HomeDigitalizationBig DataMurata making generator fleet management easier

Murata making generator fleet management easier

Carrollton, Texas-based Murata Energy Solutions Americas are facilitating smarter generator ownership. Decentralized Energy spoke to Senior Product Marketing Manager David Chen about how the company is helping clients achieve gains through more intelligent fleet management.

Murata’s GenSecure hardware and cloud platform combination, released earlier this year, is helping the firm’s clients manage fleets far more effectively than in the past.
David Chen
“GenSecure hardware helps to gather equipment data, which is then communicated to an IoT (Internet of Things) hub, which monitors and controls the genset. We aggregate and collect the data (in the PowerConnect Cloud) and build applications around it. One of those apps is GenSecure, which focuses on generator applications.”

The data can be used to provide insights, monitoring alerts and more.

“We organize the information in a way that helps to simplify the complexities around generator management. And day to day activities. It’s a great platform for service providers to offer better customer service because they can be more on top of things. They can anticipate the problem and anticipate the customers’ needs and it helps to alleviate their day-to-day calls when they are not on-site. They can, in effect, remotely decipher the problem. They see what’s going on at the generator and help the customer remotely without having to go all the way out there.”

“Our previous product was not cloud-based ” we have migrated it. That was concentrated on demand response so we have been using the same platform and some of the same features, but with better customer service, better reactivity, better security, and better response. Instead of using GenSecure for demand response, we are using it to help our customers understand more about the assets they have.”

The technology is currently being used, as part of a pilot project, by a national service provider in the US, and Chen says that, while they can’t currently disclose the name of the client, there is strong satisfaction in the product.

By way of example of the type of problems being resolved by installing GenSecure, Chen points to the experience of one customer with automated warehouses that had to be reset each time the power went out, causing much inconvenience.

“Whenever it switches to generator power all their processes have to be reset, and this can happen on multiple occasions. Most of that resetting and waiting is accompanied by phone calls, trying to understand what’s happening with the generators and having to talk to people who may not understand what is going on. GenSecure gives them flexibility in allowing them see what’s happening at the generator so they know when to reset and not waste a lot of peoples’ time.”

Some operators in the space are content to provide alerts and alarms, basic data rather than the big analytics being offered by Murata.

“What we offer is our Cloud-based service. It’s flexible, it allows the customer to provide a common baseline across all generator types and models so you have that unified view of what is going on in your system rather than what is going on in my Kohler system or my Caterpillar system for example. Those guys offer their own but its more fragmented because when you buy that equipment you are tied into that monitoring system for the most part. Ours is after market so allows you to provide some consistency across your fleet which is important if you are a service provider servicing multiple models and makes and years.”

Murata’s range can be found across the spectrum of decentralized energy technologies. Because of the flexibility associated with Cloud, the company can tailor its software agent to any device or any equipment to free up that data.

“Essentially our product is software based ” we are hardware agnostic. We provide hardware for GenSecure because it is required to make our solution work. But for the most part we are a software division within an engineering company with the capability to add our software to any equipment and help that equipment talk to the cloud.”

The intertwining of decentralized and digital technologies is not slowing down, as was brought home to Chen at an event he attended earlier this year.

“IoT was the word of the day and it was everywhere -everything from hospital beds to wrist bands and district energy was a piece of that along with building management. This type of management across all pieces of equipment is definitely coming, if not already here across industries. “

“There are a lot of benefits in bringing together a distributed generation system with this type of tech because there a lot of information out there and a lot of it has to be fast acting and reacting in that DER (Distributed Energy Resource) space.”

“Consumption fluctuates a lot as does renewable energy production- and layer on top of that if you are managing a school or office campus with movement from building to building or different locations geographically. You look at that usage movement and when you add in cars and car chargers your consumption shifts and you have to be able to understand and manage that. The best way to do that is by tying all the charging together and all of the uses and sources of energy together.”

The proliferation of IoT, the multitude of proprietary Cloud-based solutions and the absence of a common standard between them means simplicity isn’t always achieved

“As a buildings manager, for example, you have to learn to organise yourself around all this data and those organisations have traditionally not been built that way. I think part of the challenge is how to figure out how to present the data and use it in an effective manner. There’s also all these promises on what big data can do for you but the reality is the fragmentation of the industry makes it very hard. And the education of the people using it has been somewhat of a barrier as well. As the millennials come in they are more used to these automated solutions and they’ll be taking over a system they can understand much better because of their familiarity with technology in general.”

“We’ve spoken to municipalities who say they have three different building environmental systems at the same facility that they have to manage and to make the building comfortable for their tenants they have to figure out how to work on all three. That type of fractionality exists and is somewhat ignored due to the cost of fixing it all.”

“It happens across generators as well as we saw with the hurricane in Florida with nursing home deaths due to lack of power and Puerto Rico generators running 24-7 after the grid failed- backup generators are critical.”

The current pilot is nearing completion and, as previously mentioned, the feedback so far is good. Chen says, that while the company is still fine tuning its offering, demand for flexibility in the technology has been more than accommodated.

“We can add different sensors and facility managers like the fact our flexibility allows them to do that and see everything on one screen and manage it from there. Some facilities have far flung pieces of equipment across wide acreage, where checking a meter or a fuel tank or those marginal equipment that get forgotten can be a burdensome task.”

“This allows them to troubleshoot the situation and guide the client to fix it in a more effective way.”

One other product the company is excited about, in terms of facilitating decentralized energy is aà‚  residential power conditioner, which the company developed for use with a Sony battery system in Japan. Murata recently completed its purchase of the Sony battery division. The product is an inverter that connects a home solar battery and grid power into this device, helping to execute strategy to maximize solar battery, for both financial system.

“The power conditioner enables devices to be connected and service providers can perform better service to the residential customer but also remotely tweak it as conditions change and prices change.à‚  The connected nature of the PowerConnect Cloud brings new opportunities to residential demand response.à‚  Installed systems can be monitored and used to deploy battery-based demand reduction with much more targeted accuracy.”

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