Convert Data Into Results You Can Use

Aug. 3, 2016
Learn how to apply aggregation and analysis tools to discover opportunities for savings.

When it comes to energy visibility and energy management, how you do it is just as important as what you do. It’s not enough to make the commitment and install the sensors and meters. Logging all the data to a central repository won’t deliver the results you seek. You often have ton have a concrete goal and a strategy for achieving it. Follow these tips to set yourself and your organization on the road to success.

1. Target a problem

The process doesn’t start with the data, it starts with a pain point. What are the issues you’re trying to address, whether that’s excess utility spending, repeated downtime, or inconsistent performance among facilities? Don’t try to cover everything. Don’t capture massive amounts of data just because you can. Start with a problem on a manageable scale, preferably in one location. Determine exactly what you need to solve the problem. Most important, have a strategy for how you plan to use the data before you ever think about actually acquiring it.

2. Go deep

If the first step is to start small in terms of defining the scope of the issue, the second step is to go large, in terms of gathering granular enough data around that single issue to provide meaningful input. Looking at a utility bill once a month or once a quarter does not provide insight. Monitoring needs to take place on the order of days, shifts, or even hours.

To be useful, data acquisition should go beyond simply tracking energy usage over time. Consumption can be analyzed geographically: country to country, state to state, facility to facility, environment to environment. It can also take place on an equipment level: facility to facility, line to line, machine to machine, and even axis to axis. Human factors provide another avenue to insight: facility to facility, shift to shift, operator to operator. This last enables analysis to identify best practices and also staffers who may need more comprehensive training.

Supported by this type of information, analysis can become more sophisticated, going beyond just power usage over time to the amount of energy required per product manufactured.

3. Break the process into three parts

Once you have the data, you need the aggregation and analysis tools to transfer it to a relational database environment where it can be accessed for a range of operations. There are three levels of working with data:

  • Energy monitoring: What energy is being used and how?
  • Energy analysis: What are the peak consumers? How does energy usage change over time?
  • Energy management: Can we put rules and equipment in place so that when equipment exceeds thresholds, it automatically compensates?

To accrue savings, you need to follow through on all three.

4. Make the data easily accessible

Traditional energy audits provide useful information but they are just a snapshot in time. They define how the system is acting now but not how it will be in the future. They’re not very useful for monitoring equipment to perform predictive maintenance, for example. For machine health monitoring, you need visualization and analysis software that can serve up data on a near-real-time basis. It should be accessible simultaneously to staff throughout your organization, not just those behind desks on the top floor after overnight off-line batch processing.

Look for visualization and analysis software with fast-start tools that enable users to access preconfigured data plots and reports, and assemble dashboards. It should also allow them to apply filters and customize cross correlation so that individuals with different job roles can leverage the results to meet their objectives. Web-based applications make fresh data available to staff on the production floor, managers in offices, and to anyone off site over portable devices.

5. Look beyond monitoring and analysis

After gathering the data and converting it to actionable information, your next objective should be to establish procedures to apply the information. This can be as simple as sending an alert when the levels exceed preset thresholds. The system can deliver it in the form of an alarm on the control panel or HMI, a message to the maintenance staff, or an email to the facilities manager. A more sophisticated and effective approach is to automate the system so that when it reaches the trigger point, the controller recognizes a problem and initiates corrective action independent of human intervention. The ultimate goal is for the equipment itself to reduce energy consumption throughout the facility.

6. Turn to the experts

Developing the kind of factory visibility discussed above delivers huge benefits but it’s not a trivial task. Thanks to purpose-built applications, you no longer need a team of developers and software architects to get things running. What you may need, though, is an experienced integrator who can guide you through the process and get you to the point of realizing value as rapidly as possible. Alternatively, work with your vendors. Tap their expertise as you work on your system. You can also take advantage of cloud services that deliver visibility without the headaches. Today’s connectivity tools protect even the most sensitive data and systems from outside incursions.

In a complex global marketplace marked by fierce competition, you need every possible competitive advantage you can get. Energy monitoring, analysis, and management offer opportunities to cut waste and realize substantial savings. By following these simple tips, you can be well on your way to realizing value and return on investment in as little as six months.

