Exciting New Features in Projects!

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We’re introducing new features in SENSEI projects based on our customers’ feedback. These changes will help you answer the questions “What are we doing now?” and “What’s next?” to help you stay on target.  Here’s a review of key changes you’ll notice the next time you log in.

SENSEI’s 2016 Year in Review

This has been a busy year for SENSEI. That’s a bit of an understatement, really. In the past 18 months the way data is collected, manipulated, stored, and retrieved has changed completely. But that’s not all! Administrative users also have a new toolbox to track and manage data, better ways to share and edit saved views, and a set of reports to make sure hardware devices in the field are operating correctly. This barely scratches the surface of the hard work performed by the development team, and the generous hours of support and feedback from the rest of Cascade and SENSEI customers.

SENSEI 3 Makes its Debut

The biggest achievement for SENSEI this year was the release of SENSEI 3. The major version change marked the transition to an entirely different data pipeline. This means that the path data travels from where it enters the system to where it is displayed to the user is brand new. The development team benefits from better tracking and error logging, as well as transparency and redundancy in the pipeline, but SENSEI users get the biggest benefit: increased speed! Initial tests showed that graphs in SENSEI 3 loaded up to ten times faster than before! Since then, small changes have reduced load times even further.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Measurable data isn’t the only information stored in SENSEI; it also tracks metadata about measurables, sites, users, and more. This information has moved into the same faster architecture as the measurable data and is now accessed through “services”, which are small programs designed to do specific tasks. Generally, a service will retrieve information more quickly because it will only look at a small part of SENSEI rather than the entire dataset. New services are being added to SENSEI regularly as the migration to more modern systems continues.

Another powerful aspect of SENSEI 3 is the new calculation engine. This tool creates an environment where calculations can do just about anything as the library of operations expands. This release also necessitated a new interface for entering and editing calculations. Training users on this interface was an important part of the transition–one that is still ongoing. The writing style itself may be more verbose, but the increased speed and flexibility are worth the extra characters.

Other benefits of SENSEI 3 are the improvements to data tracking and monitoring, and redundancy in the system. Previously when a file arrived in SENSEI it would trigger a script that both transformed its content and put the data into a database. When something went wrong with this script no errors or warnings were given, and the file remained in limbo. Now an arriving file is given an ID and a series of scripts perform individual tasks that are tracked on a central dashboard. If one of these tasks fails to perform, the system produces a warning and may retry the file, depending on the type of error. There are multiple copies of each of these tasks so if one breaks, the system can continue to operate. This prevents the single point of failure in the old system.

Finally, SENSEI 3 is built from the ground up to be modular, scalable, flexible, and replaceable. The world of software is changing more rapidly than ever before and SENSEI needs to be able to adapt and leverage new technology to deliver the best user experience possible. It also needs to be ready to integrate new tools and features so they feel like they were always part of SENSEI, not something stuck on the end. And perhaps most importantly, bugs and other issues need to be easy to diagnose and as simple as possible to solve without affecting the entire system.

Administrative Toolbox Gets a Power-up

SENSEI’s Administrative users are the heart and soul of the software. They are expert users and like to push the boundaries of what is possible. This helps inform and drive SENSEI’s development. As a combined development and operations team SENSEI must balance multiple priorities, which can lead to delays in addressing customer service requests. To help administrative users diagnose and resolve issues on their own, SENSEI released a number of tools that allow self-service auditing of various systems in SENSEI. They range from data tracking to meter health to saved view management.

With the number of hardware devices in the field rapidly approaching the thousands, and a team of four to keep track of everything, the need for meter health and down hardware was growing. Enter a set of reports that cover: days since last reported point, gaps between values, periods where only zeros were reported, and values that lie well outside the expected range. Now there is one location to check if there are any issues with Cascade’s installed devices, which: reduces downtime, decreases issues discovered by end users, and streamlines error checking. On top of these reports, SENSEI has a new endpoint for devices sending data to its servers. It gathers information about the device itself and can communicate when settings change or errors occur. Full transition of devices pointing to this location is ongoing.

Saved views are the driving force in SENSEI’s Explore tool. Every SENSEI customer has a set of views that show energy consumption in their facility. Most of these views are shared among many users, having originally been created by an administrative user. If one of these views needed to change, the administrative user would have to delete that view, create a new view, and re-share that view with the end users. This year SENSEI introduced the saved view edit tool, which allows a user to edit a saved view directly, including with whom the view is shared. The user can even create multi-axis plots that are not accessible through Explore.

