As more organizations automate internal processes related to sustainability, EHS and energy management, asset management is another area that overlaps. Companies can expect more energy management features in asset management software and may, in some situations, be able to meet their needs with a single application rather than two.
Energy management and asset management have different initial aims. Energy management seeks to reduce the energy cost of operating building and factory equipment and is typically the purview of the facilities, energy or operations team at the local, and increasingly, the corporate level. Asset management intends to avoid downtime of production lines and facilities and to save costs and is used by the facilities or operations team at the local level. Historically, energy management and asset management have been separate processes with separate software solutions.
However, more teams are realizing a connection between energy management and asset management. Real-time energy consumption and other attribute monitoring can be used to detect problems with roof-top units (RTU) and other HVAC equipment, motors, and fans as well as to identify energy savings opportunities. Several companies now have their asset management team coordinate work with the energy management team.
With real-time monitoring of equipment, operators aim to proactively recognize opportunities quickly and to apply preventive maintenance actions before responding to outright equipment failure. Both asset and energy management requires identifying assets, monitoring real-time equipment usage, and alerting operators of problems.
Software vendors are responding to this emerging need. Traditional asset management vendors such as IBM/Maximo and Infor have added initial energy management capabilities and energy management vendors who utilize interval data are adding basic asset management capabilities to their core products.
A single software product for each process makes sense. A single master list of equipment (name plate info, age, drawings, etc.) can be used for both asset management and energy management. Proposed and completed maintenance and energy projects can be tracked in one system. Operators and facility managers will receive the same type of alerts and work orders for both maintenance and energy improvements.
Such an approach doesn’t fit all situations and associated vendor capabilities are still nascent in many cases.
But energy and maintenance leaders should monitor this trend and may find situations where it make sense to add light weight asset management to an energy management implementation or conversely to supplement an asset management deployment with energy monitoring capabilities.
Paul Baier is vice president of sustainability consulting and research for Groom Energy.