Companies can save even more energy with analytics, automation

  • About two-thirds of energy efficiency potential remains untapped: Schneider Electric
  • Company offers free electricity monitoring solution to SMEs
Companies can save even more energy with analytics, automation

MANY companies have embarked on energy-saving measures, but they can save significantly more on their bills by using advanced analytics and automation technologies, according to Schneider Electric.
Businesses usually start this journey by changing to energy-saving lightbulbs and LED lights, and some even implement tools to monitor and analyse their power consumption, noted its Malaysia country president Soo Pow Leong (pic above).
However, there is still plenty more that can be done to improve energy efficiency. In fact, based on internal Schneider Electric research, about two-thirds of energy efficiency potential remains untapped, he argued.
“One of the methods companies can consider is automation,” he said.
According to Soo, one example would be a company that has switched to low-energy equipment that is not automated. Just forgetting to turn the switch off on a Friday evening would see a hefty electricity bill.
“However, when you automate it, even if there is no-one in the office, the sensors will detect it and the equipment will switch off by itself,” he told Malaysian media last week after announcing that Schneider Electric would be offering a free electricity-monitoring solution to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Soo said that the solution is aimed at helping Malaysian SMEs track real-time power conditions, minimise business downtime, and hopefully translate all this into an improved bottom-line.
SMEs wanting to use the electricity-monitoring software would however need to have a Schneider Electric switchboard, which comes with the company’s switches and meters.
The Schneider Electric team will then install some accessories onto the switchboard, as well as a ‘black box’ that can put critical data online. Users can get this data on their computers or mobile devices.
Not only is the software free, but the company will also not charge any fee for the work or the black box, according to Soo.
While declining to give an estimate of how much the black box, accessories and engineering work actually cost, he claimed that such accessories and installation fees could have set SMEs back about RM100,000 (more than US$24,000 at current rates) if all this was not free.
“With this new tool, commercial buildings, high-rise residences, food and beverage production facilities, and small manufacturing plants are much closer to undisrupted connectivity across the electrical distribution board, and a significantly reduced downtime from power disruption,” he said.
He said that power monitoring is a huge business in Malaysia, valued at RM300 million (US$73 million), and an organisation can typically spend RM100,000 upwards on a basic solution that includes power monitoring software and integration.
Monetisation strategy
For now, Schneider Electric’s plan is to ensure SMEs take up the free offer and are able to save energy after getting a clearer picture of their energy consumption behaviour.
In the longer-term, it hopes that SMEs, once they are familiar with the basic monitoring tool, may want to adopt advanced software, such as analytics.
“We are not talking about the quick hits like switching off lightbulbs and all,” said Soo.
“We are talking about people taking this information from advanced analytics and putting it to good use. They can save up to 8% to 15% [of their energy costs], depending on their operations,” he added.
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