Kory Hooper, Product Specialist
As seen on Utility Dive
When it comes to addressing feasibility, costs, and potential risks on a small scale before deploying on a much larger one, pilot programs are essential across many industries and applications. One such application is installing a Battery Monitoring System (BMS) on a single battery system before deploying on a wider scale.
Here are the primary reasons why investing in a pilot BMS program is not only a good idea before installing on a larger scale; it is imperative.
- Every battery system is different – For anyone who has ever had experience working with stationary battery systems, no two systems are ever the same; and often, not even close. A pilot installation provides the perfect opportunity to see what types of connections and configurations will be needed to perform efficient installations, startups, and commissioning plant wide when needed.
- There will always be unforeseen challenges when first installing a BMS – It’s impossible to know of unique challenges that might come up when first installing and integrating a BMS. If you’re able to account for most things when installing the pilot, then you’ll be that much further along when you deploy system wide.
- Customers and suppliers get a chance to work together – Just getting used to communicating with one another throughout this process will pay off in the long run. Knowing what cadence and format are preferred by all parties will make for a smoother overall operation when multiple systems come into play.
- Customers learn firsthand what an install entails – This will help them plan for deployment accordingly. It’s important for customers to get some experience working with a pilot to fully understand all the nuances that can expected throughout the process.
- Both the customer and service team gain familiarity with each other and any facility limitations – Besides communication regarding overall project management, there will be a working relationship developed between technicians and facility managers onsite. Rather than learning on the fly, a pilot allows everyone to get accustomed with what to expect from one another if and when a larger rollout occurs.
- Customers get a feel for the level of responsiveness they can expect from the supplier – It’s vital that decision makers achieve a level of comfort with the attentiveness of technical support provided during the pilot period. When issues arise, which they inevitably will, they need to know that they can expect an optimal customer experience every step of the way.
- It’s the perfect opportunity to compare competing products – A pilot gives a customer firsthand visibility at how BMS solutions measure up to one another. With potentially two or three competitive suppliers to evaluate, pilot programs can be the final test for overall product performance and customer experience.
- Will the product and service live up to the hype? It’s easy for a salesperson to tell a customer what they want to hear about what a BMS can do for them; it’s another thing to prove it. A pilot will allow a customer to see the product in action, where the “rubber meets the road.”
- Software performance and network connectivity need to be addressed upfront – A pilot is essential for integrating the BMS to the existing infrastructure, such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems or other asset management platforms. Ensure seamless data flow and communication between the BMS and other systems, enabling efficient data management and accurate monitoring.
- Ultimately, a pilot will give the end user the peace of mind they need to confidently move forward with system-wide deployment – When critical backup power is on the line, failure is not an option, so getting the right battery system is vital, and it all starts with a successful pilot program.
Regardless of how good the latest and greatest BMS solution can look on paper, it’s important to remember that a successful deployment goes well beyond the product’s features and benefits. The only way for a customer to truly know what they’re working with, and how to successfully roll it out plant and companywide, is to take the time to do a pilot program right.