A smart finger on the power switch

Israel’s Panoramic Power offers an award-winning system for property managers to monitor and control energy use to the last amp.

When you get your cell phone bill, you can see clearly where each cent was spent. But there is no similar breakdown on your electricity bill. You cannot tell what portion of the power you’re paying for went toward the refrigerator, the heater/air conditioner, the lighting and other appliances.

“This is what we want to change,” says David Almagor, CEO and co-founder of Panoramic Power, the Israeli developer of a brand-new, award-winning energy management system for commercial and industrial businesses to get a handle on their operational and energy expenses.

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Almagor tells ISRAEL21c that buildings are the world’s largest consumers of energy, gobbling 40 percent of the share. “Yet our knowledge about how that energy is spent is close to zero, because all we get is a bill with one or two numbers that accumulates the energy we consume that month and converts it to an amount we have to pay.”

Panoramic Power’s cloud-based P3E platform is a non-intrusive way to give operations managers a real-time, detailed picture of the building’s power consumption so they can implement money- and energy-saving changes that make sense.

P3E also tracks the performance of all the electromechanical systems in the building, such as refrigerators, air conditioners and pumps. Changes in patterns may indicate an impending breakdown, alerting the building manager to send in the maintenance crew before the equipment fails. This is especially critical for places such as hospitals and food services companies, Almagor points out.

Meaningful data for managing energy

In April 2010, Panoramic Power was one of 10 Israeli clean-tech companies chosen to meet with industry leaders, investment firms, policymakers and utility companies in Silicon Valley, California.

The following June, the IBM Smartcamp startup competition selected Panoramic Power to represent Israel in its worldwide competition from a field of 70 competitors.

Less than two years later, P3E was commercially launched following pilots in supermarkets, retail and food services chains and health-care facilities in the United States, China, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Israel.

Almagor relates that P3E helped a multisite drugstore chain discover when air conditioning and lighting was left on during off hours. P3E also let the chain’s management see the ratio of energy use among power-guzzlers such as air conditioning and automatic doors. “It gave them meaningful data for managing energy and other operational aspects, and they are in the process of making changes,” he says.

David Almagor, left, and Adi Shamir, co-founders of Panoramic Power.
David Almagor, left, and Adi Shamir, co-founders of Panoramic Power.

Some of the pilot sites have already converted into paying customers. This is a huge triumph for Almagor and co-founder Adi Shamir, who became acquainted under rather unusual circumstances.

“Adi is 17 years younger than me, and while typical founder teams have worked together before, we met on a ‘blind date’ through a clean-tech interest group,” Almagor recalls. “We had each independently decided that the next thing we want to do would benefit the world and not just try to make money. And we had both decided to focus on energy efficiency.”

Soon after they founded Panoramic Power in 2009, they won first prize in Qualcomm’s international Qprize competition for young wireless technology ventures. Panoramic became Qualcomm’s second portfolio company in Israel, and has also attracted investments from Greylock Partners, Israel Cleantech Ventures, the Israel Electric Company, the BIRD Foundation and Clal Energy.

Now the company has 17 employees at its Kfar Saba headquarters and two more at its business development office in New York City.

“Our focus now is mainly on Israel and the US, but we just started in Europe and eventually we hope to spread to Asia, Africa and Australia, where there are high energy needs,” says Almagor.

How it works

P3E’s patent-pending hardware includes easy-to-install and maintenance-free wireless sensors that clip around wires sticking out of circuit breakers in the building’s electrical panel board. The sensors measure the flow of electricity to each power consumer, and transfer that information via Internet to the company’s cloud-hosted servers.

“An analytic platform digests the data from each customer, and through a simple browser-based dashboard gives the end-user a very nice view of how the energy is consumed,” says Almagor. The user gets reports, alerts, suggestions and comparisons.

Because the platform is cloud-based, Panoramic software engineers can tweak the system constantly, which isn’t the case with more traditional software installations. “We are continuously offering more features — that’s our main development activity,” says Almagor.

“Panoramic Power’s technology helps energy, facility and corporate managers dramatically reduce a building’s energy and operations costs by providing a level of understanding about power consumption never dreamed of before,” he concludes. “Information is truly power in this case.”

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About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.