Systems Integration: An Energy Management Must

October 17, 2012 By Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

The key to successfully implementing a comprehensive energy management program is systems integration — being able to simultaneously monitor heating and cooling systems, lighting, production machines and all other energy-consuming equipment, according to Control Engineering.

Feras Karim, a senior systems engineer on the energy management team at SAIC, tells the magazine that the biggest challenge facing manufacturers is legacy systems: multiple systems from multiple suppliers, and systems from different generations.

When it comes to managing energy on an enterprise-wide scale, a company should determine what it wants to accomplish and what will provide the quickest payback, before buying any new technology, says Janet Lin, a senior manager at Verdantix and co-lead of its energy practice. But this will eventually lead to an integration project, and the more systems a company needs to integrate, the more potential problems they will face, Lin warns.

She suggests companies work with a systems integration firm that has expertise in the category of software they are using.

A six-month study by Verdantix found large-scale energy systems integration has become an important component of financial performance for a number of public and private sectors, including grocery retail, telecom, real estate development, data centers, manufacturing and electricity networks.

Karim says the best integrators offer vendor-agnostic services. And while systems integration used to be a costly endeavor, these days a number of “intelligent appliances” make it easier to integrate propriety systems, Karin says.

General Motors saved $50 million in energy costs and reduced its energy intensity 25 percent by working with SAIC to integrate its systems. Since the partnership began 10 years ago, SAIC has executed more than $75 million in energy projects across multiple contracts for GM, and helped GM avoid more than 778,000 metric tons of excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

A May Environmental Leader article says SAIC, along with AECOM, AMEC, Arcadis, CH2M Hill, ERM, and URS, leads the US market for environmental services, according to a report from Verdantix.

Large US firms will spend $2.5 billion annually on technology consulting and systems integration relating to their energy and sustainability initiatives by 2015, the analyst firm forecasts.

Photo Credit: Avion Partners

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