From Routine Checks to Big Picture Energy Solutions

Posted in on May 1 2024,by Colin Martin Colin Martin
From Routine Checks to Big Picture Energy Solutions

Colin Martin

Colin Martin

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Mundane Routine Checks

Each week begins with a number, like '0046781'—a mundane yet essential part of my early career duties, reflecting the same value as last week, indicating no leaks in the sprinkler system. Such routine tasks were my introduction to industrial operations, involving weekly manual meter readings across various weather conditions in Scotland - this often includes four seasons in one hour!

There were other water meters installed a couple of years previously via a student project - these were visualised on a SCADA screen in the control room. After trudging across the site to collect water meter readings, clipboard and pen in hand, I would then sit in front of that screen and enter those readings. At least they were organised in a ‘consumption tree’ configuration covering the main departments and then production units.

During the first year on-site, I was able to install an electricity metering system that covered 95%+ of the users on site. This was on a separate standalone PC with visualisations and reporting capability.

In my second year, we reached a milestone with the opening of our new Energy Centre. It not only housed our best steam package boiler but was soon to integrate a 17 MWth gas turbine, transitioning from heavy fuel oil to gas. This was located out the back and across the walkway and had its own systems, meters, and instruments, with limited connectivity to the main control room. In other words, it was another journey added to my data collection routine.

That, of course, meant there was the spreadsheet crunching once the meter readings were added. KPIs, thermal and electrical consumption per unit produced, water, then further efficiencies of production, compressed air, and other utilities, all manually set up and reported on weekly.

A House of Cards Waiting to Fall

Despite these advancements, challenges such as unexpected leaks—shown through deviations in routine meter readings—reminded us of the importance of diligent monitoring and maintenance. This house of cards could fall if I was out of work. 

Indeed, this happened during some annual leave when the water readings from the three main incomers weren’t taken. When I came back, the reading was ‘0132678’. Uh oh - we have a leak in the sprinkler system! Sure enough, there was a massive wet patch outside a warehouse.

Such incidents underscore the need for robust systems to support ongoing efficiency improvements across all utilities and to remove manual data collection on site. Unfortunately, though, this is still a fairly common practice in many organisations.

Routine Energy Checks Aren't Scalable

Can you imagine scaling these responsibilities across multiple sites or even internationally? The complexity grows exponentially. The frequency and quality of the inputs being received to help inform ambitious decarbonisation goals are lacking.

In this environment, how would you effectively gather energy conservation initiatives and possible projects at the site, country, region, and Enterprise level that can be implemented to help achieve those ambitious decarbonisation goals?

And then having a headache from trying to track all of those, their progress, the capex spend, the capex required, the paybacks, the opex, the results achieved versus ongoing production expansions and changing SKU configurations of total output, the Scope 1 carbon emissions reductions, the Scope 2, and so on.

The Solution

If this sounds familiar, you’ll be glad to know there is an escape from inefficient routine checks. At CoolPlanet, where I've spent the last nine years of my 24-year career, we aim to meet this challenge head-on.

Our mission is to drive significant decarbonisation efforts, enhancing the efficiency of production processes and reducing carbon emissions at every level—from local sites to global operations.

For those feeling the pressure of it all or if you simply don’t know where and how to start, CoolPlanet is here to help. We provide the expertise, strategies, data insights, and project execution necessary to not only start your decarbonisation journey but also to sustain and scale it effectively.

Book a call with us today and we’ll help you avoid those metaphorical "wet patches" in your operations.