How Building Energy Management Can Help Your Factory

April 16, 2015
Building automation advancements have provided facility managers greater visibility of actionable energy data. With robust plant networks and smarter devices, can manufacturers learn lessons and apply better asset management practices?

Finding and leveraging energy savings in commercial buildings has accelerated over the past 10-15 years largely because of modern building automation systems (BAS) and the BACnet standard development in the U.S. and globally. Direct digital control (DDC) has kicked pneumatic control systems to the curb, and energy data is now readily presented to facility managers, bringing noticeable energy savings for larger companies.

Modern BAS and energy management systems (EMS), along with the proliferation of room and zone monitoring via sensors in modern or retrofitted buildings, present facility managers with opportunities most did not have 20 years ago—namely, through actionable data.

Is there an opportunity for manufacturers to leverage the BAS and EMS strategies used in the building space? Compared with building automation, it’s fair to say manufacturers are presented with different types of energy saving challenges because of unique and varied industry applications and manufacturing footprints. For years, electricity costs have been viewed as a fixed cost in the operations world, with building management usually not in the discussion.

However, best-in-class manufacturers are already roadmapping plant strategies that include much more data from the shop floor. So when does energy management become part of the discussion?

Where to start?

“We recommend the top-down approach over a period of time, where we tell manufacturers and building managers to start with your main building profile,” says Arun Sinha, director of business development at Opto 22. “Monitor, learn and find anomalies in energy footprint.”

Building control is quite uniform. BAS resides as software on an operator workstation or is available as a web page, while various controller types manage equipment and portions of the network. Meanwhile, zone sensors provide input data to the controllers. All of this is done through a BACnet communication protocol, ANSI certified, or on a LonWorks network. Monitoring at the subpanel level allows for motion sensing and automated lighting schedules to conserve energy when rooms are empty.

However, the inherent variety of manufacturing applications and control architectures does not allow for a simple plug-and-play handbook for industrial energy monitoring. For example, warehouses or refrigerated storage facilities may lean on a traditional automation system to control compressors and chillers for heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) and production equipment. These applications include control and monitoring.

“If we’re in the boiler room and there’s 10 energy loads right in the same room with chillers, boilers, pump and circulation pumps, then I’d say it’s better to use a programmable automation controller (PAC) system,” Sinha says.

Energy, a fixed cost?

A particularly challenging aspect of industrial energy management is ownership by operations. Energy management or the cost of electricity has mostly been viewed as a fixed cost, with plant operations focused on meeting output and continuous improvement.

“Historically, production people really haven’t had the resources to look at energy monitoring because 15 different machines on the plant floor have different load requirements and demands, and it was just overwhelming to try to have a production manager really think about energy management," says Doug Ferguson, vice president of Americas Operations Services for Phoenix Contact.

However, that’s changing as more equipment data moves from the plant floor to third-party energy management software solutions.

“The current trend we’re seeing is a lot of the building automation companies, hardware vendors and the energy management application providers for standard commercial buildings move into the manufacturing space,” says Erik Dellinger, product manager for Internet of Things solutions at Kepware Technologies. The systems they provide often export energy data via XML from conveyor motors via OPC communication drivers into the cloud or energy dashboards for real-time visibility.

Seeing energy data is not a problem. “There’s a lot of options now,” Sinha says. “A lot of companies have emerged offering cloud-based visualization systems that are very easy to use.”

There are numerous third-party energy integrators with dashboard solutions, such as Pulse Energy and eSight Energy, but automation suppliers are in this space too. Siemens and Schneider Electric, for example, both offer cloudbased software with vertical integration of building and automation systems to manufacturers, aiding in business intelligence strategies for larger organizations.

Studying energy loads

One company taking a holistic approach to energy use in manufacturing, while updating its building controls systems with DDC, is automotive engine manufacturer Cummins. The company has been working with its local utility, Duke Energy, to better see the energy loads at its Rocky Mount, N.C., manufacturing facility.

