There is no doubt: that every industry has become more tech-driven than ever before, marking a trend that will keep increasing. While this has many benefits, it has also raised concerns about our energy consumption, to the point where experts estimate it will almost double in the next two decades.
Yes, the market for renewable energy is thriving, but we are still a long way from where we need to be. Along with a growing demand for process automation and operational efficiency, the Internet of Things (IoT) has come up as an attractive solution for highly-efficient energy management.
With the help of IT outsourcing services, many companies around the world are starting to apply IoT strategies to their products and devices. From smart home technology to completely integrated urban systems, it’s crucial that we implement an IoT mindset in our energy management strategies.
IoT and Energy
The basic premise of the IoT is connecting devices, gathering data, and personalizing the technology. This course of action is fully scalable, meaning that it works regardless of whether we’re looking at a large factory, a public building, or a single-family home. This way, the impact of IoT in the energy industry comes down to 4 key points:
- Maximizing Energy Efficiency: Thanks to the improved control over energy consumption that IoT provides, organizations can significantly reduce their CO2 emissions and carbon footprint.
- Saving Costs: Consuming less energy also means paying for less energy. IoT solutions help organizations cut maintenance and operating expenses through modern systems that minimize human intervention.
- Increasing Power Supply Reliability: IoT energy systems offer a more stable and reliable source of power since all devices maintain constant communication with each other.
- Gathering Data: IoT energy devices collect and process large amounts of data, which can be used to elaborate real-time insights regarding the system’s performance. This way, it is possible to execute predictive maintenance models and improve general safety measures.
Some IoT Energy Solutions
Monitoring and Maintenance
Keeping track of numerous system metrics can get really complicated really fast. With the help of IoT, it becomes easier to closely monitor the overall performance, health, and efficiency of the system.
This, in turn, simplifies decision-making and maintenance protocols. It all leads to the prevention of unexpected shutdowns and to fewer manual checks, which are often very wasteful and work-intensive.
This is exactly what General Electric (GE) does to monitor the output and productivity of its equipment. By implementing smart sensors on their devices and using the resulting data, the company implemented a predictive maintenance model that is manageable from mobile devices and other easy-to-access platforms.
With it, GE can effectively plan and forecast their equipment’s maintenance needs. In the end, this model helps them achieve higher operating efficiency and minimize downtime.
When we combine the Internet of Things with Artificial Intelligence, it’s possible to build fully-autonomous systems. Using Machine Learning, a system can actually learn what to do and what not to do according to the circumstances.
As a result, it is able to automatically adjust its efficiency and performance to better save energy while maintaining optimal performance, minimizing the need for constant manual equipment tampering.
The effect of machine learning is particularly interesting in the manufacturing industry, which historically has been an early adopter. Their automation solutions employ robotics and sophisticated digital solutions that increase productivity, reduce system failures, distribute workloads, and drive innovation.
A great example of this can be found in the German conglomerate Siemens, which has been using neural networks to monitor its steel plants in search of potential problems that might be affecting its efficiency.
Through a combination of sensors installed in its equipment and with the help of its own smart cloud (called Mindsphere), Siemens is capable of monitoring, recording, and analyzing every step involved in the manufacturing process.
When you connect a series of smart energy meters along a single network, you get a smart energy grid. A smart grid will consist of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together. These technologies will work with the electrical grid to respond digitally to our quickly changing electric demand.
Smart grids are not just about utilities and technologies, though. They are also about giving us, the consumers, the information and tools we need to make choices about our energy consumption.
We could be managing how much energy we use just like we manage our bank accounts. Using smart meters and other mechanisms, consumers can take a close look at how much electricity they use, when they use it, and its real cost.
For example, Duke Energy, a Florida-based company, and a renewable energy development company have been using a “self-healing grid system” which is designed to automatically re-calibrate itself after a power outage and, as a result, minimize downtime.
On a larger scale, the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was one of the first to implement smart grid technology. This investment resulted in over 50% shorter outages and helped the community save over $1.4 million in operating costs during a single storm.
Some Final Words
The Internet of Things is full of promise and potential but is still a conceptual leap for most people and companies. Its effects benefit everyone, from savvy business owners looking to cut energy consumption to large companies running multiple energy plants that need to automate operations.
Without a doubt, IoT is on a path to changing the way we live for the better, and investing in smart energy is a great idea.