One area where the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) makes a lot of sense is energy management. Data remotely collected from energy meters such as water, gas, heat and electricity can be used for a number of scenarios. From analysis of consumption for its optimization and thus achieving savings, through automated accounting to tenants in apartments, homes or premises, to rapid detection and protection in case of accidents or unauthorized collection. Remote readings have been available for many years, but only with the advent of IoT technologies are they more accessible and usable.

We measure water, gas, electricity, heat … but how?

The most important step that paves the way for more energy optimization, savings, and protection scenarios is to start collecting consumption data. We can measure both water, electricity, gas and heat consumption. Special water meters, electricity meters, gas meters, or calorimeters containing a straight and straight measuring part with direct communication/sending of data are used, or most of the meters currently used can be supplemented by an external reading device. Most electricity meters, water meters and gas meters have a pulse output through which it is possible to measure consumption. Other options include optical output (often for electricity meters), or ModBus interface, through which it is possible not only to read consumption, but for example to determine the status of the meter counter and, for example, to distinguish between different rates for electricity meters.

It is therefore possible to collect data and there are a number of manufacturers on the market who offer such gauges, including the possibility to choose a transmission interface from less practical cable or Wi-Fi connection to modern IoT networks Sigfox, LoRa and NB-IoT. Recently, the price of these devices has also gone down and they are thus more affordable.

It is important to be able to store the data in one environment and then use it. Regardless of the type of energy, the type of sensors or the method of data transmission, we often encounter solutions on the market that aim only at one of the energies or the type of transmission. However, it is more convenient to be able to apply the same mechanisms together to the multiple energies that you use within your production, warehouse or office environment.

What about the data? Analysis for savings in energy payments

Imagine how much more detail you get about your energy consumption when measuring consumption with an interval of, say, one hour. Compared to monthly or annual consumption information, you can see how your consumption changes within a day or week, how it develops in relation to the number of people present in the building, the effect of the weather, the type of activities. You can easily view all of this, and you can already use this data and analysis to determine areas of savings (when and what affects consumption and is not strictly necessary). Just by starting to collect data and pay attention to it, you will achieve the first savings in the order of percentages. And by the time you release data analytics and energy, the savings can already be significant – up to about 10% savings are put into practice.

Active management of electricity consumption (and not only)

The next level of power optimization is active control. For example, electricity is used in an industrial area on the basis of a so-called quarter-hour sampling maximum. Thanks to continuous measurement of consumption/consumption, you can analyze and optimize the correct consumption settings (distribution of starting technologies/appliances) or contract, including taking into account the number of occasional overruns and their effect on the total payment. In more advanced applications, even when the quarter-hour maximum is approaching, it is possible to actively disconnect selected technologies/appliances.

Eliminate billing errors and automate the process after invoicing

A common scenario for the use of measured data on water, gas, heat or electricity consumption is the distribution of costs to individual tenants (apartment buildings, office space, industrial or logistics premises), or intercompany distribution to centres. Thanks to continuous measurement data, you are able to relatively easily set up the process of automated evaluation and distribution of energy, including the transmission of this data up to the economic system as a basis for invoicing/posting. Thanks to the hierarchical breakdown of gauges, linking to individual tenants, it is possible to automate most of these steps and thanks to this not only speed up the process, but also optimize it, save labor (own readings, processing in tables…) and eliminate error rates.

Don’t you have water flowing from the order into the ground? Or the walls?

Some water accidents come quickly – you just run out of water on the floor, up the stairs, from the ceiling … but what if the crash happens in a place where you can not see it (technical room, cellar, or perhaps directly in the ground on the premises), or at a time when no one is present? Yes, there are flood sensors for critical places (technology rooms like server rooms), but you can’t put them everywhere. Thanks to the continuous remote reading of the water meter, however, you have the possibility to set up automated monitoring of consumption and, based on non-standard consumption for a given time, or even the number of people in the building, activate the order for the closure of a particular tap, or enter a maintenance request to check the situation. Thanks to this, you can prevent not only your own water leakage and the price of such lost water, but also damage caused by it (damage to equipment, building, ,…).

Doesn’t it shine somewhere for nothing? Does anyone mine cryptocurrencies for your money?

A very similar scenario is continuous monitoring and analysis of electricity consumption. Based on continuously collected data, the system is able to identify non-standard collection, which may be unauthorized use of equipment, the operation of technologies that are unnecessary at the appropriate time, or unauthorized collection for cryptocurrencies mining (unfortunately, a relatively common case recently). The system can also use the principles of artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine the usual consumption on different days, time or number of people. Thus, the identification of abnormalities can be very effective.

Response, integration and automation

Many of the scenarios and services described above are offered by many applications and systems. But what is important for business use? The possibility of integrating these applications and data into the existing environment, connecting to existing processes and using them for a correct and above all effective response to the relevant situations. After all, entering a request into an internal system for request management and process management is significantly more effective than simply sending an email or sms.

Getting started is so easy

It’s not difficult to start measuring energy. Whether you are building a new premises or already have an existing environment, there are a number of different solutions for quickly filling gauges, connecting them to central data collection and starting the first processes and analyses. Thanks to new procedures and technologies, you can start with even one building or even an office, and gradually expand the system. And not just about energy monitoring.

Dalibor Lukeš

iotor, a.s.

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