Whither the Weather? WeatherBug Helps Plants Adjust

One way to make sure that a building uses energy efficiently is to brace for extremes in the weather.

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A good portion of a building’s energy gets consumed during the year’s 10 hottest days and 10 coldest days. If you know the range in weather, you can set the limits on energy consumption based on the extremes. “You design the heating and cooling so it keeps the building warm on the 10 coldest days and cool on the 10 hottest days,” says Ivan Spronk, product manager for AC drives and Softstarts at supplier Schneider Electric, in Palatine, Ill. “The rest of the days, you don’t run at full capacity.”

One company decided to take weather data and make it available to automation systems so plants could better plan their energy needs. Kepware Technologies Inc., of Portland, Maine, signed an agreement with WeatherBug—you may have it on your computer—to take weather feeds from 8,000 tracking stations in North America and aggregate it for use in automation systems. “Numerous manufacturing processes are impacted by temperature, humidity and other weather factors daily, and this impact can be costly to the bottom line,” says John Doherty, senior vice president for WeatherBug, in Germantown, Md.

The use of WeatherBug information data is designed to help plant managers track real-time local weather data, including forecasts and severe weather alerts. “We’ve written a driver that taps into the WeatherBug stations and pulls the data out and feeds in into a communication and automation system,” says Roy Kok, vice president of marketing and sales at Kepware. “With the data, you can make decisions about your building based on the forecast.”

Feature Article - Automation Takes On Facilities Management
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