[This is Part#2 of the Energy Management Series. You may access Part#1 here]
Energy management in India was rarely accepted as a part of prudential business practice, rather it remained grossly a function of electricity bill reconciliation and matching the PCC (Power Control Cabin) level energy consumption. It took a great amount of time to the industry in adopting benchmark of Specific Energy Consumption. Till then in absence of data, all that they used to refer was a range (minima and maxima) for their monthly consumption, electricity bill and Specific Energy Consumption (if ever considered).
So, what all different kind of practices Industries adopted to manage their electricity consumption? Here are a few cases we shall talk about.
Typically, once in a day or once in a shift, manual data reading, and recording. Starting from large companies (>5 MVA of contract demand) to the SMEs (~250 KVA contract demand) – most of them used to have typical manpower assigned for these activities of energy meter data reading and recording in a piece of paper. This piece of paper either used to be a normal page of a notebook or else a typical formatted table, properly documented and printed. Classically, an electrician(s) of the maintenance department is/are assigned this job. Depending on the size of the manufacturing facility, they collect data from the main meter (main incoming feeder, where DISCOM has out the meter), and such key nodes where electricity data has direct relevance with production and plant availability.
Since data recording used to be manual, it posed great number of anomalies and leakages such as
- seldom the record time of such readings taken, along with the readings; and even if it’s considered by default it’s what’s entered by the electrician who took the reading
- Many a time the electrician misses the time of data collection, and hence he needs to fudge the reading (based on his mastery of data reading, collection and record maintenance)
- thus collected data was never questioned, and hence meters were rarely taken out for calibration/replacement until a big mismatch is observed on a continuous basis
- the exigency of energy data reconciliation made industry extremely conscious to “KWh” and “KVAh”, ignoring the importance of all other parameters, including Power Factor (many of the plants were not having a proper mechanism to contain the reactive power – Capacitor Bank)
- impacts of human error in data recording got noticed while one reconciles the electricity bill at the end of the month
Above resulted in a great number of catastrophes such as
- Activity being too tedious, data from only critical locations were recorded and rest were ignored, resulting in plant-wide complete ignorance on performance of the assets
- data driven approach to energy efficiency – everybody used to have a thumb rule for monthly electricity bill without taking deeper conscience of fixed cost and variable cost
- APFC panels were regarded least importance in absence of data – so, until damage in Power Factor got reflected in the electricity bill, seldom people cared to look into the capacitor bank about performance or healthiness of the capacitors
- Tripping on account of poor power quality (harmonics, abnormal voltage profile, etc.) were greatly remain a subject of assumption and understanding
- Inventory management remained a tough task, and hence either they always used to have access inventory or at all no backup inventory in case of breakdown
- Maintenance activities were always driven by the production cycles
Thus, collected data is then handed over to a managerial level official in the organization, whose job is to arrange them in a proper excel sheet and share the same with the higher authorities.
If the organization is not a part of a giant conglomerate where technology adoption was driven by process strengthening, surely their approach was very much rudimentary towards energy management. After rigorous efforts by the Productivity Council of India and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
However, a wind of the change was clearly visible by 2011-12. Industries started recognizing the importance of Energy Management, especially after increasing adoption of power trading by the state power utilities. The importance of real time energy monitoring, data analysis, judicious asset maintenance planning and inventory accounting started getting importance. Also, the power utilities started taking serious actions towards technology induction and adoption.