Systems Integration / Automation Fair

Energy Management Improves With Better Vantage Point

Manufacturers Need Usage Data From All Areas of the Facility to Better Track Their Plants' Operations

By Joe Feeley

Automation Fair 2012


Manufacturing plants consume more than one-third of the global energy used annually. Many companies, however, do not have information on the day-to-day energy consumption within their plants. To be able to identify opportunities for improvement, manufacturers need usage data from all areas of the facility to set baselines and better track variations for their entire operation, whether a single plant or a global production infrastructure.

Energy-intelligence strategies leveraging Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk software enable companies to report and visualize their consumption in a way that can reduce the time and effort associated with regulatory compliance, while cutting operating costs and maximizing profit.

The Information Software portfolio offered by Rockwell Automation now includes new energy intelligence capabilities in software applications, as demonstrated during this week at the 2012 Automation Fair in Philadelphia.

FactoryTalk VantagePoint Energy bundle and FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix software help plant and operations managers view resource consumption in relation to specific units, lines and machines, so they can make more informed energy decisions. Energy intelligence is an extension of the manufacturing intelligence capability, turning data into information for informed decision-making, by leveraging power and energy equipment as data sources.

"Rockwell Automation's Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence is the process of gathering data from multiple sources and putting it in context," explained Keith McPherson, director, market development, Rockwell Software. "So the whole idea behind Energy Intelligence is that the source of the data would be power meters, drives, any of our power products, even energy-related data from the business system, and we can put together an energy dashboard."

This is an update to the RSEnergyMetrix product that's been around for several years. "We moved that over into the software business and did a connector for VantagePoint Energy that talks to EnergyMetrix and its data sources as we can combine the energy data with the things that VantagePoint does," McPherson explained.

Traditionally, when facilities talked about energy management, they would take energy data from a power meter and look at it only from a facilities perspective. Beyond monthly utility bills, many companies lack insightful data into their consumption of water, air, gas, electricity and steam.

Jan Pingel, product manager, industry solutions, information software, outlined the value proposition of VantagePoint Energy, explaining that "If you have an energy event, you can figure out what happened. With VantagePointEnergy management, we can drive the energy down in the asset model. Users can work at energy use by plant, by work center, by equipment, to try to take data from disparate sources to correlate valuable information that can drive decision-making."

Pingel said that by doing this you can develop KPIs such as energy cost per unit of production. "Or you can investigate why one shift is using more energy than another shift and correlate that with OEE measures. When you used to see this from a top-down view, you couldn't see this unless you went to ask what happened. Now you integrate this data into your production system to the point where operators can see energy per unit usage based on the options in front of them."

The FactoryTalk VantagePoint Energy bundle, which includes FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI software, plus energy-specific models, charts, trends, dashboards and analysis tools, provides access to more energy data. For current FactoryTalk VantagePoint users, an energy add-on can be purchased separately. With this application, users can aggregate metered energy-consumption data with production assets throughout the organization to start monitoring energy use.

Plant managers and business leaders easily can access energy data, such as historical energy-cost trends or energy costs over time for a specific machine, line, plant or the entire enterprise via a web browser. FactoryTalk VantagePoint software users can now add energy intelligence to their manufacturing intelligence strategy to access the data necessary to optimize energy consumption, correlate energy usage, determine cost to production, negotiate energy rates and improve efficiency.

FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix software collects, records and stores energy data from Allen-Bradley or third-party power meters. The software can also capture information on energy usage, flow, temperature and pressure from controllers, third-party devices or manual entries. With FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix software, users can set parameters that create alarms and send human-machine interface and email alerts when energy-usage levels reach a user-specified level. This function can be crucial for manufacturers that receive energy bills based on peak kilowatt demand per day.

FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix software also trends historical data dynamically or within custom reports and charts. The application can compare alternative rate schedules to analyze potential cost savings, create energy budgets and forecasts, and track progress toward energy-saving goals against live data. Power-quality analysis capabilities allow users to better understand power quality and how it is affecting a specific line or facility.

VantagePoint also supports SharePoint integration via SharePoint Web Parts to display solution content in a SharePoint Portal. The examples of those applications include real-time executive dashboards, automated production reporting, KPI monitoring and alerting, downtime and OEE analysis, process verification and process optimization.

Andrew Ellis, manager commercial engineering information software, notes that one of the big features is the addition of SQL CLR as a layer on top of VantagePoint, since many automation engineers understand SQL in their reporting."

Event-driven notifications also have been added. "I can create an event based on the streaming of a tag and say when did that event trigger happen, and send an email that embeds event data that's associated information that might help deal with it." It takes the information safely outside the firewall for someone who might be traveling or away. Ellis says all of these notifications, which are configured in the model, can run on iPhones and iPads as well.

"The one thing I caution people about, is that these aren't alarms," said Ellis. "This is near real-time notification, where time is not a critical element."