"An important development is the capability to go into sleep mode, and eventually to command equipment to shut down, depending on external factors such as the price of electricity or if the plant might be ready to incur a demand charge," said Crowley. "For an industrial plant, the demand charge can be 25 percent or more of the monthly bill."
A user can implement the ability to do load shedding today, but it takes a lot of custom engineering to implement this kind of system. If this capability is built into the equipment, it will take less time to implement these kinds of energy-saving methodologies.
"The ability for more devices or subsystems to participate in the energy management process will provide greater granularity to the energy management system," Cliff Whitehead, manager, Business Development at Rockwell Automation, and another member of the ODVA working group, told us, going on to say:
The plant can continue to maintain production while taking action in some other part of the plant that is at a lower priority, for example. More devices and subsystems following a standard reporting methodology will create a more comprehensive view of actual energy usage throughout the plant, so those decisions can be supported based more on facts than guesses.
Historically, in industrial facilities, power or energy management systems have been unique and highly tailored to a particular customer. Many plants use control systems that combine PLC processors, I/O and metering, and an application that implements algorithms for the power management function.
"What we are hoping to do with the CIP Energy and Power Management Module is to provide a standardized interface, reporting capabilities, and services that make the connection of an application for energy or power management much simpler and more straightforward," said Morgan. "The goal is that an industrial power management system doesn't have to be quite as complex, customized, or one-of-a-kind as in the past."
Vendors like Rockwell Automation or Schneider Electric will then be able to create energy management systems that a user could purchase. Rather than spending weeks programming the system, a menu could be used to configure the system for a particular application.
Whitehead went on to say:
You can see the steps ODVA is taking with the use cases, and splitting the second use case into two distinct parts. The real challenge is going to begin now. The first two phases were fundamental in setting the stage, and there weren't a lot of major hurdles to overcome. The Common Industrial Protocol is well-known technology, but now the challenge becomes the leap into more of a comprehensive view of energy management and closing the loop to allow more optimization.
Then we can talk about the third use case which is transacting things through the energy supply chain, and crossing the line from inside the plant to engaging with the utility. That will produce a new set of challenges around the buzzword that is the smart grid, and we'll see about that when we get done with 2b and get our minds wrapped around how we want to take on that challenge.
We're in a good position with vendors engaged. As products start to roll out onto the market in the not-too-distant future, we will start to allow our end-user customers and machine builders to take advantage of this technology and help save energy for everybody.