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Start-up interview: “Specific patterns make detailed load peak forecasting possible”

Patrick, Christian and Tobias Olma

Brothers Patrick, Christian and Tobias Olma founded Olmatic together in 2016. (Copyright: Olmatic)

 

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Energy management solution looks to AI for automated peak shaving

Olmatic was founded by three brothers with the goal of developing products and systems for energy management and digital networking. The start-up’s product range comprises central control units, sensors and power units for Industry 4.0 and e-mobility. The company primarily focuses on using artificial intelligence to recognize and prevent load peaks. Patrick Olma explains in this interview just what makes Olmatic Power Tracking special.

 

Mr. Olma, your most recent development is Olmatic Power Tracking – what exactly is that?

Olmatic Power Tracking – or OPT – is an energy management system (EMS) that is specially designed for industry and which uses artificial intelligence to automatically recognize power supply load peaks and balances them out by intelligently drawing energy from regenerative sources and storage systems. This enables companies to substantially cut down on their energy costs and fulfill certain legal requirements by reducing their carbon emissions.

And what sets this product apart from the competition?

Forecasting peak loads in as detailed a manner as possible requires more than just measuring total consumption at the main connection point. We need to identify which consumers are responsible for causing load peaks at what times and why. Only with this information can we properly train the artificial intelligence system to make correct predictions in the future. Many energy management systems on the market today fail because of the high costs of investing in the sensors themselves as well as the costs of installing them, since each sensor must be directly integrated in the supply line and wired to a central data acquisition unit.

The sensors we have developed need only be clipped to the respective measuring points before they can wirelessly transmit the collected data to our central IoT Edge gateway. Installation is very simple and the benefit gained is significantly greater than any costs and effort required. That is our strongest unique selling point. What’s more, our energy management system offers a full range of functionality – from data acquisition and analysis to the implementation of optimization potential. We have also developed our complete range of hardware and software products all on our own. This means that we have experience in all the required areas, allowing us to flexibly and dynamically implement any special requirements our customers may have without the need to rely on third-party products or services.

How exactly does your intelligent load peak recognition work?

The system uses the integrated sensors to continuously collect data from each energy consumer in real time, digitalizes it and saves it in a central storage location. This data pool builds the necessary foundation for the use of the system’s artificial intelligence. Our specially developed algorithms continuously analyze this data pool in order to recognize patterns which provide information and help establish inferences about when and why a given consumer has caused a load peak. Recognizing these specific patterns make detailed load peak forecasting possible. The supplied software provides a visual depiction of the data collected – also in real time – giving customers a clear representation of all energy and cost parameters, which can be used for further analysis and enhancement.

What happens in the event of a load peak?

Once the software predicts or recognizes a load peak, regenerative energy sources and storage units can automatically be activated. Alternatively, the system can counteract a recognized load peak by shutting down or regulating defined consumers. These fully automated processes can deliberately and proactively balance out any load peaks using free, renewable energy, or by reducing energy consumption in the short term.

Is Olmatic Power Tracking already in use in the field?

Our full product portfolio has been market-ready since the second quarter of this year, and we worked together with the Campus Schwarzwald in Freudentstadt, Germany, to create an opportunity for setting up a demo case for our system in their laboratory. This will enable potential customers to see with their own eyes how our system works under realistic conditions.

What provided the impetus for you and your brothers to found Olmatic in 2016?

In the years leading up to the founding of Olmatic GmbH, we were already working for a company that primarily offered contracted services developing and manufacturing products in the energy sector. Over time, the idea of using our expertise to produce our own products began to take root, with the goal of marketing them under our own name and our own brand. At the end of 2015, we sat down and drafted a business plan. And so, relying on the experience in development, production, marketing and sales which we had gathered in the years prior, with the goal of providing direct added value to climate conservation efforts and backed by the assurance of a growing EMS market, we took the final step. In March 2016, the family-owned and operated company Olmatic GmbH was born, and it has successfully undergone further development ever since.

Which sectors and regions does Olmatic serve?

Our main target group is the B2B sector, specifically customers who consume 100,000 kWh or more of energy per year. We are working primarily in three target markets. We prevent load peaks in charging infrastructure by employing a dynamic charging and load management system which incorporates energy from regenerative sources and storage systems. The second market is that of industrial demand management – mainly in the manufacturing industry – where our system can predict and balance out load peaks without the need to change the manufacturing process. Our third target market is peak prediction. Here, machine and plant engineers take our system and use it as the EMS for their own plants, enabling them to establish maximum transparency of energy consumption-related data and to use this to generate load peak forecasts, which can in turn be sold as added value to their end customers.

What are your goals for the next three years?

In the coming year, we are primarily looking to establish ourselves on the regional market. We will set up reference projects with local companies and regional networks, which will then serve to multiply and drive our business for years to come. We hope to use the experiences and references gained in the next two years to take our business to the national market level across the whole of Germany before expanding to all of Europe in three years.

This interview was conducted by Simone Pabst.

Further information: Olmatic