Revolutionising the concept of energy monitoring and efficiency

Revolutionising the concept of energy monitoring and efficiency

There are two aspects of energy management: global and personal. ‘How can I reduce my costs?’ is a question that everybody, from an individual to an organisation, asks themselves. Energy cost is a cost that is completely unavoidable. The larger a company or industry, the higher its energy c...

There are two aspects of energy management: global and personal. ‘How can I reduce my costs?’ is a question that everybody, from an individual to an organisation, asks themselves. Energy cost is a cost that is completely unavoidable. The larger a company or industry, the higher its energy costs. Gokul Shrinivas, Founder & CEO, MinionLabs India, elaborates on how reducing energy costs is the most impactful way for any industry to increase its profit numbers. Apart from just savings, other aspects global corporates look for include sustainability, ESG and international compliance standards. It becomes a matter of corporate responsibility for them to reduce their carbon footprint along with energy saved. Sparking the idea The genesis of MinionLabs lies in Shrinivas’s college days when, for a project, he set out to discover how his college could save on power costs. “To save cost, you need to know the cost,” he points out. “When you know how much energy an appliance consumes, you can define the problem.” Problems can be overuse of power, leakages and more. “Currently, no solution is available to quantify power consumption at the appliance level. To do that, you need a meter for every appliance,” he elaborates. At Rs10,000 per metreand a licence fee for every connection to the dashboard, this is a high cost. “Plus, knowing will not lower costs. An energy auditorand technician need to be hired, adding further to the surcharges.” To identify and save a small percentage of energy, one ends up paying a higher price with the returns generated only years later. However, Shrinivas deduced that having this visibility on the exact appliance-wise consumption was critical. For this, his team built an AI-based solution that can be installed on the main electricity board, which intelligently detects energy used by each outlet and appliance. “Through this technology, we leverage just one device to meter multiple appliances. Additionally, this device detects pain points and generates solutions in the form of actionable notifications.” Powering up the tech The deviceis an electricity meter as certified by BEE and CPRI. “It is an IoT solution comprising an edge-processing device with a Cloud dashboard,” says Shrinivas. “Installable at the main electricity board by any technician within two to three minutes, it is plugandplay and retrofittable, requiring no wiring change.” A requisite for the device to function is an Internet connection. The device starts ‘learning’ from the moment it starts running. Shrinivas explains that there is an underlying pattern – in the form of energy signals – that is unique to every appliance. For example, the energy graph for a washing machine going through a wash cycle will be distinct compared to the energy graph for a television or air-conditioner. The Minion device installed on the main board discovers the consumption, identifies the individual patterns and splits these to match them against an existing database to identify the devices that have been turned on. The data collected is passed to the Cloud where it is analysed to detect what problems, if any, an appliance has. The actionable solutions that the solutionthen provides could be rewiring the motor, changing an air filter or addressing a power leakage.“It is a real-time energy management platform that allows managing, tracking and actioning so that electricity costs are not just reduced, but that the reduction sustains for a longer time, Further one may know their exact carbon footprint at appliance level usage which helps them to redefine their NET ZERO goals with a microscopic vision” according to Shrinivas. Generating brand awareness Client onboarding is much easier compared to other startups, he says, because the return on investment is directly visible. “The challenge is making clients comprehend the technology. It takes about two months to identify a client, offer a demo and complete the onboarding.” Additionally, the environment-friendliness and sustainability implications of the device further push clients to adopt it. Switching to savings One way businesses rely on this startup is for their diagnostic solutions. “We look individually at the equipment that is degrading and performing inefficiently and suggest appropriate measures,” Shrinivas explains. There are four ways a building can save on energy consumption: Through architecture that is passively designed as per the sun path, wind directions and local climate patterns. By incorporating active energy efficiency measures. For example, by installing solar panels. Via automation, where sensors switch equipment and appliances on and off as per footfall. Auditing and predictive maintenance. “This is another waywe come in,” adds Shrinivas. “Any machine degrades over time and needs repairing.” With the monitoring solution, businesses can intervene early in the degradation curve and repair the pain points before the usage cost shoots up. To get onboarded, businesses purchase the Minion device as a capital investment and sign up for a subscription-based service for intelligent, predictive analysis. The USP for this startup is the quick turnover offered. For example, the capital investment for Fortis Hospital was Rs 300,000 and it had clocked in Rs 1.8 million of energy savings annually – making the turnover period roughly lesser than three months. Charging ahead Going forward, Shrinivas shares that the startup is aiming to be a $100 million company in the next five years. “We are currently raising a pre-series A funding round. Geography-wise we are looking to expand to Europe. With the help of our channel partners, we are also looking to foray into Ireland and Spain.” Fact file Clients: IT-BPO, pharmaceutics, automobile, textile, chemical, realty, facility management companies, hospitals, retail Demand drivers: Hospitals, industries, retail Market presence in India: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi NCR Market presence abroad: Abu Dhabi, Dubai Business model: B2B, B2B2B Saving Energy and Profitability Gokul Shrinivas, Founder & CEO, MinionLabs India, explains how energy-savings can be configured for the healthcare, hospitality, retail and industrial sectors. In a hospital, energy consumption needs to be calculated at every machine level. For an MRI machine, the output of the machine is the MRI scan, which the patient pays for. The cost of the scan includes the cost of energy consumption, the salary of the operator and any other aligned costs. To break even on that cost, a hospital needs to conduct a certain number of MRI scans. To generate profit, the hospital has to either increase the cost of the scan or conduct more scans. This applies to blood pressure machines, x-ray machines and others. With the energy monitoring device, it is possible to identify the energy usage, detect the cost and work from there to increase profitability at every machine level. For a space like a hotel, it is slightly different. Energy usage in areas like restaurants and bays is controllable by the hotel management. The staff can be made responsible for turning off appliances when not in use, thus helping save on costs. However, for rooms, they have no say even if a customer chooses to switch all the appliances on despite not being in the room. Profitability, in this case, comes into play because the revenue generated from each room is crucial in covering the operational costs of the entire building. This makes it necessary to put a number on the unit energy use per room on average to get a clear idea of the breakeven amount and work from there. The rules change completely when you come to the retail sector. There is no scope for turning unnecessary lights off in a mall because the lighting is the key demand-drawing factor in increasing customer footfall. Similarly, in the industrial sector, there are multiple pieces of machinery that cannot be switched off avoiding idle time consumptions. In these cases, the problem statement is to analyse how to decrease energy costs without decreasing output.

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