Finally, when SENSEI 3 added tracking for data processing, administrative users needed a tool to audit this information and reprocess any data that did not succeed. The file status tool surfaces all incoming files and is searchable by source, date, name, and more. This allows users to see, for example, if a customer has uploaded this month’s production data, or why a particular file failed to import. Once a file imports into SENSEI it is broken into individual data points and processed through a series of operations. The operations report lets the user follow a particular point to see how the values on the graph are determined.

Permissions to Land

Possibly the most important feature of SENSEI? Making sure users can only see what they are allowed to see. If SENSEI doesn’t get this right, nothing else matters. The original permissions system was very simple and easy for the administrative users to manage. However, it made many assumptions based on what it was given, and the possibility for mismatched permissions increased as the complexity of customer data and feature requirements grew.

A new permissions system would need to be both flexible and easy to use; two requirements seemingly in direct conflict! In addition, it would need to support the current method of permissions during the transition period. The system that emerged is indeed quite complex, but by defining user roles, default relationships, and rules for inheritance, the administrative user sees a simple UI and needs only know the definitions of the roles to assign the desired permissions to their customer users. The complexity of the system allows developers to create relationships that mimic the old system to satisfy the transition requirements.

While the new permissions system is already in place, it is not yet implemented across all of SENSEI. The implementation process will continue through 2017 as additional SENSEI modules are rebuilt to support it. It is currently applied to all the new administrative tools described in the previous section, and will be supported in all new pages going forward.

Not to Mention …

While SENSEI offers numerous ways to view customer data, sometimes more flexibility is required to show the information a customer needs. To accomplish this, SENSEI sends data to a reporting database where the schema can better support specific reports created in 3rd party software platforms. This Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) process runs frequently enough to keep the reports updated, but due to its long runtime cannot run as frequently as the data arrives, usually every 15 minutes. With the release of SENSEI 3, the ETL runtime decreased dramatically. This opened opportunities for optimization that did not exist before, as well as the ability to run tasks more frequently.

Besides the new tools in the SENSEI toolbox, administrators also have a set of existing tools to manage customer metadata, such as user, site, and company details. These pages have been the same since SENSEI’s initial release, but with all the changes to the software since then it was time for an update. This also coincided with the deployment of the new permissions system, which needs to be deeply integrated with any administrative tools. While still under development, the new administrative pages have a brand new look and feel to them and are full of more ways to connect with customer information. They will make metadata management a breeze once completed, and streamline new site and company creation.

Here’s to a Great 2017

This year had a clear focus on administrative users. These folks help Cascade’s customers understand their data and get the most out of SENSEI. Without them many customers would be lost in an unfamiliar software platform, surrounded by scary graphs and endless streams of data. That is why SENSEI developed new tools to make administrators’ lives easier, allowing them to better serve the customer. This theme will continue through the beginning of 2017 as the rest of the metadata management administrative pages are upgraded. However, there are big plans for customer-facing modules in SENSEI as well! Updates to Act and Manage are both in the pipeline, and new Dashboards are high in everybody’s mind.

The SENSEI team was sad to say goodbye to three of its members in 2016, but happy to welcome a new face as well! Good developers who share Cascade’s values are hard to come by, but clearly they are out there. In fact, the SENSEI team is currently hiring! Check out the link at the bottom of the page for more information.

A New, Improved Version of SENSEI has Launched

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Cascade Energy’s software team recently flipped the switch on SENSEI 3.0. This is a MAJOR milestone that instantaneously improves the SENSEI end-user experience. SENSEI 3.0 puts Cascade’s team in the perfect position to accelerate future development and provide deeper benefits to SENSEI customers. 

Here’s a look at some of the key enhancements that come with SENSEI 3.0:

  • Improved performance. SENSEI 3.0 is much faster. In fact, we’d go so far as to say, it’s “lightning fast!” We are employing extremely fast database techniques and leveraging Amazon Web Services which allows for amazing, parallel processing and speed improvements. 
  • Longer login timeout. The login timeout has been extended to 12 hours.
  • Easier data management. “Measurement Data Edit” now offers a “range delete,” option allowing administrators increased ability to manage their facility data.
  • All new calculations service. The calculations engine is faster and allows for more expressive and powerful formula building.
  • Upsampling. You can now view data at an interval that is more granular than the source data. For example, daily data can be viewed as hourly.

We hope you enjoy SENSEI 3.0! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, as we continue to evolve and improve the SENSEI experience.

