”Me and my colleagues bring in experience from companies like Sony Mobile, Ericsson and Texas Instruments. Together, we have a lot of knowledge about the technologies of the mobile industry. We are now applying this knowledge of wireless communication to energy management”, says Mikael Lennström, CEO at SenseNode.
Industry is responsible for a third of the global energy consumption, and energy efficiency is a priority for many manufacturing companies. There are many incentives – economic, environmental – and also regulatory. Under a recent energy efficiency directive, large companies in the EU are required to make audits of their energy consumption to help them identify ways to reduce it. Establishing energy management systems according to the ISO 50001 standard is one approach to improving energy performance systematically. Such systems have become more and more common.
Wireless sensors and data visualization
The SenseNode team of entrepreneurs decided to make a contribution to energy awareness. They developed the SenseNode Energy Management System (SEMS), which uses wireless sensors to help industries monitor their energy consumption. The data reveal targets for energy saving measures.
”Our knowledge of the mobile industry made us go for wireless data transfer in combination with Internet of Things technology. Since the sensors we use to measure energy consumption are integrated in the wireless networks and nodes, no additional installations and cable runs are needed. In our experience, many companies have a huge money and energy saving potential; our Smart Energy Tracking Technology (SETT) has already helped a number of manufacturing companies reduce their energy consumption significantly”, Mikael Lennström says.
”A food industry company was able to cut their energy cost in half with the help of our system. They made changes that improved the energy coordination of the cooling process, the efficiency of the compressor usage and the scheduling of defrostings, among other things”.
One of the key components of the SenseNode system is how the energy consumtion data is visualized. The cloud services maintained by the company gather vast amounts of data, and the information is then repackaged in a user-friendly format for the customers. The visualized data is accesssible from computers as well as mobile and tablet devices, and the information is secured by AES-128 encryption.
Poor knowledge of known energy wasters
”Lighting, heating, cooling and air compressors are known energy wasters. Old fittings, for instance, or the heating of one part of a facility while simultaneously cooling another. Most companies are aware of this – but many fail to monitor and adjust the consumption patterns, for various reasons. In Sweden, part of the explanation can be found in energy subsidies and low energy costs. But poor knowledge and poor feedback on cost is also to blame. If the energy consumption of processes, systems and buildings is not known in detail, it is difficult to estimate the value of efficiency measures, as well as the energy cost to manufacture a certain product – which directly affects the company’s margins and competitiveness”, Mikael says.
A solid basis for energy savings
”Companies need better knowledge of their energy consumption. The current situation and the long-term trends. Key figures. Both general data and very specific details. And they also need to analyze the variations in order to coordinate their control”, says Mikael.
”Our wireless system provides detailed information, and allows it to be broken down – by production unit, customer order or product, for example. If there are peaks in consumption that should be fixed, the visualization will make them obvious. It also demonstrates the “flat line”, the more-or-less basic level of constant energy consumption, which immediately gives rise to questions such as whether the ventilation really needs to be cranked up around the clock”.
”There are currently about forty SEMS installations in Sweden and Denmark. Our ambition for 2016 is to grow faster and deliver about one hundred systems more. SenseNode is cooperating with the city of Helsingborg to make the industrial complex near the harbor more energy efficient. The system has been operational for a couple of years there, saving private and public sector money and bringing the city closer to its environmental goals”.
”Some of our projects, especially with the processing industry, have demonstrated a high correlation between power usage and environmental factors. We have now updated the platform with support for measuring things like temperature, air humidity, light intensity, noise and carbon dioxide levels. We can for instance control a ventilation system based on the environmental data, and we can make deviations trigger alarms. The combined system can optimize energy management while also helping to meet environmental standards”, says Mikael Lennström.
The article was published in March 2016.