Data shows that increase in electricity generation over the years has not been able to keep pace with increasing demand. Moreover, more than 70 per cent of generation is from fossil fuels. Surprisingly, energy efficiency in India is still not getting adequate attention.
As per a research, commercial buildings in India typically waste more than 30 per cent of electricity they use. It is not that they don’t realise the importance of energy efficiency, but they simply don’t have the resolve to achieve this, or have not seriously considered it. They do some scratching on the surface by retrofitting (building more energy efficient light bulbs, A/C, etc.) to make it look like everything is fine, but deep down things remain the same. Simply put, operational energy efficiency (use of existing infrastructure optimally) is largely overlooked.
IIIT Delhi’s Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department, Dr. Amarjeet Singh, wanted to find a remedy to this problem. He wanted to disrupt the traditional energy efficiency market by focusing on operational energy efficiency and using technology and advanced data analytics, which will not only save money and time, but save the planet from erosion.
In 2014, he got together with his fellow IIIT Delhi batch mates Rahul Bhalla and Vishal Bansal to develop a cost-effective energy management solution using Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
And Zenatix Solutions took birth.
Based out of Gurgaon, Zenatix provides an intelligent building management system (BMS), which is largely untouched by existing players that develop solutions for larger commercial buildings.
“Within smaller commercial buildings, there do exist some hardware automation companies who have outsourced software and cloud infra capabilities. Similarly, there are software companies which are getting hardware done from third parties. However, Zenatix is the only company which has built the entire product stack – hardware, firmware and software including the IoT platform. We believe that having a complete control of the product stack is key to the hardware robustness, and supporting additional use cases for the customers,” Co-founder and COO Bansal told e27.
WattMan optimises energy usage
Zenatix’s first product is WattMan, which is targeted at retail outlets and banks.“With the distributed nature of retail/banking setups with multiple outlets/branches/ATMs spread across the country, there are huge losses due to lack of electricity optimisation. Hence, having control over the electricity spends and providing the right customer experience at the same time is a big challenge which is addressed by WattMan,” Bansal elaborated.
For example, he added, in a supermarket, maintaining the right temperature in customer and cold storage areas is crucial, as they need to make sure that AC, kitchen and refrigeration appliances are working optimally all the time, even if they may have different on/off schedules. WattMan addresses these challenges in an automated manner through its cloud-based intelligent controls and also provides updates regarding predictive and preventive maintenance of electrical assets, he claimed.
WattMan comprises a hardware installed on site, software that goes into the hardware, software that runs on the cloud, and an analytics system. The hardware is built to operate in the Indian context comprising fluctuations, irregular network connectivity and sudden power breakdown. The software is put together to handle large volumes of sensor data that gets collected on a daily basis from all the sensors deployed by Zenatix.
“The data collected from WattMan is further used to develop ML-driven models deciding optimal operational settings, based on external factors like weather and footfalls, thus allowing robust control. The ML engine processes this large-scale data to perform intelligent controls and to provide predictive and preventive maintenance,” Bansal shared.
According to Zenatix, innovation brought in by IoT stack and ML from collected data allows Zenatix to fill in the gap of BMS for small commercial buildings (specifically retail outlets). While several big players offer BMS for large commercial buildings, none of them are cost-effective for smaller commercial buildings. This is the gap Zenatix is filling, starting from India and then reaching out to global markets, Bansal added.
A key part of WattMan is its configurability to suit specific customer requirements. Keeping the core (both in terms of hardware and the software suite) common, Zenatix is able to innovate on the solution offering based on customer requirements that arise when they see the power of real-time monitoring and automated control capabilities. “This helps save up to 30 per cent energy for large consumers of electricity and also offer predictive and preventive capabilities for electrical assets,” he noted.
Additionally, Zenatix’s allows for predictive and preventive maintenance of electrical assets. This helps support enterprises in offering their customers a consistently good experience as well as energy and cost savings.
“With our product installed in hundreds of locations, the hardware infrastructure will create a platform that can enable other players in the ecosystem to eventually create a smarter grid. As an example, the control of AC can be utilised by the power distribution companies (utilities) in managing their peak load and better manage the variations in demand and supply (often referred to as Demand Response – which is quite prevalent in advanced countries e.g. USA and in Europe),” shared Bansal.
Energy consumption data can also be useful to identify power leakages, thus reducing high transmission and distribution losses, which also include theft as a significant percentage.
Eyeing Southeast Asia
Zenatix claims it is currently working with more than 500 retail chains and banks across various parts of India, and is now ready for an international expansion, starting with Southeast Asia. The firm is looking for partners who can help it expand into SEA markets.
The firm charges customers on a subscription model that covers the cost of hardware and software. The benefit to the customer (largely quantified as energy efficiency) is three to four times the subscription amount. The subscription price depends on the size of the site which varies from a small site like an ATM to a large grocery store.
In February this year, Zenatix raised US$1.2 million in pre-Series A round of funding led by pi Ventures, an early-stage fund co-founded by LetsVenture Co-founder Manish Singhal. Previously, it secured an undisclosed sum from early-stage investment firm Blume Ventures in December 2015.
Image Credit: Zenatix Solutions
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