The 1.2 million square foot facility makes about 150,000 engines a year, and compressed air—used to blow off chips from machining the engine blocks and heads—is a major energy factor. Some characterize compressed air as the fourth utility for industrial manufacturers, after electricity, gas and water. For Cummins, there’s no question about its importance.

At the Rocky Mount plant, Duke Energy helped design an energy management system that ties into the company’s existing building management system, where it looks at the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of compressed air used per engine line. The company has a dedicated staff watching air compressors in real time and compiling data logs of energy loads. About 12 main compressed air drops within the plant are metered.

“Rocky Mount is compressing about 20,000 CFM. It is the largest energy-consuming system within our plant,” says Mark VanDam, facilities engineer at Cummins’ Rocky Mount plant. “It accounts for about 25 percent of the electrical energy we use on a daily basis to compress air.”

At the Rocky Mount plant, they’re trying to pinpoint leaks or other equipment problems that could drive compressed air use up, VanDam says. “That data is logged every 15 minutes and then it logs the average every 15 minutes for us to see.”

Cummins is developing its own energy dashboard that drills down to plant floor lines to provide data for more Six Sigma improvements. “We’ll be able to give each individual business unit within the plant a CFM per part that they produce—basically, a measure so they can understand whether their usage is going up or down per part, and drive our energy cost down,” VanDam says. “We’re up to six different Six Sigma projects now, and there is a total savings of about $135,000 annually based on straight energy savings, including electrical energy as well as compressed air savings.”

Rocky Mount isn’t the only Cummins plant moving toward better energy visualization. The engine plant in Jamestown, N.Y., is at the end of a five-year plan to retrofit its entire building management system that will support a BACnet open architecture. Similar to Rocky Mount, compressed air use makes up about 20 percent of the plant’s electricity use.

“At Jamestown, there are three shift operations, but second shift is a maintenance shift. So one of the things we look at is to make sure that our load drops proportionally when production goes home for the second shift,” says David Burlee, plant engineering leader at the Jamestown facility. “With our metering program, we’re able to see a lot of things that we didn’t know existed around energy waste, particularly if the lines or areas are not working.”

Asset management

Data coming from the shop floor can lead to energy savings, certainly, but it can also provide equipment insights or better asset management practices. One opportunity comes from looking at power quality on the factory floor. Poor power quality management can increase power usage and damage devices, such as electrical motors, computers and industrial control equipment.

Three-phase power modules are a common solution and they monitor energy behavior for motors, production lines and motor control centers while transmitting data using industrial protocol standards such as Profibus, EtherNet/IP, CANopen and others.

The modules measure active, reactive and apparent power, total power consumption, power factors and phase shift angles, to name a few.

More importantly, energy data is just a dashboard away. “Our three-phase power measurement modules have an energy management dashboard that provides the engineer or technician with a quick view of the energy use of the system,” says Charlie Norz product manager at Wago.

Energy use at the device level is providing more real-time energy data, but networking solutions also allow plant managers to view bigger plant energy consumption patterns. For example, recent energy profile developments with Profinet and EtherNet/IP provide manufacturers with easier access to a bigger systems view.

The ProfiEnergy communication profile can transmit power demand information back to the controller to support more sophisticated energy savings strategies, including peak load management. Specific examples of peak load management include energy savings during brief and longer production pauses, and unscheduled downtime.

A white paper from ODVA called “CIP Energy Profiles” discusses the importance of a bigger view—a top-down approach—afforded by industrial networks. “Some devices may report very accurate energy data, but high accuracy is not really needed at the device level. There will usually be revenue-accurate meters upstream in the energy distribution network,” the paper notes. “This more complete energy picture provides valuable information on the energy behavior of a machine, zone, line or area, allowing users to make decisions that result in reduced energy usage and cost.”

Read more about how Manufacturers Leverage Best Practices from Better Plants Initiative.