The collection and management of data has the potential to be the single most time-intensive task when it comes to starting your analysis project. This fact is lamented by many consultants and analysts alike especially when managing large-scale energy management & sustainability projects.
When looking for an energy management and sustainability software to help you manage your project portfolio, establishing a set of requirements is crucial to meeting the needs of your project or client, but also serves to help you, as the service provider or consultant streamline tasks associated with data collection and handling as far as possible – so that you can focus on analysing the incoming data.
Scale requires effective data collection practices
The need for efficient data collection and management is amplified when managing multiple projects for your clients’ real-estate portfolios or businesses.
In this scenario, the ability to automate scale monitoring, analysis and reporting is paramount. It could also be the case where you are managing fewer, but rather complex project types, eg. a high-rise, multi-tenant building with sub-metered billing; or calculating the performance ratio of a solar PV plant or perhaps you are trying to understand how you can optimise HVAC operation in your clients’ facilities without compromising indoor air quality (IAQ).
Whatever the nature of your analyses, data collection and the efficient management thereof, has ‘make or break’ influence on the success or failure of a project, particularly where data quality and integrity is concerned. Poor data quality and compromised data integrity can lead to numerous issues including erroneous insights, distorted analyses and recommendations that are ill-advised.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of 5 recommended requirements to look for when evaluating the data collection, handling and management capabilities of your energy management & sustainability software provider:
1. Compatibility with variety of data integration mechanisms
2. Ability to centralise data in a single view
3. Ability to organise, manage and store project data to scale analyses & reporting
4. Controlling access to data for scale
5. A supportive team dedicated to your projects’ success
Compatibility with variety of data integration mechanisms
More often than not, monitoring, operational, business and other 3rd party data intended to be collected and analysed for your projects come from meters, sensors and other hardware devices installed in your buildings/business sites.
Data can also be housed in different files, databases, repositories, software systems or website applications that require compatibility with data integration mechanisms such as JSON via HTTPS (API), CSV to FTP, MQTT and so on for the data to be sent to the Wattics backend. The backend server receives the data and makes it available for analysis in the Wattics cloud-based energy analytics dashboard (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Simplified overview of Wattics’ data integration ecosystem
Flexibility and compatibility with different data integration mechanisms is a requirement when attempting to integrate different data types from different sources where one integration method works for a particular dataset(s) but not another/others.
With data integration, it is important to understand the type of data that needs to be collected and analysed, know where it comes from, where it is located/housed which will assist in determining which integration method or technology is most suitable.
This is a critical stage of the project where communication & collaboration between your project team and software provider is of utmost importance to ensure the best data integration method is employed.
Flexibility in data integration is a top priority for us at Wattics, so we can advise on the best integration mechanism to get your project data into a single platform, so that you can begin your analysis for savings as soon as possible.
Here’s what our customers have to say:
Highly recommended! We could cut 80-90% of the time our energy analysts spend in repetitive tasks such as collecting and handling data to create reports and actions. Their [Wattics] support is second to none, and the dashboard is great! We have tried many a software for our projects, but Wattics has excelled above all!” – Nick Wood, Optimised Energy, UK
Ability to centralise data in a single view
By virtue of the data integration process, data from varied sources is centralised into a consolidated data set. A consolidated data set that is clean, consistent and meets the information needs of the analysts and consultants working with the data is essential where savings, and improvements in efficiency and optimisation is the goal.
Figure 2: Wattics enables analysts and consultants to bring varied data types into a single, unified view
Bringing different data types into a single platform or view eg. electricity, water, gas, production, occupancy, air quality, solar production etc is needed to get a comprehensive view of the behaviours, processes and operations that are identified to be the cause of, or, contribute to grave inefficiencies and waste.
The incorporation of external variables or adjustment data allows you to study factors that influence consumption trends and behaviours; monitor and compare KPIs relevant to your client’s business (e.g. kWh/unit produced), and respond to the effect of external conditions on your consumption, such as weather conditions and operational changes (e.g. take into account temperature fluctuations and new equipment power settings)
In essence, data integration and centralisation of data provides transparency and clarity on the trends and patterns that exist, so that baseline measurements can be established upon which to implement data-driven decisions regarding saving actions.
Here’s what our customers have to say:
“Extremely user friendly, versatile and reliable. A must have tool for energy managers! Wattics has made energy management a much easier task! It simplifies data handling and trends analysis. The platform speeds up decision making and enables continuous improvement of energy performance” – Jorge Vieto, Solersa, Costa Rica
Ability to organise, manage and store project data to scale analyses & reporting
Once your project data is available and ready to analyse, there are core capabilities or features that your chosen platform would ideally have to achieve scalability and save time in organising, managing, and storing your project data to scale analyses & reporting.
