Energy Management Tools Provide a Clear Picture of Energy Consumption and Costs

June 24, 2010
Plant personnel can avoid costly usage mistakes—such as energy spikes and inefficient operations—by using RSEnergyMetrix software from Rockwell Automation to monitor and optimize energy consumption.

A key benefit of a Manufacturing Intelligence strategy is its focus on empowering workers across the plant to make decisions that will impact productivity, quality, and ultimately, profitability. Energy Management is an emerging area where adding that layer of ownership—and feeding those decision-makers with organized, relevant information—pays big dividends.

For example, Production only has a clear picture of how much it has produced when scrap data is available from Quality. Likewise, while Operations may know what percentage of its overall budget is allocated to energy use, it doesn’t have a clear picture of energy expenditure until it knows how much energy each widget tallies as part of its overall manufacturing cost. That knowledge, applied to an energy strategy fueled by relevant, timely information insights—from sensors, flow metering, historians, even compliance and regulatory standards—enables workers to optimize energy use throughout the plant.

Though electricity is only one part of a plant’s energy landscape—about 20 percent, while process heat and steam make up the lion’s share—it illustrates the point. To effectively manage electrical power you need to know how much power is used, when, and where your major loads are in the plant and how much you are paying for it.

A costly mistake

Recently a plant experienced a short supply-chain-related delay on one of its lines. Management decided to use the time to bring in a maintenance crew to service that portion of the plant—a smart and efficient use of the downtime, right? When maintenance finished and operations were ready to begin again, the crew cycled all the machines in that area on—at the same time. Doing so caused a spike in energy usage that was almost twice the plant’s typical monthly average, pushing the overall energy costs up for well beyond that month and eliciting energy-usage penalties. That 45-minute window of time cost the plant its profit for the month.

“We need to be able to tie energy information to price information. And that’s what RSEnergyMetrix does,” says Phil Kaufman, business manager for the Rockwell Automation Power and Energy Group. “It helps users determine critical load vs. non-critical; to know without a doubt how long it takes to spin down or spin up certain pieces of equipment and what the resulting cost of doing so will be; and, in short, it helps correlate production costs with energy costs.”

RSEnergyMetrix, from Rockwell Automation provides time-stamped data from sensors that can track anything coming over a wire or flowing through a pipe. Through a simple Web browser, data can be captured, analyzed and shared across the enterprise to provide an accurate accounting of consumption, to optimize energy procurement and negotiate better energy rates, and to make intelligent decisions about capacity. Embedding the data capabilities of RSEnergyMetrix into a visualization and reporting engine like FactoryTalk VantagePoint amplifies its power.

FactoryTalk VantagePoint enables users to combine data from a variety of sources—including RSEnergyMetrix, other historians, asset management software, sensors, and others—into information that is more meaningful, prompting better decision-making across the organization. It is founded on a federated data model--the Unified Production Model (UPM)--that organizes the data.

“We allow the data to be the master in whatever system—and on whatever brands—exist in a plant,” says John Theron, product manager, Rockwell Software. “FactoryTalk VantagePoint interrogates all the data sources on the floor that we can expose to the model, and the UPM continually refreshes, arming users with the most up-to-date information available while the original data remains at its source.”

“When you use RSEnergyMetrix to push the energy information into an intelligence layer like FactoryTalk VantagePoint, energy becomes another key performance indicator that can be evaluated as a cost of goods sold, rather than a cost of doing business,” says Kaufman.

For example, at one Lean plant in which the integrated solution is installed, operations learned that by batching an operation and performing it on second shift when the use and cost of energy was lower, it would save $66,000 annually in energy usage at one plant.

When energy is analyzed as a raw good, it can be managed as part of the production process and provide improved profitability. Placing such information in the hands of the right people enables every worker to impact energy consumption—which is, after all, what Manufacturing Intelligence is all about.

For more information, visit Manufacturing Intelligence.

Sidebar: Energy Management Must Identify Actual Costs to Succeed

Accurate, real-time data is essential in leveraging energy as an area of cost savings within the plant. That’s why real-time Manufacturing Intelligence is critical to the success of any energy management program.

Rockwell Automation provides manufacturers the data to identify the actual energy cost associated with producing specific products, enabling users to achieve genuine economy in resource management. From energy auditing, monitoring and control to reporting, trending and analysis tools, Rockwell Automation helps manufacturers optimize asset and energy use through such practices as load monitoring, management and load shedding.

Among solutions Rockwell Automation provides are:
• Energy Audits
• Power and Energy Load Analysis and Redress
• Renewable Energy Control
• Intelligent Motor Control and Networking
• Energy-Efficient Variable Speed Drives
• Model Predictive Control

This approach moves users from passive energy consumption to the savvy management of energy resources based on systems already in your plant or strategic investment.

To learn more, download the whitepaper Industrial Energy Optimization: Managing Energy Consumption for Higher Profitability

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