Cascade Energy Included in Navigant Research Report on Energy Management Information Systems

A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for industrial energy management information systems, segmented by software and services, with forecasts for revenue by region, through 2024. Cascade is identified as a key energy player in the engineering service company sector. Due to increasing customer demand for EMIS software and services, Navigant projects this market will grow aggressively during the next decade. Read the executive summary here: http://www.navigantresearch.com/research/industrial-energy-management-systems To order the full report contact Navigant Research at research-sales@navigant.com.

OSI Partners with Cascade to Expand Energy Program

Cascade Energy  announced an agreement with OSI, a world leader in providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry, in support of OSI’s plan to deepen their energy efficiency efforts and expand their single-facility pilot program into five additional plants.

In 2013, Cascade and OSI launched a pilot program at OSI’s Oakland, IA facility that involved: 

  • Setting up an energy measurement, tracking, benchmarking, and reporting system.
  • Performing a tune up on the facility’s refrigeration, compressed air, and high-pressure water pump systems.
  • Delivering a final report, listing action items to be implemented.
  • Engaging OSI site staff to assist with the action item implementation.
  • Reviewing system performance to drive additional energy savings.

Cascade introduced SENSEI to OSI engineers and operators. SENSEI incorporates real-time energy use, production, and weather data to provide visibility into true energy performance. At the Oakland site, OSI used SENSEI to assign, record, and track action items and monitor the resulting energy savings.

During the course of the initial tune up, and after observing Cascade’s engineers walk through the OSI facility and quickly identify sources of inefficiency, OSI Oakland General Manager Mike Koranda responded, “I want our operators and technicians to be able to spot any other possible system inefficiencies and fixes like that!” Cascade developed a two-day industrial refrigeration best practices training program specifically for the OSI team to impart thorough knowledge of the system and give them the ability to propose appropriate solutions for their facility.

As of November 2014, OSI Oakland has saved over four million kWh and over $295,000. Based on the success of the training and tune up results at the Oakland plant, OSI is excited to roll out a three-year program to five more facilities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Utah. Cascade and OSI will work together to help meet OSI’s company-wide goal of 10% energy intensity reduction by 2020.

OSI will focus on developing:

  • Executive support and commitment
  • Site-specific energy goals
  • Dedicated roles and responsibilities for program implementation at each site
  • Program performance monitoring through energy key performance indicators

Cascade will provide support for the program in the form of:

  • Onsite energy efficiency tune-ups that identify and implement low/no-cost energy savings opportunities
  • Training on refrigeration system best practices
  • Cascade’s proprietary energy management information software, SENSEI
  • Technical support over the three-year program to help facilitate continuous improvement

“OSI is taking an aggressive and comprehensive approach to energy management,” said Cascade Energy CEO Marcus Wilcox. “We are excited to build on the success of the Oakland facility, and look forward to our continued partnership, working side-by-side with the OSI team, to strategically manage energy costs.”

Assessment on Industrial Energy Software Released

SENSEI was mentioned in a very positive light in a new report on energy management information systems (EMIS).

The Verdantix report, Smart Innovators: Industrial Energy Management Software is based on interviews with 127 energy directors at industrial firms and energy software applications from 16 suppliers.

The report discusses some of the key energy  issues facing large industrial enterprises today, and articulates how an effectiveEMIS can help minimize the impact of increasing energy costs.The report notes that the most “holistic” EMIS solutions will enable enterprise resource planning, asset management, and energy management; and describes “five factors firms must consider when assessing solutions.”

Verdantix interviewed Cascade’s VP of Products, Dan Brown, as well as a variety of other industrial energy management software suppliers, to understand the challenges in the industry today and how suppliers are addressing them.

SENSEI and MINUS40 Join Forces to Create Energy Efficiency Synergy Down Under

According to that wellspring of Internet knowledge, Wikipedia, the word “synergy” refers to the “interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects.” In short, good things happen when great companies join forces.We’ve recently teamed up with a refrigeration consulting and design engineering firm, out of Sydney, Australia, MINUS40. We’re very excited about this venture and the chance to meet some new “mates” and deliver even more comprehensive services to customers down under.MINUS40 specializes in refrigeration, process cooling, and industrial HVAC and heat recovery systems. They offer full project development services, from concept to completion including engineering design, energy audits and feasibility studies, measurement and verification as well as project management and implementation support.

