30 March, 2022 - 20:46

Soaring energy costs strengthen case for intelligent operations

Soaring energy prices are set to have a long-lasting impact on the UK economy. Combined with inflation, supply chain challenges, COVID and Brexit disruption, this year is going to hurt the pockets of consumers and businesses alike, writes Kit Kyte of Checkit.

The general picture is one of limited consumer spending power and a lessening of business investment as costs look to rise and rise. 

Businesses will face the brunt of rising costs but also suffer pressure to help their staff and not to damage relations with customers and partners alike. Therefore, businesses must consider every tool and technique at their disposal to mitigate against rising costs.

One of the biggest challenges they will face is poor visibility of the operational activity that is consuming energy.

Operations teams have relied on outdated reporting methods for too long. Paper checklists and spreadsheets are dependent on manual checks and administration. They are vulnerable to error and inaccuracy and often stored away from any management visibility.

Smart tech like an intelligent operations platform will shed light on ‘dark operations’ to help drive improvements for energy use, and sustainability. For example, IoT sensors can provide 24/7 monitoring of energy-intensive assets such as fridges, freezers, ovens, heating and air conditioning. 

These go beyond setting safe and sustainable temperatures and energy use, to also impact on if stock (from food to blood or vaccines) is still safe if fridges or ovens went out of range whilst in use. The larger the assets in play, the bigger the impact.

Moreover, energy efficiency and sustainability can be built into frontline staffing operations. Digital assistants play a part in optimising workflows to prompt, guide and capture best practice around sustainability and efficiency. 

The ability to capture activity and record key metrics from workers and sensors in real-time provides leadership with evidence that assets are well-optimised and helps manage the risks of equipment malfunction such as freezer failure, or human error, such as fridge doors left open. In both cases, energy consumption will rise to mitigate against poor conditions.

Intelligent operations means equipping teams with technology to track assets and solve the day-to-day problems that they encounter. This enables a business to ditch project management spreadsheets and paper checklists in favour of real-time and unfalsifiable tracking. Moreover, providing digital guidance gives autonomy and agency to workers to solve their problems in the moment.

Making sense of energy usage across the business is key for lowering costs, never mind the associated benefits of better asset control. Consistent data helps address the biggest areas of energy consumption and risk. Effectively, IoT gives buildings and energy consuming devices a voice. 

Sensors plus analytics uncover opportunities to save energy and stop problems snowballing by alerting when temperatures or other use goes out of pre-set ranges or times. In fact, fridges and freezers can become inefficient as they age. 

Sensors can show a trend over time and identify as they reach their end of life, ready for replacement as part of an intelligent, predictive approach.

Smart energy management is part and parcel of the smart building and smart working revolution. All kinds of real-time data, such as occupancy information, water consumption, food waste, and the security or energy efficiency of entrances and windows, can be brought into a unified control.

A myriad of opportunities to make savings are brought out of the realm of dark operations. Remediation is possible through automation, changing procedures and better management of assets, infrastructure and equipment.

One of the significant second level cost savings can come from saving worker time. Hospitality, residential, or healthcare sites, for example, require regular compliance checks across fridges, freezers, hot food provision and water temperature and sterility.

People don’t have to do these very tedious checks. Wireless sensors with multi-year battery life can automate these previously manual processes, and the data they offer supports more refinement of business processes.

Checkit’s intelligent operations software utilises Internet of Things to connect workforces to their assets and buildings, giving complete visibility to deskless workers. Where many companies offer just one or two monitoring solutions, Checkit’s technology covers a variety of supply tracking functions across different industries, even embedding digital assistance into staff workflows.

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