From micro grids to rooftop solar plants to hydrogen powered forklift trucks, every energy solution, to some extent, may be a distributed energy technology. So as to achieve success, every energy solution must scale and use the facility of Internet of Things (IoT) technology to grow and expand profitably.

However, IoT technology generates tons of knowledge, and should be—in many cases— the primary big data application that customers are embracing. This will have an outsized impact on a customer’s IT organization and as a CIO; you're in a good position to supply important input on the way to deliver the worth of this big data without overwhelming the IT professionals that provide support.

Elements of an Energy IoT System

The bottom line of the IoT solutions are sensors installed in your energy systems that connect back to the cloud or other IT systems to report data on the units themselves, hence operating the conditions around them. For instance, whenever a forklift truck powered by a Plug Power hydrogen cell stops to be refueled, an entire download of operational data is passed from the unit to the cloud and is aggregated into its center in Latham, NY.

In many cases, systems are already collecting all of the specified operational data. There just must be an economical way for it to be transmitted to a central data repository for analysis and display. New networking technologies are emerging to supply this connectivity. Most IoT networks are wireless, but that doesn't always need to be the case. In some solar applications, power cable communications—the urge to send network info across an existing power line—is a marvellous solution because it leverages existing cables, decreasing the upfront cost of implementation. Tradeoffs could include the available bandwidth or size of knowledge which will be communicated at any time.

Often times, long battery life may be a requirement for IoT sensors and networks, except for energy systems, power is quickly available which exposes the choices for higher throughput network connections and sensors. Low-power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) technologies are popular for IoT because they will preserve battery life. This technology is superb for devices that are low-cost, remotely located and wishes to transmit limited amounts of knowledge for several years.

Once the network is in situ to send data, it must be processed and analyzed by an application that mixes big data analytics with day-to-day management updates including developing reports and generating alarms to warn of system health or conduct limit issues.

One advantage of those systems is real-time response to issues within the field, which ends up in improved customer service. The proper analytics can provide data on possible failures before they happen, allowing a field technician to be dispatched with the proper part at the proper time, minimizing downtime and interruption of a customer’s operations.

Why IoT? For Scalability

The real outcome from the investment in constructing a monitoring application supported embedded networking technology is to enhance the scalability of your energy systems, both in terms of decreasing costs and developing reliability.

 ”the most important cost impact is using analytics to spot performance or maintenance issues and to repair them quickly"

The biggest cost impact is using analytics to spot performance or maintenance issues and to repair them quickly. A medium term benefit is to gather enough data for predictive analysis, which lets service teams anticipate issues and respond before the customer even knows a drag exists. One energy management organisation, whose products and services are aimed at restaurants, has found that its IoT technology can predict issues with other electrical equipment within the restaurant, like HVAC systems. This will open up new business opportunities as systems share data and work more closely together.

Faster service response does contribute to raise system reliability, but the knowledge also can be wont to help develop better follow up products. Often times insights are gained that, when combined with the creativity of an engineering team, can cause breakthrough product features and functionality. Additionally, information can help monitor and improve new products early in their lifecycle, improving customer satisfaction and reducing development costs along the way.

Case Study: GenCare SiteView

To get a way of how the IoT journey has played out for an energy company, allow us to check out Plug Power and therefore the evolution of its SiteView system, which relies on IoT technology to supply feedback on its hydrogen fuel cells. Plug Power is the largest hydrogen cell company within the industry, with quite 11,000 installed units within the field.

In the last few years, the corporation has enlarged beyond fuel cells to deliver a turnkey hydrogen system and bolstered customer support services to offer its customers an entire solution for his or her need. GenCare is that the company’s customer service solution that allows its support team to supply improved uptime to the distribution centers, which use Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cells. SiteView’s intelligent info account provides timely data 24/7 that allows the corporation to access, in real-time, the operational status of every fleet within the field through remote access and reporting tools.

Everything is tracked, from the upcoming conservation schedule, to daily hydrogen fuel dispensed. SiteView allows Plug Power to be proactive on maintenance needs while assuring 97 percent uptime at each location, and therefore the level of data the corporate shares with its customers is transformational.

The SiteView system starts with the communication systems ingrained in each GenDrive cell which will broadcast with a GenFuel hydrogen dispenser whenever the apparatus driver connects to refuel the forklift or other material handling equipment.

The data gathered is delivered to the cloud-based SiteView data assortment software, is disjointed and calculated then served back to customer service technicians in reports they will use. The info allows these technicians to understand when to optimally time maintenance activities, ensuring the equipment is in commission for as long as possible. If the info indicates an emerging issue, technicians can schedule maintenance in order that unplanned work stoppages don't occur.

This information is vital to Plug Power, but also to its customers. SiteView’s absorbable coverage tools share complex information allowing customers to form educated agreements regarding their fleets and employees as they aim for increased operational productivity.

While IoT advances reliable scalability and better product functionality, energy CIOs should even be affected to make sure that these systems appreciate the functionality of IT teams. Each IoT sensor may be a hidden endpoint that IT teams must support, manage, and integrate into existing networking or data center operations. The energy company CIO should be consulted within the IoT design process to make sure that this added data is correctly wont to support existing systems.