Opto 22 used its PAC automation technology and repackaged it to create the energy-monitoring appliance. The configuration is fixed with multiple inputs, no outputs, and can be mounted on a wall or panel.
Source: Opto 22
I would imagine that real-time data on energy usage would have the additional benefit of being an alert to the health of the plant. I would think a spike in usage could be an early sign of breakdowns -- or coming breakdowns -- on the line.
In my previous position, I had noticed more and more customers requesting some type of energy monitoring. This serves 2 purposes. One, of course, is cost. However, the other was to make sure what we were saying in our sales presentations was actually what we were delivering.
This is a hugely important story as implementation of energy efficiency strategies become a focus at plants everywhere. Closely related is the shift to alternative energy sources. For more on that, I invite you to check out the new Webcast, "Clean Energy: Wind, Solar, or Biofuels?" (we talk about batteries, too) I hosted with guest Brian MacCleery, Principal product manager for clean energy technology at National Instruments.
Energy Usage has been an important subject for a long time in many different industries. We are just now beginning to provide adequate software and hardware mechanisms to monitor energy consumption in our computer centers. Years ago I worked in semiconductor manufacturing and everytime we had new servers added to the manufacturing environment we had to get approval from the local government agencies because of its impact on the power grid. And yet with all of this monitoring I can't help but notice that we still waste a lot of energy. Our servers generate a lot of heat and the rooms have to stay cool to keep the servers running. It would be nice if that heat can be redirected to other parts of the building. We should have smart monitoring mechanisms that can help us use energy more effeciently.
Alex, Monitoring is definitely a key to more effectively managing energy efficiency in plants. If you can identify savings, you can justify the expenditures that will save in the long term. But avoiding peak demand is the real payback area, when costs spike on those hot summer afternoons. Low hanging fruit when it comes to more effective energy management.