Develop, scale-up, and commercialize innovative products and services for energy efficiency.
Reducing energy consumption is one of the key objectives of the energy transition; for businesses it is also a key factor in remaining competitive. Today, new technologies—and especially, sensors capable of gathering data—are placing more power in the hands of energy consumers, whether they are private individuals or businesses. Because industrial facilities are among the largest energy consumers, tools capable of offering more granular, energy-efficient process management are crucial. Quality, volumes, turnaround times, and costs have traditionally been considered the key success factors for any business. Until now, most factories have been designed according to this equation. However, amid rising energy costs, business leaders must now also factor in energy efficiency as a way to reduce costs, boost performance, and make their businesses more environmentally sustainable.
There are two ways to make a factory more energy efficient:
- By shortening production processes, thereby reducing energy consumption; this often requires substantial CapEx (purchasing more efficient process equipment) with long payback times
- By making periods of “non-production” more energy efficient: factory equipment is on standby or being started up or shut down nearly half the time; most factories are still far from the goal of “zero production, zero energy consumption”
Gulplug began working with manufacturing companies on “non-production” energy efficiency through an earlier collaborative project (Plesmo). The idea was to investigate factory downtime (standby and shutdown) and develop products and services for managing energy consumption that would be non-invasive, non-intrusive, and easy to install and use. This project enabled Gulplug to identify the needs of its future customers and gather substantial feedback on its first sensor, the E-Cube. The Peevo project took Gulplug a step further. The company was able to develop, scale-up, and commercialize an energy-efficiency solution made up of both products and services.
Over the course of the Peevo project, Gulplug was able to develop:
- The E-Case, an easy-to-use pack that includes 20 E-cube wireless, batteryless sensors that communicate via ZigBee Green Power; the E-Access receiver; and the E-Log data logger
- The save-it-yourself.com web-based connected services platform with front-end IHM, cloud API, and data logger; users can access relevant indicators generated from the data gathered from the network of sensors
- A long-range version of the wireless, batteryless sensor compatible with new M2M network architectures (LoRa et Sigfox)
Save It Yourself® is a plug-and-play solution. The sensors simply clamp on to the power supply of the machines to be monitored and can even be installed while the machines are operating; there is no need to shut down or unplug the equipment. The sensors monitor the equipment and gather energy-consumption data, which can be viewed in real time via the online platform, available to users on an annual subscription basis. The early adopters of the solution (Schneider Electric, Fenwick, Linde, and Bonduelle) have already reported reductions in their energy consumption ranging from 5% to 12%, for a return on investment within a year (compared with a return on investment of around ten years for new, more energy-efficient equipment). Gulplug is targeting a much wider market than just major industrial companies. Because the solution is plug-and-play, it is both affordable and easy to use for smaller manufacturing companies less experienced with energy efficiency measures. Save It Yourself® also provides objective data on energy performance increases that can be used in energy management systems like ISO 50001. The Peevo project also took Gulplug to the next level in its development strategy. The company raised €300,000 on the WiSEED crowdfunding platform in October 2017 to hire a sales engineer to develop sales of Save It Yourself® on the French and other European markets.
The company reported €70,000 in sales for Save It Yourself® in the three months after the solution was released. Gulplug forecasts €150,000 in sales for 2017 and more than €1 million in sales for 2018. The company is currently conducting R&D with GIPSA-Lab to develop a new predictive maintenance module that will leverage a highly-granular analysis of a machine’s energy consumption to identify the early warning signs of a malfunction. If an anomaly is detected, Save It Yourself® will be able to generate an alert, reducing preventive maintenance operations and lowering repair costs. Save It Yourself® users will have access to this new module by the end of 2018.
The French government’s economic stimulus package via French energy agency ADEME, Initiative PME program to assist small businesses developing energy performance solutions