Ems: ROI Achieved Through People, Process, and Technology

Jamie Daubenspeck

While a solid 90 percent of industry professionals understand the value in EMS trend/telemetry data, just 38 percent can confidently say they’re achieving the expected ROI. Those are among the findings revealed by The 2015 Ecova Industry Survey: The Value of Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Trend Telemetry Data, and they shed some light on an all-too-common breakdown among people, process, and technology in the months ensuing an EMS rollout.


The initial ROI on an EMS system is typically straightforward and realized in as little as 18 months after implementation. Enterprises enjoy an initial efficiency boost, but over time the monitoring and oversight of the system degrades; set points are manually adjusted, schedules are overridden, and soon, the entire site portfolio is heating, cooling, and lighting inefficiently.

Savings is enabled through EMS technology, but to continue mining those savings, the technology must be managed. People and processes—not technology—are the most common culprits of EMS ROI expectations falling flat. Ensuring set points are not adjusted and system schedules are not overridden by site-level associates requires consistent training, reinforcement, and evaluation.

While standards around open/close, set points, and other operational processes are key, so is active alarm management. System overrides, a lack of documented standards and enforcement, and improper sensor location all contribute to nuisance alarms, which can become all-too-easy to ignore. In a 1,000+ site retail enterprise collecting 15-minute interval data, for instance, it’s not uncommon to generate 4 million data points per day. That volume of Big Data can result in as many as 50,000 alarms per month. But, one failure to actively monitor and prioritize system alarms often results in multiple missed opportunities to take corrective action.

To effectively address these challenges, Ecova recommends the following best practices:

  • Manage user interaction & permissions
  • Prioritize system alarms
  • Establish effective configuration standards
  • Pinpoint sensor location
  • Develop a variance management policy
  • Perform periodic system backup
  • Recommission energy management systems
  • Leverage the wealth of data
  • Optimize EMS through system monitoring & management programs

These best practices—centered around people, processes, and technology—will enable businesses to achieve optimal value from their EMS by minimizing equipment downtime, reducing costly maintenance fees, and improved operational and energy performance. We cover each of these in greater depth in our white paper, Best Practice Guide to Maximize ROI of Energy Management Systems. For complete results of the 2015 Ecova Industry Survey, download the 2015 Ecova EMS Survey Analysis: Findings from Industry Professionals.

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