For manufacturers to be competitive in the 4th industrial revolution, reducing production costs is key. One way to achieve this is by creating a solid strategy when it comes to energy management in industry 4.0.
In this special guest post, hear from Industrial Director Josep Centelles i Estévez, whose manufacturing company Gamo Outdoor managed to save more than 20% in annual energy costs.
Staying Competitive with Energy Efficiency: A Success Story
We can all agree on the vital importance of having a solid industrial ecosystem that contributes a high percentage of GDP to our national economy. Unfortunately, the last decades have witnessed a decrease in industry’s overall added value and a dwindling social impact, while unemployment figures have skyrocketed.
During times of economic crisis, many companies that have resisted have done so through export. Today, any company that does not consider the entire world as a viable market runs the risk of disappearing or downsizing. For this reason, export has been vital to overcome this period of recession in the manufacturing industry, and will be even more important in the coming years.
When we talk about export, we refer to companies that have the ability to seduce customers who live outside our borders, customers who choose a product made here locally instead of buying in their own countries or somewhere else. Obviously, exporting is not easy, and in order to succeed companies must be highly competitive in all aspects.
Among many of the factors that we need to optimise to stay competitive and export, one is energy efficiency, something easily forgotten in most companies. In a country where energy costs are among the highest in Europe, it becomes even more important to implement what we might call “Energetic Engineering” or “Lean Energy System” in our companies.
This system consists of implementing advanced manufacturing or Lean Manufacturing, in which we use minimal resources to bring maximum value to the business. These same principles can be applied to energy consumption. It is about being efficient in the way we use energy within our company, reduce consumption where necessary, and teach people across the organisation to bring the same value with less energy in order to become more efficient.
“We have managed to implement a philosophy and a policy of energy efficiency that has allowed us to save more than 20% in annual energy costs, increase competitiveness and create organisational awareness of the importance of being energy efficient”
–Josep Centelles i Estévez
We often dedicate a great deal of resources to reduce the direct cost of the product in materials and labor, while overlooking other indirect variables that also have a strong impact on cost and therefore on our competitiveness.
In the case of Gamo Outdoor it was very important to establish an indicator of energy cost per product (Kwh / Product and Energy Cost € / Product), which served to demonstrate the high influence of energy on the pricing of the final product and in our competitiveness. In short, this benchmark ratio made us open our eyes. This indicator has also served to track improvements in energy efficiency and to see how the actions we have implemented have helped us to dramatically cut costs.
How to Implement Energy Management in Industry 4.0
The basic steps to implement energy management in industry 4.0 are:
- Understand energy flows and consumption
- Identify which consumptions and consumers are unnecessary or excessive (meters and energy management software)
- Establish indicators and a monitoring system in real time (control and monitoring with the help of specialised software, in our case, we chose DEXMA Energy Intelligence Platform)
- Apply continuous improvement tactics to make action plans managed with continuous improvement software.
There are two types of energy saving actions: those that do not require investment and those tha do. The latter need to be accompanied by a return on investment (ROI) analysis, calculated in conjunction with the finance department of the company.
Both are very interesting and should be combined, but obviously, zero-cost actions are the most appealing. As an example of a zero-cost action, in companies without an energy efficiency policy much of their energy is wasted during periods of inactivity (holidays, weekends or idle machines etc). This is referred to as passive consumption. Simply by ensuring that everything is disconnected when not in use can save up to 25% of a company’s energy.
I recommend that this entire process be guided by specialists or partners in energy management. In the case of Gamo, our partnership with 3EX4 Enginyers has been vital to adapt the entire organisation to the company’s new energy management system and to achieve spectacular improvements. Thanks to our combined teamwork, we have managed to implement a philosophy and an energy efficiency policy that has allowed us to save more than 20% in annual energy costs, increase competitiveness and raise internal awareness of the importance of energy efficiency.
Finally, internal buy-in is crucial if you want to implement an energy efficiency system in your industrial facility. That means getting all employees to participate, as well creating an internal energy team to constantly monitor continuous improvement.
In our case, apart from having all the main machines and processes monitored in the cloud and in real time with permanent alerts for electricity consumption, water consumption and temperatures, we also have a continuous improvement software in the cloud, which we use to monitor all actions on a permanent basis. All of this is integrated into the industry 4.0 policy and vision that we are implementing at GAMO Outdoor.
This guest blog is an original article written by Josep Centelles i Estévez. Find him on LinkedIn.
Curious to learn more about energy management in industry 4.0?
Check out the story of TACSA, whose two metallurgical plants saved more than € 100,000 with energy management: