Your facility can’t afford to lose power. Power outages cost businesses $150 billion annually, and the cost of a power outage at a data center has increased by 38% since 2010. By connecting the things that power your business into an Energy IoT platform, you can have the real-time information and control to avoid outages — regardless of make, model, type, or vintage of your “Energy Things™”. By connecting Things like backup generators or networking onsite generation into islandable microgrids, you can avoid your next business-crippling power outage and guard against lost revenue.
Whenever we’re out and about in the energy industry, everyone always wants to know what makes Blue Pillar different. One of the first things I like to point out is that there are many different players in the field promoting different kinds of energy or “IoT” systems, like building automation systems based on SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). What we call “buzzword compliant” systems do a great job checking off all the boxes on what they can do for a commercial or industrial facility, but are they really as easy to deploy as they claim to be?
Blue Pillar takes a very different approach when it comes to deployment and have done so from the beginning. Unlike traditional solutions that have required customized SCADA development, Blue Pillar drives a software-based automated approach that is self-configurable and requires no development. We start off every new project by repeating the same process we’ve used to connect the previous 5,000 assets over our 10-year history. Inevitably, the new “Energy Thing” we are trying to connect is probably something we’ve already connected in our past and available in our asset library. This is how we drive a lower cost and faster time to value for our deployments.
In this automated approach, deployments start with a very simple site survey, where we capture all the relevant information from the new “Energy Thing” we are trying to connect and at the push of a button can prescribe a self-configurable, best fit, behind-the-meter energy controls network. The outcome of the survey process (which can take only a few minutes to hours depending on size of the campus) delivers everything our customers need to know from communications to one line diagrams so they can see right away what we’re going to do, how it’s going to be done, and most importantly, how much it’s going to cost.
Because we’ve gotten the site survey process down to a science, working with Blue Pillar is really a zero-risk proposition because customers know exactly what they’re going to get, and we can prove it with the extensive list of “Energy Things™” we’ve previously connected. Customers pay once deployment is commissioned (not before). And nearly every customer we’ve deployed has expanded their footprint beyond their initial scope. We’re not a “won and done” company. We strive to deliver the best customer satisfaction ratings following net promoter and customer survey data closely. We study the feedback we receive from our customers, and work towards continual improvement and innovation to continue to make the prescription and installation of the network faster, better and more affordable.
So, when I am asked “Why Blue Pillar”, I like to say thanks to our automated, self-configurable deployment process and ability to prescribe best-fit networks quickly, we can share lessons learned to save money, reduce deployment costs and derive faster time to value better than anyone in the industry.
But this is just one of the many things that makes us different from other companies. Watch this 2-minute video to learn more about Blue Pillar’s unique competitive advantage. Or, follow us on LinkedIn to stay in touch and learn more about how Blue Pillar is different.
In our Energy Network of Things video series, my co-founder Brad Witter explores where the rubber meets the road for our customers by taking a phased approached to deployment. Often, we work with customers that have lots of assets, lots of “Energy Things™” and they can be spread out over various buildings in a campus or across different geographies or countries. Trying to tackle everything at once can feel overwhelming or risky. But getting started is as easy as breaking deployments down into a phased approach and unlocking the value toward an ROI that allows a customer to start their next deployment or project with Blue Pillar.
When working with a new customer, we like to break the process of planning and integration into five simple steps:
Phase I: “I have a problem”. First, our customer establishes a set of assets to be connected to unlock a value stream. This initial project can range from a single building to several sites based on the size and deployment scope. Our customer can then determine what value propositions they want to unlock, such as emergency preparedness and response, energy management, or DER integration for the purposes of a microgrid or DERMs enablement. From there, Blue Pillar completes a work schedule to roll out the project on-time and on-budget, giving our customers exactly what they expected.
Phase II: Where else can we take this? Once “Energy Things” are connected and data is being provided in real-time through our platform or OpenAPI to a third-party software provider, our customers are armed with the knowledge of their current state. Now they can understand the value of Blue Pillar’s platform once it’s in operation and extend it to other buildings that could benefit from harnessing similar value streams.
Phase III: Thinking outside the box. Once assets are connected and data is visualized, customers are learning a lot and finally able to measure and verify the results of their energy management programs. Inevitably, they begin finding adjacent value streams that could be unlocked, measured, or verified with Blue Pillar’s platform. During the process, we may have found stranded assets or outdated systems that are not communicating data anymore. These can be good areas to attack and embrace to continue to drive value and ROI from the Blue Pillar system.
