Energie Rath: Smart energy provider

Supplying liquefied gas alone is no longer enough. Today, energy suppliers must offer their customers more – especially in the current energy crisis with resource shortages and rising prices. Smart, digital solutions are required that provide customers with maximum transparency in energy consumption. These are offered by Friedrich Rath GmbH & Co. KG from Langenburg, Germany. The liquefied gas supplier relies on the advantages of IoT-based monitoring systems from RCT for tank installations.

"Energy is our theme" is the guiding principle of Energie Rath. The family-owned company has been a reliable energy supplier for business and private customers in the region of Hohenlohe in northeastern Baden-Württemberg since 1851. "With our know-how acquired over decades and an excellently developed infrastructure, we are always close to our customers," explains Friedrich Rath, managing director of Energie Rath. In concrete terms, this means that the energy supplier knows what its customers need. And these want to use the advantages of digitalization – as they are used to from smartphone apps – also for energy questions around their fueling systems. "As rising energy prices are forcing more conscious energy consumption, maximum transparency about energy consumption is currently one of the most important issues for both private and business customers," says the energy specialist.  "Our customers want convenience. They don't want, for example in winter, to clear the lids of underground tanks of snow and laboriously open them to find out how high the level of liquid gas still is," says Rath. All fill levels should be easily retrievable via smartphone or PC – anytime, anywhere.

From remote monitoring to full service

To realize this, Rath-Energie has been using smart remote monitoring technology from RCT for its own tanks for many years. It all started with the digital monitoring of the company's own LPG filling stations in the region, so that they could be refilled in time and not run dry. In the meantime, customers from industry, agriculture as well as private customers are also among the users. They benefit from precise knowledge of their filling levels, timely delivery by the energy supplier and thus – especially in the case of industrial customers – from the absence of production stoppages. "Especially when tank farms are located far apart, the advantages of remote monitoring pay off particularly well," explains Friedrich Rath. For example, at a game park, the energy provider equipped the tank facilities, which are scattered over a wide area, with monitoring solutions. "For this customer, we not only installed the equipment technology, but also provide remote monitoring of the tanks and energy management as a service," he says. At Energie Rath, digital remote monitoring should now also be available for rented containers and/or tanks for liquid gas. A further service that the enterprise has in view is the so-called heat subscription. Here, the energy supplier takes over the complete installation, commissioning and regular filling of the LPG tanks. "Customers can just sit back, they only pay for the heat output and don't have to worry about anything else. We take care of everything," confirms Friedrich Rath.

Plug & play to greater transparency

These services are made possible in part by the use of IoT-based monitoring technology from RCT Remote Control Technology. The company has been a supplier of remote monitoring technology for Energie Rath's liquid gas tanks for around twenty years. The technical basis is the modular LEVELview.LPG remote monitoring system, which is installed on the LPG tanks. This sends the level data as required via transmission technologies such as Sigfox, Cellular 4G/3G/2G, LTE, NB-IoT, LoRa-WAN, Cat M1, RF or WiFi. The fill level is measured contact-free via a Hall-effect sensor. With the web-based "RCT Monitor" platform or via smartphone app, the fill levels can be precisely monitored locally and globally. This enables Energie Rath to be informed automatically by mail, push message, SMS or directly via its in-house ERP system when tank contents are nearing their end. Other smart services include history and consumption data at defined times, projections of remaining tank capacities, information on the best possible time for refueling, and emergency call functions in the event of malfunctions.

Smart technology, smart services

Overall, Friedrich Rath is pleased with the successful collaboration with RCT and the added value of the IoT solutions for him and his customers:

"With RCT's smart monitoring technology, we have the levels of our own liquid gas tanks as well as those of our customers, always and at all times firmly in view. In addition, it enables us to offer our customers new, smart services."

"The installation and commissioning of the transmitter modules on the tanks can be carried out very easily via plug & play – as can the connection to the software applications. In the future, we also plan to offer RCT's other solutions such as RCT's smart electricity and gas meters to our customers."