Sections in this online guide:
- Why use Digital Technologies for Energy Management (DTEM)?
- DTEM: Components of an energy strategy
- DTEM: Building the business case
- DTEM: Selecting the right system
- DTEM: Select and evaluate suppliers
- DTEM: User guide
5. Select and evaluate suppliers
Will it significantly improve your energy management?
Especially for smaller energy users, the first thing to establish when thinking of purchasing DTEM, is whether or not it is likely to significantly improve your energy management. Care should be taken to ensure that systems are not over-specified as the associated additional costs will impact on the project payback for no demonstrable gain.
At sites where best practice energy management techniques are already in place savings above 5% are unlikely to be achieved. The opportunity could rise to approximately 20% at sites where no energy management has taken place.
A simple indication as to the scale of any likely saving is to look at the out of hours consumption baseload. A baseload that represents only a small proportion of the site load indicates good control and management techniques i.e. out of hours switch off policy/training or good system automation.
One possible tactic is an incremental structured approach to installing DTEM - upgrading over time as confidence builds in the benefits of deploying the technology, helping to justify further system development. For example, you may start with a relatively simple utility meter level aM&T system. This will highlight quick-win savings, for example from out of hours consumption or a high baseload.
Evidence of the savings, and the analysis of the data collected, can then be used to determine the potential benefits from purchasing more complex DTEM technologies such as additional sub metering, a BMS or SCADA system.
Investing in DTEM is an important decision so it is worth taking the time to carry out thorough research to establish the scale and type of system that best suits your needs.
If your sector has an energy managers’ or sector body forum then contact them for recommendations or suggestions.
The Carbon Trust maintains a list of accredited suppliers that have been independently assessed by the Carbon Trust and have met or exceeded our criteria, designed to examine their capability and proven track record of delivering well-designed DTEM systems. As part of the robust assessment process, the Carbon Trust takes into consideration case studies and feedback from client references regarding suppliers’ performance.
Visit our Green Business Directory for details of accredited suppliers of energy efficient solutions: Green Business Directory
There are also a number of comparison websites which may help you identify suitable energy management software systems. Examples are:
The examples of third party comparison websites are listed for information only. Inclusion in this guide in no way implies any endorsement or recommendation by the Carbon Trust or Climate Works.
What to ask potential suppliers?
To help you when talking to potential suppliers, here are a list of questions you can ask them
✓ What features specified come as standard, and which are optional?
✓ Is the software web based or desktop?
✓ Is there inbuilt reporting?
✓ Can reports be tailored without incurring an additional cost?
✓ Are there costs for adding additional users?
✓ Is there an annual maintenance fee or licence renewal charge?
✓ Is there a helpline or online support portal? Is the cost of accessing this part of the maintenance or licence renewal?
✓ Can I import data from other systems? If so, is there a standard format, e.g. excel.xls or similar?
✓ Is there an additional cost to expand the system as required?
✓ Can I add additional metering points to the system myself? Is there a set up cost?
✓ Do you supply/support additional mobile wireless meters that will integrate into the system when required?
✓ Can the new equipment talk to the old equipment? Does everything use the same protocols?
✓ Can controls be fitted onto existing equipment as a retrofit?
✓ Is there capability to add to the system?
As part of any DTEM tender specification you should ask suppliers to provide relevant case studies and references for similar projects with appropriate contact details.
Follow up on the case studies provided. Arrange a call to discuss their system and installation experience or better still, visit the site to observe the system in action.
Some insightful questions to ask reference sites during your discussion might include:
- Did the supplier understand your requirements?
- Did the supplier provide what was required or do you think you paid for features that you did not want or need?
- Is the system fit for your purposes? If not, why not?
- Did you think the install was professional and up to standard?
- Was there training provided? Was it adequate? With hindsight, what additional support would have been helpful?
- How have you found the supplier’s customer support offering/aftercare?
- Would you recommend the product and suppliers?
- What would you change?
Further, more in-depth questions include:
- Was the commissioning straightforward?
- What was the scale of the snagging required?
- What were the main snags? Could they have been foreseen?
- Does/has the supplier carried out seasonal commissioning? (for BEMS & SCADA))
- Was there a maintenance cost? Did you think it is good value?
- Do the inbuilt reports meet your requirements?
- Can the inbuilt reports be tailored to suit, or:
- Do you find you needed to export data to other software for analysis?