Unlocking Energy Data Across the Enterprise

Protocol Standardization Lays the Groundwork for Industrial Energy Management

By Cliff Whitehead

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You can't control what you don't measure.

That old chestnut is perfectly apt when it comes to energy management capabilities in most production facilities, a fact that begs explanation, since energy contributes about one-third of all manufacturing costs.

What explains the overlooking of a critical production input? Until now, most producers have been unable to pinpoint energy consumption in order to effectively reduce operations costs because energy data has been locked away inside the machines and processes in their plants.

Data on production-related energy consumption has been an invisible line item on the bill of materials. But the emergence of energy data and control embedded within the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) will change that scenario.

A New Lens into Energy Usage

Because the object-oriented approach of CIP allows for scalability in implementation, an EtherNet/IP device may support advanced functions for control of energy, aggregation and reporting of energy information or dynamic demand-response. By providing a common command interface and network-visible data structure, CIP is transforming the way producers measure – and control – energy usage. With seamless connectivity and data flow, producers can now advance their energy management beyond macro-type tracking to fine-tuned intervention.

This convergence of data streams allows producers to share energy data throughout their operations network, from assets to production lines, from machine to device level and beyond.

t its most basic, CIP-enabled energy consumption visibility allows producers to turn things off that don't need to be on. It lets operations or plant managers use load scheduling and load shedding to optimize energy use in their production processes, taking advantage of reduced energy rates or even switching to alternate, on-site energy sources. These control methods have historically been applied to high-demand industrial systems such as air compressors, chillers and boilers.

Yet energy use is inherent in every stage of production and across every industry, from steel manufacturing to consumer packaged goods. For most producers, energy data monitoring and analysis stop short of engaging the full range of contributors to the energy footprint.

With CIP, producers can aim higher.

In its most sophisticated form, CIP not only enables a piece of equipment to be switched into a low-power state when appropriate, but also enables the control system to manipulate that machine without complicating or obstructing enterprise-level productivity.

And that's the beauty of a unifying network infrastructure. CIP is based on the Internet Protocol (IP), and as such, facilitates untethered viewing capabilities, providing a zoom lens into device-level energy data and a wide-angle view of consumption across the entire enterprise.

IP technology is already bringing information together, establishing a more connected industrial enterprise by leveraging better, more accessible data to make faster, more informed  decisions.

Sustainability's True Measure

Approaching energy management from an automation perspective, using CIP networks, such as EtherNet/IP, is a natural extension of what energy operators are doing now with increasingly granular data.

Device designers are on the same path. Designers are adopting CIP energy objects, advancing the standardization of attributes and options, and simplifying how OEMs and system integrators can mine data from different, but connected devices.

Energy information wants to be free. The connected industrial enterprise is extracting accessible operational data and insight, modeling this intelligence against the production process and using it to drive energy efficiency all the way to the bottom line.

Today, with centralized, standardized energy information, we can measure more, control more and see systems pay for themselves. That's the true measure of sustainability.