Three ways that cloud-connecting devices makes them greener and cheaper

March 12, 2019
Michael Farr

In my previous article, I talked about the ongoing trend to be more environmentally conscious and how both equipment owners and manufacturers are trying to get on board. This makes a lot of sense for equipment owners, since greener, more environmentally-friendly devices ultimately utilize less energy and save money in the long run. For the equipment manufacturers, making their devices more green and energy efficient is essential for meeting industry demand, and a differentiator in what has become a very crowded and competitive marketplace. 

There is more to making devices energy efficient than simply engineering and developing products that sip electricity instead of guzzling it. Manufacturers help their customers become greener and more energy-efficient by making smarter and more connected devices, even enabling automation. By doing so, they’re giving their customers the tools they need to implement greener, energy-efficient standards, processes and procedures that improve their bottom line over time. 

Another way connected devices can increase energy efficiency, for both the manufacturer and their customer, by being cloud-enabled and connected to a device cloud. Let’s take a look at how cloud-connected devices can push energy efficiency initiatives and procedures even further: 

Enabling energy efficiency across entire organizations 

As discussed previously, facilities managers, building owners and equipment owners can make it easier to embrace procedures that help save energy within a building by connecting devices within a facility. By allowing all HVAC systems, lighting systems, and other critical building systems to be controlled centrally, it becomes easier to reduce consumption during times when people aren’t present. 

Automating these procedures then takes that to the next level, allowing temperature control, lighting control, and other system controls to adjust automatically at times and on days when people aren’t there with little to no human actions. 

What if we could control every system in every building on campus this way? What if we could automate the lights and HVAC in buildings in New York City, Houston, Chicago, and San Francisco? How much easier and convenient would it be for owners or managers of multiple buildings or entire campuses to set up energy-saving procedures and policies if they could control, even automate, all of these systems in all of these locations all from one central control plane? 

This is the power of cloud-enabling devices. 

If the devices and systems in the New York City, and Houston, and Chicago and San Francisco offices be cloud-enabled, they can be managed together, remotely. This means that controlling and automating systems can be done easily, efficiently and effectively by a single person. Once settings are done and the systems programmed, automation can even eliminate the need for that single person to interact with the system. 

That’s a HUGE improvement over sending a memo telling people in each location to, “turn off the lights and lower the A/C before you leave for the day.” And, unlike the memo, automating the systems ensures that this actually gets done. That’s how you deliver real energy efficiency and cost savings. 

Data analytics drives green decisions

Even better than savings, connecting devices to the cloud allows the building owners, facilities managers and even the equipment manufacturers to collect and harvest device data. In today’s world, data is a powerful tool. It can be aggregated, compiled and analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) and other analytics tools to generate actionable insights. 

By analyzing this device data, building owners and facilities managers can make better decisions about how to manage and automate their systems to maximize energy efficiency. And the equipment manufacturers can help as well. 

Nobody knows commercial equipment and devices better than the company that made them. The manufacturer knows how to adjust a device’s settings to maximize efficiency. They can even analyze the data available about their devices in the field to determine what settings are most efficient and roll those out to the rest of their operating, cloud-enabled devices. 

In fact, there’s a term for this management of devices in the field by equipment manufacturers, HVAC as a service (HVACaaS). Many in the HVAC industry anticipate that managing devices remotely as a service to ensure that they’re always operating optimally and in the most energy-efficient manner is a future revenue stream for manufacturers. And it’s only possible if devices are cloud-enabled. 

Less service calls less fuel used 

So far, we’ve only looked at efficiency from the standpoint of electricity used. But that’s not the only kind of energy or fuel that cloud-enabled devices can help to save. 

In previous posts, we’ve discussed how service calls can be improved with cloud-enabled devices. Since manufacturers are able to access device data in the cloud, and analyze/identify problems remotely, there is less need for redundant service calls and truck rolls. 

For instance, in the past, when a device stopped working, the equipment owner would have to call the manufacturer to come out and diagnose the problem. This required a truck roll and service visit just to see what was wrong. In many cases, a new part needed to be ordered or installed, forcing the maintenance technician to make an additional trip with the requisite part. If the manufacturer knows the problem in advance, they can send the technician with the right tools and parts the first time, eliminating trips, saving fuel, saving money, and being more environmentally conscious. 

Smarter, connected devices are an important part of helping companies implement green initiatives, increase energy efficiency, and cut costs. There’s so much more that equipment owners can do should their devices be connected to each other AND to the cloud. By cloud-enabling their devices, equipment manufacturers can help their customers save on energy and operate more efficiently.

To read more about the benefits of using cloud gateways and check out a case study on its benefits, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the ABI Research report, “Equipment Manufacturers Turn Cloud Connectivity into Competitive Advantage 

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Michael Farr
Michael Farr is the Vice President of Operations at Sierra Monitor Corporation. He has a strong production control and operations management background, and has been an integral part in the company’s growth - guiding Sierra Monitor through multiple transitions of its supply chain process, partners, and systems. He holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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