Cracking an ancient meter network to enable customer demand charge savings

August 31, 2021

A leading healthcare provider approached Blue Pillar with a challenge…could we help them avoid their large utility demand charges while also providing them an operating baseline of their electricity usage ahead of a major facility expansion?  Utility demand charges can cost large facilities in excess of $50k on their annual bill due to one bad summer day.  


The difficulty was that the information in their sub-station was buried behind twelve existing meters and were not easily accessible. Complicating the matter, these meters were part of a system that had been abandoned more than 10 years ago, so there wasn’t a lot of institutional knowledge available.  Additionally, the protocol that the abandoned meters implemented was SEAbus which is an obscure and outdated Siemen’s protocol specific to this meter.   One day later, we were up and running. The total fees were only $2,500; a fraction of what alternative solutions can cost.  A sub-meter replacement project would have easily cost $50,000 to produce the same outcome.

In the end, Blue Pillar’s no-code IoT platform provided this healthcare system the result they wanted by quickly overcoming the challenges created by the abandon system and giving them:

- Real-time mobile access to their substation consumption

- Aggregated reporting on total consumption

- Real-time demand alerts and pre-alarms for levels approaching the annual peak

- Historian with UI support for easy access to historical trends and performance

- Comprehensive API support for integration into their corporate Microsoft Azure Data Lake

- Monthly base-line reports for tracking energy usage before and after a major facility expansion

- Future option for automating the peak demand reduction measures

Blue Pillar is now being deployed widely in a variety of facility environments to expand the benefit of reduced energy demand charges and to provide a broader pool of data for additional analysis.

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