Reliability Software

Software Enables Demand Response

EP Editorial Staff | July 20, 2022

Software system makes it possible to take advantage of demand-response requests by safely shutting down refrigeration equipment in less than 10 min.

System shuts refrigeration systems down in less than 10 min., making it possible to realize peak-period revenue savings.

Demand response (DR) programs pay businesses to reduce energy usage during periods of grid stress. The programs have existed in commercial buildings for many years, but industrial facilities have been slow to commit. That’s changing, thanks to an automated system that makes life easier for facility managers and increases revenue potential. Now companies with large refrigeration loads can effectively turn entire facilities into giant batteries that provide flexibility to the grid.

The world’s largest temperature-controlled warehousing company in Allentown, PA, signed up for a demand-response program but initially rarely participated in DR events, in part because the burden was on facility managers to respond appropriately to events. Without good data or well-defined procedures, they were hesitant to make decisions that could potentially affect food safety or production.

There was also a more fundamental problem. They couldn’t respond to events within the required window. In a 24/7 operation, there’s not always a qualified person available to get to the control panel. Even if they do get there in time, the equipment couldn’t be safely curtailed within the 10-min. window required of the most lucrative events, known as “fast” demand response.

The Allentown facility is able to shed 778 kW of load within 6 min. of approval.

Unprecedented Solution

Ndustrial, Raleigh, NC, ( an energy-management software and services company, seamlessly integrated the facility’s refrigeration control systems and augmented the connection with their DR aggregator. Aggregators connect Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) from various customers and sell them into energy markets.

When working with commercial customers, the aggregator provides hardware that tells equipment when to shut off. This works well for loads such as HVAC systems, but industrial equipment is more complex. Safe curtailment requires proper sequencing and ramp-down periods. Additionally, facility managers often want to control various combinations of loads under certain circumstances rather than shutting down fully.

To augment the Allentown facility’s efforts, Ndustrial:

• Provided historical data to inform how much load reduction they could comfortably commit.

• Codified various curtailment scenarios and shutdown sequences.

• Automated execution of those scenarios, such that facility managers can participate in DR events at the touch of a button.

Historical data from Ndustrial’s Energy Intensity software armed facility managers with their typical load profile and revenue data so they could better estimate the amount of load to make available for both “fast” and hour-long DR events. With this understanding, Ndustrial then codified the decision tree so facility managers don’t have to make these complex choices on the fly. Now they can trust that their decision to participate will be optimal given the input from the DR aggregator and the conditions of the facility at any time.

Finally, Ndustrial integrated its software with the DR signals and with legacy refrigeration controls so that systems can be automatically curtailed. Now users can throttle the equipment with a simple text-message approval.

The result of this orchestration and automation layer is profound. Facility managers can safely and easily curtail large industrial refrigeration systems in less than 10 min. This allows the temperature-controlled warehouse itself, not just peripheral loads, to participate in fast DR events. That’s the equivalent of taking 650 average households off the grid all at once.

Facility managers can insulate themselves against real-time electricity price spikes, but also monetize their energy-management goals by helping keep the grid stable when it’s needed most—all without compromising food safety or throughput.

The solution also provides the grid with a new class of resources. Ndustrial’s orchestration and automation layer gives the DR aggregator a single point of interconnection with a complex system, making it easier for them to tap into the industrial sector.

By integrating with industrial systems, demand response aggregators gain access to load flexibility several times the magnitude of peripheral loads, which means more money for all involved and ultimately lower prices for other energy users. EP

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