Opto 22 and
Vancouver-based Pulse Energy are teaming up to help companies capture energy
usage data, pinpoint problems and reduce costs. Using a new energy monitoring
appliance to gather streams of data and a hosted software application for
viewing and analytics, the goal is to make it easier for industrial customers
to monitor energy consumption and use the information to reduce utility bills.
Opto 22's OptoEMU Sensor energy
monitoring appliance couples with the Pulse energy management software to connect
to customers' metering devices, electrical panels, machines and equipment and
then deliver comprehensive energy-related data over standard networks and the
Web for viewing and analysis.
"In the industrial sector, the
general rule is that energy is not accounted for in the same way as other costs
in a process or manufacturing facility," says Arun Sinha, director of business
development for Opto 22. "Automation vendors tend to deal with plant engineers
and technicians that are running the machinery or process. While these
individuals may be very familiar with measurement and control of processes and
parameters, energy is not typically part of that from a usage and cost
Sinha says the cost of energy to run
a machine or process often dwarfs all of the other costs combined, but is
typically considered overhead and a fixed cost. There is normally no
correlation between the plant floor and payment of the energy bill, or a goal
of putting energy consumption into the bill of materials for a product being
"With energy management systems, there are
expensive and complicated solutions on one end of the spectrum, and home energy
monitoring devices on the other end," says Sinha. "We feel the technology is
moving somewhere in between and have developed an energy monitoring appliance
which is based on automation technology but geared toward a new group of
stakeholders. This may not be the person who knows how to program a PLC or PAC,
or has the skill set required to use Wonderware, Intellution or Citect."
On the hardware side, this new
approach to energy monitoring can be deployed by everyday facilities and
maintenance personnel, with no controls experience, and configured using web
pages - similar to the way a user can configure a home router.
The second part is how to visualize
the data, so that business executives and IT personnel can access it using
cloud-based computing, which is growing in popularity.
"What we have done is developed an energy
monitoring appliance that a user can connect and configure via web pages and,
with the click of a button, post captured energy data to a cloud application,"
says Sinha. "That data could be from a building main, a subpanel or down to a
specific piece of equipment like a compressor or semiconductor machine."
Pulse Energy is one of two
"connectors" currently available with the OptoEMU device; the other is a free
tool called Google PowerMeter
. Both are hosted applications, which means
data capture and communications doesn't need to be hosted locally and there is
no need for a server or local data logging.
Using Google PowerMeter, the authorization
process consists of setting up a Gmail account and all captured data becomes
associated with that account for instantaneous viewing of kilowatt hours on the
web. The Pulse Energy connection takes things a step further and provides a
more comprehensive software tool. After data is posted, users are issued a
license key to use the paid service.
Pulse offers real-time data
monitoring and detailed analytics such as predictive curves, plus the ability
to perform calculations and create triggers based on specific thresholds.
Automatic emails can be sent based on reaching a threshold, which provides
alarming, and there are also extensive reporting functions. The analytics are
aimed at the facility manager and the reporting is geared to finance and
business executives. Reports include things like the actual dollar cost per
hour, day, week, etc., for running a machine or facility, as well as greenhouse
gas emission totals.
The Pulse Energy tool also provides
dashboards for "occupant engagement", where the idea is to inform and educate
company employees or building residents by presenting data on a screen in a
lobby or perhaps an LCD panel in a break room.
Once an appliance is installed, the
user can capture energy data in a couple of ways. One is using the discrete
inputs to accept incoming pulses from devices such as utility and subpanel
meters. Pulses are scaled in the configuration screens using data from the
local utility, with one pulse representing a specific number of kilowatt hours.
The plan for the future is to include gas and water meters as well, which also
provide pulse outputs.
Another method is by direct
connection using current transformer inputs and voltage, typically at the
building mains using clamp-on CTs. The appliance scales and processes the data,
so that what is presented in the Pulse Energy SaaS application represents real
time demand in kilowatts. While the general implementation strategy is to start
at the building main, the next level of granularity would be to deploy devices
at subpanels or establish a direct connection to an actual machine. Large
motors are good candidates, but users can also monitor a specific production
line or machines such as a boilers, chillers and compressors.
Sinha says one advantage is that
users can look at energy from a macro perspective, including total building
consumption, or take a more granular view to track usage for sections of a
manufacturing floor, individual devices or machines.
create the interface to Pulse Energy, Opto 22 used PAC automation technology
and re-packaged it to create the energy monitoring appliance. The configuration
is fixed, with multiple inputs, no outputs and packaged in an enclosure which
can be mounted onto a wall or panel. No control programming software is
required to configure the unit and users
can utilize web pages to configure the device. Both wired and wireless Ethernet
interfaces are available, along with a serial port.
In Version 2, Opto 22 plans to utilize those
ports to provide standard connectors to EMS systems and power quality analyzers
via standard Ethernet and serial protocols like Modbus and BACnet. And though
the OptoEMU Sensor is designed to provide energy data to non-automation
personnel, by using OPC and other common industrial protocols, the appliance is
able to share data with traditional plant floor equipment like PLCs, PACs and