Saving energy with effective IoT strategies

August 17, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is often referred to as the “next big thing” in consumer and workplace technology. The theory of IoT is simple. Per a Forbes article, the IoT is, “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other) . . . The IoT is a giant network of connected ‘things’ (which also includes people). The relationships will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.”

While most businesses are still working out the kinks in their individual IoT strategies, the theory is one that leading building and energy managers are already putting to use.

Emily Holbrook, in an article for Energy Manager Today, explains that “examples of energy efficient IoT are abundant: Things may be simple sensors (e.g. temperature sensor in a room), more complex sensors (e.g. electrical power measuring device) . . . or complex devices.”

The key to gaining meaningful energy savings by employing IoT lies in creating an effective strategy. In an interview with CIO, John Rossman – the man who spent four years running Amazon’s Marketplace business – stressed the importance of creating a strategy before jumping headfirst into the IoT world.

“First and foremost... you must narrow and prioritize your options. IoT presents a broad swathe of opportunities. Success depends upon understanding your market, evaluating the opportunities with deliberation and attacking in the right place,” Rossman says.

While Rossman was speaking to IoT applications in the retail space, his points can easily be turn into the basics of an effective energy-saving IoT strategy.

Understand your data needs

The first step in developing a good IoT strategy for energy savings is to clearly define your data needs. Holbrook emphasizes “there’s more to IoT playing a role in energy efficiency than just clamping on a few sensors.”

In other words, don’t buy a ton of connectable sensors, place them indiscriminately throughout your building, and hope the data that comes in is valuable. Instead, understand what additional data your building management strategy could benefit from. Whether you want to monitor machine downtime or after-hours energy usage more closely, you have to define your data needs. Once you have that nailed down, the remainder of your IoT energy savings strategy tailors itself to meet those goals.

Implement the right solutions and empower the right people

After determining what data and insights you need to run your buildings more efficiently, you need to implement IoT data-collecting solutions in the right places.

Almost as important as putting the physical IoT devices in the right spot is using the right people to oversee the IoT process. For example, at a plant that manufactures airbags, you’d likely have energy-usage sensors placed at least on the assembly line and in quality control. These are two high energy-usage areas that can likely be streamlined for greater efficiency.

Instead of putting upper management in charge of IoT for quality control, though, let the lead quality control director take point. Their insight, combined with the data gathered from IoT, combines to give you a more dynamic view of potential solutions than raw data alone.

The IoT is here to stay, and there’s a chance it can revolutionize the world in the same way the Internet did. A good IoT strategy, properly implemented, can help your energy management practices take a huge leap forward.

For more information on how IoT will affect building management in the near future, you can download the “Intelligent Buildings & the Impact of the Internet of Things” eBook.