Coldset Printing Partners

The IBM Informix TimeSeries solution helps company track usage trends and analyze data over time

Published on 27-Jun-2011

Validated on 12 Nov 2013

"It didn't matter how much data we pushed into the Informix TimeSeries module, the performance was always the same. I have never seen anything else where no matter how complex the queries are, data is available instantly." - Throstur Jonsson, co-CEO, Rational Network

Coldset Printing Partners

Media & Entertainment

Deployment country:

Database Management, Information Governance, Information Integration

IBM Business Partner:
Rational Network


The IBM Informix TimeSeries solution helps company track usage trends and analyze data over time

Business need:
Coldset Printing Partners sought to reduce energy consumption across its printing presses by 10 percent.

Working with Energcon, Coldset Printing monitoring system based on Rational Network’s logging system and the native TimeSeries capability of IBM Informix software that enables staff to quickly view power consumption for each printing press at any point in time.

Reduces energy consumption by more than 10 percent; delivers near real-time access to time-series data for reporting; provides nearly unrestricted scalability with no performance impact

Case Study

In 2006, Reinout Bertels, Safety, Health and Environmental manager for Coldset Printing Partners, a joint venture of print media groups Corelio Printing and Concentra, met with other media companies in Belgium as part of a national effort to reduce corporate energy consumption. However, as each company provided data regarding its energy usage for printing newspapers, books and magazines, Bertels saw a surprising trend.

“We want to be reliable to society by not using more energy than absolutely needed and we’re trying to be responsible to our stakeholders by not spending more money than absolutely needed,” says Bertels, whose company is one of the largest printers of newspapers in Belgium. “As we participated in the benchmark study, we saw that our energy usage related to our printing presses was about 10 percent higher in our plant as compared to a similar printer’s operations. We committed ourselves to understand why this was the case and to reduce those costs.”

When Bertels returned to the office, he launched an Energy Savers workgroup to identify and fix high consumption areas of its operations. But to do so the team needed the right data.

“We only had the quarterly total from our power supplier,” says Bertels. “But that’s just a general number; it’s not split up per transformer. We have four printing lines and an additional line for other services. Separate power transformers feed each of these lines. So to reduce the baseload of energy, we needed accurate numbers for each transformer.”

As the Energy Savers team began investigating how to obtain this data, it was introduced to Energcon, which offers energy monitoring and reporting systems to help companies track power, gas, water, heat and carbon output. “We founded Energcon because we saw there was a need to provide customers with a visible view on energy consumption and use,” explains Gerrit Leskens, Energcon’s CEO.

Energcon’s offering—which integrates an easy-to-use web application with an energy logging system from Rational Network and IBM® Informix® database software—helps Coldset Printing Partners track energy consumption for each of its printing presses and view energy trends over time so staff can identify if any process or system is drawing more energy than necessary.

The logging system is placed on each transformer in the company’s printing facility and captures energy consumption for each press every 15 minutes. The data is then sent over existing power lines via GPRS modem and stored in an IBM Informix database. From there, Bertels can log into Energcon’s web application to quickly view power consumption for each printing press at any given point in time.

“I can look at power peaks, consumption per meter, and accumulated consumption,” says Bertels. “Whatever I want to see I can see and I can choose my timeframe. It’s very user-friendly for a nontechnical guy like me and it’s so easy to use that you don’t hesitate to just log in to look. It has become part of my daily routine to check our power usage.”

Managing time-series data

One of the challenges in tracking energy trends over time is the ability to analyze time-series data—any set of data that is accessed in sequence by time and can be processed and analyzed in a chronological order.

“There is both a performance and storage challenge with traditional relational databases,” explains Throstur Jonsson, co-CEO of Rational Network. “What happens in most cases is that when you start collecting data in a conventional relational database, it’s very fast for the first few days or first few months. But after that, the performance goes down almost exponentially as the amount of data increases. So when you are doing calculations, for example, manipulating a time series, adding one time series to another or migrating the time series of different sampling scales, it gets very heavy on a conventional relational database.”

As Rational Network reviewed database software for its logging and powerline communication system, it found IBM Informix provided the scalability and performance required to meet client needs. “We are using Informix to make innovative technology of the future available today,” says Jonsson. “We started to study the Informix TimeSeries feature and found that performance was independent of the amount of data stored there. It didn’t matter how much data we pushed into the Informix TimeSeries module, the performance was always the same. I have never seen anything else where no matter how complex those queries are, data is available instantly. Additionally, because the time series engine is integrated into the database, we can monitor data using standard SQL queries. It would take us five to ten times more effort to migrate time-series data into applications without this integrated approach.”

Energcon currently uses the Rational Network logging system to monitor energy usage for dozens of companies across more than 1,000 buildings, logging and storing data from more than 3,000 meters throughout each day.

“The amount of data we’ve accumulated for clients over the years is astounding,“ adds Guido Heremans, co-CEO of Rational Network. “We call Informix the data shark, because we’re never concerned how much space there is. Informix can easily handle it.”

During initial development of its logging system, Rational Network compared IBM Informix to other database and time-series products in the market and found that Informix also provided the reliability, extendibility and stability required. “The Informix database always works,” says Jonsson. “It always delivers what it’s expected to deliver and that helps us deliver new solutions to market faster and less expensively.”

Reducing energy consumption by 10 percent

For Coldset Printing Partners, the solution provided the insight company staff needed to reduce energy consumption in its printing operations by €30,000 (US$42,000) annually. Based on its findings, the Energy Savers team adjusted operations for increased energy efficiency. This included installing automatic systems to shut down lighting when it was not needed and replacing existing air compressor systems with more energy efficient technology.

“I can see very clearly where my baseload comes from and can make decisions that help us save money,” says Bertels. “Comparing energy usage for the same time period in 2010 and 2011 showed that we brought our consumption down by more than 10 percent.”

Additionally, the company can now assess power requirements to increase production when needed. “I can see where my peaks are and how high they are,” says Bertels. “So if we have to make further decisions on power needed for adding presses, then it’s easy to find out what extra power will be required.”

For more information

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For more information about Coldset Printing Partners, visit:

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Informix Dynamic Server, Informix TimeSeries DataBlade, Informix Servers

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America June 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, and Informix are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. IMC14670-USEN-00