Phase IV: “Getting creative.” Now that the customer is applying what Blue Pillar can do in new ways, the sky’s the limit. Additional value can be gained by incorporating other systems and assets into a centralized and accessible network. For example, many of our hospital customers may have started with the emergency power and supply systems to meet compliance and avoid outages. But adding in new assets like meters (water, gas and electric) or new DERs like solar or energy storage are equally compelling. With this, it is possible to think about reducing energy costs, eliminating energy waste and meeting sustainability goals.
Final Phase: "All-In". As all “Energy Things” become connected into a single, ubiquitous network, the business can become more responsive to real-time energy demand, costs and situations and react accordingly. This is the future of energy and by creating the connective tissue, it is now possible to continue to add new value or services offered by your utility or energy provider into the platform. Adding a new capability is as easy as plugging in a new third-party service or application, and data and control from assets are universally applied through our OpenAPI to offer new capabilities. The solution is future-proof and extensible. It is also possible to replace older software or add new things into the Blue Pillar platform automatically, without causing problems or starting over with customized development. Simply add-on to the system over time and continue to drive a history of energy use, measure and verify suitability goals or drive responsive demand management or microgrid projects.
Blue Pillar brings a disruptive and innovative vision to revitalize the energy sector for the twenty-first century. We love all the Energy Things that power our modern world, and we strive to connect them using our Aurora® state-of-the-art energy controls and networking platform. Blue Pillar offers the widest breadth of connectivity to our customers. Most IoT solutions are not open or vendor-agnostic. They can only connect their own proprietary hardware and software systems into an Internet of THEIR Things. Blue Pillar is different and truly open. We can integrate any energy asset regardless of make, model, vintage, or type. And we offer flexible scalability from a small network within a single sites to connecting multiple, distributed remote sites worldwide.
Connectivity is giving companies and organizations of all sizes new access to revenue-generating opportunities, and Blue Pillar is making sure that our customers can take full advantage of the changing energy landscape. One of the most attractive potential value streams to many businesses exists in enrolling in a Demand Response program through a utility or DR aggregator.
DR is defined as regional programs based on utility capabilities, where utilities enroll customers to reduce their energy demand in times where the grid is in unstable conditions. This cooperation is a win-win for large power consumers and grid stability — especially in the summer and in times of peak usage. Utilities will usually only call on facilities enrolled in the DR program once or twice annually, and in exchange they provide advanced warning of outages in addition to substantial payment structures.
While DR has always been lucrative, it has not always been an easy, "out-of-the-box" enablement story. Without a proven and open IoT platform to connect, control and automate different types of generation sources, large-scale DR has been difficult and painful to achieve. Some have struggled for a year or more trying to network disparate equipment in a way that could allow the behind-the-meter control necessary to enable DR. And the longer the struggle, the less lucrative the business case.
Working with a partner that is familiar with the energy environment within critical and complex facilities allows you to navigate the complex behind-the-meter environment. With Blue Pillar as your partner, you get the added benefit of working with a company that makes connectivity of your assets our primary focus. And while Blue Pillar has revolutionized DR enablement with connectivity to any DER (new or old) provided "out-of-the-box", today we introduce a concept that just made DR a lot easier and more financially rewarding.
With our Energy Network-as-a-Service (ENaaS), aggregators and energy providers can deploy a no-touch, turnkey DR deployment that is self-prescribed and automated to their end-customer's behind-the-meter energy environment without sending a crew on site. Deployment is straightforward, convenient and fully maintained by Blue Pillar. Now anyone can have state-of-the-art control over behind-the-meter generation assets without settting foot behind the meter, and have the confidence the network will work as well on day 1 as it works on day 365.
With Blue Pillar's unique universal connectivity approach, Demand Response is just the tip of the iceberg. Once assets are connected, we unlock the value of data and control to DERs new and old that can create many exciting revenue streams from Energy Management to Distributed Energy Resource Management (DERMs). This offers more value to end customers and more competitive differentiation to service providers.
Ready to learn more? Keep up to date with the cutting edge of Energy IoT by following Blue Pillar on LinkedIn or download our case study to see how a large hospital facility used Blue Pillar to digitize their energy assets to get a payback in one year!
As we’ve pointed out in the blog series, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), particularly in commercial and industrial (C&I) settings, are mushrooming. The U.S. Energy Information Administration Between estimates behind-the-meter distributed generation in the U.S. C&I sector increased by 400 percent from 2011-2014. Navigant Research expects global DER capacity to grow up to five times faster than new central station generation over the next five years and DER capacity in the U.S. to double by 2024.
Over the past five years, the utility industry has faced unprecedented technological disruptions brought on by Energy IoT. A plethora of new, grid-connected devices have formed complex IoT networks featuring a variety of energy assets such as smart meters, sensors and even street lights. But what makes these systems “smart’”? It is the data that drives them.