Plan your energy reports

To design effective reports, consider who needs the reports and why.

By Paul Studebaker, CMRP, Editor in Chief

Operational staff needs to know when a problem occurs as quickly as possible, and to know what they should do about it. Senior management, on the other hand, needs summary information to know that procedures and systems are working well. “So to design reports, it is important to understand who needs reports and why,” says Henry Petersen, business manager, Endress + Hauser (www.us.endress.com). His recommendations:

Reports to senior management might include a summary of last year’s costs broken down by energy accountable center (EAC) and a summary of the current year’s performance on a monthly basis against budget, against the previous year and against targets. It might include a note of the savings (or losses) achieved to date and how they were achieved, or a note of additional savings opportunities and what actions are ongoing to address them. A new report to management should be issued each month and be available in time for board meetings.

Operations management will be responsible for operating processes and plant efficiency. They will need to know on a shift, daily, weekly, or monthly basis what energy has been used and how this compares with various targets. The information will be used to measure and manage the effectiveness of operations personnel and process plant and systems, quickly identify problem areas and provide a basis for performance reporting.

Modern energy management information systems have to be very flexible in creating reports.

– Henry Petersen

Operations personnel need to know when a problem has occurred and what needs to be done to rectify it. This information needs to be provided in a timely manner, which might mean within a few minutes of the event for a major energy-using process, or within a day or a week.

Engineers associated with operations will need similar reports. Compared to process operators, engineers typically will be involved with problems where there is more time to act, for example, cleaning heat exchangers, solving a control problem, or removing air from a refrigeration condenser.

Engineers who are not directly in operations but who provide support will need more detailed historical information. Typically, these individuals will be involved in analyzing historical performance, developing targets and modeling. They will require access to the plant data historian and will use analysis tools ranging from commonly available spreadsheet software to advanced data mining and similar software.

Engineers involved in projects will need supporting data, for example, levels of energy use, process operating conditions, etc. They will also need access to the raw data in the historian and access to analysis tools.

The accounts department might be interested in actual energy usages and costs to compare with budgets. They will need information that is broken down by department so costs can be allocated to related activities. Accurate cost of operations and the cost of producing goods can improve decisions regarding product pricing, for example, and the allocation of resources.

Energy and environmental managers will need summary data that identifies the performance achieved and trends, much like what executives and operations managers require. Like engineers, they might require more detailed information for specific analysis. The environmental department may want energy consumption expressed as equivalent CO2 emissions, and the energy reports may need to be integrated into environmental reports that are more general.

Summary information might be required for annual energy and environmental reporting and might be needed more frequently by regulatory bodies. The energy manager might be involved in energy purchasing as well as efficiency. He might need information about the profile of energy use (using a half-hourly graph, for example), peak usage, nighttime usage, etc. The energy manager will also need access to the raw data in order to allow evaluation of purchasing options and to check bills.

“We can see from this broad variety of requirements that modern energy management information systems have to be very flexible in creating these reports,” Petersen adds.

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