Managing energy data in the cloud

Cloud-based power monitoring supports electrical wholesaler Rexel Germany with energy efficiency and consulting.

Electrical wholesaler Rexel Germany impresses with its broad product range and logistics, which is also testified by its distribution center in Maisach, Bavaria. The recently implemented power monitoring system paves the way for digitalization. The integration with MindSphere makes cross-location analysis and entirely new services possible for Rexel.

At Rexel, the electrical professional will find what he is looking for, whether it is thousands of light switches for a major project or a very special component delivered directly to the construction site. Rexel Germany (formerly Hagemeyer Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG), with its headquarters in Munich, operates 30 locations with 1,200 employees. Since 2008, the company has been a wholly-owned subsidiary and one of the major national subsidiaries of the global player Rexel Group, one of the leading wholesale companies for the distribution of technical products and services, with 2,000 branches in 26 countries. The innovations that Rexel provides for its customers in electrical installation, the trade, and industry are also used by the company for itself: digitalization, automation, and Industrie 4.0 are integral parts of the company strategy. With the installation of a cloud-based power monitoring system in Maisach, the Rexel Group is now systematically pursuing what it successfully started one year ago at the Austrian central logistic center in Weisskirchen. 

A model of energy efficiency on its own premises

As large building infrastructures, logistics centers like Rexel in Maisach consume an above-average amount of energy. This is precisely why it becomes all the more important to make consumption as efficient as possible and thus minimize both costs and CO2 emissions. Transparent energy flows and data are key for exploring optimization potential. If these are also integrated into cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) systems, valuable knowledge can be generated and used to optimize the entire building and business operations. The example of Rexel Austria: As one of the first companies ever, the company is transferring energy data including electricity and other thermal values from its Austrian central warehouse in Weisskirchen, currently the largest electrical warehouse in Austria, to the MindSphere IoT platform from Siemens. The optimization potential is enormous: The Rexel Austria location currently consumes 1.4 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electrical and 1.3 GWh of thermal energy per year. With the help of the new power monitoring system, the company can theoretically save around 150,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 60 tons of CO2 each year, plus additional expected savings related to thermal energy. Rexel Germany sets the bar high as well, expecting savings of electricity costs from 25 to 30 percent – as a result of the new cloud-based power monitoring solution. 

Increasingly distributed energy systems and renewable energy sources require new, intelligent solutions. Power monitoring creates the basis for this.
Ricardo Radowski, Director of Business Development, Rexel Germany

Power monitoring 24/7

The go-ahead for cloud-based power monitoring at the German Rexel sales and logistics center in Maisach was given in September 2018. Electrical energy data such as voltage, current, and power for infeed, electrical outgoing feeders, and individual consumers down to the machine level has since been recorded around the clock at the more than 40,000 m2 location. The power monitoring system from Siemens includes the powermanager power monitoring software and suitable measuring devices from the Sentron portfolio. More than 100 devices from the 7KM PAC series were installed in Sivacon 8MF1 system cubicles or in existing Alpha distribution boards. In addition to energy data, they provide precise status information on electrical power distribution, exact manual meter reading, and better peak load management. The measured values can also be used to assess system status and network quality.

Implementation of cloud technologies, specifically the systematic outsourcing of data and IT processes to external servers, is particularly worthwhile in electrical engineering and building technologies. It enables a significant reduction in costs in in-house IT infrastructure for the technical building management. In addition, an enormous volume of data is generated, from which even more precise optimization possibilities and potential savings can be identified through specific analysis. Using the interface MindConnect Nano, the energy data collected in Rexel’s logistics center is transferred directly into MindSphere from Siemens, the cloud-based, open IoT operating system. A MindSphere solution, exclusively developed for the Rexel Group in cooperation with Siemens, ((https://store.mindsphere.io/mindsphere/Applications)) analyzes the large amount of energy consumption data, making optimization potential immediately apparent. Information about the current energy flows are available to all responsible persons in real time, allowing them to initiate appropriate optimization measures from any location.

From trade to consulting

Beyond the advantages of systematic power monitoring, new business opportunities are opening up for Rexel Germany as they already have for Rexel Austria. Rexel gained a wealth of experience with Siemens through the optimization of their own energy consumption, which can now be applied to a new line of business: advising their own customers. In a specially created showroom in Maisach, prospective customers can experience for themselves how digital and cloud-based technologies can be used in their own companies or at their customers and how they can improve energy efficiency. Power monitoring is specifically visible here and is underpinned by the results already achieved at Rexel. Rexel is thus evolving from a traditional electrical wholesaler into a service provider and advises customers in a practical way on how digitalization and Industrie 4.0 work. This power monitoring solution will soon be installed in the company’s own facilities at other locations in Germany.

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