Have you ever been kept up at night, wondering if your remote sites are operating properly? Maybe that fuel delivery you just got wasn’t enough, or maybe your batteries aren’t charging correctly. There might even be a major malfunction, and you might only know if you physically arrive onsite to diagnose the issue.
Whatever the case, the only way to be sure is to have live visibility and smart energy monitoring capabilities over your remote assets.
However, visibility only goes so far. More than live monitoring, you need to understand how these assets are performing and where room for improvement exists through energy analytics.
This is where energy metrics, or more specifically, energy efficiency KPIs come in. First, let’s take a brief look at what a “KPI” is.
What is a KPI?
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric that tracks the activity of any asset that is crucial to organizational success, according to its specific parameters and goals. Analytics and tracking of relevant energy metrics can be used to understand better if any issues are present and where they might originate.
They can also help alert stakeholders to any unusual activity or behavior at their remote facilities and assets, by setting thresholds that, when crossed, will send a real-time alert.
What’s the difference between a KPI and a Metric?
The way to differentiate between a metric and a KPI is the value that they bring. Though all KPIs are metrics, not all metrics can be considered KPIs. Metrics lack the ability to provide actionable insights to influence decisions made and don’t actually inform on the success of your operations. KPIs on the other hand are focused, clearly defined, show progress towards goals, and provide actionable insights towards improving operations.
With that cleared up, let’s dive into the energy KPIs you should be tracking to maximize your energy efficiency.
8 KPIs to Follow to maximize your remote asset’s efficiency
Though there is a wide variety of energy efficiency KPIs you can track from your operations, we focused on a select few that are virtually universal for all ICT infrastructure. These are only some of the energy management KPIs that can be tracked in real-time and analyzed on Galooli’s RMM platform. To make it simple, we’ve divided them into Energy and Operations KPIs, though they both directly contribute to overall efficiency.
1. Energy Asset Usage
One of the most direct ways to improve your sites’ energy efficiency is by monitoring and examining the performance of your energy assets. Tracking energy management KPIs helps to understand which assets are being relied on, how often they are the main source of energy, and if their usage matches your expectations and established limits. By understanding which energy assets your sites rely on, you can adjust their use to improve efficiency and troubleshoot problematic assets.
2. Renewable Energy Utilization
Suppose you want to impact your efficiency and carbon footprint directly and positively all in one. In that case, a surefire method is to begin to rely on renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy. You can track the energy yield over time of these renewable assets’ usage and with solar energy analytics, determine the relative efficiency of these sites using renewable energy. These renewable energy KPIs are expressed as kWh/day and kWh/kWP, or how much solar energy is produced during peak operations.
3. Fuel Usage and Load
Sometimes, when energy sources like the grid are unreliable, remote sites become over-reliant on backup energy assets like generators. These assets rely on diesel fuel, which you can track over time, including how much is used per energy provided or time operating, using KPIs like Liter/kWh and Liter/Hour. In addition, generators operating outside the normal load levels risk repeated failure and increased component fatigue. That’s why we track the load the generators operate under to ensure they aren’t causing damage by going over or under set limits.
4. Energy Storage Performance
A place often forgotten to look at for efficiency issues is your energy storage assets like backup batteries. Oftentimes, if these assets are misconfigured, underused, or kept at inconsistent levels of charge, efficiency will be impacted. You can track energy storage KPIs like battery voltage, operating time, State of Charge (SoC), and their charging capacity to ensure they maintain optimal levels and health.
5. Carbon Emissions
Energy efficiency can go beyond just energy KPIs. With sustainability monitoring and analytics like Galooli’s, you can give an organization a deep dive into its carbon footprint. We track KPIs including carbon intensity, carbon savings from solar use, total emissions (kgCO2e), and a breakdown of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. We can also determine the total emissions a site emits per unit of energy used (kgCO2e/kWh). Lastly, we can track, determine, and compare the most polluting sites in your network to figure out where you should invest your time and effort.
6. Asset Health
Beyond regular performance issues that can affect efficiency, you need to track the overall health of your remote energy assets. This is done through examining KPIs like a Batteries’ State of Health (SoH) and generator engine hours. By being proactive with their health, you can prevent additional costs in maintenance and replacement. You can also extend their durability and duration, which further reduces costs.
7. HVAC Operations
For remote sites, and especially for data centers, HVAC operations can be one of the leading causes of energy waste. Considering data centers could reduce energy costs by 4-5% for every degree they raise the operating temperature, this can be significant. You can track temperature and energy usage from these assets to ensure they operate at peak levels and prevent energy and cost waste wherever possible.
8. Operational and Capital Costs
One of the biggest places inefficiency hurts is in the costs it accrues, especially in operational and capital costs (OPEX and CAPEX). From additional energy needs to maintenance, machinery replacement, and regulatory fines, issues with energy efficiency can hurt more than just your bottom line. To track the economic efficiency of your site, we track your overall cost ($) and the cost per unit of energy ($/kWh).
Why should you be monitoring your remote assets’ energy KPIs?
Basically, every industry on Earth uses KPIs to track their performance and ensure they are meeting targets. For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on energy use and operations KPIs. Through analytics of these specific energy metrics, you can come up with changes to your operations you can make based on data instead of guesswork.
Normally, without actively tracking KPIs, information and communication technology (ICT) organizations have no way to determine if they are facing an outage or if their remote assets are operating normally. They also have no way of knowing if energy assets are running as they should or if there are potential maintenance issues onsite.
If your remote energy assets are operating without proper monitoring and without performance tracking, you could continue to waste money on unnecessary fuel usage and other energy costs. This can also lead to more frequent hardware replacement that is designed to last years longer than it did.
That’s not to say the path to effectively utilizing these energy efficiency KPIs is a simple task. There are definitely obstacles to actively and effectively tracking the performance of your remote assets and facilities.
Challenges to optimizing energy use through KPI tracking
There are several primary challenges to tracking and utilizing KPIs, but first and foremost – there are so many variables to track. How can an organization determine which KPIs will result in a noticeable, lasting change to the efficiency of its operations? Certain ones will be more relevant for each organization and provide more insights into your operations than others. For this reason, trying to discern which KPIs will lead to a marked improvement in your operations can be a difficult task.
In addition, you need the proper tools like a remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution in order to keep track of this data in an organized and easy to access space. This process can also sometimes include physical sensors installed onsite, so there is a certain amount of onsite maintenance and installation required in some cases. This leads to increased costs, at least up front, and can be a barrier for certain organizations.
Even with these barriers and challenges, there are still a number of universal energy KPIs you can track for ICT infrastructure and facilities.
Start keeping track and using your KPIs
Keeping a constant eye on your remote infrastructure and facilities is a daunting task, even for small networks of remote sites. We’ve taken some of the guesswork out of the process by narrowing it down to a collection of some of the universal energy KPIs you can focus on. Though each organization has more relevant KPIs for its operations, our list can be a solid base to build on to achieve more sustainable, cost-efficient, and energy-conscious operations.