Signal management

How the ‘Shazam’ of energy management boosts food and drink

The latest figures suggest that food production contributes around 37% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There is increasing external pressure on industry to reduce its energy consumption, as companies struggle to manage rising energy demand and costs.

But according to entrepreneur Alon Mashkovich, a majority of companies receive their energy bill at the end of the month and pay it, without fully understanding their consumption.

“At the end of the month, they receive their energy bill and see a huge discrepancy between what they thought they had consumed and the actual bill. They try to investigate the reason behind it, but since the month has already passed, they just pay him.

“Even the most sophisticated who try to manage their energy consumption do not have the tools to manage it in real time”, he told FoodNavigator.

Yet, according to Mashkovich, there is another way. Together with co-founders Roy Fadida and Dekel Yaacov, Mashkovich empowers companies to manage their energy consumption in real time, reduce their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

Shazam identifies songs, Alteco.ai identifies devices

The three co-founders created Alteco.ai in 2020. Having previously created an energy consulting company together, Mashkovich and Fadida (who are now CEO and CPO of Alteco.ai respectively) observed a lack of tools available on the market for companies looking to better manage their energy consumption and become more energy efficient.

“We saw that there was a huge need” Mashkovich called back. “The problem with so many of our customers was that energy was consumed and not managed, without understanding what their consumption looked like.”

The trio, along with research director Dr. Yuval Beck, began working on technology that would “change the way energy is managed” and “give much more power” and visibility to decision makers to “address and manage their energy in real time”. without the need for additional hardware.

The result is software as a service (SaaS) for the food and beverage industry (although the cloud-based platform is “industry agnostic”) based on non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM) technology. Essentially, Alteco.ai uses a process that analyzes changes in the quality parameters of electrical power entering a facility and derives which devices are being used, as well as their power consumption.

Alteco.ai helps manage energy consumption, costs and reduce a company’s carbon footprint. GettyImages/Monty Rakusen

Just as the Apple-owned smartphone app Shazam is able to identify the exact song being played, Alteco.ai analyzes the signal to identify the exact device that’s working without the need for additional hardware, the CEO explained.

“We give complete visibility into a facility’s energy consumption and provide actionable insights, allowing a business to begin managing its energy consumption and encouraging data-driven decision-making.”

Up to 15% energy savings

In food and beverages, margins need to be closely monitored. At the same time, the operational side of the industry is ‘highly distributed’. “They have a lot of sites, a lot of energy, and in this industry, energy is in the top 10 expenses of the business.”

Whether installations have many or few smart meters, Alteco.ai offers the possibility to aggregate their energy consumption data and obtain important information about their energy consumption. “For example, one of our proof-of-concept (PoC) facilities is now able to measure its energy consumption against its production of goods in tonnes.”

This is important because energy consumption should align with production, suggested the CEO. “If the energy consumption is high, but the production is low, that’s a problem that needs to be solved.”

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By applying the SaaS tool from Alteco.ai, the start-up estimates that a 15% energy saving can be achieved. GettyImages/deepblue4you

Thanks to Mashkovich and Fadida’s experience in energy consulting, the duo understand that a client can save up to 30% in energy consumption when energy is properly managed. “Sometimes it can be even more, not considering the savings that come from buying equipment or hiring professionals to analyze that data.”

But Alteco.ai wants to be “more realistic” with its expectations. In an installation applying its SaaS tool, the start-up estimates that a 15% energy saving can be achieved. “Of course, it depends on the establishment. If the facility has been running energy efficiency operations for years, we can achieve an additional 5-7% savings.

“If no energy management measures have been taken to date, we can achieve savings of 15% or more.”

Next steps

Alteco.ai joined food incubator Fresh-Start – which is operated by food major Tnuva, beverage company Tepo, agribusiness VC Finistere Ventures and funding platform OurCrowd – in northern Israel in November 2021. Earlier this year, the company completed the “alpha version” of its software to deploy it for commercialization.

“We have started to increase sales and although we operated last year mainly locally and in Europe, we are now looking to expand into the United States”, the CEO told this publication. “We’re seeing massive interest there, especially now that the Cut Inflation Act is being passed.

“The climate crisis is global, and we must fight it together using the most effective energy optimization tools to meet growing energy demand.”