As is the case in any manufacturing operation, executives are feeling pressures to improve costs by reducing waste. Although energy comprises a considerable portion of waste, many senior leaders overlook it because it falls outside the confines of what is traditionally easy to measure and improve. Industrial Energy Management (IEM) software has been changing that mentality for years, and more recently the cloud is accelerating that change.
It’s no surprise that the cloud is revolutionizing the way manufacturers use software. It’s already made an impact in enterprise and shop floor software categories like ERP and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM). And for the past few years, we’ve been seeing those benefits extend into the IEM software space. Executives are focused on staying lean, and what a better way to do so than by virtualizing software made to reduce energy waste and hosting it in the cloud?
Making the Move to the Cloud
IEM solutions hosted over the cloud with flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery and licensing models not only facilitate previously unrealistic or resource-intensive energy management connections, the ease and cost of deployment are only improving. The benefits are vast. Below, we look into data from our recent IEM survey taken by more than 200 executives to identify the top benefits of cloud-based IEM software. We’ll also discuss how you can experience these benefits in your own operation.
1. Lower total cost of ownership
Ranking above all, 54% of executives reported the top benefit of the cloud being its lower total cost of ownership. On-premise deployments generally require major up-front capital and time investments and then continual oversight by the IT department as well as upgrade and service fees. In contrast, deployment of the cloud-based solution is largely dependent on integrating energy data sources with the web-based solution—which can take just weeks or less—and then paying a subscription fee including maintenance and service. This lower total cost of ownership can also help to more easily justify ROI based on future energy savings.
2. Limited in-house IT resources
29% of executives reported a top benefit of cloud-based IEM software as helping to overcome challenges with limited in-house IT resources. Cloud-based software eliminates the need for internal hardware and support, and service and system maintenance are built into the licensing agreement, which really allows energy to move outside of IT’s priority list. This can actually enable in-house IT professionals to focus on more mission-critical projects in which they have expertise and will deliver more value.
3. Improved collaboration and web-based capabilities
Where the benefits of the cloud versus on-premise solutions really stand out is in the ability to communicate and collaborate via the web. 19% of manufacturing executives reported this as a top benefit. Compared to on-premise solutions, IEM solutions delivered via the cloud can be easily scaled across facilities, providing visibility into performance and opening up doors for secure collaboration on energy projects.
4. Limited in-house energy management expertise
19% of executives surveyed found that the cloud reduced requirements for in-house energy management expertise. Today’s cloud-based IEM solutions are architected to be as intuitive for users as possible, often with flexible licensing agreements for both casual and more technical users, meaning organizations pay less for some users to have access to IEM data, and more for others. This is helpful because not every user will be an energy management expert, but it will be important for him or her to buy into the system and understand how actions impact energy.
Additionally, some IEM solutions providers are coupling in energy services with the solution, which is crucial for manufacturers requiring data analysis and decision-making support. In this case, even if in-house expertise is lacking, manufacturers can still make data-backed decisions.
Realizing these Benefits in Your Own Operation
The benefits shown above have been experienced by far more than the 200 executives surveyed. And if you take another look at the chart, you’ll notice we only discussed the top four. There are other benefits including improved scalability of the solution, reductions in long-term application maintainability, moving costs from capital to operating expenses, and improved uptime. The benefits you experience with the cloud will be unique to your organization, but should closely align with these eight.
If you’re interested in learning about how you can make these benefits a reality and start strategically cutting down energy waste, watch the recording of our webcast “Driving Productivity and Profit with Industrial Energy Management.” In the webcast, we dive deeper into this topic, discussing both the challenges and benefits of the cloud in IEM, and actionable recommendations for getting your organization on the right path to energy management leadership. Watch the webinar recording by clicking the button below: