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Belo Horizonte, July 28, 2020

Viridis Energy & Sustainability Platform

Digitalizing energy, resources and sustainability management for energy-intensive industries

In the steel and metals industry, companies spend a significant proportion of their total costs on energy and resources, but theses assets are often undermanaged. The Viridis Energy & Sustainability Platform is an integrated solution for energy, resources, and sustainability management establishing a single source of truth system and combining perspectives between the shop-floor and top-floor. By applying advanced tools such as artificial intelligence techniques, including pattern recognition models, Viridis helps to increase energy and resource efficiency and to achieve an optimal energy and resource planning.

Many manufacturing companies in the metals industry spend a significant proportion of their total costs on energy and resources. A single plant may consume dozens of energy inputs, which must be carefully balanced to ensure a cost- and environmentally effective energy matrix, and which can be delivered from several different suppliers, in contracts of up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The problem is that the use of energy and resources is often undermanaged, with little or no accountability for energy spending, making it even more challenging to improve and sustain efficiency efforts. Furthermore, inaccurate energy forecasting and planning, poor costing, and ineffective management workflows make this a fertile terrain for smarter, digital management solutions that may reduce energy and resource consumption while improving efficiency, planning, and management. Here, SMS digital and Vetta are taking joint steps: making production more efficient and realizing the learning steel plant by completing the overall concept with energy and sustainability.

The Viridis Energy & Sustainability Platform is an integrated solution for energy, resources, and sustainability management for the steel, aluminum, mining, and other energy-intensive process industries. Once deployed, the platform establishes a single source of truth system for all information related to energy, resources, and sustainability management, which facilitates the automation of operational tasks and allows more effective and frequent management practices. By combining perspectives between the shop-floor and top-floor, Viridis directly contributes to effectively implementing energy and resource operational efficiency and optimized planning, thus strengthening the continuous improvement cycle.

Energy, resources, and sustainability management applications

The Viridis applications form an integrated management solution focused on energy, resources, and sustainability management for large-scale industrial operations.

The Viridis applications include:

  • Viridis Tracking: Monitoring energy and resources consumption, generation, and related greenhouse gas emissions of assets and processes for energy and sustainability performance and energy efficiency.
  • Viridis Execution: Integrating key energy performance indicators, dynamic targets, real-time alarms, and advanced analytics info boards towards energy efficiency and operational excellence.
  • Viridis Efficiency: Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for developing advanced simulation, prediction, and optimization models (digital twins) for enhancing the energy and operational efficiency of critical assets.
  • Viridis Costing: Improved cost accountability through continuous, direct energy and resources costing, with periodic closing procedures and automated integration to ERP systems.
  • Viridis Portfolio: Prioritizing, executing, measuring, and verifying energy performance and efficiency improvement initiatives.
  • Viridis Contracts: Energy and resources contract management, simulation and execution, modeling typical complex terms such as seasonality, demand limits, take-or-pay, taxation, and penalties.
  • Viridis Invoices: Energy and resources invoice management, including automatic capture, processing, auditing, payment, and storing, with full integration to the ERP.
  • Viridis Planning: Energy and resources consumption and generation forecasting, simulation and optimization from production plans, scenario and sensitivity analyses, and quantification of operational and financial risks.
  • Viridis Budgeting: Customizable Business Process Management (BPM) approach to orchestrating energy and resources budgeting, optimizing consumption, generation, and distribution plans, and monitoring their execution.

The Viridis Energy & Sustainability Platform establishes  real-time connectivity to smart meters, Level 2 systems and historians, Manufacturing Execution Systems, and Enterprise Resource Planning solutions. Those sources of large, diverse data are efficiently used by Viridis to power its advanced analytics tools, from the energy performance indicators and AI efficiency models, to optimized planning and execution.

Viridis creates sustainable value according to three levers: energy and resources operational efficiency, energy and resources planning, and integrated energy and resources management.

Value creation levers: Energy and resource efficiency

Viridis’ first value lever involves improving process efficiency, which is often materialized as reduced energy and resource waste, improved energy generation, and reduced waste and carbon footprint. To reach these goals, Viridis employs effective Energy Performance Indicators (EnPIs) and AI models.

Energy Performance Indicators are determined by acquiring and cleansing data from Level 2 and Level 3 plant systems, often tens of thousands of variables, and providing objective measures of how well an asset or a process line performs in terms of energy and resource consumption and carbon emissions. Contextualized EnPIs rely on variables representing the “state of the world” when the measured consumption (or generation) took place. For instance, production orders available in Manufacturing Execution Systems could provide not only volumes, but also details about products and production processes, thus allowing analyses of EnPIs by steel grade, dimensions, process route, operation shift, among others, and enabling a deeper understanding of the critical factors impacting energy performance.

Also, drawing on historical process data, Viridis’ self-improving AI models can be deployed to identify operation best practices (e.g., golden batches), predict process behavior, and establish energy and resource efficiency targets considering operational contexts and asset conditions. Those models can be integrated into real-world plant settings to dynamically simulate the process behavior according to planned and current frameworks, thus providing real-time trends, recommendations, insights, and alarms for operators that optimize execution and reduce the impact of unforeseen operational events. Optimized setpoints and commands for automation systems can also be produced.

Viridis typically allows cost reductions ranging from 2% to 5% – one client reported savings of as much as €0.5 million by avoiding production stoppages due to the unavailability of energy resources. However, by diving deeper into critical industrial processes and developing special-purpose AI applications, Viridis can create even higher value by optimizing energy efficiency and capturing savings of as much as 25%.

Value creation lever: Optimal energy and resource planning

Viridis’ second value lever aims at improving a plant’s profitability by reducing the cost of energy and resources, increasing energy generation revenue, and improving the resources supply-demand fit, which can be achieved by optimal energy and resource planning.

Again, Viridis’ AI models can be deployed to optimize production plans, which would now be driven not only by costs, but also by energy performance, carbon emissions, and S&OP targets. By combining information about production forecasting and energy supply contracts, cash flows can be simulated according to contract terms, operational conditions, market scenarios, and corresponding quantitative risk metrics. Viridis’ AI models can also assist decision-makers in real-time planning and execution, providing immediate response to operational events and market prices.

In one application, Viridis was applied to optimize the dispatch of a steelmaker’s cogeneration thermoelectric plant. The model sought to optimize the global energy costs, considering production plans, the availability of cogeneration gases, the terms of electricity and natural gas contracts, and current market prices, thus saving €1.2 million per million tons of steel.

Value creation lever: Integrated energy and resources management

Viridis’ third value lever aims at enhancing governance and transparency over energy and resources. Its integrated, digital energy and resources management applications directly contribute to increased team productivity, improved accountability on costs and performance, reduced operational and financial risks, and enhanced overall compliance with corporate norms.

Steelmakers using Viridis commonly manage hundreds of assets, covering dozens of industrial sites, consuming numerous energy resources, which are supplied by several energy contracts.

By implementing key concepts from ISO 50001, Viridis improves transparency, agility, and governance for energy, resources, and sustainability management.