You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

And you shouldn’t measure it without alarms.

Who doesn’t like having control over a situation? I have not met a single business owner or facilities engineer who doesn’t want more control over their operation; but there are so many unknowns! The “unknowns” are opportunities for you to take better control of your operation and your facility.

Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you want more control over something, you have to figure out how to measure it. Step one, discuss what you want to control; and step two, decide how you are going to measure it.  Metrics give you the “You are here” on the performance optimization roadmap. Once metrics are decided, we establish key performance indicators (KPIs). There are two caution signs on the journey; risk of data overload and choosing appropriate measurement time frames. (Those will pop up in a minute!)

The metrics you collect will assist in taking control of your operation by helping you create reduction goals; separating costs between business units; keeping track of improvements made to consumption; allowing you to double check equipment consumption versus utility bills; and the list goes on. There is a lot of great information you can collect, but at the end of the week or the end of the month, metrics don’t drive you to action. The numbers don’t tell you where you stand in reaching your KPIs, and often times those pesky previously mentioned road blocks get in the way as well. The lack of action times prevents us from connecting the dots as to why we are not hitting our KPI targets.

Don’t worry, there is a solution: Automated Alarms. Alarms tell you exactly when and where you violate your consumption rules.

Here’s an example:

Say a facility has a goal of only consuming 40,000 gallons of water per day, and they run three shifts per day. Does anyone adjust the goal knowing that 1st shift consumes 2,000 gallons, 2nd shift, 1,000 gallons, and 3rd shift 1,000 gallons? Further still, does anyone adjust the goal knowing that production had maintenance breakdowns, so they only consumed 500 gallons that day, but the third shift sanitation crew made up that savings by running wild with the hose? The answer to those questions? No. Likely someone was left scratching their head looking at the data, retrospectively wondering, “What the heck happened out there that day?” With metering in place, you can conduct studies by operating each machine independently; calculating the consumption each machine uses individually. Using the metering software, limits can be set on how much water each machine should be using when in operation and assign an alarm to that limit. If the consumption is higher than the machine is supposed to have, an alarm will be sent out via email and text messaging, allowing the operator to instantly find and address the issue leading to over consumption.

When configured properly, alarms can also prevent huge demand charges. Have you ever looked at your past month’s demand curve, and tried to figure out what happened that day? How about instead, note how much kW you were consuming right before you hit peak and imagine being alerted when you start to reach peak demand; what could you have done to level that curve? Your evening baseload is 250kW and daytime operation consumes 400kW, but twice each month there are peaks where you consume over 600kW. In this example I would start by creating an alarm to notify you of when the building kW consumption hits 425kW.  As soon as you receive that alert, you can investigate if there are any significant energy users turning on simultaneously. To prevent that you can set up an automated interlock so it never happens again, and go on your merry way to save large amounts of energy (and money!). Sometimes the solution is as simple as splitting up the break times of departments by 15 minutes.

The possibilities are endless, and sometimes highly creative! And those creative, “aha” moment solutions are what The Wasmer Company thrives on.  Contact us today to get started on designing and implementing your alarm system to take control of your facilities operation.

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