Exclusive interview! - Julia Angerer
In an exclusive interview, AUTOMATED’s Jonathan Wilkins meets Julia Angerer, the marketing manager of industrial automation software expert, COPA-DATA. The two discuss what commitment companies have to make to become more energy efficient in the long run.
n COPA-DATA’s view, how important is energy efficiency for manufacturers and industrial companies?
With increasing demand and pressure from governments, associations and society to reduce energy consumption, the topic of energy efficiency will definitely be on the agenda of most manufacturing companies in the coming years.
At the moment, many companies turn to energy efficiency to cut costs. Some governments already offer incentives in terms of tax savings or funding to purchase energy-efficient equipment. Sustainable and responsible resource management also leads to substantial cost savings and greater overall energy awareness.
Companies have to face the challenge of continuously optimising their production processes for maximum output, while at the same time reducing energy consumption to a minimum. In order to cope with this situation, manufacturers everywhere will have to implement efficient energy management initiatives, which should ideally combine people, processes and technology.
International standards like ISO 50001 support manufacturing companies in their attempts for greater energy efficiency. Local guidelines including the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) in the UK and Superior Energy Performance (SEP) in the US also play an important role.
For companies that don’t yet have an energy efficiency improvement plan in place, what are COPA-DATA’s top three tips?
First, define your team. Energy Management is teamwork and you need to have people with different roles across departments on board in order to be successful.
Then, evaluate, choose and implement an efficient and innovative energy data management system that fulfils your individual requirements in terms of data collection, aggregation, analysis and documentation.
Finally, consider and follow established guidelines like the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) scheme defined in the international standard ISO 50001 for Energy Management.
Plan: The first step is to understand the existing situation. Based on energy performance indicators (ENPIs), binding goals and plans are created.
Do: Implement the plans from Step 1.
Check: Measure, monitor and document
results. Were goals reached? Does the production data still correspond with the guidelines?
Act: Establish and develop successful procedures across the entire organisational system. The corrective action of this phase forms the starting point for the next PDCA cycle in the ISO 50001 certification process.
Do you think industrial automation makes companies more energy efficient?
Certainly, yes. Without automated processes and automation technology it would hardly be possible to access relevant data needed for deep analysis and benchmarking, as well as the identification of weak points and potential for improvements.
Another important aspect companies shouldn’t underestimate is reliable and comprehensive documentation. Industrial automation ensures that all data and events are continuously recorded – a precondition for efficient energy data management.
Furthermore, automation ensures that energy and consumption data is accessible in real-time, which means fast decision making. Dashboards that summarise important data and provide at a glance overviews support the energy team in their objectives for continuous improvement.
In your opinion, what is the role big data currently plays or will play in industry in the race for energy efficiency?
The role of big data in industry is obviously increasing with the growing masses of data manufacturing companies produce. When collecting plant data, archiving needs to be done on a daily basis. You might ask ‘What for? Do I really need all this data?’ The answer is ‘Yes’, mainly for compliance and traceability reasons.
Let’s look at an example. In a car accident where it looks like the main source of the accident is a faulty tyre. The insurance company will contact the tyre manufacturer to see if that is the real cause. In order to prove there was no production failure in this specific batch, the manufacturer is dependent on the historical data stored a long time ago.
Accessing the requested data quickly and at anytime is crucial. The example also shows that the storage system in use is essential. Outdated methods like magnetic tapes can’t guarantee quick data access and can be a very costly method of storage.
At COPA-DATA, we think the answer is a combined use of a big data system and cloud storage. This way, data accessed often can be stored on premise, whereas long-term data that is not needed on a daily basis can be stored in the cloud where it is still accessible anytime if needed.
Finally, big data plays a crucial role when it comes to predictive maintenance and its implications on the efficiency of a production company.
What other up-and-coming technologies will help companies become more energy efficient?
We believe no single system is or will be able to achieve all the energy objectives of a company. It will take the combined use of different state-of-the-art technology to deliver the best results. Companies wanting to be more energy efficient need to look at the equipment and machinery, the controls, the HMI/SCADA system, the data meters, communication protocols and more. It’s also crucial to invest in software that is hardware-independent and offers the necessary flexibility and connectivity to be implemented in existing infrastructures.
Modern technology that supports the principles and processes of a future Smart Factory – such as significant analysis via big data applications, cloud solutions, which enable collaboration and benchmarking across facilities or data access everywhere and anytime – is preferred.
Finally, a more unusual question. Who is your number one tech hero and why?
It would probably have to be Dr. Emmett Lathrop – Doc Brown – Ph.D. from the Back to the Future trilogy. He is the only person I know who managed to build an efficient time machine from a sports car. Aren’t we all curious to learn if Marty McFly will indeed return to his future on October 21 this year?