How to Install and Use an Energy Management System


Intuitive graphics help facility managers visualize and compare consumption over time and in real time. Ready-to-go-templates identify vital statistics. (Click to enlarge.)

Organizations continuously strive to identify efficiencies and reduce costs. Electrical power makes up nearly half of energy expenditures, eclipsing petroleum, natural gas and coal. Finding ways to control energy costs is key – helping businesses stay competitive and providing a real advantage.

Reducing energy consumption does not mean that processes need to slow down or fundamentally change. It means doing more with less: maintaining operations with less power and costs.

But, it is hard to change energy habits without understanding how power is being used in a process, facility or enterprise. Finding effective ways to reduce power starts with the knowledge of how power is being used today, and has been used in the past. Quantifying and analyzing energy consumption is required to both identify an effective energy management strategy and to validate if it is working and power consumption is reduced once that strategy is put into effect.

Once power and energy data are measured, making sense of that exhaustive data to identify vital statistics is crucial to identifying effective strategies to improve the efficiency and reliability of the facility by focusing on the most energy-hogging habits (for the biggest returns) and implementing changes that save energy in the immediate and long term.

Armed with real information particular to a specific process or facility, utility bills can be checked and reduced. Yet, the challenge is knowing what data to measure, how to track and manage that data from both new and aging equipment, and how that information can be used to understand and address current and potential issues.

Track Power Consumption

Added Value: Virtural Meters
Not every meter needs to be a piece of hardware. In some situations, a virtual meter (established through software and reporting programs) can track and analyze energy consumption, much like a real meter. When electrical power consumption is known for two out of three electrical circuits, and total power consumption is metered, power management software can create a virtual meter for the third circuit, providing an ongoing calculation. Virtual devices can be tracked and managed just like any real devices.

The first step is understanding how much power a piece of equipment or a plant is consuming. The electric bill is not going to provide the level of detail required. Advanced power meters are needed, as they provide accurate real-time system values, and capture waveforms and power quality events to add intelligence and save costs. Meters can identify the harmonics, voltage fluctuations, transient over-voltage conditions and other conditions that can wreak havoc on equipment and processes, while also capturing power and energy data from equipment.

Meters keep a continual log of electrical parameters including volts, amps, watts, kilowatt-hours and power factor. Typically, meters are installed at the largest loads that use 2,000 A or more. Critical loads are also typically metered.

Power quality meters should first be installed at the service entrance to establish the overall baseline and data points. This provides information on both the quality of the power the utility is delivering and the amount of power consumed. Now, if there is a discrepancy between the utility charges and what is consumed, actual consumption can be demonstrated to the utility along with power quality data.

Today there is an excellent selection of meters that are Ethernet-enabled, allowing remote monitoring and data logging, which eliminates the need for manual reading of legacy analog meters that require personnel to visit equipment and record the data.

Energy Costs

Energy cost allocation reports can inspire facility and department managers to help find and implement energy efficiencies that can go directly to the bottom line. (Click to enlarge.)


Gather Information

Knowledge is power. Yet, having just power data on a particular circuit or load from the meter does not provide all the information required to manage power consumption across a system or facility. Data needs to be aggregated and accessed – not at the circuit or load, but rather where the facility or energy manager sits.

Intelligent gateways can collect energy and power data, helping facility managers make the decisions and take the steps required to reduce energy usage and lower operating costs. As most facilities include equipment from multiple manufacturers, gateways that use an open communication architecture and connect to legacy electrical equipment from multiple manufacturers are key. Gateways allow facility managers to collect power and energy data from a variety of equipment and access that information from a single point.

Gateways can be used with small systems or scaled for organizations with multiple facilities. For small systems, web-enabled gateways can be a standalone solution, logging and trending energy and power data, comparing information across devices and delivering the information through on-board web pages via a standard web browser. In addition, many gateways can also serve as data collection and alarm notification delivery points.


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