Case study: Polymorph joins forces with energy partners to expand their business and develop a revolutionary business intelligence system for utility management
Energy Partners has as its objective the creation of better energy solutions that fuel Africa’s growth through a results-driven, cost efficient and sustainable approach. The company provides world-class utilities throughout Africa, including solar power, steam, refrigeration and end-to-end water treatment solutions.
Polymorph joins forces with Energy Partners, leading energy utility provider in South Africa and Africa, to create a reliable data management platform that collects and manages data from IOT devices across the Energy Partners network. This scalable, innovative technology is utilised to provide data and business insights to all stakeholders and to create user-friendly products that can revolutionise communication between partners and clients.
Energy Partners invests in new companies, technologies, and people to ensure a future where energy becomes a right, not a cost. They have employed a three-pronged approach when working with large-scale commercial and industrial organisations to reduce their total energy costs by:
- OUTSOURCED UTILITIES – building new energy assets or buying existing energy assets using a unique funding and ownership model where Energy Partners retain the plant and so remove the energy asset from the client’s balance sheet. E.g. the client agrees to buy solar power per kWh
- CO-OWNERSHIP – Investing and collaborating with organisations to utilise solar energy instead of grid energy.
- TURN-KEY PROJECTS – design, construct and implement energy projects on a per-project basis.
A better way of communicating with Energy Partners and clients
Having a large footprint with multiple energy plants spread across the continent, Energy Partners had a need to collect, measure and analyse the data from these various utilities. They required a reliable and scalable platform. Data would be collected by monitoring energy consumption at different plants using meters and IOT devices to see if it functions effectively. In order to trust these measurements, the captured data had to be accurate and reliable – a reliable utility management platform would thus be the first step towards the goal.
Energy Partners’ existing platform was unable to scale effectively and Polymorph was contracted to build an improved platform focusing on data retention and management. It was a specific requirement that this new platform should be able to scale rapidly and seamlessly generate insights from the data collected with a specific focus on business intelligence.
Polymorph in consultation with Energy Partners identified four user groups and highlighted the need for customised, interactive reporting and accurate analysis. Taking into consideration Energy Partners’ unique user groups (both internal and external) it required a specific focus on product management and the ability to scale. The end goal was to develop a platform that could sustain all the products required to service Energy Partners’ user groups and display the impact of their energy savings approach. Polymorph commenced to put all these pieces together by building a platform and utilising existing products to visualise the IOT data as it flows through Energy Partners’ intelligence processes.
“We understand that extracting data from devices and displaying it in an app is simply not enough. At Polymorph, we help our clients to unlock the value of their IOT data by gathering sample or raw data, cleaning it, and storing it using a scalable IOT platform. We turn this data into information using apps or dashboards with the right context. This allows data to be transformed into information and actionable insights,” says Richard Barry, CEO of Polymorph. “Energy Partners needed to know how well their systems are performing, how much money they are saving for their partners and clients, and how much energy, steam, refrigeration and water are being generated. And they did the sensible thing by approaching Polymorph as we specialise in IOT and software application development and have an excellent reputation for good rapport with well-established businesses across South Africa,” continues Barry.
“We realised that energy is a very technical and complex field and required clever ways to communicate in a way that our entire stakeholder group and the end user could easily utilise and understand. We realised we needed a platform which could collect and organise all the data from hundreds of connected (IOT) devices and integrate with our energy utilities to communicate with our clients. We needed an experienced development team to develop a platform which would form the basis of various user-friendly EP products which could integrate and easily monitor everything on the Energy Partners backend. Since we started working with Polymorph to outsource this part of our business we haven’t looked back. It has grown into a strong partnership and great friendship between both companies,” says Arno Middelberg, CTO at Energy Partners.
The new Glo platform opens a new way of communicating with all Energy Partners users
The newly developed platform, Glo, serves as Energy Partners’ utility data management and business intelligence platform that brings results to light by providing access to reliable data and actionable insights for internal stakeholders and clients. Glo enables Energy Partners to reduce utility costs and use, optimise asset performance, and ensure value for clients. The Glo Kiosk application shows a live view of current solar generation and carbon dioxide and cost savings on two levels: plant and portfolio.
The utility management system is expected to be specifically geared towards Energy Partner’s data pipeline from data collection, scheduling, storage, adding a business logic layer that meaningfully engages with the data, and apps.
Great value delivered through quality development and deep understanding
Polymorph has been involved in developing a number of products within the larger data management platform. The Energy Partners management team and directors were very satisfied with the quality of the first final product which was completed within budget. Conceptualisation and implementation are continuing as we apply the platform to improve internal processes and ways to expose more value from the data to clients. “Polymorph’s unique approach allows us to tailor our feedback and make data available to our user groups when they need it and in the form that they need it instead of forcing a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Middelberg.
“We are very positive and see the creation of new products built on the new Glo platform, a potential game-changer giving Energy Partners an edge over its competitors. Usability is one of the key components in any successful business becoming and keeping the lead in its industry. We are looking forward to an ongoing partnership with Polymorph and see how we can work together towards increased client engagement and satisfaction,” Middelberg concludes.
“Since we started working with Polymorph to outsource this part of our business we haven’t looked back. It has grown into a strong partnership and great friendship between both companies.”Arno Middelberg, Chief Technology Officer, Energy Partners