Energy Management Enhanced ERP: Use Cases, Technical Considerations, and a Sample Implementation Approach

Energy Management Enhanced ERP: Use Cases, Technical Considerations, and a Sample Implementation Approach

Heiko Thimm (Pforzheim University, School of Engineering, Pforzheim, Germany)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJEIS.2018100101
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During recent years, energy management has evolved to be an important corporate work area. Despite the new business opportunities for software vendors and user companies that arise from this work area, most ERP systems still only offer limited functionality for energy management. This article attempts to demonstrate these opportunities by a description of corresponding use-cases. Also, technical considerations for the integration of energy management functionalities into an ERP system are described with a focus on a system coupling approach. The intended extension is achieved by coupling a dedicated energy management information system to the ERP system. The coupling approach is exemplified through a demonstration that consists of an extended version of the abas ERP system which has been on the market for more than 30 years.
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During the last couple of years, (active) energy management systems have been increasingly adopted by many companies across all industries. The rise of this adoption rate is caused, for example, by amended legal frameworks for energy taxation, changes in the energy market, and the growing environmental awareness of the world population. Especially, in energy-intensive industries, many companies implement energy management systems in order to benefit, for example, from lower tax rates. The requirements to adopt, implement, maintain, and improve corporate energy management systems are specified in the international Norm DIN EN ISO 50001:2011 (DIN EN ISO, 2011). The general advice found in this norm, but also in many other sources, is to organize corporate energy management according to a continuous improvement process that is often referred to as Plan-Do-Control-Act (PDCA) Cycle or PDCA process (Moen & Norman, 2009). Obviously, the proposed PDCA process needs to be specialized to the goal to constantly improve the energy efficiency and energy usage of the company. Note that all kinds of energy that are of relevance for the company are to be addressed in one coherent framework including especially electrical energy, heat, and compressed air. In the research presented in this article it is focused especially on electrical energy that is consumed by production machines.

It is an important requirement of the proposed PDCA process that the corporate energy managers through a corresponding (active) energy management system are able to obtain transparency about all energy flux in the company. Comprehensive energy data will effectively ease their task to establish a systematic improvement of the use and consumption of energy as well as the task to optimize the energy efficiency.

Companies of the manufacturing industry inherently need to deal with a high energy demand. Therefore, they are advised to continuously measure and record the energy consumption of machines and facilities (Franz, et al., 2017). The recorded energy consumption data serve as basis for analyses to obtain energy management figures, performance indicators, and profiles. Examples are energy consumption profiles of organizational units, indicators that are oriented at the energy efficiency of production processes, the amount of energy consumed by organizational units and the corresponding CO2 equivalents.

Considering the readiness of today’s ERP systems for energy management, it can be expected that companies when establishing the proposed PDCA process on the basis of the ERP applications functions will often experience problems. Apparently, many ERP systems are not well prepared to manage and make use of energy measurement data in order to support the intended energy transparency. In addition to further details about the ERP readiness for energy management, in this article, we describe a set of use case for ERP-based energy management. Furthermore, major technical considerations for integrating energy management functionalities into ERP systems are described. These considerations are based on development activities of a still ongoing research collaboration (Thimm, Kaymakci, Tanik, & André, 2017) (Thimm, Energy Data Management in an Eco Learning Factory with Traditional SME Characteristics, 2017) with a popular German ERP vendor, the abas Software AG. For more than 30 years, the abas ERP system has been successfully on the market. As of today, more than 3000 customers in over 160 different countries are using the system. The majority of the customers are SME companies of the manufacturing and plant engineering industries.

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