#HumansofMaRS: OvrSyte uses data to improve decision-making in the energy sector
Imagine that you’re driving the same car as your friend. Both cars carry the same exact fuel, but your friend is getting 20% better fuel mileage. Wouldn’t you want to know why?
Karlis Vasarais, the president of OvrSyte, sure would. But he’s focusing on something a little bit bigger than cars.
OvrSyte is an energy management platform
OvrSyte is an energy management platform that combines and organizes data from across a portfolio of industrial plants into one customizable interface.
Every site, whether it’s a power plant or a waste-water treatment plant, has a control system that operates the plant and collects data. Usually, at the end of the month, the data from individual sites is pulled together into a single management report. However, this is inefficient for a large number of sites and can take a long time to get through.
The OvrSyte platform is able to extract data in real time to provide a portfolio view of operations and it works to prepare that data in a format that identifies trends and allows for historical analysis and forecasting. OvrSyte connects all of the devices and machines on site from gas-based power plants.
“What the tool really allows for is more sophisticated access to the plant’s data and, with that, better visibility and better decision-making,” explains Karlis.
Embracing technology for energy efficiency
The potential of the platform emerged when OvrSyte was competing with an engineering firm to implement its system at a generational power plant. In the end, OvrSyte had a much shorter implementation time and proved to be more efficient. The OvrSyte team decided to commercialize the platform after realizing that the same problem existed across markets.
“The industrial world doesn’t quite embrace change in terms of smartphones and technology, particularly app-based, cloud-based technology,” Karlis says.
The industrial sector has been slow to adapt new technology because of the sensitive nature of the assets and the structure of the plants, he explains. It’s just not the way that these companies have ever operated. To Karlis, these are the reasons why there is a clear market need for better access to data.
“Data is good, but if you get data, it’s like water out of a fire hose. It’s impossible to actually get anything from it,” says Karlis. “It’s really about how you target the data that actually makes sense in an industrial environment, the data that will help improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase revenue.”
On being an entrepreneur in the industrial Internet of Things
Each plant site is a little bit different, from its equipment to its interfaces. Since OvrSyte is not simply an off-the-shelf solution, small changes can cost a lot. One of the challenges for the company has been maintaining clear deliverables, scope and control from a budget perspective. It’s also about being flexible with the system design and keeping it open for changes in the future.
With previous experience in three different cleantech ventures, Karlis has learned that it’s important to spend a lot of time upfront defining the company’s value proposition and really pressure-testing it, especially in a large market like the industrial Internet of Things.
Currently, OvrSyte manages over $2 billion of energy assets across North America. The small internal team of four is set to grow as the company continues to take on new projects and users.
In the meantime, OvrSyte is continuing to evolve as a cleantech Internet of Things platform. The team hopes to continue to get more scope with each customer in order to bring more things online, to add more services and to keep looking at the data differently.
“It was just mind boggling to see how much money is left on the table. It’s not only about how much money, it’s about how much fuel is wasted by not operating the plants efficiently,” says Karlis.