Lessons from GM: Systems Integrator Equals $50m Saved, Energy Intensity Quartered

by | Oct 9, 2012

General Motors saved $50 million in energy costs and reduced its energy intensity 25 percent by working with a systems integrator, according to a report in Control Engineering magazine.

Companies can learn from GM’s example and make energy management a competitive advantage by working with an integrator that uses best practices, open protocols and standardized data access to create a system that is fully by the customer, the magazine said.

Over the last decade, technology company SAIC has worked with GM to build an energy management platform based on standardized and open architecture, writes Brian A. Liebau, a project manager at SAIC.

The system consolidates energy management system (EMS) data from about 30 separate manufacturing facilities in North America, covering more than 65 million square feet. The SAIC team analyses the data, and then suggests corporate-wide energy reduction initiatives. Since the partnership began 10 years ago, SAIC has executed more than $75 million in energy projects across multiple contracts for GM, according to the report.

In addition to saving some $50 million in energy costs, the EMS helped GM avoid more than 778,000 metric tons of excessive greenhouse gas emissions, Liebau writes in the article.

Although SAIC hosts the system servers, GM owns the data with an agreement providing it complete access and unrestricted capability for future modification or expansion. This type of data ownership should be a top consideration for companies considering an open integration system, Control Engineering says.

SAIC and GM use control system hardware as a gateway for facility systems lacking the foundation for connectivity, according to the report. Devices such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or dedicated network appliances can access equipment and gather data from otherwise inaccessible devices or proprietary communication protocols, it explains.

A May Environmental Leader article says SAIC, along with AECOM, AMEC, Arcadis, CH2M Hill, ERM, and URS lead the US market for environmental services, according to a report from Verdantix.

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