Energy Management in a Heartbeat

Energy Management EKG
A few days ago I was on the phone with a colleague, who mentioned an off-the-cuff comment he overheard our CEO, Marcus Wilcox make. Marcus was talking about a presentation we were putting together for a client. The presentation showed images from our energy tracking software, SENSEI’s user interface, including a screenshot showing interval data. Marcus said, “Look at this. This is the heartbeat of their company. They’re going to want to see this.”

At the time, I laughed with my colleague and agreed that it was a cool image and the data really did look like an EKG. Then, my own heart skipped a beat, when my co-worker said, “Hey we should come up with a new tagline for SENSEI. Something like: SENSEI—it’s the heartbeat of your company—or your energy management program…”

Long story, short, I ran the idea by our marketing manager, who pretty much shot it down, saying we already had a perfectly good tagline for SENSEI: Your Energy ROI Starts Here—and we shouldn’t go changing it up on a whim. But I can’t get it out of my head. I think the metaphor really holds true. After all, energy is at the heart of any industrial facility. If the health or success of a company depends, in part, on how effectively it uses energy, then energy monitoring becomes extremely important.

Traditionally many companies went to their utility bills to review their energy spend, which certainly painted a picture of the high cost of energy (probably giving more than a few CEOs heart palpitations.) But, the utility bill survey doesn’t come close to answering the question: How can we manage energy better?

Another approach involves energy monitoring in a spreadsheet and tracking meter data at regular intervals to get some idea of month-to-month or year-over-year trends. But, while that approach permits entry of multiple sets of energy data, it doesn’t drill down to specific information around what’s working and what’s not.

To gain deeper insight into the health of your facilities you need interval data monitoring. Interval data is the EKG equivalent, showing the heartbeat of your facility, while monitoring via monthly bill tracking is more like taking your pulse once a month.

Most basic energy tracking software solutions provide access to interval data and automated reporting features that make it easier to report and share data with key stakeholders. More information shared with more people with less effort is a good thing.

But then, once you get into interval data monitoring adding a predicative energy model, created through statistical analysis, can help you gain a much deeper knowledge of the true health of your energy management program.

Predicted energy modeling provides a valuable window into your facility’s energy performance and accumulated savings over time. The model helps to identify and account for key energy drivers, such as weather and production, so the impact of other changes can be measured to give you an accurate picture of the health of your systems and your energy savings tracked over time.

SENSEI takes the basic energy EKG and predictive model one step further by tagging specific events. (What doctor wouldn’t want to look at an advanced EKG and see the history of his or her patient’s actions? This is where you stopped smoking. And this is what happened after you ate that “Widow Maker” burger at Claim Jumper.)

energy tracking software

Integrating event tagging with facility interval data and a predictive model showing your cumulative energy gains offers a complete picture of your facility’s energy use. When all energy-saving activities are tagged on the graph like a time stamp, you can zero in on what’s driving the increased efficiency. Conversely, if specific actions have a negative impact on energy efficiency, they can be quickly identified and corrected.

This powerful view, combined with a robust energy management program that includes operations and maintenance (O&M) actions and capital improvement measures, is a tremendous motivational tool for staff. It also provides justification to upper management that you have an energy efficiency program worth investing in—one that will help your company thrive for years to come.


SENSEI Wins Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award!


environemental energy efficiency award

“The product scores in terms of the ease of use, adaptability (customizable) and the immediate results that it can deliver for customers,” says one of the Environmental Leader Product and Project Awards judges.

A panel of 20 judges reviewed Environmental Leader’s project and product nominations this year. One judge asserted that the competition was high and there were some tough choices to make. In spite of the stiff competition, SENSEI™ won in the product category.

SENSEI is Cascade Energy’s advanced energy software solution designed to drive continuous, cost-effective savings for industrial facilities worldwide. The platform does much more than merely monitor energy consumption. The only solution on the market that’s designed by industrial energy efficiency experts, SENSEI changes behavior by connecting people to energy information, actions to results, and energy-efficiency projects to measurable returns.

According to Environmental Leader’s review of SENSEI, another judge “complimented the product on its web-based capabilities, energy analytics, focus on industrial operations, and focus on the human factors, adding that it is especially good in its integration with existing MES software in manufacturing.”

SENSEI helps manage workflows by allowing users to tag, open, and close events, assign tasks to individuals and allow all stakeholders to communicate about events and issues. Unlike many tools on the market today, SENSEI is easy to use and can be up and running in a matter of weeks—not months. When compared to other energy software solutions, SENSEI is unique because it:
1. Accommodates all data streams: interval, monthly, utility bill, water/sewer, production, etc.

2. Displays energy performance data and events in a meaningful way so users can easily create and save the views they need.

3. Tracks true energy savings so end users can understand and communicate ROI.

4. Provides push reports and alarms that notify end-users when energy anomalies occur, so that immediate action can be taken.

SENSEI creates an energy intensity baseline based on sophisticated normalization equations (regression analysis) to account for changes in weather, production, operating schedules, etc. This baseline gives an industrial facility the power to accurately track all of their energy efficiency initiatives and render their energy stories visually.

The platform’s reporting options allow engineers to quickly view their facility’s baseline vs. actual performance, enter the maintenance actions taken, track current projects, as well as energy and cost savings to-date.

When industrial companies curb their energy spend and reduce operating expenses they free up capital to invest back into the company and its employees—thus increasing competitive edge and the ability to more quickly adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. SENSEI gives companies and their employees’ visibility to the direct effect their actions have on energy performance and dollars saved.

Case Study

In 2009 a Cascade Energy client, running a large food and beverage distribution enterprise, launched an initiative to reduce their energy costs and consumption. After working with Cascade the company reduced energy use overall, by more than 28%. Cascade introduced SENSEI and suggested that the new, cloud-based platform could help them be more effective at monitoring and understanding the impact of their energy improvements. The company was immediately interested, particularly so, because monitoring solutions they’d used in the past weren’t fully meeting their needs. With SENSEI, all of the clients’ sites can see and share data logs. Their operations staff has instant access to real-time information about energy-saving actions taken, and all stakeholders can view rich information revealing whether a change helps or hurts energy efficiency.