To Improve Savings, Optimize the Resource Management Lifecycle
This article is sponsored by Ecova.
Energy managers and facility managers face a myriad of challenges — from properly forecasting energy, to procurement of energy, to optimizing a particular asset, to managing and processing bills in a timely manner, to preempting equipment failures or fixing faults when they happen — and many are short staffed and can only deal with problems as they arise rather than having time to work on forward planning. With all this on their plates, energy managers are increasingly looking for a trusted adviser who can help guide them, on a one-to-one basis, through their entire resource management process, says Bob Zak, senior vice president of facility operations for Ecova. “This concept of a company managing its energy use and resources over time, through the gamut of problems they face, we call the resource management lifecycle,” Zak says.
With an all-encompassing view of the resource management lifecycle, energy managers and facility managers can be sure they are running the ship optimally: this means procuring energy at the best price, forecasting energy use accurately, processing invoices on time to avoid late fees, predicting when a particular asset is about to fail, preempting such failures, discovering opportunities to adjust processes in order to find additional savings, and more.
When companies have the luxury of looking at their energy use across the entire resource management lifecycle and across all assets, they can see what is being effectively optimized, what is not, where they need to expend extra effort and where they can make improvements. For example, equipment cannot be fully optimized when it breaks down, and fixing a suboptimal machine in an emergency situation can be expensive. But if companies have an encompassing view of the resource management lifecycle, they can avoid a failure in a machine by seeing in the backend that the asset is working sub-optimally. “They can preempt the problem and bring the asset back to efficiency without the extra expense caused by having an emergency failure on their hands,” Zak says.
But it can be a challenge to pull together a view of all the various pieces of the resource management lifecycle. “Perhaps the biggest headache,” Zak says, “is trying to gather all the necessary information when working with ten different vendors.” Working with a single adviser can make all the difference, he says.
Energy managers also face another challenge today: increased pressure from higher-ups. When facility managers implement a more effective lighting system, for example, they are able to demonstrate to higher-ups a significant savings over the course of several years. Now those higher-ups, impressed with the success of such energy management programs, are asking: What’s next?
“What’s next,” says Zak, “is looking at subsequent asset types. Lighting is optimized? They should begin to look at an even more intensive source of energy consumption like HVAC. When energy managers begin optimizing heating and cooling, and are then able to correlate it back to lighting and the rest of the lifecycle, they learn to become ever more efficient in terms of energy use.” Continued optimization of the resource management lifecycle creates a snowball effect, allowing companies to continually find opportunities to increase savings. “This type of approach ensures the company is saving on capital as well as operational expenditures across the lifecycle,” Zak says.
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