.
Unlocking true value
This special supplement to Control Engineering and Plant Engineering provides insight into how systems integration unlocks the true value of energy management systems.
While it’s nowhere near as large that of mobile apps, the ecosystem of energy management solutions is growing daily.
In reading this supplement, you’ll also learn that integrating systems is the only way to get full value from energy management solutions. You’ll also see that the potential value from such integration can be quite large, provided the integration is done right.
With that thought in mind, we compiled a series of articles that point out the potential pitfalls related to integrating energy management solutions, and offer tips on how to avoid most of them.
The basic advice in that regard is to adhere to sound IT management practices, the chief one being to determine exactly what your organization wants to accomplish in regard to energy management before setting out to purchase technology.
The nature of manufacturing presents some special energy management integration challenges, starting with the need to link complex equipment built by many different vendors.
The proprietary nature of much manufacturing equipment can make integration extremely difficult, but vendors are responding with new devices that ease the path by translating the different languages and protocols supported by different devices.
There are, however, potential pitfalls involved with deploying these translators as well. If you read the full supplement, you’ll learn about those—as well as several other things we hope you’ll find as invaluable as a new iPhone.
Edited by Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, part of CFE Media, for the October 2012, Industrial Energy Management supplement.