Big Data for Sustainability

With big data about energy usage at the device level, enterprises are reducing consumption, optimizing processes for efficiency, and creating sustainability initiatives that advance them in economic, social, and environmental realms.

By Yaniv Vardi (Panoramic Power).

Peanut butter and jelly.

Music and dancing.

Wine and cheese.

Big data and sustainability.

All things that are good on their own, but great when paired. In the case of big data and sustainability, two business trends born of need and innovation come together to optimize business operations and increase profits.

big-data-analyticsBig data, or extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, is revolutionizing the way businesspeople make decisions. By arming themselves with analysis that is based on actual, often real-time, information, businesses can optimize their processes to reduce their costs.

Sustainability that fosters economic development, social development, and environmental protection is working its way up corporate social responsibility agendas in all industries.

According to The Guardian,

“Big data's potential big impact on sustainability hinges on three simple facts:

  • Taking meaningful action on corporate sustainability requires an understanding of all the impacts that the business world and the natural world have on each other;
  • The business world is a very complicated place, with lots of interactions between consumers and companies and suppliers and markets;
  • The natural world is even more complicated, with lots of interactions between people and resources and ecosystems and climate.

Until relatively recently businesses struggled to get a full picture of the impact of their own operations. The information required to get an accurate understanding of even something relatively simple such as energy consumption was kept in separate documents, in varying formats, and across multiple sites.”

Today, big data is being used to enable companies to achieve their sustainability goals. For example, many companies are setting energy efficiency and consumption reduction goals in an effort to save energy costs and protect natural resources. However, reducing consumption across an enterprise means taking into account its entire production chain, all of its devices, and multiple locations. Gleaning insights about energy consumption and wasteful processes in such organizations requires big data aggregation and analyses of granular device-level energy data.

When businesses monitor, measure, report, and understand electrical energy consumption at the device level, they can optimize operations, processes and maintenance resources. For example, retail chains can determine when and which system is not functioning properly at each store to detect hidden operational inefficiencies and energy waste, commercial facility managers are able to benchmark devices or locations against each other to pinpoint opportunities for savings, and industrial manufacturers can use energy profile data to predict and avoid costly equipment failures.

Analyzing the big data that is created by constantly monitoring every device enables companies to:

  • Reduce waste
  • Improve OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)
  • Define, prioritize, measure, and report on retrofitting and maintenance tasks
  • Become efficient and sustainable contributors to economies and communities

The Guardian’s John Hsu goes on to conclude that “we are already seeing the pioneers in sustainability leading the way, bringing suppliers and customers along for the journey.”

When we have more information, we create new opportunities. When we gain new insights, we make more progress. When big data and sustainability come together, businesses benefit and Mother Earth thrives.

Bio: Yaniv Vardi is Chief Executive Officer at Panoramic Power, the leading provider of device level energy management solutions. Yaniv is a seasoned executive with close to two decades of executive leadership experience in the Enterprise Software Solution Industry.