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Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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Improve Industrial Performance With Automated Energy Storage Solutions

Industrial leaders realize how any surprise disruptions could have ripple effects across their organizations, resulting in lost profits, disappointed customers and the potential for material losses. Many mitigate those outcomes by learning about the types of energy storage products best suited for their businesses and budgets. The main appeal of energy storage solutions is they help you cope with unexpected power disruptions.

However, some companies now offer automated solutions to make power storage even more effective for people who use it. Continuous access to energy can help companies across industries remain competitive and meet performance goals.

Lower Overall Emissions and Please Stakeholders

Many consumers, global leaders and others are putting pressure on various industries to make substantial and lasting emissions reductions for the good of the planet. A 2022 study found 34% of the world’s largest companies had made net-zero commitments. That sounds like good news, and it is, but there’s a catch. The same research indicated 93% of the studied organizations would miss their targets unless they at least double their current emission reduction pace by 2030.

Organizational leaders have various ways to do that, but they should strongly consider exploring how some types of energy storage products could enable meaningful gains. For example, one company offering thermal energy storage uses solid carbon blocks as its primary mechanism. The heat energy stays at temperatures of more than 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit, and then thermophotovoltaic cells can convert it to electricity. This method could reportedly cut more than 50% of industrial emissions.

In another emissions-reduction effort, a construction contractor used a battery energy storage system (BESS) as part of a multitiered strategy to operate its on-site tower cranes more sustainably. Estimates suggested using this approach on five pieces of equipment reduced the emissions by more than 234 tonnes and 87,000 liters of fuel.

Adding automation to the equation can help industrial leaders get even more gains. Many automated systems can monitor trends to determine the best times to store or release energy.

Also, combining automation with a system that stores excess solar energy minimizes emissions may be more accessible for many compared to other types of energy storage options. Decision-makers are increasingly getting on board with solar energy as a renewable option, but some other possibilities are less familiar to them.

Increase Uptime With Energy Storage Solutions

According to a 2023 study, more than two-thirds of manufacturers dealt with unplanned downtime. Such instances cost an average of $125,000 per hour. Variations also exist depending on what caused the production stoppages and the severity of the effects. For example, the downtime periods may be longer if people must clean up the aftermath or wait for critical equipment parts to arrive.

Using an automated software platform made for energy storage solutions gives people better oversight of their power consumption and needs. Some products support several hundred protocols for excellent compatibility. If used with a BESS, automated platforms can selectively charge or discharge, compensating for the volatility often associated with renewable energy sources.

Elsewhere, a 2023 study examining data center operators' experiences showed that many worry about power disruptions, too. More specifically, outages occurred for 55% of the participants over the past three years. Power disruptions were the top cause of those events.

Even though some industrial leaders never go into data centers, most run their businesses with the associated infrastructures. Cloud computing, Internet of Things sensors and artificial intelligence investments help companies stay current and competitive. Data centers keep those technologies running smoothly. Power outages at a data center affect all the facility’s clients.

Many automated tools collect all relevant data, helping people track trends and feel assured their energy storage solutions will see them through industrial downtime. These statistics can also validate the expected returns on investment while significantly increasing industrial uptime.

Company leaders should start by seeing which parts of their facilities or pieces of equipment need power backup options. They should then learn about the types of energy storage and the associated pros, cons and costs. They can use these details to make well-informed decisions.

Reduce Losses Associated With Severe Weather

Severe weather events can be extremely costly. They can also temporarily make downtime more likely. Staffing shortages are a frequent cause of production stoppages. Even if a company usually has enough workers, intense storms could prevent many from getting to work. However, if a business has energy storage solutions with automated features, representatives can address power interruptions even if no one is on site to handle the problem.

Many meteorologists and other scientists say people should expect stronger and more frequent storms due to climate change. One report studied severe weather events over 50 years and found a five-factor increase in the number of disasters but fewer deaths during the span.

The data also showed weather, water or climate disasters have happened nearly daily over the past 50 years. Plus, the events caused an average of $202 million in losses each time. Planning for weather disasters must go beyond automated energy solutions, but any strategies should include them. It’s easy to imagine how much a storm-caused power outage could cost a company that stores many refrigerated and frozen items on the premises. Buying energy storage options now prevents those costly catastrophes later.

No one can know how bad weather events might get in the next several decades. However, some insurers have already changed their policies to no longer cover damages from natural disasters. That suggests industry leaders have looked at the data and realized doing so no longer makes good business sense — presumably because such events will become progressively frequent and destructive.

There are so many aspects associated with the weather business leaders can’t anticipate. However, they should do the next best thing by budgeting for on-site energy storage to reduce future losses.

Consider the Available Types of Energy Storage

Now is the time for decision-makers to learn about energy storage and which kinds align with their business needs. Even if they invest gradually and scale up as needed, that strategy will go a long way in increasing the organization’s resilience and preparedness.

 

Emily Newton
Emily Newton
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating advances in science and technology.

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