Better energy visibility, better business management

By Mina Salama | May 15, 2018

An energy management information system (EMIS) that uses all the power of digital technology to monitor energy’s consumption, cost, and variability can be worth its weight in gold. The right one, used the right way, can provide a company with the visibility and insight it needs to better manage and optimize its energy footprint.

We’re often called in to investigate energy use in plants or processing operations, usually for one of three reasons. The first is management becoming concerned about energy use. They want to see if and how they can optimize consumption and reduce energy costs.

The second situation is companies wanting to know how effective their current energy-management initiatives are. Are they on track with their energy-conservation efforts?

In the third, someone is looking for an effective tool to produce energy reports and dashboards for various stakeholders and users. They need the insight an EMIS can provide to help them make informed decisions.

Good energy management information systems that are operating properly can address all three issues and often add more value still.

Regardless of why an organization is investigating its energy use, it needs to understand its own consumption patterns before it can try to improve them. It makes sense to start with a comprehensive energy audit like the one recommended and endorsed by Natural Resources Canada. A certified energy manager or auditor—someone trained and capable of performing energy audits—administers the evaluation at the site and can help interpret the results.

The real improvements in energy use and cost will depend on how willing the company is to invest in corrective measures. Would it consider buying new equipment that can pay for itself over time in energy savings? Adjusting or even cutting production to control the amount of energy used at certain times? What about changing operational procedures or work flows to improve efficiency if the EMIS indicates it might be advisable?

Of course, even with valuable information about use, energy decisions can be complicated. EMIS won’t solve all your problems or answer every question. But it can help you make choices and justify next steps. It will let you breakdown, better define, and stage your future energy-saving plans so you can take advantage of opportunities that arise.

EMIS can deliver reliable, valid data about usage, too. It can track improvements and changes; good effects and bad. It will tell you what time of day your use is highest. It can alert you when you’re approaching certain use levels, so you can make adjustments or revisit your procedures to see if things can be shifted to optimize energy consumption.

Our clients usually have some idea where they stand with respect to energy consumption. We provide them with the capability to see the situation more clearly so they can make better, more confident decisions going forward. We stay well short of controlling the operation, only offering advice so they can see beyond their energy bills to understand their entire energy picture.

Staff must prepare, too. Experienced and new employees need to become familiar with the system, the data, and how to obtain it and use it. EMIS is permanent addition, so staff members must be trained to use it properly and be able to maintain it as part of their ongoing work.

Implementing a functional EMIS can’t be achieved without carefully considering the metering data. It’s not uncommon to see instruments that are not calibrated properly and meters that are not communicating reliably. Verifying the communications and ensuring the accuracy of the data is of the utmost importance if you’re going to get the results you want and need.

Today, your company doesn’t just need to cut energy costs. It needs to have energy-efficient operations. With EMIS, you’ll have what you need to do both. It will let you compare energy use over time and give you the means to visualize consumption, no matter what kind of business you’re in. Exactly the information you need to make knowledgeable, actionable decisions to manage your business effectively and keep it moving forward.

The new age of energy management is here to stay, and your business depends on it. Digital tools like EMIS can help you make the most of it.