For better energy management, tap into your data historian

Users of energy management applications are learning that the data these applications collect can help improve the performance of production equipment and processes.


Big Data, as you may already know, is the current Big Thing in the Information technology space.  A technical description of Big Data and how it can impact business operations sounds like this: 

Data science and innovative analytical algorithms are helping companies improve business operations by tapping into vast amounts of data stored in disparate systems and then leveraging previously unrealized data correlations. 

Stated more simply, Big Data is about finding ways of making practical use of the massive amounts of information companies create in the course of doing business, and thus is stored on the corporate networks. 

Most of the buzz surrounding Big Data centers on its potential value to sales and marketing pros. Those folks are told that using advanced analytic applications to slice and dice all the information generated in the process of making sales and filling orders can give them better insight into their customers’ needs and desires. And, of course, that knowledge is supposed help the company target customers with offers that will entice them to buy more of their product or service, and make those purchase decisions sooner. 

As is the case with most technology, however, developers are finding ways of applying Big Data beyond the realms of sales and marketing.  We have discovered, for instance, that there are instances in which Big Data tools can enhance industrial energy management.

To a large extent, energy management technology developers have been applying the central concepts associated with Big Data for some time. They may carry such a splashy label Big Data, but many energy management applications are built around the concept of collecting and analyzing data related to energy usage, and then using data to enact processes that make operations more energy efficient.

Beyond energy efficiency

In many cases, users of energy management applications also are finding that the data these applications collect can also help them improve the performance of production equipment. Sometimes, the data also gives plant managers ideas about how to improve production processes. 

In the cover story to this Industrial Energy Management supplement, Patty Solberg, director of product marketing at Powerit Solutions, makes these points, among others, as she persuasively argues that manufacturers should cease be hesitant to adopt industrial management technology.  In most cases, she argues, the perceived hurdles are not nearly as difficult to overcome as they seem. And, in all cases, those who fail to adopt energy management technology are forfeiting huge financial benefits. 

In our second article, Chris Davis from LinkCycle Inc.—a true Big Data vendor—explains how this technology is being used to allow commercial building managers to audit energy use solely through software, allowing them to achieve energy savings much more quickly, and inexpensively, than  using traditional methods. 

He also explains how industrial enterprises—given the greater complexity of their operations—can reap even greater financial regards from joining the Big Data movement. 

Our final piece focuses on how to reduce energy consumption of refrigeration systems, which are among the heaviest users of energy in plants where they operate. The idea is to look at all refrigeration units as a single, integrated system. That means, as you’ve probably guessed by now, analyzing total energy use, finding the points of leakage and design methods to make the entire system more efficient. 

The bottom line here is whether it’s big, medium or small, the first step in creating an effective energy management strategy, is using the data that already exists within your enterprise. 

Sidney Hill, Jr., is a CFE Media Contributing Content Specialist. Edited for the CFE Media Industrial Energy Management section in February. Send comments to

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.