Inside the Solution: Iconics

The key to performance improvement in savings isn’t data, it’s converting that data into actionable information. “This is about seeing what you can do with the data if you slice it and dice it in different ways to gather insights,” says Jotham Kildea, business development manager at e-F@ctory Alliance member Iconics. The company has developed a suite of analytics software tools, including Mitsubishi Electric’s MC Works64 visualization software suite and AX Energy analytics, for just that purpose. These software tools feature preconfigured and easily customizable data analysis routines that present data in easily consumable formats. This enables users at all levels to simultaneously view equipment and facilities information. With the results, they can increase overall equipment effectiveness and cut cost of operations.

In the manufacturing space, energy analytics and management is very much a balancing act. “It’s obviously about driving a decrease in energy usage but not at the expense of productivity,” Kildea says. “If you want to save tons of energy, you can just turn off your facility. You have to make money, though, so you have to figure out a way to do things more efficiently.”

Paired with deep data acquisition, the software can monitor energy usage to a very detailed level. MC Works64 and AX Energy feature drill-down functionality that enables users to view data filtered by any parameter they desire to uncover hidden sources of energy waste. These insights make it possible to reschedule and modify operations to minimize peak energy usage.

These types of deep insights can deliver significant savings. Sometimes, though, even simple awareness of the amount of money being spent can lead to important changes. “When you’re paying a certain rate a month for energy, it doesn’t really mean much unless you have a basis for comparison,” says Adam Meunier, product marketing manager at Iconics. “It’s a very different story when you’re looking at actual numbers to see what this is costing you, I think just being aware of it is a huge advantage."

Further reading:



AX Energy

MC Works64

Previous issues ofCreating Productivity

Making the Factory of the Future, Today

Cutting Total Cost of Ownership

Taming the Data Monster

Meet the tools:

AX Energy

Conserving energy is the right thing to do, both environmentally and economically. Given the amount of data and the complexity of the analytics involved, however, it can be challenging to pull off. Enter Mitsubishi Electric’s AX Energy, a web-based energy-management application that can slash utility bills by up to 25% annually. Designed for easy deployment and fast ROI, it analyzes the output from thousands of meters to present key performance indicators in a rich visualization environment. The Site Summary Overview, for example, presents details of overall energy consumption, cost, and carbon footprint. The ISA95-compliant Asset Tree feature makes it easy to drill down to reports and charts for equipment and locations throughout the operation. Because the application is web deployed, users can access it from a range of platforms, including PCs, mobile phones, tablets, and HMIs. It’s available out of the box with preset calculations that can be easily customized to suit specialized requirements

MC Works64

The Mitsubishi Electric MC Works64 suite of HMI/SCADA software combines ease-of-use with full configurability to deliver deep factory visibility wherever you are. Offering detailed analytics, powerful graphics tools and the ability to serve up custom dashboards for a variety of job roles, MC Works64 makes it easy to convert data into actionable information. With the right insights at your fingertips, you can boost productivity, cut costs and deliver the best possible products to your customers.

It starts with streamlined connectivity. Combined with Mitsubishi Electric’s MX OPC server, MC Works64 can connect to Mitsubishi Electric controllers connected by CC-Link, Ethernet, or serial bus. Using third-party OPC servers, customers can use MC Works64 to link to any other device. This makes it straightforward to capture data from the array of smart components across your factory floor for use by MC Works64. Then, the native .NET SCADA application enables you to serve that data using a variety of tools, including:

· Real-time and historical 3-D charts and analytics

· Distributed alarm management

· Fault detection and diagnostics

· A workbench designed to simplify configuration

· MC Mobile, to enable access from portable devices

· A cloud-ready distributed architecture

· Real-time control event scheduling

The best performance in the world is meaningless if the product leaves your organization vulnerable to incursion. That’s why Mitsubishi Electric built MC Works 64 with enterprise-class resiliency and security. In addition, the software contains a number of tools designed to make it easy to export data to spreadsheets and other analytical programs.Click here to learn more.

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