digital service

3 ways digital solutions can reduce energy costs

Improving energy efficiency is often seen as a long-term goal, however, dramatic rises in energy price can also force companies to look for ways to reduce energy consumption much more quickly. At the time of writing, in autumn 2021, Europe is experiencing a huge surge in electricity and gas prices, and across the whole continent companies are struggling with high energy costs. In the UK, energy prices are so high that some factories have had to stop production.

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1. Data-driven decision making

Before you make investment decisions to reduce energy costs, you first need to know how and where your energy is being used. However, in many industries, it is still common for electricity usage to be assessed based on the energy bill for the whole facility. In contrast, digital solutions can help you assess the energy use of electrical motion equipment, like motors, generators and drives, and identify potential energy savings and CO₂ reductions. The real data obtained, when combined with the service expertise needed to analyze it, can support you in making better decisions.

2. Identify inefficiencies

Digital solutions can also be used to identify inefficiencies. In services that focus on energy efficiency, data about energy use is continuously gathered from connected motors, generators and drives, as well as other electrical components. Expert service partners can look deeper into this data to pinpoint inefficiencies and critical areas for improvement. They can then calculate how much energy and money you could potentially save by, for example, modernizing motor systems or adding variable speed drives. Your service partner can also support you by implementing the recommended energy efficiency solutions and services to deliver substantial energy efficiency gains and reduction in CO₂ emissions.

3. Flexible business models

Depending on your needs, service providers can also offer energy efficiency solutions using different business models. For example, they may offer turnkey solutions with clear energy efficiency goals that are executed at an agreed time, date and price. Or they may offer service agreements that include multiyear execution and operational support, while sharing the responsibility to gradually improve the energy efficiency of your equipment over time and maximizing the value you get from your assets. These are examples of flexible business models that can be tailored to your operations.

In the future, outcome-based business models will also become available. These are the next step in the evolution of digital services. With this type of business model, you will buy a longer-term outcome, rather than short-term actions. Together with your service partner you will use insights from existing data to specify and agree targets and KPIs. Then the service partner will take responsibility for delivering the agreed outcomes and avoiding risks. In this way, outcome-based business models will help companies reach their goals. It is expected that these types of new business models will also be applied to energy efficiency goals.

Digital monitoring solutions enabled a cement factory to save costs and improve the efficiency of their fan systems in just 3 months.

The Interim Report

An interview series explores current trends and key challenges around the topic of developing energy efficient businesses towards a more sustainable world.
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Reliable operations and energy efficiency with digital solutions

Fran Scott, science presenter and engineering enthusiast, interviews Mari E. Haapala, Digital Lead at ABB Motion, about the many ways that energy efficiency can be improved using digital solutions, through data insights and service expertise.

There are three main mechanisms for improving energy efficiency: we can change old, inefficient motors for new ones, use variable speed drives, and monitor and optimize assets with digital solutions.

All three mechanisms offer significant opportunities. In particular, through the collection and analysis of accurate data, customers can be advised on how best to improve their energy efficiency in the future, and what kind of modifications must be made to that end.

Although transitioning to a digital business model might seem daunting, ABB’s digital solutions provide an easy way for companies to benefit from new technologies without requiring significant investment. Decades of expertise enable the accurate analysis of collected data, providing guidance for maintenance work and information on the energy efficiency of assets.

Mari E haapala
Mari E. Haapala

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