The advent of smart devices, technologies such as advanced connectivity, e-commerce, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication are instigating the energy and utilities industry across the world to optimize efficiency and embrace new business models.
IoT and other technologies make it possible to improve operational efficiency of plants and grids by enabling close monitoring of assets and performance as well as improved asset maintenance and visibility. With technology making grids more intelligent, functions such as detection of energy loss or theft, outage management, balancing energy demand and supply and demand response can become much simpler. Solutions such as Home Energy Management are making it easier for consumers to remotely monitor and control home devices, analyze and control usage, enable new energy services and also benefiting utilities in a number of areas such as securing accurate inputs from the smart appliances and home devices towards demand forecasting, including alerts around variances.
IoT in the the Energy and Utilities industry stands precisely on 3 pillars – Data, Device and Design.
Data collected from the grid at regular intervals can be analyzed to derive useful insights into the functioning of the grid. For example, one of our clients, a provider of wind turbines, connected the wind turbines to a remote Smart Machines server using iAPT device server. The data collected from the turbines was transmitted to the Smart Machines server at a pre-decided frequency. This data was not only used to calculate the key performance indicators such as grid parameters, wind measurements, energy produced, etc. but also helped ensure uptime through monitoring real time parameters and alarms. Any variation between expected production and actual production was monitored closely to ensure that operations remained in the safe productivity zone.
This implementation helped improve uptime by 10% and reduced support and maintenance cost by 25%. It also made it root cause detection easier using statistical analysis of alarm data.
Collection of data for analysis necessitates the use of connected, IoT enabled /smart devices to capture valuable data that can improve substation and transmission automation. One of our customers, a fabless semiconductor company in the wireless and broadband communication space, was looking to develop a smart tag based solution for remote lighting sensor and control development. Through automation of Blu-ray chipset, Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) based communication and BLE to Wi-Fi Bridge enhancements to support control over internet, the customer was able to demonstrate ability to remotely control the dimmers while also tracking energy usage.
Another client, a leader in heating, ventilation and air conditioning products, systems, parts and services for commercial buildings, engaged us to help ensure optimal performance of their chillers. As a first step, we studied the existing chiller system after identifying performance parameters such as pressure conditions, temperatures, motor amps and pump on/off conditions for monitoring. The data was acquired from the chillers through MCS-8 Controllers. An intelligent data communication box iAPT acted as a device server and made this data available locally as well as to a remote Smart Machines web server.
By doing this, the customer is able to use the chiller at its optimal performance, saving electrical energy by up-to 15%. Additionally, early identification of faults is helping in preventive maintenance.
No matter how many functionalities a technology offers, the eventual usage depends heavily on how user-friendly the interface is. And design plays a crucial role here. Designing rich, interactive experiences for utilities is a critical component of any implementation. For a US based global technology company that build smart metering systems and solutions to help utilities measure, manage and analyze energy and water, we built unique and engaging user experiences thus modernizing existing smart metering set ups and solutions driving higher customer satisfaction.
Data, device and design supported by a cloud infrastructure can drive the next level of digital innovation for the energy and utilities industry. In the end, utilities that embrace innovative technologies can gain first-mover advantage.
We’re very excited to participate in the European Utility Week 2015(EUW), one of the most important events for this sector, from 3rd-5th of November in Vienna Austria to experience how device, design and data can create a positive impact on the world of energy and utilities.