1. Filters, tags, and grouping – When managing data for a growing number of buildings & facilities which may vary in size, consumption, geography, CO2 output, costs etc, having the ability to tag or group a set of appliances or building facilities becomes increasingly important when attempting to quickly locate or filter a specific group of sites, buildings, equipment, for which to run an analyses or generate a report. An example could be a set of HVAC meters across commercial offices within a property portfolio, or retail stores of a specific sqm in the centre of London, or a group of industrial sites with an energy consumption threshold.
2. Bulk import / export of data – The bulk import and export of data in and of itself implies the ability to upload or export sizable datasets in order to save time in uploading data in a scalable way or exporting data if needed.
3. Modernisation & simplification of calculating energy formulas – The ability to create energy formulas in bulk and apply these across datasets is a huge time-saving, especially when creating the same calculation for multiple buildings or locations. This could include the creation of new measurements derived from the multiplication with a constant, for example, CO2 and other GHG emissions, or using the earlier example of calculating the solar performance of a PV plant, the calculation for which is: [energy measured(kWh)/(Irradiance(kWh/m2) on the panel x Active area of PV module(m2) x PV module efficiency].
Analysts today still spending 75 – 80% of their time analysing raw data and measurements in Excel
The Wattics Formula Composer has the potential to save 90% of the time spent importing and creating manual calculations in spreadsheets. The tool gives you the ability to create, edit and apply mathematical formulas to data in bulk so that you can scale your calculations and analyses [see short video introduction].
4. Data visualisation, handling and storage – Access to tools that transform raw data into a format that can be understood, analysed and from which data-driven decisions can be made are a must to be able to share and report on insights gained from data analysis. Data visualisation tools have become increasingly flexible and sophisticated with cloud-based energy management software – a modern, time-saving, and effective alternative to graphs & charts generated in excel spreadsheets.
5. Project management/collaborative tools for energy management teams – Communication and collaboration is vital when energy management analyst teams find themselves in different sites and/or working remotely. Tools that facilitate, enhance communication amongst analyst and consultant teams can ensure effective communication on projects as if all team members were in the same location. In a time when less time is spent in an office and more teams are decentralised, it becomes increasingly important to have the tools that can foster collaboration and easier communication.
Create custom dashboards with graphs, pie charts and other data visualizations
Here’s what our customers have to say:
“Powerful and intuitive: definitely great! User friendly dashboard, effective graphs and reports” – Cecilia Ottonello, Senior Energy Efficiency Consultant, X3 Energy, Italy
Controlling access to data for scale
It goes without saying that the ability to control access to data is important for security & privacy. Invariably the nature of many projects require data, analyses and reports to be shared among team members especially where there are multiple team members or teams working on a specific project or client portfolio; with customers and third parties if necessary. In each case, it is important that access to data be managed with the utmost care through features that will enable and restrict access to project data, documents or other sensitive information associated with a particular project or client portfolio.
When providing a service for a large number of buildings or businesses, the ability to delegate project data to teams is necessary to being able to scale and deliver services. This is important for consultancies and service providers as they win more projects and expand their portfolios. In order to facilitate this, a robust architecture that delineates data access rights between different users is needed. In other words, a multiple level user access structure which can be controlled and managed centrally by a principal user(s) or account holder(s).
“Intuitive software, highly responsive team. Getting set up in and using Wattics had a very short learning curve” – Grace Junge, Energy Engineer, Edison Energy
When it comes to secure data access for large energy and sustainability teams, Wattics has enabled features that afford them a structured way to deliver services to their customers, with the aid of ‘local administrators’ who have increased permissions/rights to perform the necessary actions for project/service delivery. This introduction of tiered level of access provides a host of benefits to scale, particularly for large companies managing multiple clients and projects simultaneously.
A supportive team dedicated to your projects’ success
Having a reliable team dedicated to the success of your projects is a factor that should not be overlooked. Expertise and support on the part of your software provider can have a significant impact on the success of your project, especially where data collection and management is concerned.
The focus on customer success, and the relationship between provider and consultant/analyst is an important one as the use of cloud-based software to deliver services becomes more ubiquitous and energy management and sustainability teams are geographically dispersed— even more so when managing projects located in multiple locations across the world.
An agile, responsive and consultative success team that grows with you is an invaluable asset as you scale your services to deliver savings, operating efficiency, future-proofing, sustainability for your clients. Having the peace of mind that there is a supportive team behind the technology can be a key differentiating factor when considering an energy management & sustainability software provider.
Here’s what our customers say:
“The support team has been great, from data integration to hardware configuration.” – Micah Ortúzar, Energy Solutions Manager
“The The utility of Wattics as an energy management tool is only overshadowed by the support provided by the team behind it,” – Muhsin Mohammed, Embedded System Designer
Want to more about data collection and management with Wattics for your projects? And see the 18+ energy and sustainability analytics suite to help you monitor, manage, track and optimise your savings? Get in touch to speak to our experts.