The three pillars of energy data: accuracy, availability, and timeliness

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Conrad van Rooyen is the co-founder and general manager of Hexeis, an Australian-based electrical engineering consultancy. Hexeis provides industry-leading energy analysis, monitoring and management solutions and is a certified Schneider Electric Master Power Management EcoXpert Partner.

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of data. This is especially true in commercial buildings, which have been identified as noble examples of embracing sustainability and decarbonization. The challenge asset and facility managers face now is what to do with these mountains of energy-related information. Raw energy data – data without context – can be confusing. With no perspective, it provides few clues about areas of energy waste or overconsumption. Nor does it provide any evaluation of ways to bring energy bills under control.

Our company, Hexeis, is a Schneider Electric EcoXpert Master Partner in Power Management. In our experience, there are three important elements of data – accuracy, availability, and timeliness. Each impacts the sustainability and carbon footprint of your operations.

An operator inspects switches in a power plant
Understanding your energy data is critical to making positive changes for plant operations and sustainability. Customized and digitized dashboards make your information readily accessible and understandable – providing accurate and timely data at a glance.

Pillar 1: Accuracy of energy data is the starting point

Connected, digitized power meters installed on a building’s key circuits provide large amounts of energy-related data, and their accuracy is vitally important. Any miscalculations during installation can result in potential miscalculations that can persist unnoticed over extended periods.

For example, in providing our customers with digitalization and electrification solutions, we’ve noticed a 20% error rate in meter installations. Within those, we identified 31 potential mistakes. These can range from basic errors like incorrectly programming current transformer (CT) ratios to more elaborate missteps like installing a CT backward. Besides the obvious safety risks, these incorrect meter installations can lead to data issues that cause measurement errors, incorrect billing, operational inefficiencies. It can even jeopardize your sustainability progress.

The importance of accurate energy data even ventures into legal territory, particularly in the context of NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System). This Australian rating system measures the environmental performance of buildings. NABERS helps building owners and managers identify areas to improve their environmental performance and reduce operating costs. Inaccurate meter data can lead to incorrect ratings and potential legal penalties.

Data precision is so important! That’s why, at Hexeis, we use specialized equipment like a portable primary injection tester to verify the installation, performance, and accuracy of our customer’s electrical assets – including current transformers, instrument transformers, and power meters. These tools are critical in all our installations’ maintenance, testing, and commissioning.

Pillar 2: Seamless availability through digital transformation

As more of our customers’ power networks become digitized and connected, data availability and accessibility are becoming increasingly important. They often need to make quick decisions to remain competitive – and the most basic requirement for boosting competitiveness is guaranteeing access to accurate energy data at any moment. Accessing data from smartphones or computers is not just a convenience; it’s mandatory in today’s business environments.

Because of this, we use EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert as a development platform to present meaningful data and automate reporting and notifications. This approach allows us to tailor dashboards to our client’s needs and streamline the information by organizing trends that make it engaging and actionable. Most importantly, it prevents the diminishing returns associated with an overload of visual data. A platform should never make its users feel overwhelmed or disoriented. This is what we call JAD (just another dashboard), and it marks a failure to engage users effectively.

The platform aids in creating a unified, streamlined interface and allows the automation of tasks our clients would traditionally handle themselves. It also gives insight into electrical system health and energy efficiency. This allows customers to make informed decisions about their energy usage. We’ve found that when our customers know their dashboard was explicitly designed for them, they embrace it more quickly to achieve their business success.

Pillar 3: Timeliness for just-in-time, proactive decision-making

So, we have our accurate energy data, and it’s readily accessible. It’s now a matter of getting the right data to the right people at the right time.

Immediate notifications of issues allow for fast, proactive actions. This prevents unnecessary costs and fosters a culture of informed, evidence-based decision-making.

Leveraging a development platform like EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert allows us to streamline task creation and automation. What our clients would otherwise manage individually, they can now handle efficiently, saving resources and simplifying their energy management. They also get real-time performance monitoring and reporting on energy consumption, with immediate alerts that go to the right people when any issues are detected.

As a prime example, one of our university clients faced a regulation J8 challenge and had to install thousands of meters across their campus buildings to measure light and power by tenancy area. Manual readings were impractical, with multiple areas in each building, each with two meters. So, we embraced the obvious choice – digitization and connectivity – and enhanced the EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert’s graphical user interface with additional modules, enabling timely notifications for the management team when lights were left on. Beyond mere compliance, our approach turned a regulatory hurdle into an opportunity for energy efficiency.

This kind of timely data goes beyond surface-level solutions; it’s about understanding the unique dynamics of each space, each meter, and each stakeholder. In this case, we helped our client meet regulatory demands and elevated their power monitoring capabilities.

Partner with an expert advisor

As an EcoXpert Master Partner in Power Management, Hexeis makes full use of Schneider Electric’s global strengths. We incorporate their deep expertise in energy and automation and look to their digital solutions for efficiency, sustainability, and resilience. This includes complete solutions for power management systems and metering devices and gateways.

We can help you see the bigger picture and understand the impact that energy data accuracy, accessibility, and timeliness have on your facilities, operations, and decarbonization goals. We can advise you on greenfield or brownfield projects and help consultants write design guides. Our team can also help you justify sustainability investments to your executives and get the most from your efforts.

To learn more about how to optimize your facility’s decarbonization using power management solutions, visit https://www.se.com/ww/en/work/solutions/power-management/ .

To find out more about how Hexeis provides industry-leading energy analysis, monitoring, and management solutions, visit hexeis.com.

The EcoXpert Partner Program is unique in its industry and comprises a best-in-class, global ecosystem of expertise. Trained and certified by Schneider Electric, EcoXpert partners digitize and electrify our world for a more sustainable future.

The path to net zero is about delivering solutions for sustainable, resilient, efficient, and people-centric buildings. For our EcoXpert partners, this unveils immense growth opportunities through the transition to end-to-end portfolio sales that will resolve our customers’ most critical needs. For our shared customers, this means that together with our EcoXpert partners, we will drive the building industry transformation and help our customers survive and thrive today – and tomorrow.

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