SENSEI is an essential software component of any energy management program that:

  • Measures energy use, calculates and tracks savings, and reports results
  • Offers anytime, anywhere access to energy data via push reports, alerts, and alarms
  • Promotes communication and collaboration between staff through instant sharing of project status, actions, documents, and reports

Both Cascade Energy and MINUS40 are committed to delivering profitable sustainability through sound system design, and effective energy-management tools and programs that drive ongoing energy and cost savings our customers can count on over the long haul.Cascade recently opened up an office in the UK, and we consider our partnership with MINUS40 in Australia a great opportunity to expand our horizons even more. If you’d like to learn more please contact the folks at Cascade Energy and SENSEI at:

  • North America 866.321.4573
  • UK +44.0.203.289.3744

MINUS40 can be reached in Australia at 02.8850.4811 or via their website: www.minus40.com.au

SENSEI Wins Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award!

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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.

Dan Brown Wins Forty Under 40 Award for Energy Software Innovation

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We’re excited to announce that Cascade Energy Principal and VP of Products, Dan Brown, has won a Forty Under 40 award offered by the Portland Business Journal. The award is given to young professionals under the age of 40 who have excelled in their field, by showing tremendous leadership and committment to the community.

Dan is the guiding force behind SENSEI Cascade’s energy-efficiency web application designed to drive continuous, cost-effective savings for industrial facilities. SENSEI is the only energy management software solution on the market built by industrial energy-efficiency experts.

“Dan was Cascade’s first employee engineer, hired in 1998. He’s always had a passion for innovation with an eye to better serving our customers,” says Cascade CEO, Marucs Wilcox. “SENSEI is the culmination of years of hard work, vision, and planning. We think SENSEI is the best energy management platform available, reflecting Dan’s ability to put himself in our customers’ shoes. We are very proud of SENSEI and very proud of Dan.” 

Last year SENSEI won an “Innovation in Sustainability” award from the Portland Business Journal and Sustainable Business Oregon, in the “energy” category which considers the amount of energy saved and percentage of energy from renewable sources.

 “SENSEI is unique among energy monitoring software applications,” says Mr. Brown, ” because it does much more than merely monitor consumption. SENSEI helps change behavior by connecting people to energy information, actions to results and energy-efficiency projects to measurable returns.”

The Portland Business Journal will honor Forty Under 40 award recipients at a lunch banquet on Thursday, February 13th, 2014 at The Nines Hotel, 525 SW Morrison St. Portland OR 97204, 6th Floor, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Find more information at:  http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/event/98591 and view the award recipients at http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/topic/40-under-40/.

SENSEI Wins Innovation in Sustainability Award

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Sensei energy software success

We are want to share that we just won an Innovation in Sustainability award from the Portland Business Journal and Sustainable Business Oregon (SBO).

SENSEI won in the Energy category which considers the number of kilowatt hours of energy saved and percentage of energy from renewable sources. This is the fourth annual competition hosted by SBO and Portland Business Journal. In addition to Energy, other award categories include: water, waste, equity, food, natural environment, and transportation. Needless to say, we are very excited!

Sustainable Business Oregon hosts a bevy of industry events, and their mission is to create a platform for sharing ideas, discussing best practices and accelerating Oregon’s leadership in sustainable business by creating an organized, collaborative community. We’re really proud to be a part of that community.

We know that SENSEI is a game changer when it comes to driving continuous cost-effective savings for industrial facilities worldwide–and now others are beginning to recognize this (see how SENSEI compares to other platforms here.)  SENSEI is unique among energy software solutions because it does much more than merely monitor consumption—it helps change behavior by providing the kind of energy data people need to drive results. It’s also the only platform on the market that’s designed by industrial energy-efficiency experts.

To date the industrial complex has been under-served in terms of effective energy-management solutions because the energy industry continues to focus primarily on commercial and residential investments. In commercial buildings and homes energy savings typically results from implementing lighting and HVAC solutions. But industrial customers are faced with complex, interconnected systems that require constant monitoring and fine-tuning to maintain optimal performance levels.

When you consider that industrial facilities consume approximately 1/3 of the energy in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy, the potential for increasing efficiency in the sector is phenomenal.

SENSEI’s positive impact on the environment starts with helping industrial facilities get more productive use out of the energy they consume. When a company integrates energy optimization and efficiency into its core operations, it can be phenomenally successful at reducing both consumption and impact on the environment. SENSEI plays a pivotal role in this process by helping establish a clear picture of true energy performance and then providing a way for all stakeholders to easily communicate and work together to save more each year.